Cross bearing for the child bearing
 It may surprise you to learn that my wife Kristen and I have both been arrested overseas when we’ve been working with pastors and other Christian leaders. We were arrested with them for teaching the gospel and the gospel of life and summoning the church to rescue the innocent. There are parts of the world that are very dedicated to stopping the growth of the gospel in the church and arresting particularly the pastors and leaders of the church in those parts of the world. When arrested, you immediately have to begin to draw in and recognize that there are times in which your obedience to the Lord requires you to suffer. It’s expected and you can begin immediately to whine and complain about how you’ve been mistreated, how you didn’t get all your rights observed and all these other things happen. I have lots of stories about that. But it always happens. But it’s important to stay calm and to really remember that sometimes suffering is just part of the obedience of the gospel. Kristen and I both learned how to be self- controlled and to suffer silently and willingly in those occasions. It was primarily because of our participation with the movement here in the United States called Operation Rescue in the late 80s and 90s in which we joined with others to peacefully sit down in prayer and repentance in front of Planned Parenthood or other abortion clinics and said, there’ll be no killing here today without permission. We were often arrested, spent the weekend in jail, and were mistreated. But I always try to tell people, don’t whine about it because you signed up for it. There are some places in which your testimony and your witness produces a backlash.

Now we’re starting to see this same thing happen again with two particular friends of mine from that period of time in my life, Jean Marshall and Paulette Harlow. They were in their late thirties and early forties when I worked alongside them in the Boston area. Several years ago they participated in one of these sit-ins in Washington, D. C., particularly at the Washington Surgery Clinic where they do a lot of late-term abortions. This Clinic was in the news recently because they found 115 killed babies there. Many of them were late-term and yet the medical examiner in DC, because of the politics again, refused to do an autopsy to find out whether they were actually violating the law against partial birth abortion, which is against the law. But these are just some of the unfair things that you have to deal with when you stand for life in a culture that is determined to legitimize abortion at any point during a pregnancy, up till and sometimes exceeding the point of birth itself.

A few things about Jean and Paulette. Paulette is 75 years old. She sits in a wheelchair as she has a number of physical challenges right now. But a few weeks ago she received a two year prison sentence for her quiet, non-violent protest inside that abortion business some years ago. In America there’s a long tradition of protest, and certainly you’re all familiar with some of the students that have occupied various buildings and none of them will receive two year sentences. But in this case Paulette did. Also her sister Jean has received a two year prison sentence for violating what is basically a trespass law. But because the government wanted to be able to punish people for this, they passed back in 1994 what they called the Freedom to the Entrance of Clinics Act, the FACE Act, that allows them to have a federal law that they can use against these pro-life people.

My point in bringing this story up is not so much to complain about the injustice of it, even though I think it is that Paulette has received a two year sentence. Her sister, I believe, is already in jail serving a two year prison sentence. And there were seven others who are about to go to jail. There are a lot of factors about this that make it unfair and unjust to people who are fair minded. But that’s really not the point of why I’m talking about this. My point really Is to highlight the fact that there are simply times throughout the history of the church in which obedience to Christ and suffering for Christ become one in the same. We must be prepared to suffer for our convictions, especially here in the United States of America. My understanding is that Paulette was recently interviewed right outside of the court where she got her sentence for two years, and that she said that she considered it an honor to be worthy to suffer for his name. My friend Bill Cotter wrote to me how this is almost an exact quote from the book of Acts chapter 5, verse 41 in which we read that the apostles said: “They left rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for His name.” That made me look up the whole chapter, and if you remember, that is the story in which the apostles were preaching when they were arrested by the chief priests and put in prison. The angel of the Lord released them in the middle of the night and that enraged the religious leaders of the day. It goes on to say in verse 33 that they wanted to kill them, they were so enraged. In effect, they gathered them up again, beat them, and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus and let them go. As a response to that, the apostles began to identify not so much with the injustice of what they were suffering, but the fact that they were, at that point, one with their Lord Jesus, who suffered unjustly for the glory of God.

All this is to say, my prayer is certainly for Paulette and Jean and to the degree that we can help and defend them. But my real prayer is that they would become examples to us of what it means to be cross bearing for the child bearing. And that we might be willing more and more in the days as they unfold to be willing to suffer for the name of Jesus, in order to be faithful to the name of Jesus. It just seems to me that as things unfold, we better be prepared to suffer if we want to be faithful. Thank you.