Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Most Amazing Save

In the begining of December I met a girl who would become the most miraculous story I've had to date. Crystal has been in an unhealthy marriage for the past three years and is currently fighting a custody battle for her two little girls. With a drug abuse history, Crystal struggles to take care of herself, let alone trying to prove to state authorities that she can care for two little ones. Being post-abortive she knows all too well the pain and heartache women carry their whole lives after having an abortion. With all this and more on her shoulders, Chrystal and my paths crossed.

Crystal's husband had brought her to Dr. Emily's abortion clinic, the largest abortion clinic in the South Bronx, against her will. When we asked if we could help her, she screamed out, "Talk to him! He's making me do it!" (Later we found out that he had in fact tried to strangle her that very same morning!). She made it outside the clinic a little later and took down my number. In a couple hours when I was back at the Lifehouse, she called and asked if I could pick her up. I asked Chris Slattery, president of Expectant Mother Care, if I could do this and bring her back to the Lifehouse. He understood the urgency of the situation and allowed me to do it. She came back to the Lifehouse with me, and I immediately tried to contact materinty homes, drug rehab programs, and the Sisters of Life hoping that they could take her in and that her will to save her baby would persist. Unfortunately no one was able to help on so short notice; it was a Saturday afternoon. So with Chris' permission, she stayed for four days. But then Crystal took her own road and I was only left with my Faith that God would keep her safe.

Months went by and nothing happened, save the occasional text message to see if she was ok. One night during the week, I recieved a phone call from Crystal saying she needed a place to stay for the weekend. Chris again thought that it would be fine to take her in. Finding out that she had been with her abusive husband the whole time I felt she had let me down. Trying to be hopeful for her and the baby, I again did everything I could for her. Chris was even able to take her to a methadone clinic to help her out because of her previous substance abuse. By the end of the weekend she assured me that she would be okay with her husband and said goodbye. We still kept in contact though. A couple weeks later she called me back after numerous attempts I made to get a hold of her and told me she was staying with Missionaries of Charity here in NYC at the Pregnant women's shelter.

Just this past Friday, I got a call from the Sisters of Life informing me that Crystal had just left the shelter and her husband was trying to force her to abort again the following day. At this point she was 24 weeks pregnant, right at the legal limit to abort in the state of New York. I couldn't reach her, her husband wasn't allowing her to pick up her phone. Then after her husband had a very prolonged conversation with the Sisters of Life, he finally cracked and let the Lord in. He apologized to me, he apologized to Crystal, he expressed great remorse for his past actions but also exuberance in the future to live for Christ and to try to be a good person.

So finally, Crystal is on her way to delivering a beautiful little girl. She gave me the sonogram picture to prove it! She's expected to deliver June 20. God is good!

Miracles Do Happen!

How often have you seen the bumper sticker with the pro-life slogan "Take My Hand, Not My Life"? It is a beautiful sticker! It has a powerful message, one that became even more powerful on Monday at the pregnancy center that we went to.

We arrived at the center and after group counseling the girls were taken back one at a time to see their sonograms. There is something so beautiful about the connection between a woman and her child at that moment. It is almost like they get to meet each other for the first time. For most girls, you can see in their eyes the confirmation of what they knew to be true in their hearts all along- that they have a baby living and growing inside of them.

One of the first girls to be brought back was still unsure about whether she was going to keep her baby or go through with the abortion. Then the miracle happened. Linda came in and asked the girl if she would like to hold her baby's hand. Then Linda took the girl's hand and put it on her stomach. Everyone was praying that God would touch her heart. On the sonogram screen we could see, clearly and unmistakeably, the baby (who was about 22 weeks old) reach her precious little hand up and rest it against the place where she could feel her mother's hand! It was beautiful!! Then, the baby, as if reaching out to her mother, put her other hand there too! The baby would not let go until the mother removed her hand.

Everyone in the room knew that we had witnessed a miracle and the phrase "Take My Hand, not My Life" suddenly became real to each one of us.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Christina from the South Bronx

This story doesn't have a happy ending. But it shows what's in a day's, and week's, work for EMC. I met Christina Lopez (name changed for this post) outside Emily's one morning about a month ago. She stopped without much effort on my part, and she went to the minibus with me to get a free sonogram. She was a pretty easy turnaround, after she saw her sonogram of her 20 week old baby, she knew she wanted to keep it. However, through the counseling session horrible things became known to me. Her boyfriend, who had been her boyfriend for 6 years and was her first child's father when she was only 13, was violent and abusive, and pressured her every day of her pregnancy to get the abortion.

She lived in government subsidized housing in one of the worst places in the Bronx. I found out that her boyfriend didnt live with her, and when I asked why didn't she just lock him out, she said that he had kicked in the door and broke the lock. Her stuff had been getting stolen ever since. He would just come in whenever he wanted and have his way with her. And then tell her to make sure she got that abortion.

Soo.. I ended up going down to her place that day and bought a lock for her door, installed it, and hung out with her for the afternoon. Clare and I went to Mass with her the Sunday after, and got lunch with her.

A week later, at a subsequent meeting, she told me that she had gotten the abortion. She couldn't escape the pressure anymore, every day he had been telling her that he would do it himself if she didn't get it done. She felt horrible, she cried, she prayed she would be forgiven. She had already signed up for a Sisters of Life retreat before I had to suggest it to her. She was genuinely sorry. I felt so bad for her, and I told her that I forgave her. It was all I could do at that point. Please pray for Christina. She recently moved and said she would call me with her new number, please pray that she tries to keep in touch.

First day reactions

After only three days here in New York I have gotten a small taste of what it means to be truly pro-life. Yesterday I went to the EMC pregnancy center and today we prayed in front of the abortion mill. I was really inspired by the other counselors, interns and volunteers who have given so much of their time and effort to pro-life. It has been an intense experience for me, but it is an amazing privilege to be a part of the lives of these women in need of help and to be there to love and care for a child that I may never meet, except in Heaven. At the same time, it is sad to see first hand the effects of a society that has failed to recognize the dignity of each human person. Today, more than ever before in my life, I realized the need for compassion and love in the pro-life movement. I used to get angry at the thought of so many children dying every day, but as I watched the women entering the clinic today I could only feel love. It is a privilege to offer the women and children- with my prayers and presence- all my love. It is my prayer that God's grace will reach out to their hearts and give them the support they need to choose life.

"That's exactly what I need....."

What a beautiful day it was! The first day in months that I actually wanted to be outside. I knew right then it was going to be a good day in the baby saving business. So there I was talking to the mothers, fathers, friends and praying the rosary in between all the conversations; when I noticed a couple walking in. I wasn't able to talk to them going in but they no sooner came out and I took the window of opportunity to say something. I informed them that we had free help for pregnant women and proceeded to ask if they were pregnant. "Yes" was her answer, "Well how many weeks are you?" I then asked. She didn't know, and I was glad to offer her a free sonogram in our mobile clinic to see. "That's exactly what I need", she told me; then started running on about medicaid or insurance saying that Dr. Emily's told her that's what see needed and so forth. Quietly listening, I ushered them into the mini-bus. At Dr. Emily's, if the women can not afford an abortion they will give them the information on how and where to go to get emergency medicaid which will pay for the abortion. New York State taxes willing fund these abortions.

18 weeks! Wow, this baby was all over the screen; waving, bouncing, and just loved being the star of the show. Much to the surprise of the young parents, their baby was not just a blob of tissue. Finding out what was really wrong, why they really "couldn't" have this baby was soon to follow. Eighteen, still in school, bad relationship with mom, and boyfriend was about to lose his job; no easy situation(never is). No sooner than later, by the grace of God, these two became more and more hopeful about their situation. After talking everything through they were so thankful that I stopped them. Saying that is was a sign from God that they didn't have insurance and the mother even wanted to be a motivational speaker for teens and tell her story. They left that day saying we were going to be invited to the baby shower and to keep in touch!

After all those long winter months of hardly getting the chance to speak to so few girls, God rewards us with a beautiful day and a beautiful baby with two very hopeful determined parents to make the best out of life! Thank you Jesus!

Emily's strikes back

Over the past month Dr. Emily's abortion clinic has been posting signs on thier entryways reading

"Tell all abortion protestors: This is America, Mind your own business."

Pretty absurd. The first absurd thing is that we arent really protestors so much as we are pregnancy counselors and helpers. These women don't know the type of help that is out there for them. The second absurd thing is that even if we were protestors, it's precisely because we live in America that we cherish the ability to say what we want wherever we want. America is "Home of the Free," not "Home of the Moral People who should stay inside and keep their good intentions to themselves."
The good thing about it, which I'll never tell the clinic, is that it actually lets bystanders and neighbors see what they do inside the clinic. The sign otherwise just reads "Dr. Emily's Women's Services Clinic: a Bronx Women's Medical Pavillion." Now that it says "Abortion" somewhere on the door, people know what they're doing in there, and we're actually seeing more support from the community. Bottom line, the truth is on pro-lifers' side. Let the darkness of the abortion industry come into the light, and people will see it and despise it for what it really is.

Lenten 40 Days For Life

Couple hours before Lent began in 2009 a small group of people pray in front of the largest abortion facility in Bronx, NY. At 11:30pm, in a not so safe neighborhood, 7 of us light one hundred little candles for the one hundred little babies who's lives were ended every week at that very spot. Standing in the cold that night, praying for a few hours I had this feeling that the next 40 days were going to be grace filled 40 days. Being able to unite my suffering with the suffering of Christ makes the long hours of standing outside, praying without ceasing, and being mocked at turn to a time of joy instead of misery. I know, because I was taught, Our Lord has a special plan for each one of us everyday, but I feel the Holy Spirit has a shower of graces to give to those who participate in the next 40 day.

As we stood there praying aloud for all the mothers and their babies we had helped in the last couple months; a neighbor man walked by with a newly purchased pack of diapers. A little while later he was back and placed on the ground next to the one hundred candles one newborn diaper and said "For the babies" and walked off. Our hearts were touched. Not only are we there to help save the unborn but to help Jesus touch every heart of all who walk by.