My name is Jeff, and I have been sidewalk counseling on and off in the South Bronx for several years, but have worked for Chris Slattery and Expectant Mother Care since January 2, 2013.
Today was my first eight hour day in quite some time at Dr. Emily's, the abortion clinic at which we sidewalk counsel four days a week. Today was especially unique as I was by myself for the afternoon when we try to talk to the girls who leave the clinic after their abortions or who change their minds. Now I am an only child, so playing alone comes quite easily, but sidewalk counseling is not play...it is war, and war is not pretty when it feels like you are fighting it alone.
Around 1pm, I was slowly growing more despondent. The only good I felt I was accomplishing was the slow progress I was making on my tan, much to the expected appreciation of my beach-loving girlfriend, while standing outside the clinic. One can only watch so many girls in tears leaving either alone, with a friend, or with the father - none of whom can really provide the true love the girls need because, if they had true love to give, the girls would never have come here in the first place.
I sat down to pray for a bit and cracked open my breviary to pray Daytime Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours. As I flipped through the pages, a boy about ten years old approached me with an unopened 1.5 liter bottled water and asked if I would like it. I have lived in the South Bronx for almost nine years, and while I stick out everywhere I go, I would like to think I have gained some street smarts, so I politely refused. But I looked up and saw a middle-aged woman in an SUV waving and smiling at me, yelling from her car, "I bought it for you! God bless you! We must pray!" She even offered to buy me food. We exchanged names and she promised to continue to pray for us and our work. I shook the little boy's hand, and as he walked away, he shot me the biggest smile and said, "Enjoy!"
St. Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, "For though we live in the world we are not carrying on a worldly war, for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds."
Sometimes we know the battles people are fighting, and today, I learned it never hurts to step out of oneself to send a care package - material, emotional or spiritual - to those who feel they are fighting alone, reminding them they are never alone for it was truly the Holy Spirit who inspired them to come to my aid. One act of loving kindness from that mother and her son brought down every evil stronghold working against me as I am working against it here outside this very busy abortion clinic.