By Jeremy Gorr, JFA Trainng Specialist

Taylor wrote this on our free speech board just before our conversation.

One of the most important things we teach people is to find common ground when possible—and it is almost always possible! A great example of the power of finding common ground was a conversation I had with Taylor at the University of North Texas.

Taylor was writing on our free speech board (shown in picture). From what he wrote, it may be hard to imagine that I would have had much common ground with him. It seemed like we had totally different worldviews.

It turned out, however, that finding common ground with him was easy! Our conversation started like this:

Jeremy: Do you think there should be any restrictions on abortion at all?

Taylor: I don’t think it should be used as a form of birth control, but that’s about it.

Jeremy: I don’t think that abortion should be used as a form of birth control either. I agree with you about that! Why do you think abortion should be available for other reasons?

Taylor: If the child is not going to have the quality of life he or she should, it should be up to the parent to figure out what’s best for the child.

Jeremy: I agree that it’s tragic when children don’t have a high quality of life. I also agree that parents generally should have freedom regarding how to raise their children.

Notice how I first found something I could agree with after each statement he made. But also notice that I did not agree with everything he said. Even though I agreed with many of his sentiments, I made sure never to agree with him that abortion should be allowed in the circumstances he raised.

We call this finding “common ground without compromise.” We can find much to agree with and never compromise our position to do so. Finding common ground early in the conversation really opened the door to a thoughtful conversation with Taylor. If I had not shown him that we had so much common ground, he might have assumed I was a “Nazi” (see picture above) and not had much to say to me, much less have wanted to listen to me. Using common ground, I was able to establish that I was an empathetic, caring person just like he was.

Our staff and volunteers had lots of great conversations at the University of North Texas this spring.

Our staff and volunteers had lots of great conversations at the University of North Texas this spring.

It was truly amazing to see how these initial points of common ground opened the door to his coming around to agreeing with me on more substantial matters:

Jeremy: Imagine if there were a two-year-old child that had many of the same problems that you believe create a need for abortion, such as a low quality of life. Could we kill the two-year-old?

Taylor: No. Ideally he could be adopted or something, but you can’t kill him. By that time he’s a human being.

Jeremy: I agree. And if the unborn is also already a human, like that two-year-old, can you see how it would be equally wrong to kill her?

Taylor: I understand your argument that she’s a human and it’s not right to kill her. However, I think if you think about what’s best for her life, it would be better if she didn’t exist at all.

Jeremy: I can understand how you feel it might be better if some children didn’t exist at all. However, the question with abortion is very different. Abortion doesn’t prevent a child from coming into existence; it kills a child that already exists.

Taylor: I agree with that. That makes it much more complicated.

Taylor and I had a 20-minute conversation about the humanity of the unborn, human rights, and the immorality of abortion. He agreed with most of my arguments. As we talked it became clear that he was the type of person who would not change his mind on the spot, but definitely will reflect on the new information he learned. There may be many people that you feel have extremely different worldviews and with whom it is difficult to connect. Common ground “without compromise”* is the key to building a genuine connection and reasoning together on the issue of abortion.

* The book Common Ground Without Compromise, written by JFA Executive Director Steve Wagner, is available for free at

Impact Report, June 2019

In this Impact Report, we share a story that’s been passed down from the early days of Justice For All. The lead character is a four-year-old we’ll call “Rachel” (name changed for privacy). If Rachel was able to help save an unborn child’s life, can’t we do the same?

In the story, Rachel makes use of video footage captured using a technique called embryoscopy. At the time when the story took place, embryoscopy footage was rare and rarely seen. But now the Endowment for Human Development (EHD) has made embryoscopy footage free and readily available through a stunning website, EHD’s amazing apps, and through a new short film (see video below).

JFA recently released a K-4 lesson plan for free on the web (sign-up for updates required). The lesson plan features the video footage from EHD with the hope that we can enable thousands of churches, schools, and families to teach their children (and adults!) to do what Rachel did so naturally: speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves. - Steve Wagner, Executive Director

When “Rachel” went to preschool, she just had to tell her teacher what she had seen.

Rachel had recently climbed into her daddy’s lap as he was preparing the next day’s lesson for his ninth grade biology class. Together, they watched rare footage of very young unborn children, captured using a technique called embryoscopy. Unlike the sonography of the time, these video images were crystal clear. They watched the heart beating through the semi-transparent skin of the embryo. They saw the young fetus move her hands and legs. They watched unborn children open and close their mouths. Rachel was electrified.

As JFA’s founder, David Lee, paraphrased the story years later, here’s what happened next:

Soon after seeing the video with her father, Rachel told her preschool teacher that she had seen babies in their mother’s tummies. She described them in detail. Of course, her preschool teacher knew that wasn’t possible and gently scolded Rachel: “While that is a fun story, it is not really a good thing to make up stories.”

When Rachel’s mother came to pick her up, the teacher felt it necessary to inform Rachel’s mother that she had scolded Rachel for not being entirely truthful. Rachel’s mother replied, “On the contrary, she did see that, sitting in her father’s lap, because he was going to be showing it to his biology class.”

Of course the preschool teacher felt awful. But what might have been the end of a slightly embarrassing story was only the beginning. Not long after, the teacher was entering her apartment, unlocking the door, when she was tapped on the shoulder by her neighbor in the apartment building who was holding a pregnancy test. The neighbor said, “Can you help me read this? I’ve never done this before.”

The teacher was a little embarrassed by the situation, but as a Christian, she decided she must help. She welcomed the young woman into her apartment. Together, they read the test. Her neighbor was pregnant.

The neighbor could only say, “Would you help me go to get an abortion?”

The preschool teacher was shocked and said, “I could never help you do that. I couldn’t help you kill your baby.”

Then it was time for the neighbor to be shocked as she said, “What do you mean, a baby? I’m just four or five weeks pregnant. How could it be a baby?”

What do you mean, a baby? I’m just four or five weeks pregnant. How could it be a baby?

The light went on in the preschool teacher’s head: This young woman needed to see the very same footage that Rachel had been talking about at the preschool.

The teacher talked to Rachel’s mother and shared the story about the neighbor who was pregnant and intending to get an abortion. “May I borrow the video to show my neighbor?”

To make a long story short, she did show her neighbor and the boyfriend that video. And there’s a baby whose life was saved, in part because a four-year-old saw video of unborn children and shared it with her friends and her teacher.

If a four-year-old can learn about unborn children and speak up for them so naturally, we think elementary school students (and the rest of us) certainly can watch similar video footage and share what they’ve learned. We think we’ll see lives saved as a result. That’s why JFA has just released our first elementary school lesson plan for widespread use: “The Baby’s Heart Beats Like Mine.” Please click here to access it, download it, share it, and teach it!

Although the lesson can be fun for any age, it’s intended for use with students in kindergarten through fourth grade. As for older students, why not encourage them to help you teach the lesson to your younger students?

In this lesson, K-4 students identify with unborn babies through a series of experiences, including feeling their own heartbeats, seeing the unborn baby in the womb, naming similarities they share with unborn babies, making a bracelet that reminds them of when the heart begins to beat, and narrating what they learned to their parents. The goal is to help them value all human beings including the smallest ones and to get conversations about unborn babies started in churches, schools, and the broader culture.

This K-4 Lesson Plan is well-suited for one-to-many instruction in religious elementary schools, Sunday school environments, and homeschool co-ops, and it's also well-suited for use by parents and grandparents in teaching their kids and grandkids one-to-one.

Justice For All makes this copyrighted Lesson Plan available to anyone to use. To share it with anyone anywhere in the world, use the address You’ll be directed to sign up as a "JFA Content Subscriber." That's free. It's just our way of making sure we can keep in contact with folks using the lesson plan. (Or, you can share this lesson plan summary and letter using the link

By Kaitlyn Donihue, JFA Intern

Kaitlyn Donihue shares the brochure in a conversation at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado in March 2019.  (Photos shared in this story courtesy of    Master Plan Ministries   )

Kaitlyn Donihue shares the brochure in a conversation at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado in March 2019. (Photos shared in this story courtesy of Master Plan Ministries)

Our team was conducting outreach at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado in March 2019. A young man came up and signed the poll table. I asked him whether he thought abortion should be legal throughout all nine months of pregnancy, or just for a window of time in pregnancy.

“Definitely all nine months,” he said.

“Ok. I am really curious. Women get abortions for a lot of different reasons. How do you feel about a circumstance in which a woman wants a boy, but realizes that she is pregnant with a girl—should she be allowed to get an abortion for that reason?”

“Yes,” he said emphatically. “Women should have choices.”

“So you think that abortion should be legal through all nine months of pregnancy for any reason at all? Is that correct?”


JFA volunteers dialogue with students at Fort Lewis College in March 2019. (Photo courtesy of Master Plan Ministries)

At this point, I wanted to go talk to someone else. I did not want to talk to someone who was that staunchly pro-choice, but instead I said,

“I agree with what you said a minute ago. Women should have the freedom to make choices. Freedom is so important. I am so glad that I live in a country where I have rights and freedom. There are many countries around the world where I, as a woman, would not have rights.”

“Now, this is going to sound strange,” I said, “But I am also glad that I do not have some rights. For example, I do not have the right to walk onto this campus with a gun and start shooting people. My rights end where your rights begin. So I think the question we have to ask with the issue of abortion is, ‘What is the unborn?’ If the unborn is not a human being and abortion does not kill a human being, then I think you are right. If that were the case, then abortion should be legal through all nine months for any reason. But if the unborn is a human being and abortion actually takes the life of a human being, then even though there are really difficult situations in which women find themselves, I don't think those situations can justify taking the life of a human being. What do you think? Do you think the unborn is a human being?”

JFA volunteers dialogue with students at Fort Lewis College in March 2019. (Photo courtesy of Master Plan Ministries)

I pulled out the JFA brochure and showed him pictures of development.

“Yes. Yes, I think it is a human being. You’re right. This is wrong. We can’t kill human beings,” he said thoughtfully.

“Do you think that abortion should not be legal?”

“Yes. I don’t think it should be legal.” He was staring at the pictures of development.

One conversation during the recent outreach at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado (Photo courtesy of Master Plan Ministries)

“The next page of this brochure contains some graphic pictures of what abortion does. Would you mind if I showed them to you?”

“No. That would be okay.”

I opened the brochure, and we stood there in silence for a couple of moments. He was very thoughtful.

“This should never be legal,” he said.

Through this conversation, I was reminded that I cannot really know another person or his beliefs until I take the time to ask questions and hear him out. I never know what God might do, even in the heart of a student that seems closed off.

By Jeremy Gorr, JFA Trainng Specialist

This is Rylei after a conversation at her first outreach event at Colorado State University in 2017.

One of the most critical parts of our work is training Christians to have conversations about abortion so that they can change people’s hearts and minds. It is always great to see this process working in the real world. I saw it recently at a seminar I gave in Phoenix when one of the participants, Rylei, told me her story.

We initially trained Rylei as a junior in high school at Faith Christian Academy in 2017. Often when we train Christian students, they tell us that they don’t know who to talk to because all of their friends are pro-life. One of her high school classmates commented, “Because of our culture, I rarely even considered abortion and its morality. This [experience with JFA] really helped show what it is and the impact it really has in America.”

The value of our training, however, lasts throughout these students’ lives. In Rylei’s case, she is now a student at Arizona State University with two pro-choice roommates.

I asked her how her JFA training helped her talk to her pro-choice friends about abortion.

Rylei shared her thoughts about JFA recently when she came to a seminar I taught at her campus, Arizona State University.

Most of my pro-choice friends haven’t thought through their position very much. I was writing a paper for my class on the pro-life position, using the same arguments you guys gave me. While writing the paper, one of my roommates saw me watching a video of a pro-life person having a conversation with a pro-choice person, and said, “Wow, he is really destroying her pro-choice arguments.” So she’s hearing the arguments as I’m researching my paper. So I find ways to naturally bring up the topic of abortion with them.

Rylei’s first exposure to Justice For All was during our seminar at her high school in 2017. Here JFA trainer CK Wisner (center, curly hair) leads her mentor group in interactive exercises and discussion as Rylei (facing CK) listens.

Rylei also has a passion for doing outreach at her campus. That passion was born from the outreach she did with us in high school. I am always thinking of how difficult it must be for a high school student like Rylei, who was 16 her first time doing outreach, to engage college students on a difficult topic like abortion.

That is what makes outreach such an important part of our training program. Once someone overcomes the initial fear of talking about abortion, this newfound confidence can even last a lifetime. One of her classmates at that first outreach experience said, “Outreach taught me that getting uncomfortable is a really good thing. When God is with you, you don’t have to fear.”

I asked Rylei about her outreach experiences during high school.

I love it. Every time. It is so rewarding, honestly. I know the first time I was super nervous, [and] I got thrown right into a conversation. But after you get through the first conversation I feel like it gets a lot easier.

Rylei is a living example of our training program in action. Rylei left high school with good arguments for the pro-life position, good skills for conversations about them, and courage to actually have conversations about abortion with those who disagree with her position. She was totally equipped for dealing with her pro-choice roommates and reaching her largely pro-choice campus.

During her senior year in high school in 2018, Rylei joined us for outreach again, this time at Metro State University in Denver.

Because of your support of Justice For All, we were able to be there to help Rylei each step of the way. She attended a JFA seminar and then an outreach event at CSU in 2017. She participated again in 2018 at Metro State University. And just last week because of a JFA seminar event, we had the privilege of encouraging her to become active at Arizona State University, where she is now a student. Thank you for partnering with us as we serve students like Rylei, so that they can become effective advocates of their pro-life position to their future pro-choice friends—many of whom will face an unplanned pregnancy in their future.

By Jon Wagner, JFA Trainng Specialist

“I was in the broken foster care system and have seen the challenges of adoption—I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, so I am pro-choice,” replied “Eva” cautiously. I had asked for her opinion on abortion as she approached our exhibit at the University of North Texas (UNT). She continued to walk, appearing to have little interest in a discussion.

“Eva” was more willing to focus on the unborn because I showed empathy for her suffering first. Here JFA volunteer Mark creates a similar moment for another UNT student. (Photo: University of North Texas, November 2018)

At that point, I was tired from a long day of conversations. My knee-jerk reaction to her anecdotal reasoning was to give a quick, factual response, but that approach wouldn’t have served Eva. She appeared to be skeptical and shy, worried that I might lash out with a firm response. I wanted my words to be meaningful and gracious to Eva. I wanted her to truly hear that I cared.

So instead of following my initial impulse I said, “I hear you, and I want you to know that I don’t think the foster care and adoption systems are perfect, or that these processes are easy or smooth. I’m sorry if anyone, especially a pro-life advocate, has ever implied that they are. I know that many cases do play out well, but I also know that even in the best cases, placing someone for adoption, adopting a baby, or being placed in foster care are very complex processes logistically and emotionally. We pro-life advocates need to research more and learn to listen and empathize better.”

I hear you, and I want you to know that I don’t think the foster care and adoption systems are perfect, or that these processes are easy or smooth. I’m sorry if anyone, especially a pro-life advocate, has ever implied that they are.

Eva was visibly relieved that I had acknowledged the challenges she brought up, and she was encouraged that I asked questions that allowed her to open up about her life growing up in the foster care system. She seemed very thankful to be heard.

Eventually, I felt we had reached a moment when it would be fruitful to return to the topic of abortion. Our dialogue went something like this:

Jon: Would you agree that many of the challenges faced by children in foster care actually increase as they get older? I’ve heard that it’s often especially difficult to place an older child for adoption.

Eva: I definitely agree with that.

Jon: Knowing that, then, how should we treat infants, toddlers, and young kids who are currently in a difficult foster care or adoption situation? Even though they face increasingly challenging circumstances, would ending the lives of these children ever be an acceptable solution to their problems?

Eva: Of course not. Regardless of the challenges, violence is not the answer.

Jon: I agree. Eva, it seems to me that this relates directly to the topic of abortion. If the unborn are fully human like older children in the foster care system, then wouldn’t that mean that the unborn should be protected in the same way? Shouldn’t children be protected despite the challenges they face, or the challenges that seem to lie ahead of them, at any stage in their development?

Eva: That makes sense. I would agree that if the unborn is a human being, just like children outside the womb in the foster care system, then they should be protected in the same way.

Eva then willingly processed through the information on our human development display, listening as I explained why we know that the preborn are whole, living, human beings. Furthermore, she heard me out as I shared that the preborn should not be treated differently because they look different than we do, or because they are inside of or dependent on their mothers. None of these reasons justify killing them. Eva then brought up pain sensation, asserting that perhaps it marks the start of value and worth for the unborn.

Eventually, after discussing that specific topic and several others, Eva agreed that abortion is wrong, at least after seven weeks. Even though she did not agree with me about the equality of the unborn before seven weeks of age, she seemed to shift on her view of many cases of abortion. Additionally, she now seemed more uncomfortable with all of them.

The most encouraging thing about my conversation with Eva didn’t come until the very end. As we concluded our dialogue, Eva wasn’t just content or thankful for being heard—she was beaming. I offered Eva a bottle of water since we had been talking for a while, and it was warming up. She said, “Yes, I’d love a water, but I was actually going to offer to buy you a drink and a snack in the union as a sign of gratitude for our conversation.” Eva chose to bless me, even though I had just disagreed with her very firmly.

In the conversation Jon Wagner (orange hat) had with Eva, he had the opportunity to share JFA’s brochure and his reasons for opposing abortion. The same happened with another UNT student pictured above. (Photo: University of North Texas, November 2018)

I handed Eva JFA’s new “Invitation to Dialogue” Brochure, and wrote down other websites she could go to for further study.* She was very open to these resources and promised to do further research. I gave Eva a hug, and she thanked our team for caring and engaging her campus in healthy discussion.

As I reflected back to the beginning of my interaction with Eva, one important principle stood out: I didn’t need to immediately make my next point when she first shared hers. I needed to empathize with her and acknowledge her ideas, even if they were unpersuasive, because she matters. Ironically, this was likely what prompted her interest in hearing what I had to say, after all. Eva ended up showing genuine interest in the reasons I opposed abortion and in discussing our differences. She even expressed interest in staying in contact and discussing the issue further.

Empathy for another person and genuine interest in another perspective drew together two unlikely friends. This was one of my favorite conversations last year. It showed once again the value of JFA’s Three Essential Skills: asking questions with an open heart, listening to understand, and finding common ground when possible.

* Websites Jon shared in this conversation:

Impact Report, February 2019

As a freshman at the University of New Mexico (UNM), Julia held strong pro-life convictions, bolstered by her faith and her own scientific research. Living in New Mexico, a state some have called “the late-term abortion capital” of the country, she was also aware that many people around her were hurting and severely uninformed about abortion. But Julia didn’t know what she could do to make a difference. Julia knew about the Students For Life club at UNM, but she missed the training seminar that the club had invited JFA to lead for pro-life students that fall. Julia did attend the outreach event JFA held on her campus that week, however, mainly to observe. In this Impact Report, Julia shares how compelling it can be to witness a different kind of conversation about unintended pregnancy and abortion firsthand. It was these conversations that motivated her to share the truth about abortion with her peers and help women facing unintended pregnancies on her campus. Have you ever experienced a JFA outreach event firsthand? If not, join us at any upcoming event and feel free to simply watch and listen. If you can’t make it in person, you can view a complete outreach conversation on our blog, right now! There’s nothing quite like seeing these unique conversations unfold before your eyes.

- Steve Wagner, Executive Director

Julia (far left, with backpack) observes conversations at a 2017 JFA outreach event at UNM during her first semester on campus. The transparent barrel under the yellow sign contains fetal models representing the children killed by abortion in America during the days JFA was on campus.

I first encountered Justice For All during my first semester on campus... It was the second day of outreach and I stopped by the display to listen to the conversations being had. I ended up staying for a couple of hours and witnessed several dialogues about human value, rights, and the reality of abortion. What amazed me was just how effectively and calmly the Justice For All leaders and Students For Life students were able to speak on such a controversial topic.

“I began to dialogue with [the group of pro-choice men] of them began to yell at me for hurting women. It was then that a JFA leader stepped in...‘Look all are so staunchly wanting to stand up for the rights of women, but you’re doing it by yelling at the only woman in this group.’”

Near the end of the day, a group of young men began to speak to each other about why they were pro-choice and were shocked when I, the only woman in the group of about seven men, said I was pro-life. I began to dialogue with them until about ten minutes went by when one of them began to yell at me for hurting women. It was then that a JFA leader stepped in to diffuse the situation and said something that made them all pause: “Look all are so staunchly wanting to stand up for the rights of women, but you’re doing it by yelling at the only woman in this group.” I ended up speaking with a couple of the young men long after JFA had already taken down the display. It was then that I realized that it was this sort of outreach that was so necessary on our campus, and right then I joined Students for Life UNM and became the Pregnant on Campus coordinator which allowed me to offer support and resources to pregnant and parenting students on campus.

Justice For All returned to UNM in fall of 2018 where I got to attend my first actual seminar with them. What inspired me was how they stressed the importance of valuing the life of the person you’re speaking with enough to listen, ask questions, and to be calm, understanding, and kind, all while standing up for the dignity of the unborn. I strongly encourage our group and community members to attend JFA’s trainings because it made me feel like outreach was less about fighting with those who disagree with you in order to prove your point, and more about loving those people enough to take the time to speak to their hearts.

Julia talks with a fellow student during JFA’s outreach event at the University of New Mexico (UNM) in November 2018.

During the outreach days I had the chance to speak with a young man whose girlfriend had two abortions, at least one of them being his child. He at first was very much in support of abortion rights, but as we spoke, and after a couple of hours went by, he revealed just how much hurt and pain he and his girlfriend continue to endure due to the loss of their baby. The conversation began with an unshakable defense of their actions and ended with me giving him abortion healing resources and him thanking us for speaking to him.

Recently everything came full circle, and I was honored to have been named the new President of Students for Life UNM. I still give credit to Justice For All for being that push that changed my personal beliefs about being pro-life to a drive to share this reality with others. I am forever thankful for the work that they do, and we are looking forward to JFA’s next visit to the UNM campus in March!

- Julia
President, UNM Students for Life

“‘Americans Are Weird’…And Why That’s Fantastic” (Featured Resource for January 2019)
By Grace Fontenot, JFA Training Specialist

At Colorado State University last month, we asked a new question with our poll table: “Is abortion an injustice?” Many CSU students stopped to sign “Yes” or “No” and converse with our staff and volunteers. After seeing him sign the “No” side of the poll, I asked a student I’ll call “Ian” to share with me why he had signed that he didn’t think abortion is an injustice. Our conversation went something like this:

Ian: Americans are so weird! In my country this isn’t even a conversation! If a woman wants an abortion, she can get it done on Monday and be back to work on Tuesday, and no one will give it a second thought. There’s no conversation to be had; it’s a simple right. There’s no argument, and talking about the fetus isn’t even relevant to me, because women have the right, as humans, to abortion.

This was a group conversation at JFA’s Kennesaw State University outreach in August. There were so many students wanting to weigh in on our poll table question that you can’t even see it in this photo!

Ian shared with me that he came from England, and that abortion is entirely accepted in most of the UK. It’s covered by the universal health care program there. He had never considered whether it should be illegal, or whether it could be wrong and not the fundamental right of a woman.

Grace: Ian, I know it may be a little weird, but would you be willing to take a step out of your worldview and try to consider the perspective of an American who thinks that abortion should not be legal?

Ian: Sure, I’ll give it a try.

Grace: Thank you for being willing to consider this with me. Imagine that instead of abortion, we are talking about racism, and our whole country embraced racism and the mistreatment of people of color. If this were the case, would it not be our moral obligation to question our laws? If you and I, as people with light skin, had lived during the time of the civil rights movement, would we not have been obligated to march alongside people of color, even if we hadn’t experienced racism firsthand?

Ian: Of course we would have had an obligation to march alongside them to fight for their rights!

Grace: I agree. So then to tie this back to the topic of abortion, if the unborn are also human, with equal rights to you and me, then don’t we have an obligation to speak out against the injustice of abortion? Don’t we have that obligation even if our whole country and culture embraces abortion as a woman’s right?

Ian: That’s a very good point. I’ve never thought about it that way before. We absolutely have an obligation to stand up for those who are being unjustly treated. I can totally understand your beliefs now and why you’re so passionate about this. I just still don’t think that the fetus is human early in the pregnancy.

Grace: That’s really helpful to know; it helps me to understand you better. Thank you for sharing that. When would you say that we become human? [I then pointed to the embryology pictures on our kiosk.]

Ian: Whoa! That is a question I have absolutely never thought about before. If we choose seven weeks, which is 49 days, then why not 50? What could possibly change so much on the 50th day that it would then be wrong to get an abortion? I really can’t answer your question. Hah! I’m going to be thinking about this for the whole rest of my day now!

Above, Grace is shown talking through the question of whether or not the unborn is a human being with rights with a student at Colorado State University.

Our conversation caused Ian to pause and consider something he had never considered before — one central question regarding abortion: “Is the unborn a human being?” Taking a good, long look at this question (and the more specific question, “precisely when in pregnancy?”) has the potential to remove the blinders from his eyes. What strikes me about Ian is that he had been completely indoctrinated by his culture. Sometimes, this can be a good thing. For example, if someone is indoctrinated to think that it is wrong to steal, this is a very good thing. On the other hand, if the indoctrination is a normalization of evil, like racism or sexism or abortion, then we have a grave problem on our hands.

So I would agree with Ian, that Americans are weird, because we live in one of the only first-world countries that even has an ongoing debate about abortion. We’re weird because we care. We care about the injustice that is going on in the world today, that there are tens of millions of abortions happening worldwide every year. We’re weird because there are still many Christians in America who take a stand for their beliefs, whereas many Christians in other countries have fallen silent. We still believe that God made man in His image, and that that is where our value comes from. If human beings have value, then it is wrong to kill them. There are enough of us who care in America that we are willing to speak out, and our voices are heard echoing around the world.

So my encouragement to you? Do not stop speaking out. Do not grow weary of speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves (Prov 31:8).

Jesus reminds us in the Gospel of John (15:18) that when the world rejects us for following Him, we should remember that it also rejected Him. With this in mind, praise God that those in England who consider us “weird” do so. In this case, it means we are doing something very right. In places like England, Christians have far less of a voice than those in America. People around the world see the abortion debate in America as weird. Why is that? Because there are enough Christians here making the voice of the Lord heard. His is the voice that cries out for the injustice happening to the tiniest humans on earth, and the injustice that is done to their mothers and fathers who have bought into the lie that abortion is acceptable because it is legal. Praise God that we are weird, because in this case it means that we are doing the will of God.

Featured Resource for October 2018
By Jeremy Gorr, JFA Training Specialist

Sometimes it’s not a logical argument that makes people open their minds about abortion, but a story. In the case of Amin, a student I met this fall at Kennesaw State University, that story came from the person standing right next to him.

Grace (left) and Jeremy (right) interact with students near our poll table at Kennesaw State University (KSU).

When we started talking, Amin was quite rude. He kept interrupting me. When some others joined the conversation, he started interrupting them. In fact, when someone asked him to stop interrupting, Amin cursed at him, and I thought he was close to starting a fist fight. Amin wouldn’t listen to what anybody had to say.

Still, I was trying to connect with him, explaining why our conversation was so important.

Jeremy: The reason we should both be listening to each other is that over 925,000 lives are lost to abortion each year in this country, and I think if we listened we could find a way to save those lives.

Amin: Would we actually be able to save those lives, though? How many of those children would make it to age 25 with the kind of upbringing they will probably get? If a mother wants to have an abortion, and she can’t get one, how do you think that kid will be raised?

Jeremy: I don’t think we can say for sure what kind of life that child will have.

Amin: But probably it will be bad. If my mom didn’t want to have me, and then she did, I don’t think that I would be her top priority.

At that moment, standing right next to him, a woman named Ima decided that she had to respond.

Ima: I don’t think it is a fair assumption that those kids are going to have horrible lives.

Amin: I’m saying if the mother wanted to have an abortion, they are pretty much guaranteed to have horrible lives.

Frequently, group conversations spontaneously formed during our three days of outreach at KSU.

Ima: My mom wanted to abort me, but instead she put me up for adoption. And I have had a successful life. I don’t think it’s fair to assume that the children we’re talking about will have horrible lives. They can be put into loving environments like I was.

Amin: But you got adopted. There are tons of children who don’t.

Ima: But there are also tons of parents that want to adopt children. I think we can find a way to help more people adopt them. I just don’t think you’re considering both sides and considering adoption as an option.

Amin: You make a good point. I don’t think we should go straight to abortion as the only option.

After Ima shared her story, Amin finally started listening. Ima, Amin, and I then discussed many of the arguments against abortion. By the end of the conversation, Amin admitted to me that he had gained a whole new perspective on the issue.

Amin: I’m glad we had this conversation. You do bring up many good points. Because I started listening I was able to hear you. It is a human life, and I have to put that perspective in my head. Ima, your story was great, and you allowed me to see other sides of the story when it comes to abortion.

Jeremy: Thank you for having an open mind.

Amin: This is good. We all got to talk. We all got to share our opinions. I apologize for snapping at you and interrupting initially. When you started talking you seemed passionate, and you seemed informed. I’m glad I started listening. I’m honestly not very well-informed on this topic.

Amin realized that while he was eager to dispute all of my arguments, he could not dispute Ima’s life. She was proof that he was wrong to assume all children in situations of unwanted pregnancy would have horrible lives. That realization caused him to start listening to my arguments and reconsider his overall perspective on abortion. That’s one of the things I like most about Justice For All’s outreach events: they create a space for people like Amin to meet people like Ima, a space where they can discuss their views on abortion together. Many times that’s all it takes to change hearts and minds.

Impact Report, May 2018

Spencer Stewart, a high school teacher and long-time JFA volunteer, is passionate about the training opportunities that JFA provides to Christian communities like his school (Veritas Christian School in Lawrence, Kansas).  In recent years, Spencer has invested personal time and effort in equipping his students for dialogue during class time.  In March, after teaching students using JFA materials, he brought twenty students to our University of Kansas outreach event to watch JFA mentors in conversation and to give the students an opportunity to join in.  In this Impact Report, Spencer and several of his students share about their experiences.  (Student quotations have been edited for length.)  We are always eager to come alongside teachers like Spencer who have a heart for discipleship, providing the tools and experiences they can use to help their students “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves” (Prov. 31:8, NIV).  - Steve Wagner, Executive Director

Spencer Stewart talks with a University of Kansas (KU) student at a JFA outreach event in April 2015.

I have attended about a dozen Abortion: From Debate to Dialogue seminars by Justice For All, often in order to bring new volunteers, as well as multiple outreaches on different college campuses.  For two years now, it has been my privilege to teach JFA’s material to juniors and seniors in my Worldview and Apologetics classes over the course of the week leading up to a campus outreach.  They have eagerly engaged with the training.  I love that the Three Essential Skills (asking clarifying questions, listening to understand, and building common ground without compromise) prepare them to be better humans and better conversation partners on any topic.

All of my students know that they should be pro-life, but I love to see lightbulbs switch on as they learn more precisely why – and how to help others see it for themselves.  At the outreach, we pair students with an apologist with Justice For All so they can listen in on and pray through the conversations taking place.  Having received the training in class, they are able to track with the JFA apologist and better learn the nuances of these kinds of dialogues.  Some of our students even jump in and engage in conversations of their own.  All of the students have been enthusiastic about the experience.  It opens their eyes to the diversity of thinking on campus, and they all benefit from JFA staff members modeling both kindness and conviction in the midst of a controversial issue.  The juniors always want to do it again the following year. The hope is that the second time around will help them internalize the approach and increase their confidence to lead this kind of conversation.

It obviously interrupts the flow and takes a chunk of time away from our regular content, but I believe it is worth it, without a doubt.
— Spencer Stewart

It obviously interrupts the flow and takes a chunk of time away from our regular content, but I believe it is worth it, without a doubt.  In terms of scope and severity, I consider abortion to be the greatest injustice on the planet, and God’s people are called to partner with Him in seeking justice, especially for the weakest and most vulnerable among us.  With this issue, I believe partnering with Justice For All is the best way to do that, especially because they also work to connect students who are considering abortion (or who need healing from one) with local pregnancy care centers.  We are wired to be heroes, and we can literally save lives at these outreaches, and in our daily walk, once we have been prepared in this way.  I pray that more and more churches and schools will open themselves up to be blessed by JFA and equipped for life on mission.

- Spencer Stewart, Veritas Christian School Teacher

Spencer (right) listens to a conversation at one of the first JFA outreach events in which he participated, at Wichita State University in January 2012. 

[The JFA in-class preparation] taught me how to communicate an important point with someone in a non-threatening way, and it made me really think about my reasons for being pro-life.

- Marianna, Veritas Christian School Student

Spencer (left) talks with a University of Kansas (KU) student at a JFA outreach event in April 2016.  Students whom he brought to that outreach event listen in.

The JFA outreach was beneficial to me because I have never gotten the chance to talk to a stranger about my beliefs and ask about theirs.  It was great to [hear] someone else’s belief, and for them to hear mine.  Using the finding common ground technique worked great because they felt differently about the message we were sending after we talked.

- Rondre, Veritas Christian School Student

Spencer (right) and his students listen as Rebecca Hotovy describes JFA’s Art of Life Exhibit at the recent University of Kansas outreach event in March 2018. 

The JFA [in-class preparation] showed me how to better listen and not just attack a person based on their opinion.  It helped my confidence when speaking to non-believers about scriptural things.  The JFA outreach was super cool to be a part of because we were doing the work of God.  Watching older, wiser people listen and have Godly conversations was helpful spiritually.  The JFA outreach showed me just a glimpse of some of the opinions on campus, and the need for God.

- Quinton, Veritas Christian School Student

JFA impacted me by helping me understand the facts about abortion and how to talk to people in a relational way about this topic.  It strengthened my reasoning for what I believe and opened my eyes to other people’s views.

- Leandra, Veritas Christian School Student

The JFA training impacted me by making me feel more prepared to share about abortion with others and get into meaningful conversations.  The techniques they taught us were very helpful and will be useful going into next year.  The JFA outreach was different than what I thought it was going to be, but in a good way.  The exhibit [was] very thought provoking and a good way to get people to ask questions.

- Emma, Veritas Christian School Student

The JFA [in-class preparation] made me think of most debates or disagreements in a different way.  It gave me a different method to approach them.  The JFA outreach was interesting because it showed the actual beliefs of real people, not just hypothetical responses and answers.

- Anonymous, Veritas Christian School Student

Impact Report, April 2017

Introductory Note:  JFA training is not just theoretical.  JFA volunteers are able to immediately put what they learn into practice.  Once equipped through a JFA seminar, volunteers start their practical training by watching their JFA mentors in conversation, observing how they use JFA dialogue skills with pro-choice advocates.  After that they create their own conversations alongside a JFA mentor who can offer feedback and support.  Volunteers are enthusiastic about this unique, active learning experience, one that can’t be replicated in a classroom.  In this Impact Report, featuring conversation stories from Rebecca Hotovy and Paul Kulas, you'll see how JFA mentors supported outreach volunteers at our recent University of Kansas (KU) outreach, praying for them, modeling good dialogue, and participating with them in their first conversations.  - Steve Wagner, Executive Director

Maya (right) talks to a fellow student at JFA’s Art of Life Exhibit outreach at the University of Kansas, an outreach she helped to organize.  See the JFA Photo Archive for more photos from the KU outreach event.

I was mentoring a young woman named Maya, the president of the Jayhawks for Life club that had invited JFA to the University of Kansas (KU).  I had been praying for her throughout the trip because I wanted her to be able to be encouraged by the conversations that she was going to witness while we were mentoring her.  She’s someone who really desires to go out and create conversation. 

One of the first conversations she witnessed was actually one that she started.  She saw a young man, “Will,” standing next to the Art of Life Exhibit, and when she realized that he was just standing there looking and that no one else on our staff was able to engage him, she walked up to him to ask him what he thought.  When she started to ask him questions, Will revealed that he actually didn’t know yet what his thoughts were about abortion.

She didn’t know where to go from there, so she asked if she could introduce him to someone who could guide him through the pro-life position.  Once she found out that Will was open to a dialogue with someone, she ran and grabbed me, brought me over, and introduced me to him.

Rebecca (left), Maya (hidden, with pink cap), and another volunteer interact with students (not Will) at JFA’s Art of Life Exhibit at KU.

We started a conversation, and Will seemed pretty open to hearing why I believed what I did.  I asked him if I could see if there were areas where we could agree.  First we jumped into the topic of biology.  I told Will that I believed that the unborn is a human being from conception forward, and he said, “You know, I don’t believe that it’s a human being from conception on a biological level.”  I then found out that he was a biology major, so I first asked him, “Since you’re a biology major, would you mind if I would just share with you snippets from my understanding of biology, and then you can break those down, and tell me if you agree or disagree?”  He said, “Okay!”

So I took about two minutes to explain the sperm and the egg coming together.  We also walked through the “construction vs. development” concept.  (See our “Extending Your Learning - Biology” page to learn more about the way in which the unborn is not constructed like a car, but instead develops from within, more like a polaroid photo.)  He said, “You know, there’s nothing there I can disagree with at this point.”

Then we walked through the idea that, from fertilization, the unborn is not part of another organism, but is a whole organism with its own functional parts.  I asked Will what his thoughts were on that, and he said, “You know, there’s nothing I can disagree with there either.”  So we came to the end of walking through how we know the unborn is biologically human, and he didn’t have anything to refute.

“Okay, so we agree that the unborn is biologically human,” I said.  “What does that mean with regard to abortion?”  After that, I walked through the Equal Rights Argument, and he seemed to be very responsive to that line of reasoning.  (Learn to defend the equal right to life of the unborn through real-life dialogue examples in our Equal Rights Argument Newsletter Collection.)

We had probably talked for about thirty minutes when Will looked at me and at Maya.  “That is one of the most logical arguments I have heard for the pro-life position,” he said.  “I am really going to have to continue processing this and thinking about this.”

When he walked away, Maya turned to me and said, “That was amazing!”

I was really excited because this seemed to be an answer to my prayers for Maya.  That was one of the first outreach conversations she had witnessed, and it walked through the seminar material in a way that would make it make sense for her.  It wasn’t a conversation about one of the more complicated topics that are sometimes raised at our events, such as “whether or not we know we exist” or “whether or not we can know anything at all.”  It was actually one of the more basic conversations, in which the person with whom we spoke was able to follow pretty simple ideas and logic.

- Rebecca Hotovy, Training Specialist

Sean (right) and Benjamin (center) talk to their JFA mentor, Paul Kulas (left), about Benjamin’s first conversation at the KU outreach in March.

Three students from a Catholic high school joined the JFA team at KU as mission trip participants from out of state.  These young men were participants at the JFA seminar held just off campus and then came out to volunteer for the first full day of outreach at KU.  After they helped with exhibit setup, our team started to create conversations with KU students.  About an hour or two into the outreach, I noticed that these young men from my group were doing a good job of just observing JFA staff members’ conversations, which is what we had instructed them to do for the first portion of the day.

I was taking pictures, standing off to the side, when a KU student came up to two of the young men, Benjamin and Sean.  They were standing next to the new art table by the Art of Life Exhibit at the time, listening to one of Becca Hotovy’s conversations.  (See pictures of the art table created by JFA trainer Grace Fontenot, and other photos from the recent outreach at KU, in the JFA Photo Archive.)  Right after the KU student came up to talk to them, Benjamin started interacting with him.  The college student seemed to have an agenda, and he had a sort of steamrolling personality in the conversation.  I was within earshot, but not close enough to be in the conversation, so I slowly inched my way closer to listen and be available if I was needed.

The KU student shared that he had grown up in a Christian community in a small, remote town.  A 13-year-old girl in the town had been forced into an intimate, incestuous relationship by an older family member.  He said the girl had ended up getting pregnant as a result, and that the family had shamed this young woman for what had happened even though she was the victim.  The KU student ended up basically saying to the high schoolers, “What would you tell this woman who gets pregnant and wants an abortion?”

It was one of the hardest topics that ever gets brought up, and it was the first conversation in which these students had actively participated.  I didn’t know how Benjamin would handle it, but he did a really good job of showing compassion for the rape victim, balancing the relational and intellectual challenges inherent in responding to the question of rape.  (See “What about Rape?” in JFA's Interactive Guide to learn to meet both challenges and respond in a Christ-like way.)  I thought that with just one seminar under his belt, he actually did very well at staying on the relational side, focusing on the horror of rape and showing genuine sympathy.  He didn’t jump into intellectual argument mode, even though he was a very intellectually adept student.  I did end up joining in the conversation at one point to help out somewhat, but he had done a really good job of focusing on the right approach at the right time. 

- Paul Kulas, Director of Operations

By Grace Fontenot, JFA Training Specialist

Part 1:  Morality and Legality

“Will you talk to me about abortion?  Please just tell me about it!”  This was not what I expected to hear upon returning to my host home on a recent JFA trip.  My hosts were out on a date, and they had informed me that they would have their new babysitter staying with their kids that evening, and that she’d let me into the house.  The kids were already in bed when I knocked on the door, and their babysitter, “Heidi,” answered.  She turned out to be a sweet, friendly young woman, and a student at a local university.

A Living Room Conversation.png

Heidi and I hit it off immediately.  We began chatting, and pretty soon she asked me why I was visiting the area, so I explained to her the work that I do with Justice For All.  I told her that through speaking and mentoring, I help train pro-life advocates to defend their beliefs in a way that balances truth and love in every conversation.  She then enthusiastically said, “Will you talk to me? Will you give me one of your talks?”  I was happily surprised, and we sat down in the cozy living room where I then asked her if she’d share her thoughts on abortion.  Our conversation went something like this:

Heidi:  I believe that little life has a soul, and I don’t think it’s my place to “play God” by ending that life through abortion.  But I don’t think that I can allow my religious beliefs to limit the choices of others who don’t share them when it comes to making public policies.  So I can’t say that I think abortion should be made illegal.

Grace:  I understand your concern for the freedom of others, and not wanting to force people to live by religious standards they don’t hold.  Can I ask you a question, though?  I’ve talked to a lot of people about abortion, and I’ve noticed that people have different reasons for why they hold their views.  Why are you pro-life?

Heidi:  I think because I’ve always wanted to be a mom.  My mom has always said I was born to be a mother.  I was raised pro-life, but like I said, I don’t think I can tell others that they can’t get an abortion.

Grace:  Do you believe that there are some things mentioned in the Bible, which we believe as
Christians, that also should be laws?  For example, one of the Ten Commandments is “Thou shalt not kill.”  Do you think we should make murder legal because the law against it may be influenced by a Christian belief?

Heidi:  No, of course not!  You’re right, that law makes sense for everyone even though it’s also a Christian belief.

Grace:  This may sound like a weird question to ask, but what is the definition of murder?

Heidi:  It’s when you kill an innocent person… and if abortion kills a human being, then it must be murder!

Notice how I first built common ground with Heidi.  I tried to identify with her discomfort about forcing others, by law, to comply with a belief system they don’t currently hold.  Because of this, Heidi felt heard and understood.  After I built common ground, though, I raised an example of a law that coincides with our religious beliefs, but which can clearly be legally applied to all citizens regardless of religion.  Heidi quickly recognized that outlawing abortion falls into this category.  If abortion kills an innocent human being, it is not only morally wrong, but must be legally outlawed for everyone.

Part 2:  The Unborn - A Living, Human Organism

Heidi began to realize that if abortion kills an innocent human being, it must be restricted legally.  This naturally took us into the next part of our conversation, in which we discussed the humanity of the unborn, biologically.  It was such a fun conversation because we were both becoming increasingly excited!  I was curious about her views on the biology of the unborn, so I decided to clarify whether or not we held the same beliefs on that subject.  My hope in asking these questions was to make her more confident in her position against abortion.

Grace:  I remember you mentioning earlier the word “life,” and I’m curious, what does the word “life” mean for you?  You may have noticed I ask for definitions pretty often, and that’s because, over time, I’ve realized that people can have different intended definitions for the same words.

Heidi:  Oh, okay.  Well, actually, I was just studying this!  [Heidi excitedly took out her course notes to reference them.]  When I say “life,” I think I mean development.  I’m in a developmental motor skills class, and I was just reading about how, from the moment that fertilization is completed, development is happening!

Grace in conversation in front of the Art of Life exhibit during JFA’s outreach at University of Kansas (KU) in March 2018.

Grace:  So if the unborn is developing from the point of fertilization, would you agree that it must be alive?

Heidi:  Yes.

Grace:  Would you further agree with me that, because living things reproduce after their own kind, the unborn must also be human?

Heidi:  Yes.

Grace:  And do you agree that the unborn is a whole organism?

Heidi:  I... think so…

She said this slowly.  I could tell she wasn’t sure what I meant, so I asked a follow-up question to clarify terms and to make sure that Heidi and I were on the same page.

Grace:  What do you mean when you use the word “organism”?

Heidi:  Hmmm.  I don’t know exactly.  What is the definition of the word “organism”?

Grace:  I can’t give you the exact definition off of the top of my head, but an organism is an individual life form.  For example, the leaf of the plant on the table next to you is a part of the whole organism, which is the plant.  In the same way, your thumb is a part of your body; but you, Heidi, are the whole organism.  So in the same way, sperm and egg are functional parts of a man and a woman.  However, when they combine, they cease being parts of another person’s body, and a new whole organism comes into existence, on its own self-directed path of development.  Does that make sense?  (Note: See our Extending Your Learning page to read Maureen Condic's excellent article on this topic, “Life: Defining the Beginning by the End.”)

Heidi:  Yes! So the unborn is the same kind of thing that we are;  it’s just at a different stage of development!

We were then interrupted by one of the kids coming downstairs complaining of a sore throat.  After administering medicine and sending him back up to bed, Heidi and I continued our conversation. 

Notice that instead of simply telling Heidi that she had a misunderstanding about the biology of the unborn, I asked her questions so that I could think through it alongside her.  In Justice For All’s Abortion: from Debate to Dialogue seminar, I help to train participants to dialogue about the biological humanity of the unborn.  One way that we do this is through a tool developed by Steve Wagner.  This tool can be said in ten seconds (below), or broken down more slowly in a conversation, as exemplified in my dialogue with Heidi.

Steve calls this the 10-Second Pro-life Apologist.  Here’s how it goes:

  • If the unborn is growing, isn’t it alive?
  • And if it has human parents, isn’t it human?
  • And living humans, or human beings like you and me, are valuable, aren’t they?

I want to encourage you to have your own conversations about abortion, and remember that it doesn’t take years of study and experience to ask thought-provoking questions, to listen, and to point out areas of agreement.  It is helpful, however, to have a little bit of knowledge of the biological development of the unborn, so that you can refer to it as I did in my conversation with Heidi.  To help you further defend the biological humanity of the unborn, I’ve listed bullet points from the interactive guide participants use in our seminar.

Evidence that the unborn is a living, human organism:

1.  The unborn is living.

  • Growth through cellular reproduction
  • Reacting to stimuli
  • Metabolizing food for energy

2.  The unborn is human.

  • Has human parents (living things reproduce after their own kind)
  • Has a DNA fingerprint unique to the human species

3.  The unborn is a whole organism.

  • Integrating its body parts for the good of the whole
  • Actively developing itself through the stages of human development
  • If adults are organisms, and all that was added to them from fertilization was a proper environment and adequate nutrition, then the unborn at fertilization must have been an organism as well.

Part 3:  Human Equality and Women's Rights

When I last wrote, I paused the story when one of the kids whom Heidi was babysitting complained of a sore throat.  After helping him and sending him back to bed, Heidi and I continued our conversation:

Heidi:  One of my main concerns is that I live in a city that is very liberal, and being pro-life is not popular.  I don’t want to be considered…

Grace:  Anti-woman?

Grace discusses equal rights with a pro-choice student next to the art table at JFA’s outreach to the University of Kansas in March 2018.

Heidi:  Yeah! 

Her eyes widened.  It seemed to be a comfort that I understood why she felt torn.  I then asked her if she would like for me to explain to her the reasons I can call myself a feminist and a pro-life advocate.  “I would love it if you would,” she replied with a big smile stretching across her face. 

I then shared with Heidi the Equal Rights Argument*, a series of questions that can help someone to understand that equal rights can only be based on something that we all share equally, and the thing we share equally that best explains our equal rights is our common humanity.

Grace:  Let’s take a step away from the topic of abortion for a moment.  Do you agree that all born human beings deserve equal treatment?  If you agree that we deserve to be treated equally, then there must be something equal or the same about us, right?  So what is the same about us that demands our equal treatment?

Heidi:  It’s that we’re human!  I think I know where you’re going with this!

Grace:  Yes, you’re right!  See, the reason that racism and sexism are wrong is because we all deserve to be treated equally based on our common humanity; so, if the unborn are also human like we are, they have to be included in the group of beings that have equal rights. 

Now let’s turn to feminism.  If I claim that I deserve equal rights as a woman because I am equally human to men, but then I turn around and say that I also deserve the right to end the life of someone else who is equally human to me through abortion, then I would be betraying the foundation of my feminist beliefs.  So it actually makes more sense to be a pro-life feminist than it does to be a pro-choice one!

Heidi:  That’s so helpful!  Feminism is such a big deal right now, and I’m a woman!  I don’t want to be accused of being anti-woman, but I also don’t want to have to sacrifice my pro-life beliefs.  Thank you so much for discussing this with me.

Before heading upstairs to my room for the evening, I decided to ask Heidi if the conversation had impacted her views on abortion in any way.   In the same fashion as she had handled the entire conversation, Heidi took time to think carefully before replying.  She paused and then shared an incredibly encouraging answer:

Heidi:  I grew up in a very conservative town.  I remember ignoring any conversation about politics because my dad and my friends’ dads would talk about politics constantly.  But now, I feel as though I need to be more informed about politics so that I can start voting and form my own opinions on different political subjects.  I feel so excited because, since talking to you, I feel like I know the reasons why I believe what I believe about abortion.  I feel confident now that I can share them, and I can participate in conversations about the topic because the reasons backing up my position are sound.

Heidi and I had a fantastic conversation, covering almost every topic in JFA’s Abortion: From Debate to Dialogue seminars.  I’m so thankful that we were able to talk that evening because now Heidi feels equipped to share her views with those within her sphere of influence.  She told me at the end of our conversation that she leads a Bible study on her campus for freshman girls, and that she hopes to have a conversation with them about unplanned pregnancy and abortion in the future. 

You never know how far one conversation can go, and you never know how many people it can impact. This is a perfect example of starting conversations about abortion in everyday life. For multiple conversation starter ideas, see the JFA blog. Here’s one example: You could start a conversation with a friend by sharing JFA’s social media post titled, “Can She Embrace Both?”  The idea of starting a conversation may seem intimidating, but if we are truly serious about protecting mothers, fathers, and babies from abortion, then a little bit of awkwardness is a small sacrifice to pay.

*Equal Rights Argument

  • Do you agree that we all deserve equal treatment, at least regarding the basic right to life?
  • If we deserve to be treated equally, doesn’t that mean there has to be something the same about us?
  • What is the same about us?

Click here for more examples of the Equal Rights Argument in action.

Impact Report, March 2018

By Joanna Bai, Training Specialist

Last October, I received an email from a college student named Ann:

“...I chose the topic of abortion in Japan for my senior thesis and plan to research the various views on the topic among students and faculty at my school. I then hope to...encourage discussion among students.

“From conversations with a few friends I was surprised at the number of people who accept abortion as an option, especially during the early stages. If I remember correctly, I heard you were a part of the pro-life club at Wheaton. I realize it will be a bit different here, but I am curious...what approaches you took in your activities on campus.”

Ann (left), pictured along with her brothers, Luke and Benjamin

Ann and I grew up attending church together in Santa Margarita, a rural town near the Central Coast of California. I graduated from Wheaton College, a Christian college in Illinois, and she is currently finishing her senior year at Tokyo Christian University in Japan. As a high school student in 2014, Ann had attended a short JFA workshop that I gave at our home church. Following that workshop, she drove over two hours to attend a full-length JFA training seminar and a JFA outreach event which had been arranged through Right to Life of Central California. Years went by before I heard much more from Ann. Then I received her email.

It was true that I had led the Wheaton College pro-life club during the 2010-11 school year. I emphasized to Ann how much I wish, in retrospect, that I had had more courage to actively create outreach opportunities to engage fellow students on my campus. It’s often assumed at a Christian school that most people basically agree about abortion. Like Ann, however, when I did have interactions with Christian friends, I found a diversity of views. Many of my Christian peers did not know when to mark the beginning of human life, were comfortable with first-trimester abortion, supported abortion in the case of rape, or did not think their private views on abortion had a place in public policy. While at Wheaton, I had focused on speaking events and small group dialogue practice among club members, but never organized any outreach events to engage people in the broader community about their views.

Ann decided to learn from my omission and engaged her campus in dialogue.

Not only did Ann survey a total of 99 students, faculty, and staff members (more than one-third of Tokyo Christian University) about their specific views on abortion, she also researched the history of abortion in Japan, wrote a research paper, gave a speech on the topic to her speech class, and followed up with 23 of the people she had surveyed. She also organized a JFA workshop for her campus community, and she asked me to lead the workshop via video conference. She even planned a JFA-style outreach event on her campus for the day following the workshop. In a country where abortion is generally accepted and rarely discussed openly, Ann was using the JFA training she had received years before to spark much-needed conversation among Christians who can make a difference.

I thoroughly enjoyed interacting with Ann throughout this process. She asked me for feedback as she prepared and planned, and she also asked me for prayer along the way. Her passion to reach her Christian peers re-ignited the similar passion I felt in college, and it was an honor to support her by leading the workshop event for her.

JFA trainer Joanna Bai (left, on screen) led the JFA workshop at Tokyo Christian University for 19 participants (not all in view).

The three-hour workshop we planned together took place last month. It was translated by a professor on campus because many attendees were not fluent in English. A total of 19 students, faculty, and staff members attended, hailing from Japan, America, Nepal, the Philippines, Indonesia, Uganda, and Canada. I first shared about the inhumanity of abortion, and, with a warning, showed images of the results of abortion. I emphasized the need to share the graphic truth about abortion because I knew that many in Japan have probably never seen graphic abortion images before; additionally, because Ann had interviewed a large portion of her community, I knew that many of the participants were likely on the fence about abortion in certain cases. Because several of those interviewed had mentioned rape as a case in which abortion may be acceptable, I also took time later in the workshop to address that circumstance in particular. Participants were even able to go through practice dialogue activities in pairs, thanks to the efforts of several people Ann had recruited for translation. Finally, I ended the workshop by emphasizing our Christian duty to “rescue those who are being taken away to death,” rather than remaining silent in the face of such injustice (Proverbs 24:11-12).

I was encouraged by the participants’ interest in the topic. One professor wrote on her comment card:

“This was my first time attending a training that addresses abortion in particular, so it was a good opportunity. Humans developing from the inside, unlike the parts of a car [being put together piece by piece from the outside]. I thought this is very important in thinking about life.” (See our Extending Your Learning - Biology page for more on this topic.)

Ann wrote to the JFA team to tell us about the outreach event she had held the day after the workshop. None of the participants ended up joining Ann for the outreach, but Ann decided to be an active example to her peers anyway. She started conversations with fellow students by herself, alongside her handmade JFA-style display showing images of the unborn at different stages before and after abortion. One of her conversations was with a student who had participated in the workshop. He said that during his time in America, he had heard politicians promoting the pro-choice position. Then he said, “Before the training yesterday I had always thought pro-choice was a good thing.” The workshop had opened his eyes to look past pro-choice rhetoric and take a hard look at the inhumanity of abortion. (Ann had another fascinating interaction about the word “human” in Japanese. Read about it in the blog post “Are We Talking about the Same Thing?”)

I was amazed at what Ann was able to accomplish through her project. Ann’s willingness to go to such lengths to raise the topic of abortion with her peers in Japan reminded me that every event we put on here in the States – every presentation, workshop, seminar, and outreach event – has the potential to spark an interest in someone like Ann, someone who can take that passion with her to places where JFA will never step foot.

This is how JFA’s work is designed. Our team is not here to take on the huge task of changing public opinion on our own. We are here to equip Ann, and to equip you, to become a different kind of advocate, having a different kind of conversation, with people we will never meet. Only together, and only with God’s help, can we create a different kind of world for the smallest humans among us.

Ann’s experience with her Christian peers was similar to mine, and, we think, similar to the state of affairs in many Christian colleges, churches, schools, and ministries. When we ask people within our Christian communities specific questions about what they believe on abortion, we find that they often hold pro-choice views. We are here to equip you, like Ann, to reach your community. You don’t necessarily need to go to a secular campus or have many non-Christian friends in order to make a difference. If you are wondering with whom you could possibly create a conversation about abortion, I have one simple suggestion: perhaps your church pew is the best place to start.

Impact Report, January 2018

My experiences at our outreach events over the past 15 years have taught me again and again a lesson we now emphasize to every person we train: you can’t judge whether or not you’re successful in a conversation by looking at the results.  Sure, if you get a bad result, it might be a clue that you are doing a bad job of articulating the truth or loving the person with whom you’re speaking.  It might be a clue you need to work on some aspect of being an ambassador for Christ.  There may be other reasons, though, that the results you saw were either bad or nil.  For example, the person may think things through privately when you are long gone.

When we share stories where we do see some specific good result or moment of impact, we try to keep this reality in mind.  Even still, we enjoy sharing stories where God seems to be making his presence clearer or when people seem to be especially open to our work of kindling affection for the smallest humans on earth and women in distress.  As we share these stories from JFA staff members Susanna Buckley, Jeremy Gorr, and Rebecca Haschke, we’re mindful that we don’t deserve to see what God is doing.  Stories like these are simply a special grace from our loving Father, partly shared with us and you for our encouragement.  Let’s enjoy his work! 

- Steve Wagner, Executive Director

Georgia, October 2017

While in Georgia, I had an amazing conversation with a young man who approached the exhibit.  We agreed that abortion should not be legal in the last two trimesters and should not be done for just any reason.  He said that a good reason to have an abortion would be if the unborn was diagnosed with a disability.  With permission, I shared with him the story of a baby with spina bifida who had received surgery in utero to fix part of the baby’s spine.  In the corner of my eye, I saw a lady in a wheelchair coming down the sidewalk in our direction.  I kid you not ― as we were talking, this woman approached us and interrupted our conversation. She passionately shared that she had spina bifida and was afraid for unborn babies with that diagnosis.  Many of them are aborted.  She said, “Never let disability be the reason you have an abortion.  Never.  We can have good lives too.”  The young man listened in awe as the woman told her story.  He left an hour later saying he had a lot to think about.

- JFA Intern Susanna Buckley

Oklahoma, November 2017

I met Sharon at the University of Oklahoma (OU).  She thought there should be no legal restrictions on abortion even though she personally believes the unborn are human and abortion is wrong.  She said it is situational, and even she may end up in a situation later in life where she would choose abortion, so she doesn’t want to take away the right from others who may be in tough situations.

I proceeded to “trot out the toddler” and tried to convince her that there are no situations that justify killing innocent human beings.  We talked about this for a while, and at the end of the conversation she said:

“This is a very eye-opening conversation.  I like this.  I see people on our campus all the time with signs I disagree with, and I pre-judge them and don’t speak with them.  And then I don’t have the opportunity to have conversations like this, where it really makes you question things and think about your own moral judgements.”

- JFA Trainer Jeremy Gorr

Indiana, September 2017

“Zoey” shared that she would never choose to have an abortion but that abortion should be legal because women need to be given the right to choose.  As I asked questions about what she believed, I discovered she didn’t have confidence that the unborn was biologically human at conception.  Throughout the conversation she asked me a lot of questions about the things that didn't seem convincing to her.  After that part of the conversation she agreed that the unborn was biologically human from conception.

We then discussed whether or not those human beings deserved equal treatment.  I used the Equal Rights Argument just as we teach it in the JFA seminar.  After that discussion, she agreed that abortion should not be legal for any reason throughout the entire pregnancy.  Of course, it was a joy to witness the fruits of our conversation, but it was the end of the conversation that surprised me:

Zoey:  Wow, I’m excited to finally have the same opinion as my family!

Becca:  I’m excited for you too. Are a lot of your family members pro-life?

Zoey:  Yes, they are all pro-life, and I’ve been the one who has the “different” ideas.  My aunt and my grandma have tried to talk to me about this but it never goes well.  You and I had differing opinions but I felt safe asking you the questions that I had because you didn’t get mad at me.  This conversation was different because you helped me process through the information to help me understand your position.

What a surprise it was to find that Zoey actually wanted to have the same opinion as her family and that it was a relief to her that she could now honestly hold the same view her family held.  This conversation was a reminder that I can’t conclude that someone is close-minded just because she holds a view that is different from mine.

- JFA Trainer Rebecca Haschke

Impact Report, October 2017

By Susanna Buckley, JFA Intern

Note:  JFA’s interns are hard at work this fall, along with the rest of the JFA team, creating conversations that change hearts and minds.  In this Impact Report, Susanna Buckley, intern from Virginia, shares a beautiful conversation from our recent Purdue University outreach.  She saw God work through two well-placed questions to help a young woman make connections to her experience which surprised even her, convincing her that abortion is not a reasonable option for responding to suffering and difficulty.  Susanna’s story is accompanied by pictures of a few of the hundreds of conversations our interns, trainers, and volunteers created at the Purdue University event and another recent outreach event at the University of Minnesota.  - Steve Wagner, Executive Director

JFA Intern Susanna Buckley (right), who authored this report, at JFA’s University of Minnesota (UMN) outreach in October

I turned around after finishing one conversation and noticed her standing there, looking at the exhibit.  I waved and smiled, “Can I ask you what you think about abortion?”

Typically, when I ask that question, people stand there and ponder the question for a moment before answering, but she was ready.  After smiling back, she answered with a question of her own.  “Say there’s a terminally ill woman who is passing on her illness to her unborn child.  Shouldn’t we give the woman the opportunity to end her pregnancy so that she doesn’t have to watch her child suffer?”

JFA Intern David Rodriguez (center, right) at Purdue University in September

The question took me by surprise, but it reminded me of a thought experiment one of the more experienced JFA staff members had shared with me.  I asked her if I could ask her another question, and she said yes.  “You have a friend on the other side of the world who calls you up and says, ‘I just found out I have cancer and have only four months to live.’  Do you wait until about month three and say, ‘I guess I should visit her?’  Or do you take the next plane out?”

JFA Intern Grace Fontenot (left) at Purdue University in September

She didn’t hesitate at all.  “The next plane!  Absolutely!”  This was very encouraging to me, so I followed up: “Of course!  Now apply that to the mother in the hypothetical situation you gave me a moment ago.”  I hoped she would see another possible approach to terminally ill unborn children, that instead of killing them, we can cherish the time we have with them.

JFA Chief Operations Officer Paul Kulas (right, with brochure) at the UMN outreach in October

Her eyes lit up.  “My mom did that!”  She explained that her little brother had only been alive three days after he was born.  Her mom stayed by his side every moment until he died.  “I only wish I would have met him.  I’ve never thought of him in relation to this before.  I cannot stand by my question with that in mind.”

We exchanged some stories, and I got her name.  Then she came up with a new question.  “Say there’s someone with a terminal illness who doesn’t want to live anymore because he is tired of knowing he’s going to die.  Should we give him the chance to choose assisted suicide?”

Again, the question seemed to come from left field, but it brought to mind a question I find very important.  I just asked, “Do you believe in miracles?”

JFA Trainer Jon Wagner (left) at Purdue in September

Immediately a light turned on in her mind, and she burst out, “I’m a miracle!”  Diving into her personal story, she explained that she was born with what her doctors described as a terminal illness.  Defying the odds, she turned her “few months” diagnosis into the young woman standing in front of me.  “I’m only here because of a miracle!  I cannot stand by my question any more.”

We shared more stories about miracles we had witnessed in our lives.  She wasn’t a Christian, but she let me talk about the amazing things I have seen God do in my life and the lives of others.  The last thing she told me was, “I would absolutely make every opportunity for a miracle to happen.  I hope I get the chance to do that one day.”

Stephanie Gray, author of Love Unleashes Life, joined the JFA team for the Purdue outreach.  Here she listens to a Purdue student.  Click here to learn more about Stephanie or to purchase her book.

I left this conversation not just marveling at the miracle of this person standing before me, but also at the two miracles I witnessed as God worked through two of my questions to help this person make connections I could never have orchestrated on my own.  Thanks be to God!

Note: Go to our Calendar Page to see more pictures of JFA’s interns, trainers, and volunteers in action at Purdue University, University of Minnesota, and other recent outreach events.

Impact Report, September 2017

By Tammy Cook, JFA Training Specialist

In this Impact Report, JFA dialogue artist and trainer Tammy Cook shares an approach to conversation that she’s found to be very helpful for people who are pro-choice because they are reluctant to tell others what to do.  Her “two buckets” concept helped Dixon think differently about abortion, even though seeing abortion as a harm had already been covered in the conversation once.  That’s one of the valuable lessons here: Many times, people need multiple passes at a concept from different angles in order to “see” the truth.  In the conversation, you’ll also see Tammy modeling other conversational approaches we teach in our seminar, including trotting out a toddler, asking questions with an open heart, and using visual aids - Steve Wagner, Executive Director

 JFA volunteer Bryan (above, second from right) talks with a student while Tammy (above, seated center) and another volunteer talk with Dixon.

 JFA volunteer Bryan (above, second from right) talks with a student while Tammy (above, seated center) and another volunteer talk with Dixon.

The Lory Student Center Plaza was buzzing with students on a crisp morning in April.  It was the first of three days in which Justice For All displayed the Stop and Think Exhibit at Colorado State University.  Hundreds of students glanced up at the 12-foot display as they rushed to class.  A student named “Dixon” stopped to ask a question.

Dixon:  What is this all about?

Tammy:  We are an organization named Justice For All.  We were invited by the Students for Life club to discuss the topic of abortion with CSU students.  We want to ask students what they think and then have a healthy and respectful dialogue.  What do you think?

Dixon:  I don’t think I have a say.  I don’t think we can tell other people what to do.

Tammy:  Thank you for sharing.  May I ask you a few questions to better understand your view?

Dixon:  Sure.

Tammy:  It sounds like it’s important to you to not tell others what they can or can’t do.  Do you mind sharing with me why that’s important to you?

Dixon:  Well, I don’t like people telling me what to do, and I think most people feel that way.

Tammy:  I agree with you – I think most people are sensitive to being told what they can or can’t do.

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   Tammy talks with Dixon while using the  JFA Exhibit Brochure  as a visual aid.  To see more photos from JFA's April 2017 outreach event at Colorado State University, visit  the gallery page .

Tammy talks with Dixon while using the JFA Exhibit Brochure as a visual aid.  To see more photos from JFA's April 2017 outreach event at Colorado State University, visit the gallery page.

Dixon:  [nodding head] Right.

Tammy:  Let me give you a scenario and ask what you think about it.  Imagine that a woman has a two-year-old son, and she’s having a really tough life.  She can’t afford to feed or take care of her son.  This might seem like an odd question, but bear with me: “Should she be allowed to kill her two-year-old son, if that’s what she wants to do?”

Dixon:  No, absolutely not.

Tammy:  I agree.  Why can’t she kill him?

Dixon:  Because he’s a child.

Tammy:  Right.  Would you agree that he’s a human being like the mother?

Dixon:  Yes.

Tammy:  So if the unborn child is a human being like the two-year-old, then wouldn’t it be just as wrong to kill the unborn child through abortion as it would for the mother to kill her two-year-old?

Dixon:  I’ve never thought about it that way.  I guess that could change things.  [He paused.]  But I still don’t think we can tell others what they can or can’t do.  Each person should have the freedom to make his own choices.

Tammy:  I agree with you that freedom is important.  Maybe it would help to break down our types of choices into two categories.  Let’s picture them in two separate buckets.  Bucket number one contains choices that are our personal preferences.  My “personal preference” bucket would contain two of my favorite foods, strawberries and broccoli.  People can choose to eat or not eat strawberries or broccoli, but that choice does not harm other people.  Bucket number two contains choices that cause serious harm like murder, stealing, and rape.  Would you agree that people shouldn’t have the choice to do any of those three things? *

Is abortion merely a personal preference, or is it a choice that harms?

Is abortion merely a personal preference,
or is it a choice that harms?

Dixon:  Yes.

Tammy:  Why not?

Dixon:  Because they’re wrong.

Tammy:  I agree.  Each of these harms a human being, right?

Dixon:  Yes.

Tammy:  Do you see the difference?  Someone who chooses to eat or not eat broccoli does not harm another person, but someone who chooses to rape does harm another person, right? 

Dixon:  Yes.

Tammy:  And since abortion takes the life of a human being, would you agree that it belongs in the same bucket as rape and stealing?

Dixon:  Yes.  Wow!  This has been enlightening.  You’ve given me a lot to think about.  What if I hear of someone who is thinking about having an abortion?  What should I do?

Tammy:  Good question!  Let me show you an app on my phone that you can download.  [I showed him a video of an eight-week embryo using the “See Baby Pregnancy Guide” app for smartphones and tablets from the Endowment for Human Development (EHD) Click here to download the app for free.]

Dixon:  Wow, that’s cool.

Dixon had to get to class, but before he left, I was also able to show him how to use the JFA Exhibit Brochure to help someone considering abortion.  He thanked me for all of the new information and appeared to have a genuine change of heart about abortion.

* I said this a bit differently on campus, and Dixon understood my meaning.  I've slightly changed the wording in this dialogue to more clearly illustrate my meaning in print.  Please take this portion of the dialogue to be capturing the gist of the conversation rather than the precise wording I used on campus.

August 2017

Letter from Steve Wagner, Executive Director

Norman and John wandered near our “Should Abortion Remain Legal?” poll table at Wichita State University, so I struck up a conversation with them.  Norman did most of the talking.  He was a self-proclaimed nihilist who believed no one can know what’s true for someone else about morality.  As I explored with Norman his particular views about knowledge, he admitted they also entailed that no one can know what’s true regarding science or the five senses.  He even declared that there was no reality about truth or morality. 

Norman and I discussed how our different views of knowledge also affected our views of how we should treat the unborn.  John mostly listened.  Finally, Zachary, the JFA volunteer we featured in fall 2016, engaged Norman in conversation.  This gave John and me the space to have a conversation for about ten minutes.  Those ten minutes with John were worth the sweat I had poured into the previous eighty with Norman.

I briefly described to John a case for the pro-life position, centered on a simple observation about how you and I got to where we are now.  From fertilization onward, all that’s been added to us is food.  One might note also that time elapsed and that we needed a certain environment to continue living, but there has not been any essential change of our nature.  There hasn’t even been any insertion of new DNA.  We are actively developing ourselves from within, and we have been doing this since the time of fertilization.  Indeed, if we are the sort of being now with fundamental human rights, then we must have been that same sort of being with fundamental human rights from the time we began to exist, at fertilization.  It is difficult, in any case, to conceive of how we could have gained something durable like human rights by eating.

John and I looked at the pictures of humans throughout development as we discussed these things.  At one point he shared that as an elementary education major he has an immediate appreciation for children.  “I’m just not drawn to the embryo, though, in the same way I’m drawn to infants and children.”  He meant that he didn’t feel affection for the embryo, that he didn’t connect with the embryo as a child.  This was especially true for the embryo early in development, a tiny being who doesn’t look much like us at all.

1-2 implantation.jpg

“I understand...I feel the same way,” I said.  “I don’t identify with the early embryo.  Take the picture of the embryo at implantation.  It looks like an orange with fungus on it.  I’m not naturally tempted to put this picture on my wall and say, ‘Behold the child!’  That’s the reality of my feelings about the embryo.  I don’t naturally have any affection for it.  But then I have to look at the facts about the embryo: It is a living human organism, and since it shares my human nature, wouldn’t it have the same human rights I have?  It’s a very young human, so wouldn’t I call it a child?  Reflecting on these things moves me to work to bring my affections into alignment with the facts.”

Searching for a parallel example to share with John, I said, “I don’t know anyone from Siberia.  In fact, it’s worse: I don’t even really know anything at all about Siberia.  I just know it’s that really cold place up in the northeast “corner” of what used to be called the USSR.  I have never met a Siberian, and I don’t know what Siberians look like.  I don’t even know if they would want to be called Siberians or if that term would offend them.  Consequently, I don’t have a lot of natural concern for Siberians.  As I reflect on Siberians, though, and as I consider what US policy should be regarding Siberia and its inhabitants, I have to bring my affections (or lack of affections) into closer alignment to the facts.  I have to re-train my feelings and affections to “see” the Siberian as an equal to me, even though I’ve never met one.


I love Siberians not because I have a natural affection or concern for them, but because of the facts.  The fact that they are human beings compels me to work to bring my natural affections in line with the facts. 
It’s the same with the embryo.

In this discussion of the embryo and the Siberian, I wanted to give voice to John’s (and my) feelings about the embryo, since they are normal and natural, but I also wanted to point out that our lack of sympathetic feelings about the embryo doesn’t constitute a good reason to think the embryo doesn’t have rights or value.  I also wanted to suggest the virtuous way to handle the matter: seek to train our feelings to fit the facts.

John seemed genuinely interested.  He said that he appreciated learning about the topic.  He had a gentle way about him, a spirit of inquiry that was refreshing.  As we closed up our outreach for the day, we watched as Zack accompanied both Norman and John to the student union.  Let’s pray for more conversations among the three of them, but let’s especially pray for John, that God will help him think carefully about all of these things. 


Was My Conversation with Norman Worth 80 Minutes?

“Should I keep talking to Norman?” I asked myself after feeling like I was “beating my head against a wall” for a half hour.  No matter how many questions and hard-to-swallow implications I could bring to the table, it seemed like nothing would help Norman see that we can know some things about both science and morality. 

To make matters worse, since John was contemplative, he could barely get a word in edgewise.  Every time he opened his mouth, Norman would cut in and interpret for him.  “This is what John means, and that affirms what I just said a minute ago…” and then Norman would continue on.  I would stop Norman and say, “No, I really want to hear what John thinks.”  Every time I redirected things to John, though, he would say a few words, then pause, thinking things through.  This gave Norman an opening to redirect things back to himself.

If the conversation with Norman hadn’t led to my conversation with John (described in this month’s letter), would it have been worth it?  Listening to someone like Norman is worthwhile on its face, since he is a human being with intrinsic value, but this principle doesn’t tell me how much time I should spend with him.  I have to consider what time I have available to spend and who else may need my time.  Norman seemed completely close-minded, so perhaps I should have ended the conversation sooner.  I realized, though, that the conversation was worth having — for John’s sake.  Because Norman’s confidence might have misled John after our conversation, abandoning the conversation and leaving arguments unanswered might have harmed John.

In contrast to Norman, John seemed to have his common sense still intact.  He thought some things were actually, in reality, wrong.  He thought some things could be known to be true.  He was open-minded, but he didn’t seem easily persuaded by either Norman or me.  So my goal was simple: I sought to put Norman’s views and my views side by side so that John could see them clearly.  For example, I pointed out that my view of knowledge took rape seriously as a real moral evil and took kindness seriously as a real moral good.  Norman’s view of knowledge, on the other hand, could not take these things in any serious way to be real evils or goods.  Making opposing views clear is a modest goal you can aim for in conversations you have this month as well.

Rebecca's Reflections, June 2017 (Part I) and July 2017 (Part II)

By Rebecca Haschke, JFA Training Specialist

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 Pictured above are comments written this past April on one of the Free Speech Boards at Colorado State University.   Click here to see more pictures from the CSU April 2017 event, which featured our large  Stop and Think  Exhibit.

Pictured above are comments written this past April on one of the Free Speech Boards at Colorado State University.  Click here to see more pictures from the CSU April 2017 event, which featured our large Stop and Think Exhibit.

Part I

A short distance away from me, three students stood, laughing loudly and verbally mocking our display.  They had just walked past our large Stop and Think Exhibit, which we had put up to create dialogue at Colorado State University in April.  Curious, they had approached our Free Speech Board (see example pictured nearby) and, after reading a few comments, began to vocally agree with others who had written in opposition to JFA.

Even after years of experience engaging students about abortion, I didn’t even have an ounce of desire to strike up a conversation with this group.  Before the students walked away, though, from somewhere deep inside I was prompted to take courage and walk over to them.  So, I went (albeit begrudgingly) and inquired:

Becca:  Hey guys, do you mind if I ask, “What are your thoughts?”

Two of the students walked away as if I didn’t exist.  The third student, “Sam,” quickly turned toward me, laughed again, and sarcastically questioned me:

Sam:  You want to know what I think?  Yea-a-a-h, I’ll share my thoughts.

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 A Free Speech Board comment from the Colorado State University  Stop and Think  outreach.   View more photos from the CSU April 2017 event by clicking here.

A Free Speech Board comment from the Colorado State University Stop and Think outreach.  View more photos from the CSU April 2017 event by clicking here.

At that moment thoughts started floating through my mind. “I really don’t want to be in this conversation.  I wish I hadn’t engaged him.  Why am I doing this?”  I attempted to learn more about his view by asking him questions, but I was battling those negative thoughts the whole time.  As I tried to find common ground with him (even in the smallest of ways), he shared his belief that abortion should be legal for all nine months and for any reason.  When I asked whether or not he agreed with sex-selection abortion, his response indicated that, yes, indeed he did. 

After all my attempts to find common ground, I ended up empty-handed.  His mocking demeanor continued and eventually a more complete picture of his view emerged.  It was something like this: 

Sam (paraphrased):  Even if a woman wants to kill a child after it is born it really doesn’t matter.  Although US law doesn’t currently reflect this, in reality nothing has value.  Even born humans don’t matter.  The only value that exists is the value that we as individuals assign to a particular object or being.  So if a woman doesn’t think a two-year-old is valuable, for her it doesn’t really matter if she kills her child.

Because of Sam’s demeanor, I felt that attempting to challenge his beliefs would have been done in vain.  I mentally prepared to exit the conversation when another thought overwhelmed my mind: “Love him, Rebecca.  Love the person he is.  Find a way to love him.”  I’ll “blame” those thoughts on the Holy Spirit.

Once again from somewhere deep inside I found the courage to try to do what I felt I had no capacity to do – love him.  At this point I didn’t know where to take the conversation about abortion, so I just asked him about him.  I remember asking,

A Free Speech Board comment from the Colorado State University  Stop and Think  outreach.   View more photos from the CSU April 2017 event by clicking here.

A Free Speech Board comment from the Colorado State University Stop and Think outreach.  View more photos from the CSU April 2017 event by clicking here.

Becca:  Have you always felt this way? 

Sam:  No.  And I probably won’t always hold these views.  I grew up Catholic.  Things in life happen, and these events help form our views.  We are all searching, and our views change as we journey through life. 

Becca:  So, when did this change take place for you?

As he told his story he shared about the intellectual encounters he had had with others who are atheists, how much those encounters had influenced him, and how old he was when he started questioning God’s existence.  My next response may have been the most crucial part of the conversation.  Sam’s experience wasn’t so foreign to me, and I told him so.

Becca:  Sam, you know what?  I can relate to that.  Of course, every person’s story is different, but sometimes they have similar elements to them.  When I was 21, I studied in Mexico and met a guy from Germany named Marc.  We had many discussions about religion and the existence of God.  Marc was a very intelligent young man, and he had better answers to why he believed God didn’t exist than I had for why I believed God did exist.  When I returned home from Mexico, I had many doubts in my mind about God’s existence and what I believed.  At that point, I started a journey of searching for answers to some of those questions, too.  I can understand at some level why you have doubts.

Students stop to read a Free Speech Board at the Colorado State University  Stop and Think  outreach.   View more photos from the CSU April 2017 event by clicking here.

Students stop to read a Free Speech Board at the Colorado State University Stop and Think outreach.  View more photos from the CSU April 2017 event by clicking here.

As Sam discovered that we had genuine common ground, his demeanor changed.  He seemed to be less defensive, mocking, and condescending.  He also seemed to be appreciating the conversation as we each shared more about our personal experiences.  Little did I know that Sam was about to share something that would remind me why choosing to love him was so important in the first place. 

(To be continued in Part II below...)

Note: This story was JFA's Featured Resource for May 2017.


Part II

Tired of standing, we found a nearby place to sit down. This is where Sam shared with me that sometime in the past year he and his girlfriend had had an abortion. My heart sank. It now made sense why he had been so defensive. At that point, I asked:

Becca: Please know you don’t have to answer this if you don’t want to, but how is your girlfriend doing?

Although he attempted to hide it, I saw a deeply pained look take over his face and posture. More of their story poured out from his heart. So then I asked:

Becca: Sam, how are you doing?

He shared his story of pain, sadness, struggles with suicidal thoughts after the abortion, and much more. My heart sank again. The fact that he held the radical ideas and thoughts he had shared earlier in the conversation now made more sense to me. He may have been using these ideas as coping mechanisms as he tried to sort through the pain he was experiencing.

As I allowed him to tell more of his story, I also shared with him the stories of other men (some of whom I’ve met and others about whom I’ve read) who have lost a child to abortion. He was shocked to discover that other post-abortive men have struggled with some of the same things he had been experiencing. Tears never slid down his cheeks, but several times I was sure I saw them forming in the brims of his eyes.

Sam shared that on the day he and his girlfriend had walked into the clinic for the abortion, someone from among the pro-life crowd at the clinic threw something at the two of them. It was apparent to me that that action hurt Sam not physically, but emotionally. My heart sank yet again. The anger toward pro-life advocates that I sensed in him was now more understandable.

After over an hour had passed, he had to leave for class. As he stood up to depart, he asked if it would be alright if he gave me a hug. After the hug he pointed toward the Stop and Think Exhibit and said:

Sam: I talked with another lady at the display yesterday, too. We may not agree on everything about abortion, but the approach to what you guys are doing out here — I completely support this.

Sam then slid his sunglasses down over his eyes and walked away. I was humbled.

While reflecting on this conversation later that day, I noted that in the midst of being mocked, I had rediscovered the key to disarming hate, anger, and condescension. It’s love — not a mushy, sappy, or happy emotional feeling that many people call love, but an action that is self-sacrificial and often hurts. I’ve been taught this repeatedly throughout my life but continually seem to need reminders. My encounter with Sam was a real-life example of what love is and what it does. If I hadn’t listened to the promptings to love him, Sam would have likely continued to exhibit the hardness of heart that I had witnessed from him earlier in the conversation. Choosing to love him, even when it wasn’t enjoyable, opened a door for him to be vulnerable in a way that was unexpected — likely unexpected for both me and for Sam. Because this reminder occurred through a real-life experience — a conversation — I hope it is a lesson in love that I won’t so quickly forget.

The thoughts and feelings I experienced during this conversation made me think I should spend some time reading how St. Paul describes love in his first letter to the Corinthians so that the next time I meet a student like Sam, I may joyfully respond to him instead of begrudgingly engaging him. After reading through 1 Corinthians 13:1-8, I chose to include the excerpts below in this newsletter because each phrase reminded me specifically of my encounter with Sam.

If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal … Love is patient, love is kind … it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

1 Corinthians 13 (excerpts)

Until Sam knew I cared about him as a person, it did not matter how eloquently I defended the right to life of the unborn because he would have likely only heard me as a gong or a clashing cymbal. Somehow, I recognized that continuing to speak about abortion would have been in vain. Sadly, my initial thought in response to this was to abandon the conversation, which was not a reaction of patience. I’m grateful for the overwhelming thoughts that prompted me to find a way to love Sam and, in turn, prompted me to practice patience.

Even though I was begrudging the idea of continuing a conversation in which I felt mocked, disliked, and uncomfortable, the prompt to love Sam helped me to treat Sam with kindness. This prompting also gave me the strength to battle the temptations to:

  • be quick-tempered and abruptly tell him how false his ideas were,
  • seek my own interests by departing from this uncomfortable conversation, or
  • return the rudeness that I was encountering with further rudeness.

Love bears all things. I realize now that because I was given strength to bear the mockery and condescension at the beginning of the conversation with Sam, the doors opened for him to be vulnerable enough to share his story. It’s possible that prior to my conversation with him he had never felt free to be open with someone who is pro-life.

Tears fill the brims of my eyes, too, as I think of Sam and read that love believes all things, hopes all things … Love never fails.  There are so many more thoughts and resources I want to share with Sam — but I cannot because I don’t know how to contact him.  I want him to experience healing. I desire for him to help the mother of his child heal. I desire for Sam to hear the arguments against abortion, but I want him to hear them from someone who will be gentle with him. I want to believe and have hope that these things are possible — that even while my attempt to love Sam was imperfect, God’s love for Sam will not fail.

Please join me in praying for Sam and in studying these words of St. Paul’s in order that each of us can joyfully respond, with love, to every Sam we encounter in our lives.


Please see JFA's June Resource Bulletin, which includes resources you can use to help someone like Sam who has an abortion in his or her past. In addition, the Resource Bulletin links to a letter a young man wrote to his daughter after he found out she had been aborted. He named her Rilegh. You can use that letter to help someone begin to process a past abortion experience.

Impact Report, April 2017

By Grace Fontenot, JFA Intern

“I used to be pro-life, but then I came to college.”  A boisterous young man was loudly proclaiming his pro-choice views and started to draw a crowd.  As I engaged him in conversation, I learned that his name was Bryan.

A few minutes later, Bryan was actively persuading his friend DJ to be pro-life.  This almost immediate transformation was one of the most extraordinary things I’ve witnessed at a Justice For All outreach event.  How did it happen?

Bryan’s dramatic entrance took place as I was standing by our “Should Abortion Remain Legal?” poll table at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana, in March.  After he introduced himself, he explained his view further:

Bryan:  I used to be pro-life, because that’s how I was taught growing up.  But when I left home, one of my professors said, “You go to college to learn how to think for yourself.”   That influenced me a lot.  It’s not that I think abortion is a good thing now.  I don’t.  But I do think it should be legal in the first trimester.  Specifically, it needs to be legal for victims of rape.

I listened carefully to what Bryan shared and began to discuss his view with him.  About ten minutes into my conversation, I asked Bryan a simple question.  I had no idea at the time, but that question would be the catalyst for Bryan’s change of heart.  In fact, Bryan’s response to it proved to bring new energy to the whole outreach event!  I simply asked:

Grace (right) engages Bryan (left) in conversation at Nicholls State.

Grace (right) engages Bryan (left) in conversation at Nicholls State.

Grace:  Bryan, have you ever seen images of abortion?

Bryan:  No, I haven’t.

Grace:  Would you be willing to view them?

Bryan:  Sure.

I opened the Justice For All Exhibit Brochure and showed him an image of a nine-week-old aborted baby.  Bryan’s face fell.  He was so shocked that he immediately became even more loud and expressive than he had been previously, which drew the attention of other students who were passing by. 

I went on to share with Bryan that approximately 3,000 babies are aborted every day in the United States.  As we talked about Bryan’s concerns, I also clarified that only 0.5% of women having abortions cite “rape” as the “most important reason” for their abortion.  (When women can select more than one reason, the percentage who cite rape or incest as one reason for their abortion is less than 1.5%.  For sources and more detail, see JFA’s “What Are the Facts?”)

This girl...she changed my mind in like forty-five minutes, and I’ve been out here for two hours now!
— Bryan

In the midst of our forty-five minute conversation, I had the opportunity to share much of JFA’s training material with Bryan.  I “trotted out the toddler” to help him see that the central question related to the morality and legality of abortion is, “What is the unborn?”  I also walked him through the biology of human development from conception, and we discussed philosophical arguments regarding whether or not the unborn is a human being with equal rights to the rest of us.

As he learned more, Bryan began asking questions about why abortion looks so violent.  I took out the “What Are the Facts?” sheet to show Bryan medical descriptions of the procedures used to perform abortions at different stages.  As we read through these descriptions, Bryan was so horrified that he lost all composure.  He told me that I had completely changed his mind and walked over to sign the “No” side of the “Should Abortion Remain Legal?” poll table.  He then turned to me and said:

Bryan:  My girlfriend and I had a pregnancy scare a month ago, and I know this right now: If she got pregnant today, we are keeping that baby, no matter how hard it might be!

Bryan then started to converse with Ashlen (the president of Nicholls Students for Life) and Jon Wagner, a JFA staff member with a decade of outreach experience.  While they talked, I invited a student named DJ to stop.  DJ started out very apathetic about abortion.

DJ:  Well...honestly, it’s sad to say, but if I messed up and got my girlfriend pregnant, I’d want to have abortion as an option.

Bryan must have overheard us talking, because he enthusiastically joined the conversation and began asking DJ about his thoughts and for permission to share images of abortion with him.  Bryan began to use the same conversational tools that he had picked up from me.  He “trotted out a toddler” and shared biological evidence for the humanity of the unborn.  I was amazed!

I’d so much rather know than not know.
— DJ

DJ began to follow Bryan’s logic and ended up becoming pro-life.  At the beginning of this second conversation, DJ had made it clear he wanted abortion as an option if he “messed up.”  After our conversation, it was encouraging to hear him and Bryan reflecting on things so differently than just a few minutes before:

Bryan:  You know, man, I’m so glad I stopped here today and talked to Grace.  I’m so glad that I know the truth about abortion now. 

DJ:  Yeah.  Honestly, I am too.  I kind of wish I didn’t...but at the same time, I’d so much rather know than not know.”

After talking with DJ, Bryan didn’t stop.  Soon, he began pulling other students, friends, and even strangers into conversation with himself, me, and other JFA staff members.  He probably encouraged at least ten people to stop, saying:

Bryan:  This girl...she changed my mind in like forty-five minutes, and I’ve been out here for two hours now!

Because he was so passionate and vocal, Bryan ended up drawing even more people than he had directly invited to talk.  His zeal was contagious, and his passion prompted other students to listen.  He began changing their minds. 

Bryan (right) engages PJ (not DJ) in conversation at Nicholls State.

Bryan (right) engages PJ (not DJ) in conversation at Nicholls State.

Bryan was doing an incredible job, especially considering his only training had been one conversation with me.  Still, he was easily becoming frustrated when people couldn’t seem to track with what he was saying.  I saw a need for Bryan to receive more formal dialogue training.  Later, I was happy to see Jon Wagner step into a conversation Bryan was having with another student, this time named PJ.  Jon suggested slowing the pace down and provided a good model of finding common ground, listening to understand, and asking thoughtful questions.  Bryan exclaimed at one point, “Oh man!  I like how you said that!” 

It left me speechless to see Bryan’s transformation from pro-choice to completely pro-life, even to the point of immediately jumping into our outreach.  At times, it made me uncomfortable to see him nearly shouting in disbelief.  Bryan’s response was shock, horror, and a burning zeal to bring awareness as a means of saving as many lives as possible.  This stood out in stark contrast to the apathy I have been used to seeing.  But perhaps, in that sense, we should all be a bit more like Bryan.  After all, if there were thousands of already-born people being systematically killed every day right under our noses, then wouldn’t we respond just as he did?  Bryan’s response was a vivid reminder to me of the horror of abortion and the urgent nature of creating more conversations about this injustice.

Note: Joanna Bai contributed to this report.


In this Impact Report, Grace Fontenot illustrates how some simple tools, including questions, pictures, and a calm demeanor, can help a person change his or her mind on abortion.  In this case, the person with whom she was speaking not only changed his mind but became immediately active in changing the minds of others! 

Notice the different levels of experience featured in this story.  Grace has served as an intern with JFA for about eight months and is still raising her support.  Bryan had virtually no experience as a pro-life advocate before starting his own conversations using what he had learned from Grace.  Jon used his decade of outreach experience to be helpful to Bryan at an opportune moment.  In all of this, the message is clear: anyone—with any level of skill or ability—can engage people in conversation and help them change their minds about abortion.  This is especially true if the pro-life advocates work as a team.  We hope the example set by Grace, Jon, and Bryan will give you courage this month to join them in speaking up for those who have no voice.  Our April Resource Bulletin can help!

- Steve Wagner, Executive Director

Impact Report, January 2017

By Tammy Cook, JFA Training Specialist

Introductory Note: I'm eager to share this Impact Report with you.  Written by 20-year JFA veteran Tammy Cook, it allows you to see a model conversation unfold, nurtured through Tammy’s skillful choice of questions and information.  You get to watch a student rethink his position on abortion, and you get to see the JFA poll table, a stalwart conversation tool we’ve used since 2001, in a new twist that JFA trainers Jon Wagner and Paul Kulas came up with during a late-night run to Walmart.  The “popsicle poll” was one of the tools we used along with our large Art of Life Exhibit to start conversations about abortion at Oklahoma State University in November 2016.  Go to the photos page for the event to see these tools in action, as well as two other new twists on classic JFA conversation tools.  We turned one free speech board into a straw poll on the presidential election (we couldn’t help ourselves—it was election day), and we used another to ask people which particular abortions they thought should be legal, in terms of timing and circumstances. - Steve Wagner, Executive Director

Having conducted many campus outreach events in unpredictable weather, the JFA team has learned to make quick adjustments on the fly.  Our latest challenge?  How to keep poll table notebooks dry in the rain.  The notebooks allow students to sign Yes or No in response to our poll question, Should Abortion Remain Legal?  The poll is one of our best tools for starting conversations, so when it was raining at Oklahoma State University (OSU) in November, our team got creative.  Popsicle sticks and Styrofoam to the rescue!  Students could now vote by signing a Popsicle stick and putting it in either the Yes side or the No side.

During the lunch hour, “Hudson” stopped by to vote.  He placed a popsicle stick on the Yes side.  I thanked him for voting, introduced myself, and started a conversation:

Tammy:  I’m curious—do you think abortion should be legal through all nine months of pregnancy?

Hudson:  Well, I don’t know, but I don’t think the government should be in people’s lives. 

Tammy:  I would like to better understand your view.  Can you give me an example?

Hudson:  I don’t think the government should make a law that says a woman can’t have an abortion.

Tammy:  Ah.  So basically you’re saying that you don’t want the government to tell you what you can or can’t do?

Hudson:  Yes.

Tammy:  I can see that.  I agree that there are times when the government shouldn’t interfere with our choices.  For example, I think people should be able to choose if they want to go to college.  I do think, though, that the government should make laws that protect our citizens.  Would you agree with the laws that stop people from driving 100 miles per hour on the freeway while intoxicated?

Hudson:  Yes.

Tammy:  Why?

Hudson:  Because that’s not safe, and it would risk harming or killing other people.

Tammy:  I agree.  So, do you agree with the current laws that prohibit rape, murder, and theft?

Hudson:  Yes, I agree with those laws.  But when it comes to taking away choice, I don’t agree with the government taking away a woman’s choice.

Tammy:  Got it.  Let’s take a moment to talk about human beings and look at biological development.  When do you think we become human?

Hudson:  I’m not sure... maybe in the third trimester?

Tammy:  Okay.  So, do you agree with me that this is a human being?  [I pointed to the third-trimester fetus on page three of our brochure, pictured right.]

Hudson:  Yes.

Tammy:  Okay.  Let’s look at earlier stages of human development.  [I pointed to the first seven circles on page three.]  Would you agree that if the unborn is growing, it must be alive?  And if it has human parents, it can only be human?  And living humans like you and me—we’re valuable, aren’t we? 

Hudson:  Hmmm... [seriously contemplating what I’ve shown to him]

Tammy:  And did you know that from the point of fertilization, all that is added to the embryo is adequate nutrition and a proper environment?  Nothing essential is injected along the way to make an embryo into an organism.  So, if you and I are whole organisms now, the embryo must also be a whole organism at fertilization.  Would you agree?

Hudson:  Maybe so, but I still think abortion should be a woman’s choice because abortion is legal.

Tammy:  Okay, so it sounds like legality is important to you.  Let’s look at slavery, which used to be legal.  Should our country have kept slavery legal? 

Hudson:  No.

Tammy:  I agree.  We should restrict people from choosing to own a slave because that is a violation of human rights.  For the same reason, don’t we also have an obligation to restrict people from choosing abortion?

Hudson:  [pausing to think]

Tammy:  And I think it could aid our discussion if we include images of abortion.  Are you willing to view them?

Hudson:  Sure. 

Tammy:  This is what abortion looks like.  [I showed him an abortion image on page five of the JFA Exhibit Brochure.]

I feel like I want to break the popsicle stick in half and put half in the Yes side and half in the No side.
— "Hudson" (an OSU Student)

Hudson:  Wow, you’ve given me a lot to think about.  I see it a little differently now.  The slavery comparison was really helpful.  I’ve never thought about it that way before.  I need to go think about this.  I feel like I want to break the popsicle stick in half and put half in the Yes side and half in the No side.  Can I have one of those brochures?

Tammy:  Yes, absolutely.  Thanks for taking time to talk.

Our team had two wonderful days of outreach at OSU, even despite the rain.  And the popsicle poll brought a great response.  There were 190 people who voted Yes (abortion should remain legal) and 120 who voted No (abortion should not remain legal).  I spoke to about 25 pro-choice students over two days, and I saw more than half of those students rethinking their views like Hudson did.  Some even had a complete change of heart and agreed that abortion should not be legal.

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.

Clare (blue, behind table) and Grace (right) interact with Wichita State students.

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.  

Clare (right), Zachary (second from right), and Grace (third from right) interact with three Oklahoma State University students at JFA’s recent Art of Life Exhibit at OSU.

“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. 

Zachary, right, near JFA’s Art of Life Exhibit at OSU.

“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.”

Grace Fontenot interacts with a student at Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas, in September 2016.  Grace is raising support to work full-time with Justice For All.  You can support her work with JFA by making a donation here (look for Grace's designation or put her name in the notes).

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.

Clare Lavergne discusses the value of the unborn child with a student at Oklahoma State University, while a deacon from a local Catholic parish listens in.  Clare is raising support to work with JFA again in Spring 2017.  You can support her work with JFA by making a donation here (look for the Intern Scholarship Fund or put Clare's name in the notes).

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

August 2016 Impact Report
By Meredith Boles
Introduction by Steve Wagner


In this Impact Report, Meredith Boles describes a conversation that took place at JFA’s new Stop and Think Exhibit (shown below), illustrating how the public display of abortion images, a gracious manner, and thoughtful responses to tough questions can help pro-choice advocates “stop and think” about abortion in a new way. 

Meredith and another UCLA student talk in front of JFA's new Stop and Think Exhibit in May 2016.

Meredith also shares what it was like for her club, Live Action UCLA, to partner with JFA to carry out large JFA events on the UCLA campus two years in a row.  We cherish the hard work of Meredith, Ines, and other members of their club who share our passion for creating hundreds of conversations about abortion in a single day of outreach.  Meredith and Ines helped invite JFA to campus, participated in conversations themselves, and rallied other club members to participate.  The result?  Together, JFA and Live Action UCLA trained more pro-life advocates and reached more pro-choice advocates than either organization could ever have done on its own.

P.S. This Impact Report is the second in a series showcasing our newly-expanded large exhibit outreach program, which also includes another new exhibit that was displayed at UCLA, The Art of Life.  For an introduction to both new exhibits, including more pictures, see JFA’s July report, “Two New Exhibits: A First Look.”

-Steve Wagner, Executive Director


The Story

I just graduated from UCLA, and throughout my four years there I was actively involved with the pro-life group.  In both my third and fourth years, I coordinated with Justice For All so that we could bring them onto our campus for a training seminar and then for an outreach event.  I cannot recommend JFA enough for a club event that is both educational for club members and influential for our peers on campus. 

Throughout this past year I had to meet periodically with the staff of the club events office in order to get the training sessions and the outreach exhibits approved, as well as to reserve outdoor spaces, classrooms, equipment, parking, etc.  This process was difficult at times because it was very obvious that the campus administration was not pleased with our event, so it felt like I was pulling teeth at times. It was also difficult because not everyone in my club was comfortable with the idea of displaying graphic images of abortion, and so I did not have enthusiastic support from all my club members.  But with their consent, and the help of two club members who were fully on board, combined with the guidance and assistance from the JFA staff, and the conviction that this was a great opportunity for my last year in college, we made all of the arrangements. 

Every person, whether it is the pro-choice student who is standing in front of me, or the unborn baby in a mother’s womb, has dignity and ought to be loved.
— Meredith

We had one day of training on a Sunday, and then two days of outreach at two different locations.  We needed one club member at all times present at the exhibit, and we used a group chat to coordinate this.  All of my club mates told me afterwards that it was a great experience, that they had some tricky conversations, some fruitful conversations, and that by the end they felt much more confident about having these conversations.

I myself had a very good conversation with a student named Amanda.  She was walking slowly past Justice For All’s Stop and Think Exhibit when I asked her what she thought of the exhibit.  She said she didn’t really understand what it was about, so I offered to walk around it with her and explain it.  We walked slowly, side by side.  Once we had circled around I asked Amanda what she thought.  She replied, “I know it’s a tricky issue.  It’s really hard to know.  I just think it should be up to the mother.  Do you think that abortion should be illegal even if the mother couldn’t afford to have the baby?”

Meredith interacts with a fellow UCLA student in front of the side of the Stop and Think Exhibit focused on feminism and women's rights.

I wasn’t sure if Amanda was expressing this condition because it was her own story.  All I could do was express my sympathy for a woman in this situation, whether it was her own or not.  I told her I understood her concern – it’s a real one.  Students who get pregnant do not just have to put up with expenses for a year.  They become permanent mothers.  They either need to raise this child, love it, and provide for it, or give it up for adoption.  It’s so, so hard for these women on our campus who find themselves pregnant when they did not intend to.  Amanda was moved and said, “Yeah, I think adoption is an alternative.  People try to say that it’s worse but I think it is a great idea.  After all, a lot of couples want a baby.”

I agreed with her and told her there is even a waiting list for couples wanting to adopt.  Then I said, “Going back to your concern about women who get pregnant while in poverty.  Let me ask you something…”  I trotted out the toddler as we had practiced in the training on Sunday, and finished with, “So I know it’s an extreme example, but you wouldn’t say we could kill that toddler, right?”  She said, “Of course not,” and then paused and added, “I understand what you mean.”

Her voice got a bit more anxious when she said, “I don’t know, it’s just that this whole time I have been telling myself that I was pro-choice, but after seeing that picture…”  She was referring to the picture of the aborted baby on one of the panels of the exhibit.  “Is that really ten weeks?”  I said yes, and she said, “I had no idea.”

Working with Justice For All bolstered our club in our fight against abortion, and helped spread awareness of our club. I highly recommend it for every single pro-life group on college campuses.
— Meredith

I told her that the reality behind that picture is the reason why I am fighting to end abortion.  I asked her if she agreed that a procedure so brutal could never be the right option, and so it should not be legal to choose it.  She said yes, but asked, “But if abortion were illegal, would that mean women who get abortions would be criminalized?  Would you agree with that?”  I might have faltered at this point, except that one of the JFA trainers had walked us through this topic at the training.  If I truly believe abortion is killing an innocent human being, which I do, then of course a woman who willingly breaks a law that states abortion is an illegal act of murder should be penalized.  I told her that it may be the case that a woman who committed an abortion was under a lot of emotional stress, and so may receive less grave sentences, but she would still need to be penalized.  She agreed with my reasoning.  She said, “Thank you so much for talking to me about this.  This really helped me.”  I gave Amanda the JFA brochure, and we exchanged numbers.  [Editor’s note: See JFA's Extending Your Learning page for more on this topic.]

Not every conversation goes this well, but JFA gives us the tools so that every conversation is at least civil and intelligent, and almost all of them leave the other person pondering.  The conversations definitely confirm me in my beliefs; at the same time, talking face-to-face with another student who holds the opposite opinion to mine helps me to be more understanding.  It reminds me of the reason why I believe abortion should be illegal: every person, whether it is the pro-choice student who is standing in front of me, or the unborn baby in a mother’s womb, has dignity and ought to be loved. 

Working with Justice For All bolstered our club in our fight against abortion, and helped spread awareness of our club.  I highly recommend it for every single pro-life group on college campuses.

- Meredith Boles, Member of Live Action UCLA and JFA Volunteer



By Catherine Wurts

March 2012

She made a beeline for our table, knelt down, and drew her line directly below the conception photo, signifying her view that human rights begin at that point.  Later that day, she helped save a child from abortion.

This is how it happened.

Amanda kneels to make her mark signifying that she thinks human rights begin at fertilization.

Amanda kneels to make her mark signifying that she thinks human rights begin at fertilization.

After Amanda stopped to give her opinion during a Justice For All outreach at Wichita State University (WSU), I asked her why she drew her line at conception and whether or not she ever gets into conversations with people who disagree with her.

Amanda said that as a Christian she knew abortion was wrong but wished she knew how to make a strong case for the pro-life position to her non-religious friends.

Catherine and Amanda talk near the JFA Kiosk.

Catherine and Amanda talk near the JFA Kiosk.

She was eager to learn, so over the course of the next 20 minutes, I gave her a crash-course version of the Abortion: From Debate to Dialogue seminar.  The conversation was very animated, and Amanda was a quick learner.

As we talked, Amanda became pensive and shared that earlier that week her friend at work, “Kim,” had told her she was planning to get an abortion.  Amanda realized the situation was urgent because Kim is only 19, has already had one abortion, is raising two small children, and has an unstable relationship with her boyfriend.

Amanda believes that God brought JFA to her campus as an answer to her prayer.

Kim is not a Christian, so Amanda didn’t think it would help to use the Bible to talk her out of abortion.  During the two days prior to the outreach at WSU, Amanda had been praying for God to somehow give her the words she would need to boldly reach out to Kim with love.  Amanda said she believed God had brought JFA to her campus that day as an answer to her prayer.

Catherine (right) prays with Amanda.

Catherine (right) prays with Amanda.

I then gave Amanda a copy of the JFA Exhibit Brochure and showed her how to give Kim a two-minute summary.  We also discussed Choices Medical Clinic, which provides local resources for women who are considering abortion.  I helped Amanda brainstorm how to broach the topic with Kim naturally.  We prayed together, hugged, and traded contact information before Amanda had to leave for work.

That afternoon, Amanda gave Kim a ride to work, stopping for coffee along the way.  She told Kim that some people had come to her campus to talk about abortion and that she thought Kim ought to look at the information they were handing out.

Amanda prayed silently and handed Kim the JFA Exhibit Brochure, saying, “I know you’ve had an abortion before, so some of these pictures will be difficult for you to see.  But I think it’s important that you look at all of the information in here while you’re deciding what to do.  And I want you to know I’m here for you.”

The very next day, Kim called Amanda to say that looking through the brochure had caused her to think about everything in a new way.  Amanda asked what she meant, and Kim said, “It made me realize that getting an abortion would be worse for my baby than the bad situation I’m in with my boyfriend.”  Kim said she had decided against having an abortion!

[JFA’s brochure] made me realize that getting an abortion would be worse for my baby than the bad situation I’m in with my boyfriend.
— Kim

Kim has since visited Choices Medical Clinic for a free sonogram, counseling, and other care. She and her two children have moved in with her mom.  She also has a new, better-paying job, and her baby is due to be born this August.

Please pray for Kim and her children, and please pray for Amanda as she continues to reach out to her friend with truth and love.  Amanda says she wants to go through our entire training program and to be more active with JFA in the near future.

Note: There’s more to this story.  Keep reading.


God Was at Work in the lives of Amanda and Kim

"Extras": More Details from Catherine's original March/April 2012 Letter from which the above report was drawn ("On-The-Spot Training Helps Save a Life")

We thank God for orchestrating these events and working through Amanda to pursue Kim and her precious child.  Consider these additional details of the story:

  • For years Amanda had felt God calling her to do something about abortion, but didn’t know what to do.
  • Amanda and Kim have such different lifestyles that people at their work have wondered aloud why they get along so well. Amanda is convinced it is all by God’s grace, according to His plan.  
  • Our JFA team would not normally have had an outreach at WSU in January. The only reason we were there that week was to test out the new kiosk before taking it all the way to Arizona at the end of the month.
  • There's another reason we might never have met Amanda; she was only going to stop at the kiosk for a few minutes between classes. But the class she was heading to got canceled, so she had time to stay and get trained!
  • After talking with Amanda, Kim called the JFA office the following week on a day that I don’t usually answer the phones, but I happened to pick up.  She had already decided to keep her child, but she seemed stressed.  I felt privileged to be able to listen, process with her, and arrange a three-way call with one of the counselors at Choice Medical Clinic. 


April 2012

Today I had the privilege of seeing a sonogram of the child whose life was spared by God working through me, and as I watched her wiggle around on the screen, we found out she is a precious baby girl :)
— Text Message from Amanda (April 19, 2012)


November 2012: One (Tiny) Person at a Time

A Note from Catherine Wurts


Dear Family and Friends,

This spring I wrote to you about Amanda, who I met on her campus in January.  Later that day, she shared our brochure with her friend, "Kim," who had already had one abortion and was planning to get a second one.

Kim said that the JFA brochure helped her realize “that getting an abortion would be worse for my baby than the bad situation I’m in with my boyfriend.”

Amanda and I were privileged to attend Kim’s baby shower on my birthday (best birthday present ever), and we got the news in August that her baby girl was born!

When this picture was taken, Amanda was so happy to be able to meet Lucy for the first time!

When this picture was taken, Amanda was so happy to be able to meet Lucy for the first time!

Kim and Amanda continue to keep in touch.  Earlier this month, Amanda sent me the beautiful photo above with the message, “I’m hoping to meet her soon!”  And last week, she sent me the photo below of herself holding Kim’s baby girl with the message, “Finally met her!”

I am so grateful to God for the grace and courage he has given these two young women, and for the life of this beautiful baby girl.  Thank you for partnering with me in this mission.  Together we are making abortion unthinkable, one person at a time.

In Christ, 

Catherine Wurts


December 2013: You Helped Save This Girl's Life!

A Note from Catherine Wurts

Dear Family and Friends,

Last year I shared a story with you about meeting Amanda the day after her friend, “Kim,” told her she was planning to get an abortion.

After we spoke, Amanda shared the JFA brochure with Kim, and it changed her mind.  In Kim’s words, “It made me realize that getting an abortion would be worse for my child than the bad situation I’m in with my boyfriend.”

Kim’s baby girl “Lucy” was born last August!

Amanda holds "Lucy,  " now one year old  .

Amanda holds "Lucy," now one year old.

Amanda continues to be a positive presence in Kim and Lucy’s lives.  Last month I got a text message from Amanda.  I opened it to find the photo you see nearby, along with the following caption: “The first time I saw my precious jewel since she turned 1.”  I just had to share this update with you!

We have heard of quite a number of lives that have been saved as a result of pro-life people lovingly sharing our little nine-inch JFA brochure with abortion-minded women.  If you would like copies of our brochure so you can be prepared to help a woman in the same way, please [request them here].  I would also be glad to share with you ideas of how to bring up the conversation and how to share the information in the brochure in a loving way, just like I did with Amanda that day.

Thank you for your support of my work at JFA.  Whether you send prayers or financial gifts or both, your partnership allows me the great privilege of being here, living out our mission of training thousands to make abortion unthinkable for millions, one person at a time.

In Christ,

Catherine Wurts

June 2016 Impact Report

CK Wisner, Training Specialist

Part I: September 2015

Things were getting out of hand.  Voices were raised and the crowd was visibly upset.  Gathered in front of Justice For All’s display at the University of Georgia – Athens (UGA) were several pro-life men, most notably Matthew and Isaac, engaging one pro-choice woman, “Jamie.”  I joined the debate hoping to turn it into a gracious dialogue. 

I started by addressing a question to Matthew.  As I was beginning to understand Matthew's point of view on abortion, Jamie interrupted him.  Soon after Jamie started talking, Isaac interrupted her.  We weren’t getting any closer to having a productive conversation, so I laid some ground rules.

Me: Excuse me, but I don’t feel like we’re getting anywhere with this discussion.  I propose that we take time to listen to each other and try to understand where everyone is coming from.  If someone else is speaking and you have something you’d like to say, please raise your hand and that will signify that you get to speak next.  Now, I hold to “ladies first,” so I’m going to let Jamie speak next.

Jamie: Well, I think that women are just in really difficult situations.  We don’t know what any given woman is going through or why she needs an abortion…

Matthew and Isaac: But wait!  There’s a baby in that situation…

At this point, Jamie was looking very angry.  Trying to avoid further outbursts, I decided to help the pro-lifers out a little bit by teaching them the concept of common ground.

Me: [raising my hand] Hey guys, I think Jamie is actually saying something about which we can all agree…if I understood her correctly, she is concerned about women who are facing really difficult situations.  I think we all are concerned for women in difficult circumstances.  Is that right?

Matthew and Isaac: Yes.  Definitely!

Me: I’m glad we agree on that.  I find that making note of the things we agree on is particularly helpful.

The dynamic of the conversation then changed.  Prior to introducing the concepts of listening and finding common ground, students were yelling their views and grouped together like a mob.  After adding structure and kindness, the group formed into a circle, and all of us started respectfully raising our hands when we had something to say.

Even though things were going well, I was becoming concerned for Jamie.  She was still highly emotional, and when I would aim to lovingly point out the flaws of her pro-choice position, she would admit that I was right, but then still cling with a passion to her views.  I could sense that something was underneath the surface that she was not sharing.

The conversation carried on for about 45 more minutes.  I heard the views of those who had joined our conversation.  Eventually it was obvious that everyone had said what he or she had to say.  As people were starting to repeat themselves, I raised my hand again.

Me: I’ve appreciated all of you sharing your views.  Can I see a show of hands on who understands what Matthew believes?

All hands rose.

Me: Who understands what Jamie believes?

All hands rose for a second time.  I continued asking this question about every person who had shared his view, and each time there was a complete consensus that everyone was at least beginning to understand what the others believed.  I then kindly ended the conversation.

Me: Now that we understand each other, I think it would be more productive to end the group discussion here, instead of each of us repeating our stances on abortion.  I think no one at this point is open to changing his or her mind in front of a group.  I’m more than happy to talk to each of you one-on-one.

The group disbanded, and I took this opportunity to pull Jamie aside.  I shared with her that I appreciated her sharing her view when nearly everyone had disagreed with her.  She thanked me, but she was still noticeably hurting.  I was becoming more and more convinced that Jamie had a personal connection with abortion.

Me: Do you know anyone who has had an abortion?

With that question, Jamie fell into my arms weeping.  I held her until she gained her composure.  Jamie then confirmed that she herself had an abortion in her past.

Jamie: [pointing at a photo of the aftermath of abortion] That photo condemns me to hell.

Me: Jamie, abortion is not the unforgiveable sin.  Jesus is just as willing and able to forgive the sin of abortion as He would be any other sin.  There is grace and healing in Jesus.  I’m not trying to take away your guilt [because I did believe what Jamie did was wrong], but I want you to know that redemption for your past mistakes is completely open to you.

Jamie: I just don’t know why I feel this way, because I don’t think abortion is wrong.

I just don’t know why I feel this way, because I don’t think abortion is wrong.
— Jamie

Me: [very gently] You don’t have to answer this question out loud, but I want to give you something to think about.  Are you sure abortion isn’t wrong, or are you just telling yourself that to justify your actions?

At this Jamie simply nodded her head.  We talked for a few more minutes, and I made sure to get her contact information so that I could connect her with resources for healing from her abortion.  Once I got back from Georgia, I did email Jamie.  Her message back to me showed me why I do this work with Justice For All.  She said,

“Thank you for this.  I have been thinking a lot since we met, and I want you to know that that has been good for me.  I've actually discussed the matter with my parents for the first time in several years, and it was a healing occasion for all of us.  Thank you for your help.”

When I returned to UGA in February of this year (2016), I had another conversation with Jamie.  (Continue reading below.)  I am confident that God continues to be at work.  He is at work in Jamie’s life, my life, and your life.  Let’s pray for Jamie to draw near to Christ that she might fully experience Christ’s healing work in her life. 

The  JFA Exhibit (2000)  panels displayed at UGA on the day CK met Jamie.  Jamie was referring to the "Is this humane?" panel when she said, "That photo condemns me to hell," and CK was able to share the message of Christ's forgiveness with her.

The JFA Exhibit (2000) panels displayed at UGA on the day CK met Jamie.  Jamie was referring to the "Is this humane?" panel when she said, "That photo condemns me to hell," and CK was able to share the message of Christ's forgiveness with her.

Note: Part I originally appeared in CK's December 2015 Newsletter.


Part II: February 2016

In my December 2015 newsletter, I shared with you one of my favorite stories about a dear young woman, “Jamie.” I told you about meeting Jamie at an outreach event and shared how she had opened up to me about the abortion in her past. I was able to love Jamie in the midst of the short time I had with her and share with her the hope of healing. We then exchanged a couple of emails.

But the story doesn’t end there. I returned to Jamie’s campus in February of this year. I knew that I wanted to see her again, so I sent her an email letting her know that I was going to be there. Early Monday morning on the first day of our outreach event she came by. We greeted each other with a hug of friendship and then I asked her how she had been doing. For the next several minutes, I heard more of her story. The details were heartbreaking.

After I had listened to Jamie, she said something that surprised me: “I’m the closest I’ve ever been to being pro-life, but I just have a couple of questions.” I asked Jamie to share with me what her questions were, and together we began to address them. By the end of our conversation, she recognized the truth of my answers, but understandably she still needed to think about it. I didn’t expect her to change her mind right then and there because she has been pro-choice her whole life. If I had believed something my whole life, I would need time to process a big shift in thinking, too.

Jamie came back by our outreach event the next day as well, but just to give me a hug. I had written her a letter after we had talked the day before and I was able to give it to her. In the letter, I shared with her that she is beautiful and also shared with her about the love of Jesus. I am continuing to pray for her to see the Truth. I count Jamie as a dear friend and my heart longs for her to find complete healing in Jesus. In the brief time we’ve been able to spend time together, God has used her to encourage me and to grow in me a heart to continue loving the hurting.

Stories like Jamie’s remind me why I work at Justice For All. They show me how deep the need is to reach the hurting and the great opportunity I have to share hope with them. Here is an awesome reality: God is able to work through you to love those He has placed in your life, too. If you need a little help getting started and you have not been through JFA’s training program, I strongly suggest that you attend. It has not only laid the foundation for me to communicate with those who believe differently than me regarding the value of human life, but it has also helped me learn how to communicate in general.

Thank you for your prayers, financial support, and encouragement. God is working through you to enable our team at JFA to meet more people like Jamie.

Note: Part II originally appeared in CK's May 2016 newsletter.


A woman walked up to me years ago at a JFA large exhibit event at University of Colorado (Boulder).  She was crying and could hardly speak, but she said something about our exhibit and her abortion.  As I attempted to show concern for her, she turned and walked away.  While I think that abortion images do a great deal of good when shown in public and that this woman’s grief might very well have been precisely what she needed to begin to grapple with her abortion, my heart breaks for this woman and others who for whatever reason weren’t able to find healing during their encounter with the JFA team.

Thankfully, some women who have had abortions are able to begin to embrace healing at Justice For All outreach events, even when abortion images are shown publicly.  In the story of CK Wisner and Jamie (above), we see through CK's beautiful example how a compassionate, gentle, and skillful ambassador for Christ can play a vital role in a person’s process of healing from a past abortion.   

- Steve Wagner, Executive Director

By Rebecca Haschke, Training Specialist (November 2015)
Introduction: In election seasons, it is very common for people to talk about what the law should be on abortion.  When that is the topic, it is also very common to hear some version of the following sentiment: “I’m pro-life, but I can’t tell other people what to do.  Therefore, abortion should be legal.”  JFA trainer Rebecca Haschke did a beautiful job of helping a young man reconsider this sentiment in a conversation she described in a recent letter entitled “#Mindblown” (below).  In this man’s case, he felt that because he had religious reasons for his point of view on abortion, he was disqualified from making a case that abortion should not be legal.  I think you’ll be encouraged to see how this young man came to see things differently in just minutes.  In the process, you’ll witness Rebecca’s manner, and you’ll learn a sequence of questions you can ask when you confront this sort of concern in conversations with friends and neighbors. - Steve Wagner, Executive Director (April 2016 Impact Report)
Rebecca Haschke interacts with a student at the University of Georgia at Athens in September 2015.

Rebecca Haschke interacts with a student at the University of Georgia at Athens in September 2015.

“Brian” confidently stated he was pro-life.  I had just met Brian at the University of Georgia-Athens and asked him, “Brian, what does that mean for you?  Do you think abortion should be illegal?”  He responded, “No, we can’t force our beliefs on others.  I’m pro-life because I’m a Christian, but legally enforcing my stance on abortion would push my religion on people who don’t believe the same as me.”

I shared the above short story earlier this year in my March newsletter, "Give Thanks In All Circumstances."  Brian’s response is not an unusual one.  I’ve heard it many times.  Hearing it as often as I do can be discouraging, which is why I took the time in March to reflect on the need to give thanks in all circumstances, not just the circumstances that seem uplifting and enjoyable.

However, this conversation with Brian that I shared in March didn’t end there.  It continued and went something like this:


Becca (me): Brian, you mentioned that it is because you are a Christian that you are pro-life.  Do your Christian beliefs give you reasons for thinking that abortion is wrong?

Brian: Of course.  Human life is sacred.  God created those human lives, they are valuable, and we should not kill them.

Becca: I agree with those statements.  From what you just said it seems that you may believe the unborn are human beings biologically.  Is that true?

Brian: Yeah, absolutely.

Becca: Human beings like you and me?

Brian: Yes.

Becca: When do you believe that the unborn become biological human beings like you and me?

Brian: [He walked up to the Justice For All Exhibit and pointed at a picture of fertilization.] From the very beginning.  Conception.

Becca: Okay.  Brian, can you explain to me why you think that you would be pushing your religious beliefs on others if you supported laws that would protect unborn human beings from being killed through abortion?

Brian: Well, women have a lot of difficult choices that they have to make in their lives.  Choice is an important thing.  If we make a law against abortion, we are taking away their right to that choice.  That’s like pushing my views on them.  They no longer would have the right to choose.

Becca: That’s true.  The choice to kill their children in utero would no longer be granted to women.  I’m curious.  Do you think that it is ever right for the government to make a law that takes away a “choice”?

Brian: Uh…no?

Becca: Well, do you agree that the laws that make it illegal to walk onto this campus and kill college students are good laws?

Brian: Of course.

Becca: I agree.  However, when enforcing that law, the government is taking away particular choices of other people.  What about laws prohibiting beating children in the privacy of your own home?  Are those good laws?

Brian: Yes, yes.  Those are good laws.

Becca: What if it is just your religion that makes you think that it is wrong to beat children?  Should you have the right to impose and force your religious beliefs on me?

Brian: Yes, because those laws protect others from being harmed.  That’s not just a religious belief.  It is a law protecting human rights.

Becca: So we can agree that laws which restrict “choice” in order to protect human lives are good, despite the fact that your support of those laws might be based on religious beliefs?  It’s possible that our religious beliefs may guide us to the same conclusion as those who don’t share those beliefs—the conclusion that all human lives should be protected.  That wouldn’t be forcing our religion on others, but simply protecting human rights.  Can we agree on that?

Brian: Yes, we can.

Becca: If it is important for us to protect human life and if the unborn are just as human and valuable as you and me, shouldn’t they also be granted that same protection under the law?

Brian: Wow.  Yeah, I guess.  I just have always thought that would be imposing my beliefs on others.

Becca: [I then pointed to pictures in the JFA Exhibit Brochure depicting various genocides throughout history.]  Brian, do you think that people who were not victims of the injustices shown in these pictures had an obligation to stand up for those who were being killed?

Brian: Yes.

Becca: I’m going to make a proposal.  Brian, not only is it right for you to believe that abortion should be illegal because it takes the life of a human being; but actually—as a person who has the knowledge that 1) the unborn is a human being and 2) over a million are killed each year in the country in which you reside—you have an obligation to speak up for those humans who are being killed.

(silent pause)

Brian: #MindBlown [hashtag: Mind Blown].


It was as if he had finally been given permission to defend the lives of innocent human beings that he understood were valuable, permission to voice his opinion without shame. Relief and amazement radiated from his eyes.

Brian’s final response took me by surprise.  From the start of our conversation he seemed so confident in his belief that it is wrong to enforce laws telling others what they can and cannot do.  Until that final moment in our conversation, the questions I had asked him did not seem to be creating any change of mind or heart.  When he looked at me and said, “#MindBlown,” his entire demeanor changed.  It was as if he had finally been given permission to defend the lives of innocent human beings that he understood were valuable, permission to voice his opinion without shame.  Relief and amazement radiated from his eyes.

The culture in which we live is permeated with the belief and mantra that we cannot tell others what to do.  Thank you for your support that not only helps us challenge the beliefs of those who do not think the unborn are valuable human beings, but also helps us encourage the students who recognize the unborn are valuable, but do not feel they have the right to share that belief with others.

Note: Members of JFA’s training team interacted with the topic of Rebecca’s letter recently.  You can read some of their reflections and post your own at the JFA blog.


Impact Report: March 2016

by Jeremy Gorr, For the JFA Team

Note: Chris Haynes, one of the pastors at Trinity Baptist Church in Norman, Oklahoma, said this about JFA: "I know of no other group that does such an outstanding job of training and then guiding teams of people through the actual process of dialogue.  If you have one day and JFA training [team] comes close to you, don’t miss the opportunity.  Our church and specifically college students have been equipped to now be on campus and have meaningful, life changing conversations."  This Impact Report explains through the story of Andrew some of what motivated Chris to say these encouraging words.  We hope you hear through Andrew's story our heart for established Christian communities.  For example, we are eager to serve local churches as they carry out their God-given role of helping the disciples in their flock to grow in their ability to actively love those too often forgotten in relation to pregnancy and abortion - women and men in distress, the smallest humans on earth, and those who disagree with us.  We see ourselves as helping these established Christian communities fill a gap in their discipleship in this area, rather than doing the work of mentoring and discipleship totally apart from or in place of these communities.  - Steve Wagner, Executive Director

Like so many of us, Andrew did not often have conversations about abortion.  He was pro-life, but he lacked confidence.  Then he participated in the Justice For All (JFA) training program last fall.  His college pastor, Chris Haynes, and their church, Trinity Baptist Church in Norman, Oklahoma, have a very purposeful emphasis on “the equipping of the saints for the work of service” (Eph. 4:12), so this was one of many times that they have invited JFA to help train their students.  Later, Andrew said,

Before the JFA conference, I was hesitant to raise the topic of abortion with my peers.  While this was due mainly to my lack of knowledge about abortion, I also felt uncomfortable raising the subject due to my lack of experience in conversing about the topic with someone from another worldview.

Before the JFA conference, I was hesitant to raise the topic of abortion with my peers.  — Andrew (right)    
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Before the JFA conference, I was hesitant to raise the topic of abortion with my peers.  — Andrew (right)

I’ve heard these same hesitations often.  Many people say that there is no way the average person is capable of engaging in productive dialogue with pro-choice advocates.  Andrew’s JFA experience proved the opposite.  JFA training helped Andrew develop (1) confidence in his own pro-life convictions, (2) confidence to begin creating dialogue, and (3) confidence to create further conversations in his daily life.

The first dose of confidence came for Andrew during the interactive seminar (Seat Work) portion of the training program.  In a mentor group led by Rebecca Haschke and me, Andrew and other students said they felt apprehensive about coming to our outreach event at the University of Oklahoma (OU) the following week.  As these students learned why common pro-choice arguments fail and practiced sharing the evidence which supports the pro-life position, however, their confidence grew.  Andrew reflected,

JFA not only has given me the tools I need to reach out to my peers, but also has helped me firm up my position on abortion as well as my reasoning behind my stance.

Even with this confidence, though, Andrew wondered if he personally could take these ideas and produce a good conversation with them.  Here’s how our outreach event at OU (Feet Work) enabled him to do just that.  At the beginning of the outreach event, Andrew got a second dose of confidence as he listened in to conversations that JFA staff members were having with pro-choice students.  The next day, he took the critical step of starting not just one, but many conversations.  He was surprised by what he learned:

During the time I spent in outreach with JFA, I had several opportunities to dialogue with other college students about their beliefs about abortion.  Through these interactions, I learned not to categorize someone too quickly.  To my surprise, many people who initially stated that they supported abortion were less supportive after receiving information.  Most of the people I spoke to were not the die-hard leftists I had thought they would be.  On the other hand, several people who thought abortion should be illegal turned out to support early abortions!  Through outreach with JFA, I discovered that you really don’t know where someone stands on an issue until you ask specific questions.

Through these interactions, I learned not to categorize someone too quickly… you really don't know where someone stands on an issue until you ask specific questions.  — Andrew (left)

Through these interactions, I learned not to categorize someone too quickly… you really don't know where someone stands on an issue until you ask specific questions.  — Andrew (left)

Andrew gained an understanding of pro-choice advocates and of himself through outreach that he could not have gained otherwise.  That’s why JFA has found Seat Work and Feet Work to be such a powerful combination.  Seat Work provides the tools for creating good conversations, but Feet Work gives a real-life opportunity to practice using those tools, to get rid of false caricatures of the people we’re trying to reach, and to explore ways to grow in dialogue skills.    

Andrew found that creating conversations during Feet Work gave him a third dose of confidence so that it was natural for him to continue creating dialogue about abortion after the JFA events (Repeat Work):

The [seminar] and outreach JFA allowed me to take part in have prepared me for several discussions since their visit to campus.  In dialogues with fellow students, finding common ground has been very important as have techniques such as “trotting out the toddler.”  I am thankful for the opportunity I had to volunteer with JFA and to develop my convictions and my ability to share them.

Andrew initially had the same hesitance to have conversations that most people have.  His biggest hurdle was his first conversation.  Once that hurdle was past, creating more conversations did not seem so daunting.  Andrew’s story demonstrates that gaining knowledge at a JFA seminar and taking a first dialogue step at a JFA outreach event can produce bold action on behalf of the unborn.

The [seminar] and outreach JFA allowed me to take part in have prepared me for several discussions since their visit to campus.
— Andrew

Are you someone who wants to be prepared for these kinds of conversations, but you’re hesitant like Andrew was?  Do you know someone in the same boat?  You can gain confidence like Andrew did by participating in JFA’s training program, including a Feet Work event.  You can find upcoming opportunities on the JFA Event Calendar.  Or, inquire about JFA Mission Trip opportunities.

We thank God that he used Justice For All, in partnership with Andrew’s very supportive college pastor and church, to help Andrew gain the confidence to be able to regularly and graciously share his views about abortion with his peers.  Thank you for supporting the mission of JFA so that we can offer Seat Work and Feet Work experiences to others who simply lack the confidence to start the conversation.  Through thousands of bold advocates like Andrew, we can truly make abortion unthinkable for millions – one conversation at a time.

- Jeremy Gorr, for the JFA Team

Impact Report: November 2015

by Joanna Wagner, Training Specialist

I looked into a crowd of 200 faces on October 1, as I prepared to deliver a chapel presentation to grades 7-12 at Christian Heritage Academy (CHA) in Oklahoma.  In the eight years since I was a high school student sitting in a similar high school auditorium, I've talked with many friends and acquaintances facing unplanned pregnancies or struggling with past abortion decisions.  I hoped that this morning I could inspire these teens to get equipped for similar interactions, knowing that they might make the difference for the little ones whose lives will be in the balance in their friends' wombs all too soon. 

Keawe shares the JFA Brochure during outreach events at the University of North Texas in 2014 (above) and the University of Oklahoma in 2015 (below).

Keawe shares the JFA Brochure during outreach events at the University of North Texas in 2014 (above) and the University of Oklahoma in 2015 (below).

I was aware of the stakes, but because of the outstanding partnership we’ve had with CHA over the years, I was also aware of how much potential was present in the room.  CHA alumnus Keawe Bridges is a good example.  During his final JFA outreach event as a CHA student recently, he shared this story:

[When] I arrived at the University of Oklahoma (OU) campus…I was expecting to talk to a lot of pro-choice people right off the bat.  I was all geared up and ready to play defense against any argument the pro-choice advocates could throw at me – and then the very first person I talked to was a pro-life advocate.  Even though it wasn’t what I had been expecting, it was good to know there were pro-life advocates on campus.
Then I remembered that the JFA staff had told us not to let people off the hook, so to speak, just because they said they were pro-life, as many people who claim to be pro-life still have doubts or consent to abortion in some cases.  As a pro-life advocate myself who, before JFA training, couldn’t present a decent rebuttal to any of the pro-choice arguments, I figured that I could impart some of my newfound knowledge to this fellow pro-life advocate.  I started by telling him that I was a pro-life advocate as well, but that I wanted to test him by acting like a pro-choice advocate by using some of their arguments.  Just as they had me, the arguments stumped him…  I was then able to step outside that role of being the pro-choice advocate and explain to the college student how to dismantle the pro-choice arguments – which is how I had been taught [by JFA].  Thus I was not only able to have discussions with pro-choice advocates about abortion, but I was also able to teach pro-life advocates how to defend against [pro-choice] arguments…thanks to the JFA training I received!
JFA training staff made 65 presentations to 4,313 people in 2015.

Keawe’s confidence to teach others what he had learned didn’t come out of nowhere.  Keawe was part of an incredible community of Christians who were pouring into his life, including his parents and the faculty at CHA.  In his freshman year at CHA, a JFA presentation helped convict him about the importance of being a voice for the unborn.  As a member of CHA’s Salt and Light Student Leadership Program, he participated in our mentor-guided Seat Work and Feet Work events, practicing the art of creating conversations that change minds.  Most importantly, because of his repeated involvement, he gained the confidence to start training other pro-life advocates! 

251 volunteers participated in a JFA “Feet Work” outreach event for the first time in 2015.

Not only did Keawe give this pro-life OU student ways to respond to pro-choice concerns, he even went a step further and began to step into the pro-choice role so that the pro-life student could get a chance to practice the conversation.  Interactive practice is vital to JFA’s educational philosophy, and Keawe had caught the vision. 

He caught that vision so well, in fact, that the next day he was even able to help a few of his classmates to begin putting their thoughts into words when they were stumped in a conversation.  Instead of jumping in and taking the conversation over for them, he helped them stay in the conversation and “learn by doing.”

CHA students and JFA staff members pause after a day of  outreach at the University of Oklahoma in March 2015. Keawe is in the first row, second from right.

CHA students and JFA staff members pause after a day of  outreach at the University of Oklahoma in March 2015. Keawe is in the first row, second from right.

Two of my high school colleagues decided…to try the survey approach.  One of the two was a bit shyer and had less experience, so I accompanied them just to help out in case they ran into any confusing conversations.  At first I just sat on a nearby bench to watch…  Once they had reached the end of the survey [with one woman], the two administering it hit a bit of a snag as they seemed unsure how to continue the conversation. 
Seeing the unscheduled dramatic pause, I gingerly got up off the bench and walked over to join the conversation…  Since I had been listening to the answers the woman had given during the survey, I readdressed one of the situations in which she had said she would be okay with abortion; however I didn’t correct her…  [Instead, I presented] her ideas in ways that my peers were able to recognize [those ideas] as common pro-choice arguments [so that my peers could offer a] rebuttal.  By the end of the conversation, we were able to clear up any confusion the woman had had, and she agreed with us on all points.

When Keawe shared these stories, I was astonished by his ability to converse with pro-choice advocates, but I was even more astonished by how he had caught the vision for training others.  This should not have surprised me, though, since JFA had given me the very same gift when I was Keawe’s age.  JFA training was what originally equipped me for dialogue, gave me opportunities to practice good conversations, and inspired me to take on the responsibility of training others.  It’s simply what JFA does.

JFA conducted 36 days of outreach on 15 college campuses in 2015.

This year, JFA trainers started this process with 4,313 people at 65 presentations and workshops, by convicting the hearts of young and old alike about the inhumanity of abortion and the need to create a different kind of conversation about abortion.  We took that a step further with 728 participants at 32 seminars, equipping them for dialogue through hours of teaching and interactive practice.  Finally, 251 people took the critical step of creating dialogue with pro-choice advocates at a JFA campus outreach event for the first time, and this prepared them to create conversations in their own spheres of influence.  It’s a joy to see that for Keawe the process came full circle as he began equipping others to make abortion unthinkable. 

- Joanna Wagner, for the JFA Team




JFA is the best thing we do as a school.
— Aaron Ferguson, Director of Salt and Light at Christian Heritage Academy

Keawe’s inclination to take what he had learned from JFA and help other pro-life advocates tells us something about his personality and his upbringing, but it also tells us about the encouragement and training he received through the Salt and Light program at his high school, Christian Heritage Academy (CHA).  The Salt and Light team endeavors to “train American Christian leaders for every sphere of society,” and we’ve been privileged to partner with CHA and its Salt and Light program since 2007.  Salt and Light Director Aaron Ferguson has said, “JFA is the best thing we do as a school.”  We’re gratified to hear that, because we think partnering with the CHA community to train world-changers like Keawe is one of the best things we do!

- Steve Wagner, Executive Director

Reflection on the Justice For All Boulder Outreach
Focus on the Family Institute, September 2003
By Ashley* 

I remember the bus ride up to Boulder, talking, laughing with my friends.  All the while, in some of the deepest parts of me, I felt some very familiar emotions being pulled.  Babies, unwanted pregnancies, abortion, embarrassment . . . I began to remember them all.   

I know some of the students I was with were a little nervous.  They didn’t have any experience with this stuff and were afraid they didn’t have much wisdom to offer others.  In a way it’s sort of true.  Unless you have been there . . . unless you know what it feels like to be single, pregnant, in an abusive relationship, maybe even disowned by your family . . . it’s hard to say what you would do.  I wish I had been in the same boat with my friends, but I wasn’t.  I’d been there; I remember what it felt like. 

I believe in divine appointments . . . the kind that you know only God could have set up for an exact 15 minutes of your whole life.

No one will know unless I tell them, I thought.  I never considered that God would use me. I was broken, embarrassed, and ashamed.  I was surrounded by 87 students who had more character and integrity than I had ever seen and I felt their strong, honorable lives were more valuable than my destructive past.

I knew we were all sinners, but my sin was different . . . you could see it.  Everyone else got to quietly discuss their issues with God, while mine was displayed for the whole world to see for nine months.  There’s a stigma that comes with unwed mothers, especially in the Christian community.  Sometimes I still wonder if my Christian friends see me as “Ash” or “Ash that had a baby.”

I was intrigued standing around the exhibit, listening to debates, arguments, and people just sharing so vulnerably with strangers that you know a lot about a person after only a few minutes.  Everyone was being real and a fire was starting inside me.  This issue was so close to my heart.

A year and a half earlier I found out I was pregnant with a guy that I should have never dated.  Not walking with the Lord, and all options on the table, I seriously considered abortion.  I remember when I made the appointment, I wanted it done as soon as possible and the woman on the phone told me that we had to wait six to eight weeks because the baby was so small right now that they wouldn’t be able to tell if they got it all out.

It was only a couple of days afterwards that I decided against the abortion.  It wasn’t a heroic gesture to save my baby’s life.  It wasn’t a good moral decision based on the idea that all life is sacred.  It just felt wrong to me.  Though I wasn’t walking with the Lord, the Holy Spirit was with me and wouldn’t let me go through with it.  I gave birth to my son on January 13, 2003, and gave him to an amazing adoptive family.

I believe in divine appointments . . . the kind that you know only God could have set up for an exact 15 minutes of your whole life.  I was surrounded by a crowd of people, all standing in silence looking up at the giant, horrific pictures.

In the background you could hear side conversations and debates, but they are all drowned out by a voice in your head, trying to comprehend these pictures.  Are they real?  This is so wrong.  These can’t be real.  You finally gain your composure after your breath is literally taken away, and you muster up something to say, maybe to yourself, maybe to the person next to you.

“I would have another sibling, but my mom had an abortion,” said the young man standing next to me.  His eyes didn’t move from the pictures.  I’m not sure who he was talking to, maybe anyone who would listen.

As I slowly turned my head to see the tall, thin man, with a baseball cap, and hands in his baggy jean pockets, I hear another person speak out.  This time, on my other side.  The man, not quite as young as the one on my left, had a beard and glasses.  He was holding his girlfriend’s hand.  “I participated in an abortion once.”  I nodded my head to acknowledge his words and looked down at the ground as I gently moved the grass under my foot.

After what seemed like an eternity, I looked up to make eye contact with him.  The girl on his arm had tears streaming down her face.  Before I had a chance to speak, she said, “I had an abortion once.”  I couldn’t hold it in a second longer – with no reservation I blurted out, “I had an appointment for an abortion once, but I ended up giving him up for adoption.”

The girl let go of her boyfriend’s hand, took a few steps, and collapsed in my arms, sobbing.  We held each other and cried, holding nothing back.  I sensed other bodies around us and then felt the arms of the two men who had also just shared their hearts with us.

There we were, four strangers in the middle of a college campus, surrounded by hundreds of people, brought together by the Creator of the Universe, to help heal each other’s pain.  After the heavy sobs stopped and we began to sniff and wipe our noses, I asked these three strangers if they wanted to pray.  None of them spoke, but they all nodded in agreement.  I took the girls hand, knowing the guys would follow, and led them away from the crowd, under a tree, where we stood in a circle, holding hands, praying to our Lord.

This experience wasn’t a highlight of my week, or even semester, but something I will treasure and remember for the rest of my life.

I have no idea what I said or prayed as we stood under that tree, because it wasn’t me speaking.  I spoke truth to them that day, and though I’ll never know how it was received or if I made a difference, I know how they impacted me.  As I watched them walk away in different directions, I felt a sense of peace and relief for what the Lord has saved me from.  I am forgiven and have been washed as white as snow.

This experience wasn’t a highlight of my week, or even semester, but something I will treasure and remember for the rest of my life. I realized that day that everyone was broken; I wasn’t alone. And despite our brokenness, God still wants to use us for His glory. What an awesome feeling – to be used by our King. He took my shameful past and used it for good.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”  – Romans 8:28  

* Name changed.  Used by permission.

Conversations: September 2015

By Rebecca Haschke

Phase 1

Phase 1

Navigating a one-on-one conversation about a controversial subject can be difficult.  Now add nine more people with varying opinions.  Is it possible for the conversation to remain productive, or at least civil?  At our University of Arizona outreach in February 2015, I watched a one-on-one conversation transform into a conversation with a crowd that lasted three hours.

“Michael” (Phase 1) approached me in order to share his view that he didn’t believe life began at conception.  Overhearing the conversation, two other students wandered over to listen in (Phase 2).  Then two more students arrived and began peppering me with their opinions and thoughts, including multiple questions related to their disagreements regarding what they had heard me discuss with Michael.

At this point there was no way to answer every student’s questions at the same time (not to mention that every response I shared prompted more questions).   In order to respect Michael, and not forget him in the midst of this developing crowd, I asked a favor of all five students.  I said something like,

Phase 2

Phase 2

“You are all bringing up important topics and questions to cover.  I want to answer all of them, but I want to respect each of you by doing it in an orderly fashion so that we don’t miss anything.  Here are the concerns I have heard:

  • What about poverty?  What about women who don’t have the means to care for a child?
  • What about women who already have too many children?
  • What about a woman who has been violated (rape)?
  • Women’s liberty:  Doesn’t the pro-life view violate our liberties?
  • The unborn aren’t human so shouldn’t abortion only be illegal after we become human?
  • Men shouldn’t have an opinion in this matter.  It’s a woman’s body. So it’s her choice.

Phase 3

Phase 3

“I need your help though.  Please help me remember each of these questions if I forget one.  If you have another question, let me know so that we can add it to the list.  I am going to start by answering one of Michael’s questions first, the one about women who don’t seem to have the financial means to care for a child.”

In the next three hours I witnessed something beautiful unfold.  Because each of the students knew that I thought addressing each question was important, they patiently waited their turn. As more and more students wandered over to listen in (with most of them eventually joining in) each one witnessed a particular type of conversation taking place:  It was a conversation in which disagreement was readily present but anger was absent.  People were asking questions to seek clarification.  People were actively listening to understand each other.  People where not interrupting each other.

This respectful conversation set a precedent, and this precedent caused a second beautiful response from the students.  Newcomers recognized the calm demeanor of those who disagreed with me and quickly followed suit.  So much so, that they would even raise their hands (see Phase 3 above) and wait for me to call on them before sharing thoughts or asking questions.

It was a conversation in which disagreement was readily present but anger was absent.

At one point in the conversation I was able to ask the students present how they felt after the past hour of conversation.  One of the students had changed his mind about when we are biologically human.  Another student felt that abortion should still be legal but not in as many cases as she had originally thought.  A third student commented that, although she was still pro-choice, she had never heard these pro-life arguments and they made sense.  Later that day a fourth student returned to tell me that although he is pro-life he had never witnessed a conversation about abortion like that one.  He was amazed by the response of the students.

One pro-choice student who joined the group conversation had spent two hours in conversation with me the day prior.  During the group discussion he responded to several of the pro-choice arguments using the same pro-life responses I had shared with him the day before.  Although he stated he was still pro-choice, it was clear that he now also saw the validity in some of the arguments I had proposed to him.

Thank you for helping JFA turn the debate about abortion into a productive dialogue by respecting the dignity of the unborn while also respecting the dignity of each person in the conversation.

Impact Report: August 2015

CK’s story took place near this series of poll tables on UCLA’s Bruin Walk.

CK’s story took place near this series of poll tables on UCLA’s Bruin Walk.

I almost didn’t talk to her.  It was the morning of the second day of our outreach event at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).  “Jenny” was standing across the walkway, and I was uncertain if she had seen our “Should Abortion Remain Legal?” poll table question.  She appeared to be lost in thought, and I didn’t want to be a bother to her.  I immediately began an internal argument with myself about all of the reasons why I shouldn’t talk with her.

The longer Jenny stood there, the more I felt like I should ignore my fear of interrupting her day.  I approached her and asked if she had an opinion on our question.  At first she seemed hesitant to talk to me, but as the conversation continued, I learned that Jenny did have an opinion.  She believed that if a child was going to be born into poverty that abortion would be justified.  I listened to her concern and acknowledged that growing up in poverty would be extremely challenging.  In response to her concern, I used a conversational tool that we teach at Justice For All (JFA) called “Trot Out the Toddler” (TOTT)* to help refocus the conversation on the central question, “What is the unborn?”  After discussing the humanity of the unborn, Jenny agreed that abortion was wrong in most cases, but she still had one very serious concern.

Marcos Espinoza (center), a staff member with Right to Life of Central California, interacts with UCLA students in front of the JFA Exhibit on Bruin Plaza.

Marcos Espinoza (center), a staff member with Right to Life of Central California, interacts with UCLA students in front of the JFA Exhibit on Bruin Plaza.

Jenny asked me about the issue of a woman having to care for a child conceived in rape.  I took great care to share just how evil I think rape is and how we need to take better care of the woman in that situation.  After spending a significant amount of time talking with Jenny, I shared another belief that I hold strongly.  I said, “You know, often when women are in the midst of an unwanted pregnancy, pro-life people come alongside them and say, ‘Don’t get an abortion!’  What if, instead, we said, ‘Let me help you’?  I think we need to do a better job of coming alongside the woman and the unborn child inside of her.”

After a short pause, Jenny looked at me with eyes wide.  She said, “You just turned on the lightbulb for me.  I realized we've been talking about the woman, but there is a child involved in this, too.”  She then asked me what she could do about abortion.  She went over to our “Should Abortion Remain Legal?” poll table and signed the side that said “No.”  I gave her the JFA Exhibit Brochure and showed her how to share it with a friend.  I also gave her the contact information for a local pregnancy care center so that if she ever encounters someone considering an abortion, she herself could say, “Let me help you.”

I’m so thankful that God enabled me to face my fear and talk to Jenny.  The fruit of that conversation has shown me how a small step can accomplish a lot.  I pray that God continues to strengthen her to take a stand for unborn children. 

-CK Wisner, for the JFA Team

* Scott Klusendorf (Life Training Institute) gave us our initial formulation of “Trot Out the Toddler.” For a step-by-step explanation and dialogue excerpts, see


In this Impact Report, JFA trainer CK Wisner tells the story of one of her conversations from JFA’s UCLA outreach in June.  What I love about CK’s description of this conversation is that we get to see the specific decisions CK made at different points which helped one UCLA student change her mind about abortion. 

This is a different kind of conversation, the sort that 49 staff members and volunteers created many times over during two days at UCLA.  Among those volunteers were mission trip participants from Houston, Nebraska, Central California, and Kansas, who have already taken what they learned back to their communities.  Thanks for helping JFA train pro-life advocates to create conversations that are changing minds and engaging hearts in Los Angeles and beyond.

- Stephen Wagner, Executive Director

By Tammy Cook, Director of Human Resource

There is one thing we can always be certain of on every campus:  Encountering students who are either considering abortion or who have had an abortion.  Our hope is to connect them as quickly as possible with valuable life-saving resources. 

Having a local pregnancy resource center (PRC) table near our exhibit is invaluable.  Because we’ve been blessed to have the presence of PRC tables manned by directors and volunteers, many lives have been saved and impacted.  Here is one of those stories.

Six years ago I had an encounter with a student on campus that I have never forgotten.  Her name was Christina. 

As she viewed the exhibit I asked, “What do you think about this exhibit?” 

She looked at me and replied angrily,

“I’ve had three of these, what do you think I think about it?” 

My heart broke as I expressed sorrow for her pain.  After sensing my spirit of compassion instead of condemnation, Christina shared her story with me. 

With her first two pregnancies, each boyfriend split after hearing the news.  She got involved with a third guy who promised he would stick by her no matter what.  But she once again discovered she was pregnant and this guy turned out to be the same as the others.

Thank you ... you’ve given me my life back.
— Christina

With each pregnancy her mom informed her she would not continue her financial support for her education if Christina didn’t have an abortion.  Her mother also reminded her each time that she wouldn’t be able to continue playing soccer competitively and she would lose her scholarship if she didn’t get an abortion.  Scared and unsure, she chose to follow her mother’s advice each time.

After she finished her story, I asked her if she would be interested in talking with someone who knew her pain firsthand.  She nodded yes. 

I walked with her to the PRC table nearby.  Christina picked up a brochure that listed over 10 symptoms of post-abortion syndrome.  I’ve never forgotten her response: 

“I thought I was the only one feeling this way.”

She spoke to Terri, the PRC director, who had also had three abortions.  Terri shared hope with Christina for the pain and anguish she had been feeling.  Christina took the information on the abortion recovery class that was starting the following week.   She then hugged me and thanked me before she left.

Two days later, Christina came back.  As she walked toward me I noticed something was different.  She was smiling and immediately gave me a hug.  I’ve never forgotten her words: 

“Thank you so much, Tammy. I feel like you’ve given me my life back.  I’m going to start going back to church and also start going through the bible study program at the pregnancy center.  I am a Christian and I think it would be good for me to get back to God.”
Report By David Lee (JFA Founder), 2010
Jinny (right) interacts with fellow Pasadena City College students in 2009.

Jinny (right) interacts with fellow Pasadena City College students in 2009.

Jinny, a Pasadena City College (PCC) student, contacted Justice For All (JFA) in fall 2008 to ask if we would ever consider bringing JFA’s training program to her school.

Our initial response: “Probably not in the near future.” However, we encouraged Jinny to pray.  At that time JFA’s May 2009 California training plan only included UCLA and UC-San Diego.

Early in 2009 we saw that UCLA was not going to be possible.  Jinny was still very interested so we began working with her to substitute PCC for UCLA.

Jinny, a 19-year-old, is the ideal student to sponsor JFA’s training program.

She always returned calls, always went the extra mile, reserved numerous training locations at PCC, and recruited volunteers to participate in the JFA training program!

Jinny even took a part-time job to help cover JFA’s expenses related to coming to PCC!  She is the first student in a decade of campus work to take such steps to insure that her school mates would have an opportunity to understand the truth about abortion, and the love of Christ.

Above, left to right: Sarah Torre, Focus on the Family Institute volunteer, Rebecca Haschke, JFA’s newest intern, Steve Wagner, JFA training director, Jinny Li (wearing blue visor) and Jon Wagner, JFA staff.

Above, left to right: Sarah Torre, Focus on the Family Institute volunteer, Rebecca Haschke, JFA’s newest intern, Steve Wagner, JFA training director, Jinny Li (wearing blue visor) and Jon Wagner, JFA staff.

As a result, we had every needed reservation and also hit our training goal (75) for the number of volunteers who participated.

Jinny took a part-time job to help pay JFA’s expenses to bring its training to PCC!

JFA’s training equips volunteers like Jinny to engage anyone, anywhere, at any time with the truth about abortion, and integrate their Hope (I Peter 3:15), Faith (I Corinthians 15:3-4) and Comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-4) into the dialogue.

So it was not a surprise three months later to receive this email from Jinny:

“Sunday night, I got a phone call from a friend.  She was crying because she found out she's pregnant...  I called her Monday and Tuesday but she didn't pick up.  I finally saw her today.
She wants an abortion.  She’s going to Planned Parenthood tomorrow for information.  I’m trying to convince her to keep her baby and to go with me to a crisis pregnancy center.  Can you please pray that she changes her mind?  Thanks, Jinny”

What Jinny didn’t say in her email is that when she met with her friend — Amanda (not her real name), she walked her through the JFA Exhibit Brochure in order to help Amanda understand life before birth (pp. 2- 4) and death by abortion (p.5).  Before leaving that day, Amanda actually asked Jinny if she could see the JFA Exhibit Brochure again!

Despite Jinny’s best efforts, Amanda’s abortion was still scheduled for August 28.  Jinny called JFA to ask what we thought about her calling Amanda’s parents to inform them of their daughter’s continued plan to abort their first grandchild.

Jinny had several fears with making such a call.  What would be the position of Amanda’s parents on the scheduled abortion?  Would a call to Amanda’s parents harm Jinny’s future opportunity to talk with Amanda?

When it became clear that Amanda was not going to return Jinny’s calls before the scheduled abortion date, Jinny called Amanda’s parents.

They were horrified to learn what Amanda was about to do and said they would immediately speak with her.

Jinny’s only earthly contact with Amanda for the next month was through Amanda’s mother.  However, Jinny had plenty of spiritual contact with Amanda through the hundreds of people that Jinny persuaded to pray for Amanda and her baby.

Long story short, here's a portion of the email Jinny received on September 9:

"Hey Jinny. ... Well I just wanted to tell u sorry if I was a little harsh on you. I just felt like it wasn’t your place to tell my parents. But I know that you were trying to help and maybe it was for the best that they found out early on.
Anyways I think I'm keeping the baby! So I’ll keep you updated and send you pics when the little one is born....  I realize that I would probably regret killing it but I would never regret my baby.” —Amanda
“I realize that I would probably regret killing it but I would never regret my baby.”

The last sentence in Amanda’s email speaks to the successful completion of JFA’s mission through Jinny: train students to make abortion unthinkable for their family, friends and strangers, one person at a time.

Words fail to express the value of your support that enables JFA to train students like Jinny, not simply for a JFA outreach event, but for the many divine appointments that they will have throughout their lifetime!

Jinny, now attending San Francisco State, has already asked if we will bring the JFA training program to her new school!  We told her to pray!


Impact Report: July 2012

Mum was the word. She was too scared to tell even her mom.

Gloria and Josh at Metro State, Denver, CO (April 2011)

Gloria and Josh at Metro State, Denver, CO (April 2011)

It was a sunny afternoon in April on the first day of our outreach at Metro State in Denver, Colorado. A petite, dark-eyes, raven-haired, Hispanic girl stood staring at the Justice For All Exhibit. "Gloria" had recently learned that she was eight weeks pregnant. She shared that she was trying to decide what to do and felt that God had been sending her signs not to abort. She said that she never walked through the area where the exhibit was stationed. Gloria thought our 18-foot-tall exhibit was definitely the biggest sign that God would send her way.

She had not yet told her parents and was afraid to do so. My good friend and fellow missionary, Bubba, put one hand on her shoulder and one hand on mine. In a holy triangle, he prayed one of the most touching prayers I have ever heard, asking for God's grace and courage to be upon Gloria. The next day Gloria sought me out and introduced her boyfriend "Josh." They had stayed up all night excitedly talking about their future. After encouraging them further and exchanging contact information, they left to go visit Alternatives Pregnancy Center to get free help and support.

On Cinco de Mayo I sent Gloria an email to see how she was doing, and I asked if she had talked to her Mom. She wrote back:

Some days I'm more worried than others, and this stresses me out almost daily... I can't stop thinking about the pregnancy and how it is going to change my life... I haven't told my mom yet. I really don't know when or how I'm going to tell her. I'm very worried she'll be disappointed and upset...but frankly this is something that I can't keep postponing... Josh and I are doing great. He is very supportive (just as he always has been), and I am very thankful for him...
Anyways, thank you for writing to me; it's nice to...know that there is somebody there willing to listen, or in this case read my thoughts, so thank you.

God did not mean for people to handle the pressure of major life events, like having a baby, alone. They need support. At this point, Josh was Gloria's only support. I advised her to talk to her mom soon.

How did we know Gloria was in need? How did we know she was struggling with hear and indecision? As Christians we cannot wait in our church buildings and homes for people in need to stumble across our paths or announce to the world that they are trying to make a life-and-death decision. At a minimum, we must be willing to ask questions and start a conversation. At Justice For All, that is our mission. We will teach you the questions to ask. We will model for you how to start a conversation. Then, we will model for you how to start a conversation. Then, we will go with you to find the next Gloria who needs you to be an ambassador for Christ (II Cor. 5:20).

Just after Independence Day I was sorting some pictures from the spring when I came across one of Gloria and Josh. I sent it to them immediately and asked Gloria if she had talked to her mom. She responded:

Oh wow...thank you so much for that picture! It's great! I can't wait to show just showcases one of the many steps we have taken throughout my pregnancy...
Concerning my mom, you're not going to believe me, but I actually still haven't told her. My absolute deadline is next week because I'm having 21-week ultrasound... I would like for my mom to be there for that....

She finally talked to her mom. Just after Thanksgiving I sat by the fireplace basking in the radiance of our freshly adorned Christmas tree when I heard the familiar ping! from my computer. I only thought I was feeling in the Christmas spirit before, but then I read Gloria's email:

I am happy to announce that...our son was born on Monday...weighing in at almost nine pounds! ... He is beautiful and healthy and vivacious. Josh and I are very proud and very much in love with our son... My mom has also been an incredible support and was by my side every step of the way...
I wanted to let you know and your team made a huge contribution to the quality of my life: You indirectly helped birth my son, and...this one life you did touch is breathing today because of the selflessness, love, and devotion your team has for the beauty of LIFE.
Your efforts are never in vain.

The people surrounding Gloria with encouragement may have made her choice easier. Beginning with Josh and the immediate pro-life community, then expanding to her mom and whole family, they were all there for her, encouraging her, throwing baby showers, and loving her baby. Still, she had struggled with what to do, and she had even waited through over half the pregnancy to tell her mom. Imagine how hard it must be to have no support, and on top of that, to have you peers and culture tell you that you have a fundamental "right" to kill your child.

Once we as Christians have been brave enough to ask a question and have a conversation, we can't stop there. After all, who is my neighbor? It is not enough to simply speak up for the unborn. We must surround women with strong support, emotionally and in practical ways. Fathers, families, churches, and resources centers must be more than passively poised for action--they must proactively find, encourage, and equip women to recognize the lies of our culture and to embrace the truth, knowing that they will be doing the right thing and knowing that they will be supported.

Gloria and Josh's son, William, at five weeks

Gloria and Josh's son, William, at five weeks

Gloria now looks back with clarity and confidence that she did the right thing. She wants other moms to know that they can get to the other side, too. They don't have to remain mum; they can go to mom, or to other sources of support to help them do the right thing. Here is Gloria's note from New Year's:

Happy New year! I hope 2012 brings you infinite joy, success, love, and many good, deep belly laughs.
My son is five weeks old today and beautiful and healthy as ever. I wanted to thank you for sharing our story. If William's life could save others, and provide hope and inspiration to other young moms who are confused and scared just like I was, then by all means, share our story with whomever you think may benefit from hearing about William...

--John Michener, for the JFA team

Impact Report: November 2012


We describe the JFA training program in terms of Seat Work, Feet Work, and Repeat Work.  

The duty of JFA mentors is to guide their student volunteers through an interactive seminar and then shepherd them as they practice their skills at an outreach where they talk to people in real time, many of whom really disagree!  The expected outcome?  Students will experience making a difference, and they will want to continue using their skills to change hearts and save lives.  In other words:

Seat Work (SW) + Feet Work (FW) = Repeat Work (RW)

From start to finish, Conny’s story exemplifies this simple equation.  See for yourself.

The Story

Feet Work: Connie at a University of Nebraska outreach

Feet Work: Connie at a University of Nebraska outreach

Last year I participated in the Justice For All training program.  I had several conversations during the outreach day, but one in particular changed my world.

“Amy” was writing on the Free Speech Board when I asked her how she felt about abortion.  She responded that it did not matter how she felt and that we should all die for putting girls at her school through the trauma of seeing pictures of abortion.  Amy seemed to hate me without even having talked to me first.

I was distraught by this.  I hated that my actions were causing pain, but I thought of the countless children who would die that day, and I stood my ground.  Little did I know that Amy’s friend “Lisa” had been raped repeatedly by the same assailant, resulting in five pregnancies.

Each time that Lisa had become pregnant, she had gotten an abortion.  Her rapist was eventually found, and he is now in prison.  He will never leave jail.

It was Amy, the girl standing right in front of me, who had gone with Lisa each time to Planned Parenthood.  Amy had been Lisa’s “Rock of Gibraltar.”

I ended up consoling Amy for the better part of an hour.  Then, she started asking questions about the things that Planned Parenthood had told her and Lisa.  For example, someone there had told them that babies don’t have heart beats until ten weeks.  She related other misrepresentations that I couldn't believe.

By the end of our conversation, she no longer hated me, and she asked for my contact information.  I felt such love for her.  As she left, I promised I would continue to talk to her.

Over the next month we talked—not about abortion, but about life.  We became good friends.  I was there for her when she had bad days, and we bonded.  I learned about her schooling, her faith, her friends, and finally, I learned about her boyfriend.

Her boyfriend…  He was not the ripest apple on the tree, but she insisted she loved him, and they were sexually active.  Eventually, he cheated on her and hurt her deeply.  She came to me to talk about it, and we hung out together.

The day Amy found out that her boyfriend had cheated on her was significant in another way:  she also learned that she was pregnant.  She had no idea what to do, so I took her to a pregnancy center.

She decided she would have the baby and let her be adopted.  I was overwhelmed with joy.  It was probably the best day of my life.  We laughed and cried together.  Then, to my amazement, she attributed her daughter's life to me!

Amy has since had the baby and given her my middle name!  The baby has been adopted by a wonderful Christian family who love her extremely.

Why do I tell this story?  I hope to inspire others to action.  A wonderful child of God was brought into this world by an hour-long conversation!  To have had this experience is the most encouraging and wonderful gift I have ever received.

-Conny Fiedler


Such a simple equation.  What a dramatic sum!  Conny graduated last spring from Pius X High School, a private Christian school in Lincoln, Nebraska.  Conny and her classmates first participated in the JFA training program in 2011.  I was privileged to mentor Conny this year during her school’s second year of offering the Justice For All training program to its students.

Thanks for helping us mentor and shepherd students like Conny through Seat Work and Feet Work and into their own opportunities for Repeat Work.

-John Michener, for the JFA Team (2012)


(Note: John Michener served as a Justice For All trainer from 2010-2014.  He is now the Director of Oklahomans United for Life)


Impact Report: January 2013


A friend pulled Miriam out of bed one Saturday morning to take her to a pro-life training seminar JFA missionary Jon Wagner had arranged when he was a student at Azusa Pacific University.  It was the first in a series of small steps that ultimately led to a big decision — right inside an abortion clinic.

Time Magazine proclaimed on January 14, 2013, that “40 Years Ago, Abortion-Rights Activists Won an Epic Victory with Roe v. Wade.  They’ve Been Losing Ever Since.”  If Time is correct, we think the efforts of pro-life advocates like Miriam are the most exciting illustration of progress.  It’s small steps like hers, along with the small steps of each of us, that can change our culture.  

The Story

I’m writing to share with you a story of how your influence as an organization is like a pebble in a pond, whose ripples keep spreading and spreading.

In 2005, I was fortunate enough to attend JFA’s Abortion: From Debate to Dialogue seminar.  It ignited a passion which led me to attend your March 2005 trip to Texas.  I’ve since been to four more seminars and three more campus outreaches.  Needless to say, JFA’s ministry has etched itself on my heart.

A couple years ago, when it was my turn to bring the devotion to my family’s weekly dinner night, I decided to present a mini version of the JFA seminar, using my JFA training materials.  I passed out the JFA Exhibit brochure, and I even facilitated my parents and siblings and their significant others to role-play “pro-choice person” and “pro-life person.”  It went very well, and that was that. I hadn’t thought about that night for a long time, until it was brought back into my mind in a very big way.

“JFA’s ministry has etched itself on my heart.”

“JFA’s ministry has etched itself on my heart.”

When I gave that mini training, my sister was dating a nice guy named “Damien,” so he was there for the training.  Later on, he and my sister went their separate ways and Damien began dating another girl, “Mindy.”  Recently, my sister came back into contact with Damien, and he shared an incredible story with her.

A few months after he began dating Mindy, they found out she was pregnant.  Being young students with only part-time jobs, they decided on abortion.  They made the appointment and went into the clinic.  When Mindy left to have the procedure done, Damien sat alone in the waiting room.  He said that suddenly all the things he had learned that night at the mini JFA training came flooding back to his mind.  

He became very frantic and forced his way to the room where Mindy was.  He begged and pleaded with her not to go through with the abortion.  In those few seconds, he blurted out everything he remembered from the training and told her he’d do whatever it took to make it work.  She said she’d think about it; then the clinic personnel forced him to leave.  Damien sat in his car and cried for two hours while he assumed his girlfriend was aborting their child.

Later that day, she called him and told him that she thought about what he had said, and she had decided not to go through with the abortion.  Today, his beautiful little girl, “Sophia,” is the joy of his life, and he told my sister that he can’t imagine life without sweet Sophia.

- Miriam Bernard

Miriam talks to a University of Texas student during her first JFA mission trip.

Miriam talks to a University of Texas student during her first JFA mission trip.


Miriam’s story is a series of small steps — steps which may not have seemed to her to change hearts or save lives.  When she had the natural opportunity to share what she had learned with her family, she took it.  She was doing what JFA trainers regularly teach in our seminar: focus on being a faithful ambassador for Christ and leave the results to him.

Once in a while God gives us a glimpse of the work he’s doing through that faithfulness, and in Miriam’s case we all have the joy of seeing how her small steps had a big impact in the lives of Damien, Mindy, and Sophia.

Those who support JFA also take steps to make sure our team can keep working full-time to save children from abortion.  Sometimes, to them, their steps seem insignificant, but God is pleased to use those small steps to make a big impact.  

The close of Miriam's letter is as much a note to our faithful supporters, as it is to our staff:

THANK YOU for the impact you have made on me, and for giving me the tools to share the truth about abortion in love and common sense with people like Damien. One can never know when those morsels of truth will surface and affect major decision-making.  Because of JFA, Sophia is alive and loving her daddy today.  

- Stephen Wagner
Director of Training

Impact Report: October 2013


JFA’s alumni want to do one thing with their JFA training: practice.  They attend multiple Seat Work and Feet Work events, and they want to teach others.  They are a treasure because they come back time and again to JFA outreach events to help us reach thousands of students on campuses each year.  They’re also a treasure because of what their JFA training has enabled them to do when JFA trainers can’t be present.

In this Impact Report from October 2013, Kansas volunteer Anthony Trent shares in his own words the story of how he went from the fire of his second JFA training experience to the frying pan of a party of naysayers.  He was ready to turn the debate into a dialogue.

Thank you for helping us give Anthony and hundreds of others like him the tools they need to be confident when the pressure is on. 

The Story

“It’s become something that I do almost instinctively now   —   asking the right kinds of questions.”     - Anthony Trent

“It’s become something that I do almost instinctively now asking the right kinds of questions.”     - Anthony Trent

Last weekend I had a pretty incredible experience.   It was Labor Day weekend, a Sunday night, and I happened to be in Wichita visiting a friend who was hosting a party.  Nothing seemed to be abnormal or different than most group functions I’ve attended.   Of course, there was an understanding that many of this friend’s friends didn’t really share the same beliefs I held. 

The timing was interesting because a week beforehand I had participated in my second JFA seminar and outreach at Wichita State University.   Many of the people at the party were WSU students. 

Later in the evening, the subject of the JFA outreach was brought up.  After saying I participated in that event, one of the guys there said, “Yeah, well, we were making fun of that all day it was there.  It was stupid.”  I replied, “Why was it stupid?  We were asking questions and promoting dialogue with pro-choice students.”  After asking more questions, it was clear he didn’t have a reason for belittling the outreach, and he admitted it.

This conversation, not surprisingly, sparked a debate about abortion.   While the room seemed to erupt in aggressive talking points and pseudo-listening, a person named Cole and I had a one-on-one conversation about abortion.   Cole believed abortion was a woman’s right during the first two trimesters of pregnancy.  We found common ground that third-trimester abortions were immoral and that it makes sense to consider the unborn to be human persons when the pregnancy is far enough along that premature babies can survive.

I later found out that Cole considered personhood to be based on a sort of self-awareness—“the ability to know I exist independently.”  As I proposed to him the Equal Rights Argument and how his explanation of rights based on self-awareness excluded newborns and third-trimester children, though, he knew it couldn’t work.  The conversation went on for three hours as he tried to propose new functional abilities that might bestow human rights.  I then asked him, “What is the one trait that every person in this room has in common?”  We came to the conclusion that it was our human nature.  As we talked even more, Cole came to the conclusion that abortion should be made illegal, even in cases of rape.

Not only was my conversation with Cole refreshing, but the other people at the party also gave me some hope.  As one girl came back from a late-night McDonalds run, she sighed, “Oh, another judgmental pro-lifer.”  Another person spoke up: “Oh no, this guy is different.  He’s listening and is making an intelligent, logical case.”

Now back to the friend I was visiting in Wichita.  She attended the Abortion: From Debate to Dialogue seminar a week beforehand, and she was silently overhearing the conversation the whole time.  The next day we talked about the conversation, and she said, “I finally understood how that training can be put into a real conversation and that it really does work.”

This is why I support Justice For All.  It’s small moments like these that give me assurance we can win the culture for Life.  Just one year ago, I would not have been able to have productive conversations like these.  This is the purpose of the training.  Rather than just holding a brochure or pointing students toward an exhibit, the purpose is to use the skills we’ve learned as an ambassador for our Lord, and to do that on a daily basis.  I can’t thank this staff enough for equipping me to love those with whom I speak.  Thank you, and God bless.

                                     - Anthony Trent


After reading this story, I asked Anthony whether he would have spoken up at the party before his JFA training.  “I definitely would have entered into the conversation,” he said, “but it would have been much more like a debate.  I would have been a really bad ambassador…  I would have just taken his comments, blown them up, and intellectually humiliated him.”  Fresh from two rounds of Seat Work and Feet Work with JFA, though, Anthony went into the party living out JFA’s Three Essential Skills: asking questions with an open heart, listening to understand, and finding common ground when possible.

When the outreach event was mocked, Anthony didn’t respond in kind.  He asked a clarifying question.  Instead of reveling in a one-against-many showdown featuring him at the center, Anthony opted for a one-on-one format in which he could listen.

When Anthony learned that Cole was pro-choice, he could have simply listed off his best pro-life arguments, whether Cole was interested or not.  Instead, Anthony started with common ground: adults deserve an equal right to life.  Then he labored with Cole for three hours over Cole’s explanations of those equal rights.  When it became clear to Cole that his explanations were flawed, Anthony was ready—ready to give him a hand up with the more satisfying explanation that we deserve equal rights because we have the same human nature.  It was then a very small step for Cole to embrace the unborn as humans who share that nature.  If you want to learn how to approach a conversation from the Equal Rights perspective like Anthony did, join us for an upcoming JFA training event.  Until then, enjoy stories from JFA missionaries in a newsletter collection entitled “The Equal Rights Argument."

Since the party Anthony has continued to put his JFA training into practice.  He’s created other Repeat Work conversations in his everyday life, and he’s joined the JFA team for six additional days of outreach, including one he arranged on his own campus (see photo above).  For more discussion with Anthony about the value of practicing the Three Essential Skills, see my interview with him at

What could have been a disaster became a delight for Anthony, for Cole, and for the others at the party.  Thank you for helping us train pro-life advocates like Anthony to change hearts and minds in their everyday lives.

- Stephen Wagner, Director of Training


“...I saw the [Justice For All] exhibit at the University of North Texas, one month before I got pregnant with Nicholas.

Nick could have easily been an abortion photo on your exhibit [if I had not seen it first].

God…used [the JFA] exhibit and my pregnancy to get mine and Nicholas' father's attention in a BIG way.

Nick is the lover of my soul...and I love him too -- SO MUCH!

All things are possible through Christ, who strengthens us!"

—email from Nick’s mother, 8/16/2006

Reprinted with permission.