Impact Report, November 2016
Grace Fontenot and Clare Lavergne, two young women from Louisiana, had only been interns with JFA for two months, but they had already been inspired by JFA’s emphasis on creating conversations about abortion every week. The goal? Help those who are pro-choice come to their own settled conclusion that abortion is unthinkable, and help those who are pro-life become active advocates for unborn children.
Seeing that there was one week in their internship with no outreach event scheduled, Grace and Clare grabbed a survey clipboard and headed to Wichita State University to start conversations. Clare described what happened next:
“After a few surveys that resulted in one lengthy conversation about abortion, we asked a few more students to take our survey, but they declined. So we decided to ask one final person before leaving campus. The student whom we happened upon was Zachary Lee-Watts.
“Right off the bat, Zachary told us he was completely pro-life. He then shared with us that he was raised by a single mother in an impoverished area in Los Angeles. He felt that his mother’s situation had made him a prime target for abortion. Not only that, but he has also seen firsthand the lasting psychological effects of abortion on women who are very close to him.
“Zachary was so excited to meet people his age who were passionately pro-life like he was, and he asked us how he could get involved. We invited him to a seminar that took place the next week, and shortly after that, he accompanied us for two days of outreach at Oklahoma State University (OSU), where he engaged in many conversations of his own. Then he attended another outreach event, this time at Wichita State. He truly believes that God intended for him to meet us that day on campus and that our friendships and JFA have already had a great impact on his life and faith journey.”
Zachary shared a bit about his experience:
“At OSU we set up an exhibit titled The Art of Life, which is beautiful in itself, and is quite impacting. The entire experience was beautiful, insightful, passionate, and just awesome. Speaking to students about such a ‘controversial’ topic never seemed so peaceful and amicable. Not just that, but to also be able to connect with individuals on a personal level was splendid.
“I recall speaking to a young guy named David, who was more aligned with the pro-choice side, but we connected because we came from similar backgrounds. Eventually, I convinced him enough to at least keep his mind open and do research himself on the personhood of the unborn and their intrinsic value. There was also this fellow named Brent with whom I had a really in-depth conversation. He was pro-choice. He said his opinion didn’t matter because he was a guy. I found that quite ludicrous, so I managed to persuade him that his opinion did matter; that the subject of abortion was not just for women...that it was for humans in general.”
Zachary also described his approach to abortion prior to meeting Grace and Clare, and prior to participating with JFA:
“Admittedly, on any given day I was not one to prompt the seriousness of abortion. I did understand why it was wrong, and in a general sense how to defend my belief, but not sufficiently enough. After listening in on JFA dialogues and reading the JFA Exhibit Brochure, I understood how to convey the seriousness, and how to treat individuals who were opposed to my stance in a more comforting way. I felt more urgency to bring up the seriousness and assured that I could do so more wisely.”
The story of Grace, Clare, and Zachary is really just a story of small decisions, small decisions which ended up yielding big results. Grace and Clare made a decision which probably seemed somewhat insignificant at the time, a small decision to go and do the hard work of creating conversations about abortion. In the course of their impromptu outreach event, Grace and Clare happened upon a pro-life advocate, Zachary, who wasn’t doing much to make abortion unthinkable. They befriended him, encouraged him to participate in our training program, and now he has begun to create conversations about abortion. He has now made his own series of small decisions to seek to change minds about abortion and encourage pro-life advocates to do the same.
If you think about it, each one of us in our own small decisions each day can have the same big impact, as we prayerfully trust God for help. Indeed, JFA’s big, “impossible” mission of “training thousands to make abortion unthinkable for millions, one person at a time” can only be accomplished through the small decisions of each one of us. What part can your small decisions play in JFA’s mission? Are you able to give one or more years to work as an intern with JFA? Are you able to partner with JFA financially? Are you able to pray regularly for our team? Are you able to encourage others in your community to learn more about JFA? Are you able to participate in JFA outreach events, creating conversations that change hearts and minds? Each of these activities requires only a small decision like the decision Grace and Clare made that day to just go out and talk to students at Wichita State. Yet one of these seemingly insignificant, small decisions can even change the course of someone’s life, someone like Zachary. When we reflect on the fact that Zachary is now doing the same for others, by God’s grace, JFA’s mission no longer seems impossible at all.
- Steve Wagner, for the JFA Team