Going to the March for Life or Walk For Life West Coast? So is JFA!

JFA Trainers Rebecca Haschke and Catherine Wurts, at the March for Life (Washington D.C.), in January 2015.

JFA Trainers Rebecca Haschke and Catherine Wurts, at the March for Life (Washington D.C.), in January 2015.

If you are taking part in the March for Life (Washington D.C.) or the Walk for Life West Coast (San Francisco, CA), don't miss out on these valuable opportunities to learn from an experienced JFA trainer (see below).  Our team is eager to help you take the passion you gain at the march and turn it into dialogue that can change hearts and minds about abortion in your community.

In addition, if you are interested in a pro-life internship or if you want to invite the JFA training program to your school, club, or church, we'd love to meet you!  These are great chances to get your questions answered face-to-face.

JFA Trainer Catherine Wurts speaks at a JFA workshop for Lincoln, Nebraska high school students attending the March for Life (DC) in 2015.

JFA Trainer Catherine Wurts speaks at a JFA workshop for Lincoln, Nebraska high school students attending the March for Life (DC) in 2015.

  • San Francisco, CA: January 22, 2017 - Rebecca Haschke (Speaker) - SFLA National Conference West Coast - St. Mary’s Event Center - 1111 Gough St., San Francisco, CA - Register or get more information here.
  • Upper Marlboro, MD: January 28, 2017 - Rebecca Haschke (Speaker) - SFLA National Conference East Coast - FBC Glenarden Event Center, 600 Watkins Park Drive, Upper Marlboro, MD - Register or get more information here.

Embrace both? Is it possible?

View the Art of Life Exhibit (inset), and look especially at the "Embracing child and career" panel (image inset).  

This panel of JFA's Art of Life Exhibit features Madame Vigée-Le Brun et sa fille, Jeanne-Lucie, dite Julie by Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun.  It's a self-portrait completed in France in 1786.  For more commentary, see this letter.  For more on the image, see the Art of Life page.

Do you think it's possible for women "embrace child and career"?  Or, when they find themselves pregnant, must they choose between their child in the womb and their career?  

Is abortion a good alternative?  Is it a sad, but necessary evil, or is it a something we should discourage through social pressure and/or laws?

Can you empathize with women who are struggling to make ends meet or who are finding their college careers interrupted by pregnancy?  Is it possible to care for both the woman and the child, or is it unnecessary to avoid abortion because the unborn is less than a child?

At JFA, we think these are some of the most important questions to ponder, and we think these matters are some of the most important for a society that claims to care about human beings to get right.

Discuss!  Share this post with a friend!  Let's make good conversations on abortion the common ones.

 

Note: This is one of a series of posts encouraging dialogue on abortion.  Whatever your perspective on abortion, please note that Justice For All promotes respect for people with differing views and condemns all abortion-related violence.  Please feel free to share this post on social media, and feel free to comment below.

20 Conversation Stories

I just sent this to our email list:

20 conversation stories (that you'll be glad you read) as a reminder to give a gift (that you'll be glad you gave)

As I thought about how to remind you to give a year-end gift to help JFA make abortion unthinkable one person at a time, I thought I'd point you to five collections of easy-to-digest conversation stories available for free on our website, like all of our other resources. These collections follow the train of thought of JFA's acclaimed "Abortion: From Debate to Dialogue" seminar.

I'm confident these will both encourage and equip you, and I hope you'll partner with JFA today by giving a generous gift!

Facing Abortion
Four Conversation Stories Illustrating the Importance of Pictures

Three Essential Skills
Four Conversation Stories Featuring Listening, Asking Questions, and Finding Common Ground

Trot Out the Toddler
Four Conversation Stories Teaching Readers to Refocus the Conversation

Living Human Organism
Three Conversation Stories Teaching Readers to Defend the Unborn as a Human Being, Biologically Speaking

Equal Rights Argument
Six Conversation Stories Illustrating the Equal Rights Argument

Note: This post originated in an email message to friends and supporters of JFA on Dec. 31.  It was posted on January 2, 2017 and backdated to reflect the original.

Ministry Notes for December 2016

Additional Christmas Reflections

1

In my Christmas letter, "Clueless in the Face of a Great Gift?", I shared an image of a page from The Psalter of St. Louis (image nearby) with the comment that Herod's response to Jesus, to attempt to kill him, was not the "appropriate" response to such a magnificent gift as the incarnation of the Son of God.  This is a bit of an understatement, of course. 

When Herod found that the magi had not returned to confirm for him the whereabouts of Jesus, he sent soldiers to kill all of the males in Bethlehem aged two and under (Matt. 2:16).  Could there be a greater rejection of God's great gift than to seek to kill this boy, and indeed, to kill a whole lot of other boys at the same time?  

Indeed, when women and men prepare to have their unborn children killed by abortion, they are sadly, in the same spirit as Herod, making the same great rejection of a great gift.  And when we are silent about the horror of abortion, aren’t we also, in some sense, rejecting that great gift? 

2

The challenge of giving any gift is how we will respond when it is rejected, misunderstood, or even maligned.  For some of us, perhaps, there is a challenge in giving with a spirit of charity, a kind-hearted desire for the other person's good.  I suspect, though, that the greater challenge for most of us is to choose a charitable attitude towards the person once the gift is received, but not as we intended.  What will our attitude be if the point is missed, or if the gift is even detestable to the person?  In my Christmas letter, I emphasized how patient God is with me when I fail to appreciate his gifts to me.  I want to be like him and be patient with those who fail me to appreciate my gifts to them.

3

Any act of conversation about abortion includes the same challenge of “charity after the charity.”  We set aside time to go talk to people.  Perhaps you have set aside time to participate in a JFA event or to engage someone in conversation using our “Learn at Home” program.  What’s perhaps hardest about those conversations, though, is getting them started when we know that those with whom we are speaking may not receive our gift of time, listening, well-chosen questions, and reasons to protect the unborn.  We fear the gift will instead be rejected.  So, should we simply not give the gift?  Clearly not.  The gift is worth giving because of the intrinsic value of both the gift and the recipient.  Should we mock the person who rejects it?  No.  This rejection should cause us to be sad, and sad enough that we pray that God would change the heart.

Recent and Upcoming Events

  • See the JFA Event Calendar for upcoming and recent events.
  • See our October 2016 Ministry Notes, which gives a quick visual of our events in September and October.  Although this is a fairly good snapshot of the busiest period in JFA's fall, it doesn't include our large exhibit outreach at the University of Oklahoma in November, as well as a number of other events in November and December.  See those events here.
  • See our Photos page for photos from our spring 2016 events (and previous).

Clueless in the Face of a Great Gift?

Conversations: The Monthly Letter of Justice For All

Christmas 2016

Mine was a small gift, but they missed it.

One of my favorite panels from our new Art of Life Exhibit juxtaposes a classical painting of a woman holding her daughter with the words “Embracing child and career” and “better than abortion.” 

At the University of Oklahoma this fall, though, one free speech board (image nearby) showed that this panel made no sense to some viewers.  They pointed out, confidently, that sitting for a portrait isn’t a career, and a woman in 1786 couldn’t possibly have had a career anyway.

Comments on Free Speech Board: “In 1786 this woman did NOT have a child and a CAREER!” and, [sarcastically], “Sitting for portraits is a career?”

Panel from JFA’s Art of Life Exhibit (Image: Madame Vigée-Le Brun et Sa Fille, by Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, France, 1786; More information: Art of Life web page)

Had these students looked with just a bit more curiosity at the panel in question (image nearby), they would have found etched just next to the date of the painting in the bottom right-hand corner the only clues they needed in order to discover the point of the panel — the title of the painting and the name of the painter: Madame Vigée-Le Brun et Sa Fille [by] Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun.

This translates to Mrs. Vigée-Le Brun and Her Daughter [by] Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun

Yes, indeed, there is little sense in displaying this lesser-known painting from the 18th century to illustrate the idea that a woman can embrace her child and her career, unless, of course, the woman pictured in the painting is...the painter...and the painting is her self-portrait!  A quick look at the website found on the panel (www.debate2dialogue.org) reveals that Vigée Le Brun was Marie Antoinette’s chief portrait painter.  Yes, at least one woman had a “bona fide career” in 1786!

I don’t recall talking to the students who wrote these comments.  When I came across the photos of the free speech board later, the fact that these students missed the point of the sign made me angry, and for a moment, I wanted to mock them and point out how foolish they were.  But then I caught myself.  Isn’t sadness a more appropriate response?  These dear people are missing out, after all. 

When people outright reject or miss the point of our outreach events, our good-faith attempts to dialogue with them, the beautiful wonder of life in the womb, the truth about human rights, or any other gift we offer, it makes me sad — sad, first, that they missed the gift, and second, that I, in my weaknesses, have sometimes made it harder for them to get it.

This reflection reminds me of another gift, a gift that is not only magnitudes greater than some of the gifts I’ve just been discussing, but indeed, it’s also in a category all by itself.  I’m referring to the gift of the incarnation of Jesus.

God’s gift was a great gift, but have I missed it?

This page from The Psalter of St. Louis (circa 1191-1212) alludes to two very different responses to the gift of Jesus.  Above, Herod (right) talks with the magi and prepares to attempt to kill Jesus.  Below, the magi bring gifts to Jesus, showing a much more appropriate sense of awe and appreciation for the gift of Jesus.  (See Wiki Commons for more information about the image.)

I know I have missed it to some degree.  I know, because although I respond to the gift with private awe, I don’t often respond with public acts of sharing the Savior I know.  I am usually silent.

Contrast this timidity about the gift of Jesus with the confidence I feel when I am standing near the Art of Life Exhibit and have a chance to tell people about the point of this “Embracing child and career” sign.  I am so taken with the sign that I can’t wait to tell people about it.  I want them to experience that moment of wonder, that moment of recognition that comes when one sees that this woman is embodying the embracing of both child and career, all at once, right there in the creation of this painting.  I want them to experience the beauty of the optimism of the panel, the optimism that says women don’t have to kill their children in order to actualize their abilities.

My eagerness to share the truth about Christ, on the other hand, is somehow just barely limping along, even though the incarnation was a much more wondrous embodying — the embodying of God himself.  Perhaps my eagerness is suffocated by the dark skepticism and mocking spirit of the culture.  To be sure, I also fear that the gift will simply be rejected.  Is this the appropriate thankful response to God’s gift — a private hoarding and a repetitive withholding of the truth from others?  The troubling answer is a confident, “No.”

So, let’s resolve, shall we, to share our experience of this beautiful miracle of the incarnation of Christ — his taking on human nature that he might ultimately redeem us through his death and resurrection.  Let’s resolve to share this news more publicly, even if only in small moments with strangers or friends, when we have the choice clearly set before us: Do I now allow this moment to be mundane, or do I transform it by just saying something, taking the chance that this person will join me in a moment of recognition and wonder?

Let’s resolve not to wait, then, for only those few people we’re confident will appreciate Jesus.  And let’s resolve also to strengthen our confidence in the greatness of the gift of Jesus through study, reflection, and prayer, so that we may speak more boldly.  I have a hunch, though, that trusting God by going through the motion of “speaking forth the mystery of Christ”  (Colossians 4:3) might itself do the work of strengthening our confidence to continue to speak.

When I think about how God is patient with me in my reluctance to share all I know of his marvelous gift to me, I’m thankful for his mercy and forbearance.  Perhaps I’m just as clueless as the students who mocked the Art of Life sign.  Perhaps more.  Yet, God is patient with me, a seeker who longs to appreciate his great gifts with the response they deserve.  If God is patient with me, clueless in the face of his great gift, how much more can I be patient with those whom God has called me to engage in conversation, especially when they reject the gift I am offering them?

In awe of God’s great Christmas gift,

Steve Wagner

Executive Director,

Justice For All