Life is busy
The life of a pastor is busier than ever these days. We live our lives guided by the Spirit of God and governed by the Word of God. However, we also do this while simultaneously remaining ever-aware of our overflowing calendars. In addition to our countless duties, pastoring during a pandemic causes the life of a minister to be downright hectic. Can you relate to what I’m saying? I see you. I hear you. I am one of you. However, being busy does not allow us the luxury of ignoring the least of these. I’m talking about the pre-born children in the wombs around us. You must be about the business of building a pro-life foundation in your church. Pro-Life 101 for Pastors is essential to accomplish this meaningful mandate.
Life is under assault
As we consider the countless concerns each of us encounters in our daily lives, life itself is under attack. While those living around us seek creative ways to thrive, the pre-born among us deeply desire to merely survive. This unseen assault on life, and the desperate need for our intervention is what prompts me to write this Pro-Life 101 for Pastors article.
It is my intent that this article be thorough, however, it will by no means be exhaustive. I invite you to read future corresponding articles where I will endeavor to continue unpacking this complex subject.
While traveling this nation carrying a pro-life message, I have discovered that many pastors lack knowledge on this topic. By no means do I intend to insult your intelligence. Therefore, I am not suggesting that you are completely uneducated, but we sometimes lack knowledge in certain areas. The issues we will address in this series of articles are matters of life and death, literally! Therefore, it is critically important that each of you is building a pro-life foundation in your church.
This Pro-Life 101 for Pastors article will intentionally be basic, but we will progressively go deeper in subsequent articles.
Heavenly Father, we come to you in the name of Your Son, and our Savior Jesus Christ. We thank you for the power of prayer and for the privilege of pastoring your people. Thank you for my brothers and sisters who selflessly serve and lovingly lead your people. Holy Spirit, help us to open our minds and our hearts to receive what you reveal concerning matters of life. Help us to move strategically into fresh and practical ways to protect life, for the born and the pre-born. We pray these things in the mighty name of Jesus. Amen!
Who is this writer?
Who am I, and why should you listen to me? Excellent question! For me to embark on an adventure with an author, I typically want to know a bit about them first. So, here goes. I have been preaching the good news of Jesus Christ for 36+ years. Much of that time has been spent serving in various pastoral capacities. I deeply love God, and I’m honored to teach, lead, and shepherd His flock. I’m also privileged to be considered a pastor, prayer partner and confidant to many pastors in the U.S and beyond.
Segue to life
I grew up in a pro-life home, and I vividly remember January 22, 1973, when abortion became legal in America. I remember Walter Cronkite’s news coverage announcing that dreadful day in America’s history.
My mother and father, the late Dr. Anderson Culbreath, a prince among preachers, taught my siblings and me very well. They taught us about God, introduced us to Jesus, thoroughly instructed us in the Bible and practiced what they preached.
My dad was the first Black Pastor in Cincinnati to host the late pro-life pioneer, Dr. John C. “Jack” Willke to speak. Although already aware of life issues, the 7th grade version of me sat there that day with bated breath. I’m grateful that my father had the foresight to build a pro-life foundation in our church way back then.
Learning from a pro-life icon
If the name Dr. John (Jack) Willke is unfamiliar to you, I encourage you to Google him. He was a legend in the Pro-Life Movement, and founded Cincinnati Right to Life (RTL), Ohio RTL, National RTL, and the International RTL Federation. He was a General in The Lord’s army, whom I eventually had the honor of knowing and being mentored by.
Dr. Willke gave a several simple, powerful, and memorable presentation, even for a 7th grader. He showed a picture of a baby that had just been born. Then he biologically walked the audience backwards to the single cell zygote each of us started as at fertilization. Dr. Willke explained that the DNA is the same; the only differences are time, size, and environment. He ended by saying, “If it’s a human here (post-birth), then it’s a human there (pre-birth). And that was his presentation. Simple, but profound, nevertheless. An argument that still stands, and still evokes agitation from anti-lifers, despite its scientific soundness.
Decades later in 2007, Dr. Willke hired me to serve as the full-time Director of Urban Outreach at Life Issues Institute. My assignment was to build a department tasked with taking a message of life to the masses. This included the message of Pro-Life 101 for Pastors as part of my mission.
Begin at the beginning
I think the beginning is a great place to begin. With Genesis being the first book of the Bible, let’s start there. The Bible begins with the bold and unflinching phrase, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).
The Bible further reveals that this Great God, is the Creator of all things living, including human beings. Genesis 1:1 – 2:6 teaches that after God created the world, plants, animals, etc., He then created humanity.
“Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7 NIV)
As clearly established in scripture, God is the Creator of Life. Life comes from Him, and as a result, life is sacred, and it must be protected.
Speaking out in defense
Although life is consistently under assault throughout its various stages, there are many voices and organizations speaking out in defense. Unfortunately, however, there are too few voices speaking out in defense of the innocent, defenseless pre-born among us.
Did you Know?
- 1 out of every 5 pre-born American babies is aborted
- Nearly 2,500 surgical abortions are performed each day in the U.S.
- 60,000,000 American children have been aborted since 1973
Did You Know?
- Abortion remains the #1 cause of death of black lives, higher than all other causes of death combined.
- The CDC reports 38% of national abortions are of African American descent. That means an estimated 131,355 black babies aborted, or a shocking 360 per day.
- More than 19,000,000 black babies have been aborted since 1973.
- According to the U.S. Census, there were 18, 871,831 blacks living in America in 1960. This means that since 1973 more black babies have been claimed by abortion than the entire U.S. black population in 1960.
Too many people do not know these tragic truths. This is exactly why an article like Pro-Life 101 for Pastors is necessary. Not only because not enough people are unaware, but once they become aware, not enough become voices for the voiceless. How about you, will you stand up and will you speak out for life?
Consider the challenge posed in Proverbs 24:10-12:
10 If you falter in a time of trouble,
how small is your strength!
11 Rescue those being led away to death;
hold back those staggering toward slaughter.
12 If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,”
does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who guards your life know it?
Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?
Life matters… Born & pre-born
God cares very deeply about life. So much so that Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10b). We witness just how profoundly this life-giving God feels about life when the first human life is taken.
In anger, Cain, the son of the first man and woman, killed his brother Abel. After Cain commits this ungodly act in Genesis 4:9, God asks him where his brother is. The all-seeing God is not asking where Abel is because He doesn’t know. He’s asking to give Cain a chance to acknowledge where he is concerning his brother, whom he had just murdered.
Cain’s response is the same as that of too many others regarding life, particularly life in the womb. “I don’t know,” Cain replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9)
Then the life-giving, Creator God’s response is bone chilling. 10 The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. 11 Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.” (Genesis 4:10-12). Can you feel God’s hurt and imagine the broken-hearted tone in His voice as he asks this compelling question?
Let me highlight a few things contained in these verses. I will expound on these things in the next article, but just ponder them for now. Consider them in the context of the lives impacted by abortion, both living and dead. Think about the innocent lives lost in abortuaries across America daily.
- Cain takes it upon himself to end his brother’s life. Isn’t this what often happens following an abortion?
- Cain refuses to accept responsibility for the life he took. Same thing many that have had abortions do.
- The All-Knowing, All-Seeing God saw what happened when it happened. He’s witnessed every single abortion that has ever taken place. How could He not, He’s Omniscient?
- If Abel’s “blood cried out” to God when spilled, how much more must the blood of 60,000,000+ babies cry out?
- Could our nation and its people be cursed in certain areas because of the millions of lives ended by abortion?
- If you’re reading this article and you’ve had an abortion, there is forgiveness, healing, and wholeness available through Jesus Christ. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9).
- Are our families, and even our churches, filled with hurting, “restless, wandering” post-abortive women and men?
- If we will dare to speak up and reach out to them, healing and wholeness can be their new norm. We’ve heard it said that “hurt people, hurt people.” Well, I believe that “healed people, help heal people.” Let’s begin to set these unseen, ever-present captives among us free.
Defenders of life
Life is sacred, and it must be protected, but who is expected to defend it? Am I my brother’s keeper? I believe every Christian should be knowledgeable about matters of life, including life in the womb, especially Pastors!
Ever bought a particular color, make and model of car, only then to begin seeing that same car everywhere? Once we begin to see life in the Bible, including life in the womb, we begin to see it throughout. I believe Pastors should be well equipped to speak about life. Not only during Sanctity of Human Life Month in January, if we even talk about it then. Rather, we should courageously and compassionately seize upon an array of opportunities to speak about it often.
I hope this article has captured your attention and piqued your interest enough to continue tracking with me. In future corresponding articles, I intend to go deeper. My goal is to validate my points with scripture, corroborate them with statistics, and explain them with stories and testimonies. My desire is to equip you with proven strategies to teach and reach your congregation and communities for life. My prayer is that we have less under-informed, overly fearful, deafeningly silent, and undeniably absent pastors concerning life.
Let me close with the words of God spoken through the prophet God Jeremiah, “I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.” (Jeremiah 3:15). May we be pastors after God’s heart, shepherding His people, born and pre-born.