It was my first visit to Columbus and so far so good. The boutique hotel I checked into had a distinctive upscale feel and for the money I was thrilled. I’d pay a fortune for this in Santa Fe or New York I thought, my current and previous stomping grounds. Columbus was welcoming both inter-personally and climatically but quickly severed the gracious weather. 76 degrees one day, 32 minus the wind chill the next. Grateful I had the big sweater and jacket I was annoyed by yesterday I decided to venture out to the coffee hot-spot the hotel staff suggested. Collar up, head down, I braced the wind.
A blend of urban warehouse and garage band motif, it was eclectic and fun. Grateful to shut the biting wind behind me, I scooted in and stood on the surprising long line to order. Good for them, I thought. It’s scary to be an entrepreneur, as few know better than I and it pleased me to see this little place bustling. Over due for my morning’s first java, my hungry stomach was protesting as I stood on line, but I pretended not to hear.
Surveying the landscape of this Columbus meeting place, it was an easy 20 years. Roughly twenty years I had on the oldest person in the place. What is it with millennial’s and coffee? This was the twenty something hang where the technologically savvy congregated. Not just a single table chatting but cross conversations and laughs spilled from table to table. Nice, I thought.
A college dorm vibe minus the alcohol. They loved the place.
Each time the front door opened, a blast of cold air made me unhappy and I’d eyeball the culprit. One after another, a perfectly disheveled, adorable 20ish mil would sashay in. This one had a sweet girl with him, of the canine ilk, who sought tickles and pats from the patrons and seemed at home in the space. Clearly a local favorite. She reminded me of my parent’s family dog, Maggie girl. How quickly a surprise moment can carry you back a million years and unleash a perfectly vibrant emotional memory, but as I lingered in Maggie land, a startling sound jolted me back into the room. Two patrons with dogs apparently tried to enter at the same moment and terror struck. It all happened so fast. I could not tell who lunged for who, but two young men were caught in the middle of a brutal, utterly vicious dog attack right outside the front entrance. Yells from owners and heart wrenching shrieks from one of the dogs seemed to riddle through my body as a heavy hush of silence fell over the coffee house. A deathly quiet immobilized all of us.
Through the large front windows we saw and heard the raw brutality. Although both owners had their dogs leashed, their strength paled to the power of the attack. Vicious evil on display. Determined violence overcame any authority the owners thought they had. It was as if they did not exist. In the disturbing dance no one could see where the jaw locked and for a period of endless minutes, chaotic bobbing and interweaving of dogs and owners darkened the mood even more. Blood thirsty force unleashed against weakness. There was no contest. Both the canine victim and two able bodied men succumbed to it. Complete silence continued as every patron in the room sat frozen. A cloud of palpable dread saturated the establishment, even though intellectually we understood we were safe. That was inconsequential to the horror.
Leaving the coffee shop I briefed the sidewalk’s graphic story. Deep crimson pooled and what looked like raw hamburger meat spilled across the pavement, curb and street. I shuddered and swiftly turned the other way.
A panicked owner wrapped his baby in a jacket which transformed from beige to blood before me and sped off. Sudden violence is terrifying I thought. The pretty Maggie look alike was warm and safe inside with her owner and I flinched at how close she came.
I could not utter a sound as I walked away, numbed by the shock of the unexpected experience and now the biting cold. I prayed for the life of the canine victim. Sudden violence is terrifying I thought again as the fear kept my breath swift and shallow and sped up my walk. My cell rang but I was no where near normal enough to take an associates call. I could not describe why, but chose not to speak of this at all during my weekend. The distress of it made me mute.
I came to Columbus to celebrate and support an evening for LIFE. A fund raising banquet feverishly pulled together by a tiny team of women short on resource, but big on determination that were making a difference in this community. Five hundred fifty lives to date, I was told. Lives brought into the world as a result of huge hearts and broad shoulders that bore the angst and burdens of women in crisis pregnancies. Distressed strangers, who now interfaced with the staff like family. The evening planned was a roll up your sleeves, call every one you know, pray they show up, come early and leave late for the cause elegant gala, complete with harpist and flute. And YES they pulled it off. A success it was.
I was told the women’s center was in the sketchy part of town, strategically positioned between two planned parenthood abortion clinics, or as the key note speaker put it, between the gates of hell. I couldn’t achieve my financial goals, unless we performed a combined 40,000 abortions that year, she disclosed. Knowing the birth control we provided to all those teenage girls, wouldn’t do the job, we simply waited till they returned pregnant. They were kids. Keeping their sexual activity and birth control secret from their parents, they weren’t mature or responsible enough to take it properly. Where else were they going to go when they discovered they were pregnant? Of course they’d return and we’d do their abortions.
Disdain filled me as she continued. The doctor didn’t scrub up after each surgery as we had multiple rooms going at once. He would change his gloves and rush to perform the next abortion. We needed to turn over the rooms and make our numbers. We had a business to run and I was determined to make my personal goal of one million a year. One woman died on the surgery table. We aborted fetus’s that were developed enough to live outside their mother’s womb. We were there to do as many abortions as we could and the financial goal was our number one commitment. My number one commitment.
Although she did not specify, I assume this executive director worked in a state that allowed late term abortion or had no bans or restrictions on abortion what-so-ever, as in my own state of New Mexico. Or maybe the 20 week guesstimate was off, intentionally or not, I don’t know. I confess up until recently I was entirely ignorant of what transpires in clinics all across the nation. I certainly did not know women fly to my state (and numerous others) to abort their babies very late in their pregnancies, virtually up until labor begins. This was unimaginable to me. I also had never heard the term abortion tourism and was horrified at the mention of it, especially realizing my home state was attracting this business. As this key note speaker continued her talk, I turned away and did not want to look at her as loathsome feelings filled me. This was heinous and difficult to hear.
As she continued the crux of her message became clear. She was a woman of great darkness transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. This abortion clinic executive director was now on a whole new path and committed to effecting change by speaking the unspeakable. By shining a light on the darkest part of the abortion industry, their routine business practices, and worse, the darkest part of our humanity. The most disturbing part of ourselves and surprisingly, the darkest part of her.
This can not be easy, I thought. Standing before this crowd, admitting your blatant greed and utter disregard for human life. Exposing the true underlying motive for each compassionate conversation that took place with every woman in distress that came through their doors. Glaring deception assuring them they would be just fine. She herself had one day been on the surgery table and lived with disdain and self loathing for that choice. But as God’s heart and grace so desires, she embraced absolute forgiveness and restoration through the blood of the Messiah. As committed as she was to death prior, she now chose to trumpet the immeasurable value of life. Who better, I thought. She has seen it all first hand. Each and every day in the thick of it. Greatly enhanced by it financially, destroyed by it in every other way. She now lives to tell it all. I was reminded of the apostle Paul and how he literally hunted down and murdered Christians, prior to his encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ. He afterward went on to became one of God’s most powerful agents of change. I embraced a paradigm shift in my attitude toward her.
The Lord God asked Cain upon the murder of his brother Abel, “what have you done?” a question I have been asking myself. How did we as a nation ever get here? What have we done? What do we continue to do? Sudden violence in the womb and we talk of terrorism? Uproar, and rightly so over cruel outbreaks of terror against innocent people, yet do we dare to look, dare to consider the overt violence against more than one million children in the womb every year? This is the silent holocaust taking more lives than any slaughter in history and yes it makes people uncomfortable to talk about it. I’m talking. I’m talking because there is a better way. A better choice to be made. As a nation, as a people we must do better. We pride ourselves in saving trees, puppies, seals, eagles and the list goes on and on but we’ve taken the lives of more than 54 million innocent children since 1973 and that’s supposed to be ok?
The Messiah suffered unspeakable violence meant to serve as the final, all consuming out pouring of violence ever. The cross. What was accomplished there is more powerful and transforming than anything prior or since. The sacrifice and the spiritual power it unleashed is as real and as alive as the day Jesus Christ rose from the grave. His forgiveness awaits ALL who ask for it. Who turn toward him, forsake their own path and call upon his name. He changes lives still and waits to forgive every heart and our nation. To wash away the blood drenched land and make us clean. Make us new and boy do we need it.
This immeasurable gift of God that restored the life of that key note speaker is either accepted or rejected by each one of us. This gift of God bore the consequence of every sin we’ve ever committed, or not. Thousands of years later, it remains still our choice. Please help me to help us to do better. Let’s cry out to God forgiveness and move on savings lives instead of destroying them. There is a better way.
Please click below to view THE CHOICE music video, written and performed by Teresa Roybal and please share it.