Albuquerque is a new Love Life City, with a new city director, Ethel Maharg, ready and eager to bring a culture of love and life to her city. Love Life Albuquerque officially launched in September of this year. New Mexico has a reputation of being an abortion destination with no restrictions on abortion. It is a hard ground to plow for those seeking to sow seeds and influence women to choose life.
Bud and Tara Shaver founded and head a small ministry on the sidewalks of two of the many abortion centers in the city. They have covered as many hours as they can on the sidewalk, often with just the two of them. A group of people willing to hold signs and pray have served alongside them, but very few actively intercede as sidewalk counselors. Through Tara’s efforts, this group recently expressed a desire to take the next step. They wanted to learn how to be an active sidewalk outreach team, calling out to the women, handing out literature, and engaging more intentionally.
Tara is part of Abortion Free New Mexico ministry, working in political as well as community prolife advocacy. She started the sidewalk ministry a year ago, but the results have been somewhat discouraging.
“We started our latest sidewalk initiative called No Sidewalk Without the Savior in 2022,” she told me. “That year, we had two confirmed saves. Both women had come from Texas to the UNM Center for Reproductive Health Abortion Center. Over the course of the year, we probably hand out about 50 pieces of literature. We also minister one day a week at the Alamo Women’s Abortion Center. We were able to pass out a bit more literature there since we have better access to the women.”
Tara contacted Love Life to see if she could arrange training through our online videos and the presence of the Love Life training director (me) for a few days. Tara knew that the results were up to God, but her small team wondered if they were as effective as they could be. She and her team were there in faithful obedience to God, informing the incoming women that abortion was not the answer. She hoped that with additional training, there could be larger teams and maybe increased tangible fruit.
I flew out to New Mexico and met the team. They were mostly brand new to active sidewalk intercession. Most had never called out to the women or tried to hand out literature. Most expressed trepidation in doing so. My job was to demonstrate how to effectively call out, develop conversations, hand out literature, and place the team strategically.
As each tentative participant tried what I demonstrated in handing out literature and stopping cars, they discovered they COULD do what they were afraid they could never do. Their confidence grew by the minute! It was really exciting to watch. The first day, several pieces of literature were handed out. One woman took the literature, sat in the parking lot, and then left without ever going in the abortion center. A possible saved baby!!!
They were more hesitant to call out, which was the major task on day two. I demonstrated and then asked them to take turns calling out to the moms. I promised to be their “Jimminy Cricket” sitting on their shoulders. If they faltered, I would whisper ideas of what to say. This worked so well! Some who had been terrified initially asked if they could do it again! Many came to me afterward, saying they were now confident they could do this. They were excited to be a part of this new growing team.
Several pieces of literature were given out. Many cars stopped. And as the unexpected but joyful icing on the cake, TWO of the abortion-minded mothers left tearfully after speaking with the team and never returned that day! Two babies were saved in one day! The Prayer Walk group lined the sidewalk nearby, watching the team in action. When told there had been two babies saved, they erupted in cheers.
Tara was encouraged and grateful for the help Love Life has provided.
“Abortion Free New Mexico is super excited to be partnering with Love Life as the sidewalk team here in Albuquerque that is on the ground,” Tara told me. “We really appreciate that Love Life has so many amazing training modules, as well as different avenues of support for women. We are prayerful that our partnership will bring more people out to these abortion centers so that we have full coverage so that every woman knows that there is hope and help available to her.”
She knows there is much work yet to be done but is hopeful that the momentum from the training will continue. She told me what she hopes will happen in the coming weeks and months.
“Our sidewalk needs include our ability to implement all that we learned while you were here, Vicky so that we can be the most effective. We also need more volunteers. Please pray that our team will overcome fears of calling out and engaging women seeking abortions but be empowered by the Holy Spirit to confidently share the love of Christ and the hope and help that is available to them.”
Meanwhile, Love Life Albuquerque City Director Ethel summarized her reaction to the training and watching the new recruits in action:
“It was the most encouraging thing I have seen in ten years here!” she said.
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”II Timothy 2:15