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.