Great Hills members shine light of Christ in dialogue with abortion activists
July 3rd, 2013 / By: Bonnie Pritchett / 0 comments
AUSTIN—Hugely outnumbered, half a dozen Christians stood before an impassioned crowd of abortion-rights activists in a State Capitol overflow auditorium June 23 and tried to speak for pro-life legislation scheduled for debate in the Texas House. When an Austin pastor tried to address them, he couldn’t utter a sentence before angry shouts and scripted chants drowned out his words.
What followed was completely unscripted. Within a hostile environment, seeds of faith and hope were planted. What grew from that moment was something only God could have orchestrated, witnesses said.
“Can I say something?” Dan Forshee asked the audience of about 250 people awaiting the start of the Texas House of Representatives’ debate on Senate Bill 5, legislation that would have restricted abortions after 20 weeks and required stricter standards of abortion providers.
Forshee, the pastor of Great Hills Baptist Church, was only one of about 25 pro-life advocates—most of them from his church—in the auditorium. The audience had just been stirred by a 10-minute impromptu pep rally lead by Lize Burr, president of the Central Texas Democratic Women. Burr demurely asked the crowd if Forshee should be allowed to speak. The room erupted in shouts of “No!” and “Boo!”
Undeterred, Forshee and five fellow church members made their way to the front of the auditorium.
He asked Burr, “So your voice can be heard but ours can’t?”
Forshee continued, “Your forefathers and my forefathers, they died …”
The rest of his statement was lost in the ensuing outburst.
The Great Hills members were at the Capitol because Cindy Ausmussen, a fellow church member and Concerned Women for America Central Texas director, had sent out a last-minute plea for support from her church. Little did she know the hostility they would endure.
“There was a real, palpable antagonism. It was strong,” said Forshee about his efforts to address the audience.
His wife Ashley attempted to interject. Without a microphone her raised voice shook with emotion as she asked the audience to observe the same decorum shown on the House floor when competing ideas are debated.
“This is a protest! This is not the Legislature!”
Chants of “Get out!” began to swell.
But above the clamor a few voices called out.
“Let her speak.”
Curiously, the cry came not from fellow pro-life supporters but from the sea of orange-clad abortion proponents.
Later, as the organized shout-down continued a few protestors approached Forshee and apologized for the outburst. They asked him and his group to speak their piece in person. Clusters of people began to listen as Great Hills church members began addressing specific concerns introduced by the protestors. As challenges to God’s role in human creation and the nature of life itself were voiced, the pro-lifers patiently and graciously presented their answers in a way that seemed to disarm those listening.
Ashley Forshee spoke with two women, one of whom confided that her father had raped her over a seven-year period. Had she been impregnated by her father, the woman argued, under SB 5 she could not have had an abortion because the law made no exceptions for rape. Dan Forshee said his wife’s heart broke for the young women and for more than an hour, Ashley Forshee talked with them and tried to explain how God can bring peace to the human heart.
At the same time, Dan Forshee spoke with a woman who claimed her views on abortion were rooted in her Christian faith. But Forshee discovered her knowledge of Scripture was very limited even though her T-shirt bore Ephesians 3:20 on the back. She was unfamiliar with Psalm 139 and King David’s eloquent description of God’s hand in the creation of humanity.
The woman parroted the oft-spoken rational that unwanted babies will be born to destitute mothers with little to no means to care for them. Therefore, abortion is the compassionate option to a life of poverty, she said.
But when Forshee said avoiding a presumed life of poverty is no excuse for the abortion of 30 million babies since Roe vs. Wade (Forshee acknowledged his numbers were low), the woman was stunned.
“She said, ‘No. That cannot be,’” the pastor said.
“They have those programmed, pat answers and when you come back with the truth it really rattles them.”
Forshee continued to refute the women’s arguments by championing the role Christian ministries play in the lives of the poor.
Ausmussen was countering some of the same preconceived ideas as she spoke with three young women who, like many of their peers, too easily dismissed the correlation between God and the creation of life.
“They do not believe we are made in the image of God—that we have value, purpose and a reason,” she said.
Confounded by their ideology, Ausmussen asked, “What is the meaning of life, of being human?”
She tried to detail the intricacies of human creation but was rebuffed. The women refused to believe her assertions about medical development of the fetus and the abysmal care some women receive by abortion providers.
But they were open to further discussion of the matter and two of the women gave Ausmussen their email addresses.
She said, “I’m praying that will be the door to minister to them individually.”
Though the confrontation with the abortion activists was emotionally jarring, Ausmussen said she was grateful for the experience. It gave the members of Great Hills a chance to speak truth to women who had not heard it.
Ausmussen said the experience brought to mind Proverbs 18:17: “The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.”
“We’re just trying to show that what they believe is a lie, if they’ll listen,” she said.
Forshee said he, too, was grateful for the opportunity to share his faith and truths from Scripture with those who had not heard it but said he left the meeting with a feeling of sorrow. An overwhelming spirit of sadness and deception had permeated the auditorium, he said.
At the close of discussions, ideologies were not changed nor were lives given to Christ, but Forshee and Ausmussen said they believe lives were influenced. So much of ministry is just showing up and being available, Forshee said.
“What God did?” Ausmussen asked. “God used it in a way we won’t ever realize.”
—A rally for life is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday on the Capitol steps in Austin to encourage passage of pro-life legislation during the second special session of the Texas Legislature that began this week. Churches are encouraged to bring vans and buses full of their members to attend the peaceful rally as the Legislature considers HB 2 and SB 9. The bills would outlaw most abortions beyond 20 weeks, require abortion doctors to maintain a standard of care and to have privileges at a hospital within a 30-mile radius of their practice.