“Lord, I don’t know what I am supposed to do here. But I know it is something.”
Three years ago, Pattie Johnson prayed that prayer as she maneuvered her electric wheelchair onto the sidewalk in front of the Upland Planned Parenthood in California. She had not even known it was there and was horrified when she saw it.
Born with Cerebral Palsy sixty years ago to parents who were advised to just let her die, Pattie knew she was supposed to fight for the lives of vulnerable unborn babies. However…she didn’t exactly know how. She only knew at that moment that God was calling her to do something. There was no one on that sidewalk defending the lives of the babies about to be aborted. Pattie prayed that God would open the door she was supposed to wheel through.
After a series of miraculous events, Pattie ended up moving to an apartment on a bus route that traversed the city right by that Planned Parenthood. Shortly thereafter, she happened to attend an event at a church where the mission of Love Life was presented. As she listened to the speaker describing Love Life’s desire to mobilize the church to have a Christian witness at every abortion center in the nation, Pattie knew she had found her calling.
While there was not yet a team on the sidewalk of that Upland Planned Parenthood, the Love Life Pastor at the church told Pattie there would be soon. A team, led by Denise Plummer, was organized and Pattie became one of their most faithful volunteers.
Early each morning, Pattie is helped by wonderful caretakers who help her get up, get dressed, and get in her wheelchair. She has to get up earlier than usual to be able to be ready by the time the Planned Parenthood doors open.
“I couldn’t do it without my caregivers. As they come in each morning to help me, I tell them ‘You are saving babies.’ And what a miracle that God had me move to a place right on the bus route before there was ever a team on that sidewalk. The bus drops me right near the Planned Parenthood. I couldn’t have done it if I hadn’t moved to that bus route!”
Three days a week, Pattie boards the bus and heads to the Upland Planned Parenthood. She prays but also calls out to the women entering the facility. It is a struggle to do so as the front door is far from the sidewalk. She said it is hard to speak so she can be heard. People sometimes stop to talk with her and she always brings the discussion around to the redemptive power of Jesus.
“Love Life has changed my life,” Pattie said. “I prayed for God to use me and the pastor suggested I be on the sidewalk. He didn’t question if I could physically do it or not. I have found so much healing. I have been accepted. All of our team members are working together to save the babies. I don’t have to compete or prove who I am. I have found my place.”
Pattie was born on the floor of her mother’s bathroom at 24 weeks gestational age. She was stuck in the birth canal and was ultimately delivered with multiple disorders, convulsions, and high fever. Despite the doctor suggesting the baby be left to die, Pattie’s mother fought for her child. She was told if the baby survived, she would not make it to age thirty.
“I just turned 60 and I am still here,” Pattie said. “I’m still serving God. If I yielded to my body, I wouldn’t be there on the sidewalk. But I want to serve today. I might not be here tomorrow. I want to tell the women that I am a living testament that every person has value and worth, including their babies. And God will use them. All of us have a plan and a purpose. I have been given so much, and I want to give it back so others can be redeemed…like I was.”
Her voice grew tired and gravelly as she spoke to me. She said speaking long or loud as she needed to on the sidewalk was not easy. She wishes she could be heard more clearly, but she knows that God will be sure that her message will somehow be conveyed.
She cleared her throat. “It’s His business how to use us. We just have to be available.”