A Week of News and the World is Dark
(Warning graphic content!)
Just this week, I ran across two articles that made me cry, sob even. They made my heart hurt and stomach turn.
In the first article, a Chinese newborn baby, perhaps only a few days old, was extracted from a sewer line this past Saturday, where he had been heard wailing for two days. The sewer pipe was only 4 inches in diameter, and the baby was stuck there after he had been flushed down the toilet in a residential building in the wealthy coastal province of Zhejiang. Firefighters cut the pipe loose and took the pipe with terrified baby inside to the hospital, so that doctors could cut the baby loose. He's being called "number 59" because of his incubator number at the hospital. The whole community has reached out to care for this baby with donations and offers to adopt, while the Chinese public has been expressing a good bit of outrage on the Chinese version of Twitter. If you haven't seen this story, it's also tough to read and even tougher to look at the pictures.
In the second article, an OBGYN doctor is testifying in Congress in the last week about a bill to ban abortions beyond 20 weeks where the baby feels pain. This doctor, who had performed 1,200 first and second trimester abortions before becoming prolife, describes performing a second trimester dilation and extraction (D&E) abortion on a baby as though the listener or reader were the doctor. It's the most graphic, most disturbing description that I have ever heard, and I have read a lot about abortion. He talks about pulling the baby out, body part by body part. And finally clamping the baby's head, about the size of a plum, and crushing it to extract it from the woman's uterus. He said, "Many times a little face will come out and stare back at you." And he goes to say, "Congratulations! You have just successfully performed a second trimester Suction D&E abortion. You just affirmed her right to choose." If you can stomach to read or watch a video of the doctor's testimony, see the full article here.
In reading these stories, I was left with such anguish over the world in which we live. How we treat our most vulnerable, says a lot about our society. Or as Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa, so eloquently said:
The soul of America, and the soul of our world, is dark.
"There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children."
Both of these stories happened for the same reason. It boils down to the value of a life. These lives are not valued, whether a baby at 20 weeks gestation in the womb or a baby just born a day ago. These babies are not wanted. They are not convenient. They are not loved. They are not valued. Whether by the mother or by the society.
Some argue that a pregnancy is not yet a life, and therefore the value is questionable. And at some point in the womb or maybe when they leave the womb, they are a person of value, worth protecting, but when is that point? If abortion is okay by the mother's choosing until a baby comes out of a woman's birth canal, why not just allow a mother to decide whether to let her 2 week old live or die? Where does the line for value and wantedness belong?
Is it really that hard to value life in our world? Is it that hard to value the life of a baby? A newborn or soon to be born baby, so full of life, potential and cuteness? Even if you don't think that a baby is cute and you don't want one, is your heart not moved by a pregnant woman's swelled tummy or a newborn?
It was once you, in your mother's abdomen or a newborn in an incubator at the hospital.
Are you glad you were given a chance to live, to make your own choices, to be you?
Are you outraged that others are not given that chance? That some, because they are not "wanted" or "convenient", have no life and no future after a "procedure"? Are you bothered by the "one child" policies in China that, in essence, encourage selective abortion - many of which happen in the second trimester after the sex is known? Are you dismayed at the thought of a doctor pulling apart a fully formed baby, piece by piece, from what should be the safest place on earth? Does it make you want to throw up to think of him or her pulling out the last piece, a crushed skull and tiny face out of his or her mother's uterus? Does it make you sick? Does it move you? Does it make you want to do something about it?
It should. It moves me. It makes me angry. It makes me weep. It makes me mourn for the lost lives, preborn or born. It horrifies me. Whether you are a Christian or not, liberal or not, religious or not, it should move you. They are issues of humanity, issues of life and death, and they could have been us, if we were born in slightly different circumstances. If it could have been you, does that move you?
If you are moved, a simple heart nod toward the neglected and downtrodden isn't really enough. Would you let it move you to action? If so, how should you act? What can you do? Well, here are a few suggestions...
1. Help at a pregnancy resource center. They are popping up across America, seeking to bring truth and love and help to young women faced with unplanned pregnancies. Support one. In Pittsburgh, we have two, Pregnancy Resource Center of the South Hills in Bethel Park and Homestead (PRCSH on FB) and Choices Pregnancy Center in Coraopolis. Give money or your time to help women in need.
2. Be an advocate for children through adoption. Adopt a child, if you can, from the US or from abroad. Encourage women in crisis pregnancies to offer their baby for adoption. Adopt from the foster care system or become a foster parent. Give kids love and a home. Even if it's just temporarily. This isn't for everyone, as the emotional baggage can be a strain on some families. But if God is calling you to it, adopt kids from foster care or be foster parents. I think this must be one of the most difficult things to do, and my heart goes out to good foster parents with good foster homes. If adoption or foster care isn't for you, reach out to kids in need, kids who are lost through great organizations like Big Brother, Big Sister. Everyone needs someone to care.
3. Know the truth about abortion. Know about the risks and emotional scarring from early abortion, late term abortion, and all in between. Be an advocate for the unborn, for those who haven't yet had a chance to live. And have compassion on women hurt by abortion. Many choose abortion because they are scared, alone, and believe abortion to be their only choice. Love them. Don't heap abuse on them as though you know what you would have done in their situation.
4. Volunteer with 40 Days for Life. There is movement of prayer and fasting happening outside of abortion clinics all around the US several times a year called 40 Days for Life. It happens right here in Pittsburgh, outside the downtown Planned Parenthood, twice a year. I went for the first time this past spring. It's not violent, it's not in your face, it's not loud. It's just offers of prayer and a presence to women who may be in crisis situations.
These suggestions aren't the only things that you can do to elevate the value of life. They are merely suggestions in case you are moved to action, but don't know where to start. The last story I ran across this week is a great example of someone who saw a need and birthed a ministry to fill that need.
With an epidemic of abandoned babies happening around him, a pastor in South Korea, was moved to action with an amazing idea. Here is a small excerpt from the story about this courageous pastor.
Lee Jong-rak is the creator of the Baby Box. His Baby Box is the first and only box in Korea that is for collecting abandoned babies who are physically or mentally handicapped or are just unwanted by their mothers.
Hundreds of unwanted babies are abandoned on the side of the street in South Korea every year. Jong-rak knew he needed to set up a way to save the lives of these precious babies. He built a drop box on the side of his home with a humble sign reading, “Place to leave babies.”He never thought that anyone would use his drop box, but he was wrong. They started coming and haven't stopped. One week recently there were five babies in one week. They take in all the babies, and love and care for them. There is a documentary coming to the big screen this fall telling the tale of this South Korean pastor and his "Drop Box". Watch the trailer and get your tissues!
What an amazing story of God using a man to battle an epidemic, one baby at a time. Because God cares about the vulnerable. He loves them with a passion that we can't grasp. He loves the weak. He loves the "least of these". He loves us all.
So be passionate, love life, see the needs around you and allow God to lead you. You never know where you may end up, but we can all make a difference in this life.
“The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty -- it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There's a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.”
― Mother Teresa, A Simple Path: Mother Teresa