I was lost. But one night in a moment of grace, I sincerely invited Jesus to enter my life. I did not know at that point if He was even real, but I sincerely invited Him in anyway.
And He shared Mary with me.
A few years later, He drew me in even deeper. I entered back into the Sacramental life of His Catholic Church as a 24-year-old young adult. Jesus entered my heart on a whole new level.
From there I sought to authentically live the Gospel that Jesus and His Catholic Church handed on to me. This included a very difficult battle against the habitual grave sin I was enslaved to at that point.
Sometimes I would experience a sublime taste of victory, sometimes my heart would rend in tormenting defeat. But over time, persevering in sincere Sacramental Confessions and rightly ordered Holy Communions, my desire to follow Jesus and live His Gospel led to the incomparable fruit of living in a habitual state of grace.
The new freedom from the oppression of mortal sin that used to own me was, and remains to this day, an undeniable proof to me that Jesus and His Catholic Church are the real deal. There is no other possible way to explain how my life could have ever changed as it did.
Yet, the Gospel came alive for me as far more than just some sort of plan for “sin management.” I was experiencing not just a freedom from habitual grave sin, but also a new freedom for loving and serving God in others. My heart was on fire for His will in my life, without limitations, wherever He would lead me.
As a graduate student at Franciscan University, I participated in organized ministries and mission trips, but God was stirring something wild in my heart that went beyond the normal structures.
Some evenings I’d find a few friends and pray in front of a local pornography shop. Some mornings I’d find a few friends and pray in front of a local abortion killing center. Some afternoons I’d ride my mountain bike downtown with a few bagged lunches to share with people living on the streets.
Chapter 25 of The Gospel of Matthew was coming more alive in me because Jesus was coming more alive in me.
I was still and am still a sinner who struggles and necessarily seeks greater conversion every day, yet I must share the reality of what Jesus can do in one’s life and what He has done in mine so that others know He and His Gospel are real and that a transformed life in Christ is not only possible, but available.
Speaking words of sincere love, I was doing everything I could to try to help them turn around and not enter the killing center, but they just kept ignoring me and entering anyway. I poured out my heart in prayer – they still didn’t come out.
“Why won’t you do something, God?”
Then I looked up and noticed a Cross from a nearby church peeking out above the other buildings. As desperate and despairing as that moment felt, I remembered, He had done something. And He was there. They were ignoring Him too.
Usually my time spent praying and interceding in front of the killing centers felt like being with Jesus during His Crucifixion. I would strive to stand as a faithful witness to His love for those entering and working there. I would hope that maybe He would use my presence so that they might experience love and then choose love for the children scheduled to be murdered that day. I would pray to be an authentic sign which pointed to Him, by which He would pierce hearts and open the eyes of those who reject Him, do not know Him, or have forgotten Him (or at least be a little nudge in that direction that might payoff years later).
Sometimes I could see many fruits of grace working through me there; other times I had to fight the desolation of not seeing any fruit and persevere in offering myself with Him in love for them. Only once, on a weekday early morning with some of my rugby buddies, did I know the joy of directly participating in a mother turning around and choosing life for her baby.
I spent a lot of time and a lot of energy in a span of about six years praying and taking action to combat abortion. My wife and I even got up early and spent the first morning after our wedding day praying at a local killing center. I also remember praying with my wife there three days before she gave birth to our first child and then holding our little one outside of the killing center not long after.
But in the next six years, I didn’t spend much time praying and interceding for the end of abortion, or reaching out to the local women and men in crisis situations. Why would a love once blazing in my soul dim to a such weak speck?
Mostly because I began to believe lies.
How long would you continue to put effort into ending something if you believed you were having little to no impact?
Why would you do anything to end something if you believed, no matter what you did, it would likely never end?
Despite the lies that crept into my heart regarding abortion, I continued to strive for fidelity in following Jesus and sought to generously share Him with others.
I worked full-time for various Catholic organizations and it was somewhat easy to remain in denial about my own heart becoming numb to the reality of abortion, because I would often see others who were far more numb or even hostile toward any attempt to combat abortion.
It seems that when you see most others being far further off the mark than you, it can be easy to delude yourself into thinking that you are much closer to the mark than you actually are.
In serving as a Coordinator of Faith and Service at a prestigious Catholic K-8 heralded for its Catholic identity, I was told I could not mention the word “abortion” to junior high students during an assembly highlighting the life and development of the pre-born child. As a religion teacher, as per the school handbook, I could speak about abortion to those same students in my classroom, but in the case of this assembly I was silenced due to pressure applied on the principal by a handful of parents.
It was easy to feel like I was doing my part to combat abortion within that context and in light of my past efforts. But the truth is my heart had gone quite numb with respect to abortion and I was pretty much okay with that.
During that time, my wife and I suffered the miscarriage of one of our children at eight-weeks of development. I placed little Miriam Joseph’s eight-week old body in the tiny coffin my wife made. While we buried our little child, my denial about my responsibility for a right response toward the legalized murder of pre-born children, that we far too easily truncate into the one-word “abortion,” was beginning to crack.
If I let my heart awaken to the reality of abortion, what would it cost me? What would it mean? I did not want to spend any more of my life on a lost cause. The lies were still with me.
Then the Holy Spirit showed up.
In early 2016, a small fire in my mind and heart found some fuel. Almost out of nowhere I starting thinking about the German people during WWII who could smell the death of the extermination camps outside of their towns.
Each person in that situation had a choice: take action to combat the atrocity before them or ignore the reality and go about their daily lives. I am sure it was easy to make seemingly prudent arguments and intelligent excuses to feel inaction was justified.
But what was their responsibility?
What did love demand?
History judges those who did nothing as complicit, or at best cowards, with regard to the great evil of that time.
What about us?
How will history judge us?
Is not the choice each of us makes every day a similar one?: Will I take action to combat the atrocity of abortion before me or will I ignore the reality and go about my daily life?
Killing pre-born children has been legal in our nation for 44 years. More than 3,000 pre-born children are murdered every day in the U.S. (more than a 9/11 every day in our nation that goes ignored); about 60 million pre-born children killed in the U.S. since 1973, nearly 1.5 billion pre-born children murdered worldwide since 1980.
What is our responsibility?
What does love demand?
I started sharing these questions with others, hoping that someone would give me sufficient answers so that I could go back to not thinking much about abortion and feeling okay with that.
No one could.
I started reluctantly bringing the questions to God in prayer.
It went something like, “OK, God. I still don’t think there is anything I can really do, but what do You want me to do?”
It struck me that a right response for a German living near a concentration camp would be to thoughtfully consider all the resources at his disposal and seek the most effective means available to him to help end the atrocity.
Maybe the best plan he could come up with would actually work, or maybe not. But it would surely have some good impact. At the very least, it would provide a compelling witness for others to see reality and accept their responsibility to act.
One of the key lies that worked its way into my heart years before, that I was having little to no impact, was successfully turned on its head – the truth is that each of us can have an impact toward ending abortion and we owe it to the pre-born, and all affected, to do what we can.
What about the other big lie? Will abortion ever end?
As I reflected on this, a vision rose up in me: thousands of people in every major city standing together in the streets, united in love and witnessing to the power of life until our government enshrines the right to life into law.
I now believe the following:
1. Abortion will end in our country. It’s days are numbered.
2. Our nation will lead the rest of the world into a new era of respect for human life.
3. When abortion will end depends on when people who are already pro-life awaken to their responsibility and take action accordingly.
4. I can only control whether or not I am awake to my responsibility today and whether or not I take action accordingly.
As God has reawakened my heart and I have sought to respond with appropriate action, I notice within me that there has been quite a bit of reluctance, fear, and pride to contend with.
As I keep drawing closer to Jesus who brings me into deeper intimacy with the Father by the power of the Holy Spirit, my heart becomes more and more where it needs to be and I am strengthened for this work.
God wants to end abortion. He is not to blame for it being legal in our nation, we are. It is not Him who needs to act, it is us. Jesus has poured Himself out for us and His grace is available to us. It is we who need to participate with His grace and pour ourselves out in love as He did. Jesus sends us the same Holy Spirit that animates Him. We have no legitimate excuse for accepting the legalized murder of pre-born children.
It is our move.
Will we put our faith in Jesus, receive His Holy Spirit, and allow His Spirit to be unleashed in us for others?
Or will we continue to put limitations on Him and how He might want to move in our lives?
I encourage you to take one action – Sincerely open your heart and talk to Jesus.
Invite Him into your entire life. All of it. Don’t hide any sin, or weakness, or wound. All of it. Give Him access to everything. All your beliefs, your perceptions, your judgments. Everything. Commit your heart to serving Him and ask Him to show you His heart for the pre-born children who are being murdered, for the mothers and fathers who are being deeply wounded, for the families who are losing siblings, for our nation that has lost 1/3 of its members, and for the entire world affected by the evil we call abortion.
Strip away all your assumptions and ask Him sincerely:
What do you want me to do?
Jim Havens hosts Love Will End Abortion live Tuesdays 4-5PM(EST) on The Station of the Cross Catholic Radio Network.
Stay tuned to Love Will End Abortion as we seek to awaken hearts and minds, beginning with our own, to face the reality of legalized pre-born child killing and seek to answer three questions:
- What is our responsibility?
- What are the most effective non-violent actions available to us to end abortion as soon as possible?
- Do we love enough to do more?