Walter Hoye: I had got to the point where I accepted God’s call on my life. Let’s face it. If we can’t get out the womb, nothing matters. It doesn’t matter whether I have a right to do this or right to do that or we fix this or fix that. If you can’t get out the womb, nothing matters. And so that was – that has been and continues to weigh heavily on my heart.
End of Excerpt
John Fuller: Reverend Walter Hoye is passionate about saving pre-born babies from abortion. He is a pro-life champion in the African-American community, and he’s our guest today on Focus on the Family. And his story will inspire you to speak up for the rights of pre-born children. Your host is Focus president Jim Daly, and I’m John Fuller.
Jim Daly: John, standing up for the truth sometimes requires sacrifice. But you know what? It’s worth it. And Walter has taken a strong, yet peaceful stand – which I love, the attitude of Christ, that nature of love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, mercy, the fruit of the spirit. He has taken that right into the lion’s den and stood for the rights of the pre-born child and has met with great opposition from others. And we’re gonna hear his story today. I know you’re gonna be impacted. I hope not just impacted, but galvanized to do what you can do to be a voice for these voiceless children. That’s the goal. And you’re gonna hear a powerful story today and tomorrow about a man who really put it on the line for what he felt God had called him to. Walter’s story is told in a terrific book called, Black and Pro-Life in America, and I am really looking forward to this, John.
Like Walter, here at Focus on the Family, we want to take a stand on this issue, not to simply be in people’s faces about it, but to declare that we’re all made in the image of God and that we all deserve respect from conception to the grave. And when we hold that up as the standard, I believe God is honored and God will work through us to save those who are helpless.
John: And that’s our prayer for this time together with our guest. Walter is the founder and CEO of the Issues for Life Foundation, and they help raise awareness and support the rights of the pre-born. And he and his wife, Lori, live in California.
Jim: Walter, welcome to Focus on the Family.
Walter: Jim, John, thank you for having me.
Jim: It’s great to have you. Lori, your wife, is in the audience. Yay, Lori!
Walter: Yes. That’s right. She sure is.
Jim: That is awesome. And you called her your Proverbs 18:22 woman.
Walter: She’s a good thing.
Jim: That is wonderful. I love that, and especially given this topic, because you two have to be together, united on this as man and wife, father and mother…
Walter: Very much so.
Jim: …To stand in some of the face of the adversity. And we’re gonna get to that. The issue of life is deeply personal for you, beginning with the birth of your son.
Jim: What happened? What was that story that made you maybe wake up for the first time? I don’t wanna put words in your mouth, but what…
Jim: …Kindled that in your heart to say, “This is an issue?”
Walter: Well, it wasn’t an issue before my son. We knew about it. We were aware of it, but it really wasn’t ever really much thought of at all. But my son was born a little less than six months. He was born 2.1 pounds when he came into the world.
Jim: So he’s about 20 – how many weeks? Twenty in development – 26 weeks, right in that neighborhood?
Walter: A little less than that, about 24, 25.
Jim: Wow. That’s amazing.
Walter: Yeah, yeah, yeah. He was so premature that he was in the premature ward, and ultimately, he would go down to 1.6…
Walter: But when he was at 1.9, they were calling me in their office to have that conversation with other parents. When your child got to the point where there was nothing else they could do for the child, the doctors would call you in the office and they would explain that to you and tell you that they were just simply going to try to keep your child comfortable. And in the preemie ward, there were other parents, and we all knew that when a parent left to have that meeting – we all knew what was going on.
Walter: Well, eventually, my turn came.
Walter: Went into the meeting and the doctor said, “Mr. Hoye, we appreciate you praying. We appreciate you strengthening, counseling and working with the other parents that are there, but I’m your doctor.” And I said, “Well, I appreciate that.” And he said, “We’ve got some problems here that you can’t solve, medicine can’t solve.” I said, “Well, it’s no problem. I know a greater Physician.”
Walter: And he went on to tell me about the problems, and I said, “Well, I can solve” – the one problem was blood. And so my dad and I became my son’s blood supply. We could guarantee that our blood had not been tainted by HIV/AIDS, and that was an issue back in the early ‘80s.
Walter: And so, he went on to talk about the problems that we were having, and I was trying to tell him that I didn’t believe that any problem couldn’t be solved. And so, I refused to sign off on their care, and I went home and prayed. And Jim, I prayed all night long. You know what I’m talking about.
Jim: Oh, yeah.
Walter: It was my firstborn son.
Walter: He was down to 1.9 and…
Jim: Fit in the palm of your hand. Think of that.
Walter: I came back the next day. I had not heard a word from God at all. And so, I think I’m holding my son in the palm of my right hand – down to 1.9 – I think I’m holding him for the last time.
Walter: And that’s when God answered my prayer. And He simply said, “Walter, this is what’s supposed to be on the inside of a woman.” And at that point, I knew. I knew what abortion was, and I knew what abortion does.
Jim: Well, and that’s the issue, Walter. I mean, again, we’ve said this. Others have said this. But on one level of a hospital, they’re trying to save these preemies.
Jim: On another level, they’re exterminating these children.
Jim: Taking their life – that contradiction is so horrible.
Walter: It’s heartbreaking, and I was privileged to be a parent there, and really overlooking the life of my child.
Jim: What was your next step then? How did you translate that into conviction and action and why?
Walter: Well, I was initially stunned. That wasn’t what I was expecting.
Walter: But after that, I became much more aware of the impact of abortion in the black community. And ultimately, I begin to want to address this in church, but it was never brought up.
Jim: Why do you think that is? I mean, why do you think we tend, as leaders within the church – pastors particularly – it’s a tough subject. Many women and many men in the church pews on Sunday have probably gone through an abortion. I don’t know the number. But there’ll be many people that have. Is that one reason? It’s too painful and the pastors don’t want to bring it up?
Walter: Well, Jim, there are – in my community, there are four reasons why black leadership rejects the pro-life movement. But the number one reason – the number one reason is that that pastor is post-abortive. And what I mean by that – there’s an abortion in his or her life. And to be quite honest with you, I hope you don’t mind this, it’s Planned Parenthood’s talking points that allow him or her in some cases to sleep at night.
Jim: Yeah. Wow. And I want to peel back that story as we go through your story over the next couple of days. Let’s go back, though. I mean, your little guy survived. People are probably going, “What happened to his son?”
Walter: He did. He did.
Jim: How tall is he today? I’m just thinking of the little palm in the hand.
Walter: Oh, he’s – he’s like, 33 now. And he’s full grown, and he’s on his own.
Jim: You can’t put him in the palm of your hand anymore.
Walter: No, not anymore.
Jim: And that’s beautiful. And that’s a joyful outcome. But let’s go back to Detroit, where you grew up. And of course, Detroit has a reputation for being tough. But tell me that part of the story.
Walter: Well, I’m growing up in Detroit. Detroit is very tough. But at the time, that’s all I knew. I grew up in Detroit. It was just home. And so that was life as I understood it. And I wanted to become a part of a gang. The brothers were on the corner. The brothers had switchblades, leather jackets. I was gonna conk my hair, and I was gonna hang out with them.
Jim: And how old were you at this point?
Walter: Oh, I’m probably nine.
Jim: Okay, so young. And this is – you know, for people listening, I mean, this is the life in many inner cities.
Jim: I mean, the irony is the boys are looking for something to hang with. They’re looking for a family, aren’t they?
Walter: Yeah. I wanted to be more accepted. I wanted to have friends. I wanted to be, you know, part of the gang. And the most popular guys were the ones that were in the gangs.
Walter: And so that’s what I wanted.
Jim: And you were – it’s a story about being on a baseball field. I don’t know if this prompted the gang desire or came after, but what happened on the baseball field?
Walter: Oh, my goodness. I was practicing, you know, playing baseball. And I was a pitcher. And I was terrible at it, so I had to stay after practice and learn how to pitch. But on the way back, I’m walking back, and two guys jumped me. And they beat me up, and they threw me down to the ground. I was unable to get through both of them. Now I’m on the ground, and they’re threatening to burn my eyes out.
Jim: With matches, right?
Walter: Yeah. So they lit the match, and they’re putting the match right down. And it’s starting to burn. And I realize I’m not strong enough to overcome this. And so I ask God. I said, “God, you’ve got to save me. You’ve got to help me now.” And just then, when I said that, someone else rolled up. And I can only see from the – half of the wheel down. I couldn’t see above that. They were all…
Jim: So really his ankles?
Walter: That was really all I could see. But once he came, he told them there was some other prey that they could get in the alley.
Walter: And they left me and went to go get what they thought was in the alley. But you know, I mean, I ran so fast. I ran right by that alley. They couldn’t have got there much before I did. And there was nobody there. God just delivered me.
Jim: Man, that’s an amazing story. And that was kind of the – I don’t know that it was the first. But it was definitely a seed that the Lord planted in your heart, that “I’ve got your back.”
Walter: Oh, He did.
Jim: How did that translate into a commitment to Christ, then? What – those are great, beautiful stories. And I believe the Lord. And I’m a product of a little boy who the Lord, you know, just planted seeds along the way. I didn’t know if He existed or didn’t exist. I’m grateful to know now that He does. And He’s there for everyone. But as a little boy or a little girl, you’re in so many circumstances of danger. And you can look back and say, “Okay, God was there.”
Jim: And how did that lead, then, to your conviction that you needed to follow Him?
Walter: Well, what happened was this, Jim. I was struggling with trying to be part of the group, part of the gang. I wanted to be more popular. But no matter what I tried, no matter – whether I was going to be a member of the gang, whether I was gonna learn how to fight and fight really good – I even tried flunking out of school.
Jim: Tried flunking? I don’t know – what does that mean? Why did you try?
Walter: I just – I was a honor student.
Walter: I was gonna be promoted. I was gonna be set ahead. But I noticed that the guys that were flunking, they were – had more friends.
Jim: So you wanted to be the bad guy?
Walter: Hey, I – if I wanted to have friends, I needed to flunk.
Jim: Man, that’s amazing.
Walter: And so I started not paying attention in class. I just started deliberately not doing homework. But you know what? That lifestyle wasn’t working. No matter how hard I tried to be more popular, it didn’t really matter. So one day I’m in church, and I’m sitting up front, because my parents took us to church every Sunday. And as I’m sitting in church, and I’m listening to the pastor, and I’m broke. My life is not working for me. And I’m listening to the pastor. And at the end of the sermon, I asked myself, I said, “Lord, if You’re really there – if You’re really there, You’re true, what the pastor said about You is true, I just want You to let me know that.”
Walter: And you know what? God spoke to me that time. He said, “Everything the pastor said is true, is right.” And at that point, I got up. I gave my hand to the pastor, but I gave my heart to God.
Jim: Yeah. How old were you at that point?
Walter: Oh, my goodness. At that point, I’m now 11, 12.
Jim: Yeah that’s great.
Jim: And that’s so exciting. And I think the reason is I know people are listening that may not have made that commitment to Christ.
Walter: Oh, my goodness.
Jim: I love that challenge that you gave yourself. And I would give that challenge to all of you. If you don’t know the Lord, just ask him, “Show me, Lord, show me.” I think that’s the question He loves to hear the most.
Walter: Oh, no doubt about it. And He has come through for me over and over again.
Jim: And that’s a great testimony.
John: And if you’re asking that question, then give us a call. Get in touch with us. We have folks that would be happy to help you understand what the Christian faith is about and God’s presence in your life. Our number is 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. Or online, we’ve got some resources for you. You’ll find those at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.
Jim: Walter, I’m sure, like me accepting Christ at 15, I mean, we wobbled along. I’m sure you wobbled along too.
Walter: I was wobbling.
Jim: Yeah. And so, you know, playing football on Friday night and then, you know, probably having a weekend you shouldn’t have, and then Sunday, going to church and saying, “Sorry, Lord.” But you know, that’s the amazing part about God’s grace. He doesn’t expect you to be perfect. He expects you to come with all your frailties, all your brokenness. And then it’s something we call sanctification, the process of becoming more like Christ over time. And hopefully in our 50s, we’re not acting like an 18-year-old. That’s the goal.
Jim: I think I’ve done that much (laughter). But we all fall short of God’s perfection. And that’s okay. God’s gonna work with you. You were going through this after becoming a pastor, right?
Jim: And you went to a church. I wanna hear that story about being at a friend’s church. Just set up the day and what you went into, and what God taught you that day.
Walter: Well, I’ll tell you, that’s an interesting story. I’m – I’m graduated from Michigan State. I’ve got a bachelor’s. I’ve got a master’s degree. I’ve got a job. I’m working, you know? But my life’s not working. I’m still not where I want to be. And I’m going through some real struggles in life. And I’m at the point in my life where I’m done. I think I’m – I’m gonna give up on God. I’m gonna give up on the church. I’m really not gonna be involved anymore. Well, a friend of mine asked me to come and preach for him. And only because he was a good friend, and only because his wife pulled me aside and said, “My husband really needs you…”
Walter: …That I agree to come. And literally on the way there, I deliberately showed up late. I deliberately didn’t even know where I was going. I had to stop and pull off the freeway and ask for directions. And I was hoping I would be late. But I was – while I was late, God had me show up right on time.
Walter: As I walked through the door, they said, “Oh, there’s the preacher.” And they marked me right up in the pulpit. I couldn’t have been more on time for that.
Walter: And normally I preach through notes. But that one particular time I wasn’t even prepared. I was only doing this just to help a friend. Oh, my goodness, God preached through me. I preached without notes for the very first time. It was an amazing sermon. The conviction, the pro-life conviction, the conviction about what God can do in your life, that all just flowed. And oh, my goodness, young men and women came to Christ that Sunday.
Jim: That is an awesome testimony.
John: It is.
Jim: That’s the thing you want to hear. That did become a pivot point for your life though – right? That sermon?
Walter: It did. It did.
Jim: And what was that conviction? After that day, what did you go home and tell your wife, Lori?
Walter: Well, my relationship with God went to a whole deeper level. I knew Him, but God was leading me to know Him more and more, deeper and deeper. And at this point, I’m at a point where I’m not looking back anymore.
Walter: You know, it’s God. It’s only Him. And that has led me to a point where we are today.
Jim: And that – the reason I wanted to get that story is it shows you the journey of conviction. I mean, you’re not just coming out of left field here with an idea that, you know, pre-born children should be protected. It’s your story.
Walter: It’s my story.
Jim: And it’s what God has put on your heart, even with your own son being…
Jim: …born prematurely…
Jim: …At somewhere in the 20-something-week mark.
Jim: And you know, and – and God quickening your heart, that this is what is normal inside a woman’s womb. And it’s something that I think we’re winning now. Finally, people are – I think, thankfully because of ultrasound and other things, women and their physicians can see exactly what’s taking place in that woman’s womb. And it is life. It is a baby. It is a human being. All it needs is time to progress and to come out and take that deep first breath of air.
Jim: And then they are – they are here. And that’s what we’re trying to get to next. Specifically, Walter, when it comes to the African-American community, I want to speak to you about that. There are some very troubling statistics when it comes to the African-American community. Let me just set the stage for the audience, and then I want your response. Black women account for 35 percent of all abortions in the United States, but they’re about 14 percent – 12 to 14 percent of the population. So you can see the impact of that. Again, Planned Parenthood and others are having a devastating impact with the next generation of vibrant African-American leaders, teachers, scientists – they’re wiping them out. How does that make you feel?
Walter: Oh, that just breaks my heart in ways I can’t express. There are some nights I’m literally crying. But let me break that 14 percent down for you, because yes, the CDC says it’s 35 percent. But the 14 percent of all black Americans includes men.
Jim: Oh, my goodness.
Walter: Now, if you cut that in half, you’re looking at about 7 percent responsible for that 35 percent.
Jim: Of all abortions.
Walter: Right. But let me go a little step further. If you consider childbearing age, maybe, you know, from 14 to 44, you’re now looking at about 3, maybe 4 percent responsible for that 35 percent.
John: So only 3 or 4 percent of the population, yet 35 percent of the abortions?
Walter: Oh, my goodness. And – and while we were, as a people, black Americans, the number one minority, we’re now the number 2. We’ve literally fallen below the replacement level. The total fertility rate is 2.1 if you just want to maintain your demographic, just want to maintain your people, not grow.
Walter: …Not – not become greater, stronger, just maintain. Well, we’re now, as black Americans, at 1.8. We’re not even replacing ourselves at this point.
Jim: And you know, part of the issue there, Walter, is Planned Parenthood, the founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger – this was her goal.
Jim: …Especially with minority children because her purpose in starting Planned Parenthood – and I have talked to Planned Parenthood management. They have distanced themselves from her because of her eugenics – you know, the idea that some people are only a burden on the public trough and…
Jim: …You know, the public welfare system and that those people should be eliminated before they’re born. That was the beginning of Planned Parenthood.
John: That was the founding, yeah.
Jim: And the irony is, even though they’ve distanced themselves, they’re achieving their goal.
Walter: Oh, there’s no question about it. When you talk about Margaret Sanger, you’re talking about somebody that actually spoke for the Klan and liked it, couldn’t wait to go back to the Klan and speak some more, actually enjoyed speaking to the Klan, was well-received by the Klan, received more invitations to come back to the Klan. There’s no question that Planned Parenthood’s racist foundation is clearly centered in Margaret Sanger.
Jim: And when you when you look at that – and I guess this is a question, if I could be bold enough, Walter, as a Christian male, a white male in this country, when I look at this and the devastation that we clearly see through the numbers…
Jim: …of – of your community…
Jim: …Why do so many support Planned Parenthood?
Walter: Oh, my goodness.
Jim: Do they not see what’s happening?
Walter: No. That – this is what Issues4life Foundation focuses on. We try to reach our pastors, our leadership, because if we talked more about it in the church, it would become absolutely clear that Planned Parenthood is on the wrong side of the equation.
Jim: Good. Hang on. They – do we really want to go back there? I don’t think so.
Jim: That’s so true. And I appreciate that. I mean, my mom and dad, they had four children already. My mom was 42 when she was pregnant with me in Southern California, a place that you also lived.
Jim: And I remember, this is in 1961.
Walter: Wow. Wow.
Jim: And in that state, even before Roe v. Wade, a woman could get an abortion if she was 40 or older and pregnant…
Walter: That’s true.
Jim: …because of the health-of-the-mother reason. That was before Roe v. Wade. And thankfully, my dad talked her out of that. And I’m a survivor in that case. My mom relented and said, “Okay, we’ll have this child.” And so often that argument is not made, that who has the right to determine that we, Walter, you or I…
Jim: …were too poor in our family to exist?
Walter: Oh – oh, my goodness.
Jim: That is the height of arrogance, that some rich person could dictate to my mother that she’s too poor to have another child. I mean, that is – that – that just fries me.
Jim: When we’re looking at what makes a person happy and successful, it’s not always money.
Jim: That can be a component, but I’d say it’s low on the totem pole. I mean, it really is about joy and peace in your heart. And that’s what you get with a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Walter: It’s not about money.
Jim: You don’t need to be rich…
Jim: …to be loved or to love.
Walter: No, no, no. If I’m going to be completely honest, I was blessed to be in the family that I was in. And yet, and still, with all that I had going for me, that lack of that relationship with God, life wasn’t working for me. But when I got with God, things changed.
Jim: Things changed. And that’s the invitation we’re giving all of you. If you’re not in that relationship with Christ, if you have questions about the issue of abortion and what’s really at stake, if you’ve never thought about it, way back like where Walter was, when he was not thinking about it, until he had a preemie baby, his son, whom he held in the palm of his hand at about 25, 26 weeks. And that changed his life.
Walter: It changed everything.
Jim: And I’m telling you, get in touch with us. We’re here for you. Walter, this has been so good. And I want to come back next time and hear more of these stories of that conviction that the Lord developed in you and Lori, your wife, so that you could do all you could do to reach women, particularly in the Bay Area of San Francisco and Oakland and that area. Can we do that?
Walter: Let’s do it.
Jim: All right. And let me encourage you, the listener, to make a difference. Let’s save babies from abortion. We have a program called Option Ultrasound, And Robyn Chambers, who leads it, is sitting right out here with your wife Lori, right in the audience. And it is so effective. We’ve been doing this for over 15 years. We have this down to where we can save a baby’s life for $60.
Walter: Oh, my goodness.
Jim: We’ve saved over 425,000 babies’ lives.
Walter: Praise God.
Jim: I think, just in honor of you, Walter, I’m gonna write that check today…
Walter: Write it today.
Jim: …To save a baby’s life today, through Focus. You know, I talked to a Planned Parenthood representative one time, and I said, “What’s the average cost of an abortion?” She said, “$600.”
Jim: Okay. Let’s step up, everybody.
Walter: Let’s step up.
Jim: $60 can save a baby’s life. Robyn and her team do a fantastic job working with pregnancy resource centers around the country to place these ultrasound machines in these clinics so that they can convince a woman that there is something – like Walter described, something human…
Jim: …something divine, something wonderful growing inside of her and to not interrupt or to destroy what God is knitting together in her womb. And I’m grateful for that team. Walter, I’m grateful for you. And I’m grateful to the listener who’s saying, “Okay, I’m gonna put some money where my mouth is and support saving a baby’s life today.” We’re the Christian community. If we don’t do it, who will?
John: And we want to encourage you to donate today. Save a baby’s life today, by calling 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY – 800-232-6459. And right now, when you give a donation of, let’s say $60, that’s going to be doubled. We have a matching gift program going on right now.
Jim: Even better, John!
John: We have some donors who stepped up and said, “This is a moment in the culture to make a difference. We want to encourage people.” So give today and know that your gift will be doubled. That’ll be two babies that you’re able to save today. Again, our number – 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. Or online, you can donate. And that can be a one-time gift or – I hope – a monthly gift, if you can. Our website is focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. And when you make that gift, either monthly or one-time, we’ll send a copy of Walter’s great book, Black and Pro-Life in America. It chronicles his story, and it will inspire you to be strong in your faith and to stand up for life.
Jim: In fact, John and Walter, one great thing that’s coming up May 4th is our Alive from New York event, where we’re inviting people to come. You have to register at the website, at Focus on the Family. But we’re gonna have great speakers. We’re going to show 4D third-trimester ultrasounds…
Walter: Oh, my goodness.
Jim: …Right there in Times Square.
John: On the big screens.
Jim: Walter, I hope you can come.
Walter: Wow. All right.
Jim: I’d like you to come and be my guest if we can work that out.
Walter: We’ll work on it.
Jim: May 4th, check your calendar.
Jim: But for all of you, come and support life. Let’s be a voice for the voiceless. And I’m tellin’ you, Walter, from my heart, honestly, this is not a black or white issue. It’s our babies being sacrificed. And we in the white community need to stand with you in the African-American community, say, “Enough is enough,” and not be shy to say it.
Walter: Not be shy.
Jim: We love you, and we want your children to thrive from the Christian community. Let’s stand together and say that abortion is wrong. I don’t care what the color of your skin is. It’s wrong.
Walter: It’s wrong. Jim, you and I are brothers in Christ.
Walter: And together, we’ll stand and lift Christ’s name up.
Jim: Well, let’s do it. And I wanna hear your story next time about how you went to jail for your convictions.
John: Well be sure to join us then, next time on Focus on the Family, as we have Walter Hoye back. For now, I’m John Fuller. On behalf of Jim and the team, thanks for listening to Focus on the Family. Join us next time, as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.