At least 32 women and teenage girls have decided against abortion after speaking to students involved in a pro-life protest on Tuesday.
Oct. 21 marked the 5th annual Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity. Students engaging the silent protest wore red duct tape reading "LIFE" over their mouths or red armbands as a way to lend their voices to the thousands of unborn babies who will never have one. They had the choice of breaking their silence to converse with a student inquiring about the event or to hand out a flyer.
This year, more than 200,000 students from over 4,700 schools in 25 countries participated. Nearly 400 homeschools and non-students, including 1,100 individuals and 107 companies/ministries, also joined in.
As the day rolled on, e-mails poured in with stories from the protest, and the number of women who had a change of heart kept rising. On Tuesday afternoon, Bryan Kemper, president of Stand True Ministries, which runs the protest, counted from the e-mails he received nine mothers-to-be who decided to keep their baby. A couple of hours later, that figure jumped to 15. By Wednesday morning, Kemper reported at least 32 women have opted out of the procedure as a result of the protest.
"I spent most of last night choking back the tears as I started to hear back from students," said Kemper, who estimates that over 4,000 abortions occur everyday in the United States. "The stories kept coming in about girls deciding to keep their babies and hearts being changed."
The protest was a powerful experience for many students as they exercised their right to free speech to express both their pro-life position and Christian faith.
Kemper estimated that the protest drew over 200,000 students worldwide.
Bethany Ervin, who began the day in prayer with friends, said that by the end of the day over 90 percent of her school was walking around with "LIFE" stickers all over their clothes, their backpacks, mouths, and books.
"God really rocked the halls of my school today!" she reported on the Stand True Ministries Web site.
But not all the stories included a positive response. Many students who joined the silent protest at their schools said they were mocked and teased by teachers, other students and even sport coaches.
Kendra said one teacher belittled one student's silence, saying, "Don't worry. I wont talk to you because you're a Christian. I only talk to atheists."
Some students tried to provoke those engaging in the protest by yelling "pro-choice," placing notes with rude remarks on their backpacks and in some cases, initiating a counter-protest of their own by wearing "Choice" or "Pro-death" tape.
For Lindsey Storey, the persecution gave her a modern-day lesson on faith.
"Through the persecution I believe God showed me something. Even though we may undergo persecution, we are standing up for our beliefs. We have so much more in Jesus Christ than just a voice. We have salvation and deliverance from everything," said Storey.
Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal group, said it would provide legal assistance to students if the need arises.
Speaking to The Christian Post, Kemper said the event has the intended consequence of preventing abortions and bringing people to Christ. In one case, a 15-year-old student who came to Christ during last year's silent protest led the protest at his school this year.
According to Kemper, being Christian should come before being a pro-life activist.
Instead of telling women, "Don't kill your baby," Kemper starts by asking women entering abortion clinics one simple question: "Would you mind if I pray with you today before you went in today?"
He calls this "positive confrontation."
"It's a mission field not a protest zone," Kemper explained to The Christian Post. "If you speak Christ in their life, you see their lives change not just in that day."
That's the kind of approach that transformed Kemper from a drug addict to a passionate ministry leader. Years ago when Kemper overdosed on drugs, a doctor told him how loved and valuable he was. Kemper was melted by those words and gave his life to Christ a few days later.
"As Christians, our number one goal is to preach the Gospel and go make disciples. Of course, we want to see babies and lives saved. But shouldn't we also want to see those women going to get an abortion having their lives changed?" said Kemper.
Kemper, who has been involved in the pro-life movement for over 18 years, admits that he, too, faces challenges from time to time. Recently, when he and his wife, Carrie, announced they were expecting their sixth child, some relatives responded harshly to the news and implied they should stop.
For Kemper, children are a blessing and heritage from God, one that he will always cherish and be grateful for.
"I wanted to line up all my six children and ask, 'Which one should I have gotten rid of? Which one?'" he recalled.
But it is the youth that keeps the passion for his ministry alive, said Kemper, noting that young people demonstrate a different enthusiasm in the pro-life movement than older people.
"Instead of asking, 'Do you think we have a chance to win?' young people will ask, 'When are we going to win this?'" shared Kemper.
"They still have faith. They know God is bigger than the abortion holocaust."