Walter Hoye: 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.
End of Excerpt
John Fuller: That’s Reverend Walter Hoye sharing how God called him to work as a pro-life advocate for African-American families. And you’re going to hear more of his incredible story today on Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller, and your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly.
Jim Daly: John, last time we spoke with Reverend Hoye about how the Lord called him to be a voice for pre-born children. And I love that, especially in the African-American community. And it’s a sensitive topic. I get that. But we need to discuss this and be honest about the fact that there are real human lives at stake in this debate. It’s not something you sweep under the rug. And I’m grateful to the younger generation who is saying, “Abortion feels immoral to us.” I mean, the strongest pro-life generation are the 20, 30-somethings right now. And I’m grateful to God putting that seed in their heart to say, “This is wrong.” And I’m looking forward to hopefully the day when every child has a loving home. Wouldn’t that be great? And – and these kids would not be destroyed before their lives take off.
Here at Focus on the Family, we’re in the middle of our own campaign called, See Life Clearly. And part of that is a New York event on May 4th. We’re calling that, “Alive from New York” – yeah, a little twist on things. And we want you to join us in Times Square, where we’re gonna have speakers and music. And the keynote is gonna be given by babies in the womb. We’re gonna do 4D third-trimester ultrasounds right there on the big screens in Times Square, so everybody can see what these babies look like sucking their thumb, enjoying the warmth of their mother’s womb, and seeing all the humanity right there – right there in front of you. And we want you to come join us.
John: Yeah it’s gonna be a very positive pro-life statement to the world, frankly. And we do want you there. Details and registration opportunities at focusonthefamily.com/prolife. That’s a special site we have set up. And I mentioned Walter Hoye. There’s a book written about Walter that captures his story. It’s called, Black and Pro-Life in America: The Incarceration and Exoneration of Walter B. Hoye. We have copies of that, and you can find those on the website, or give us a call. Our number is 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY.
Jim: Walter, welcome back to Focus on the Family.
Jim: I’ve enjoyed talking with you. And last time we started your story and got into the story and the fact that you had a pre-born child, a son, who…
Jim: …You had to battle both spiritually – praying all night long for him. But he survived. And it quickened your heart about the pre-born child and the plight of the pre-born child, particularly African-American children in this country. And if you, the listener, missed that, download it. Get a hold of us. We’ll get you a copy of the program, and hopefully a copy of Walter’s book, Black and Pro-Life in America. Walter, I want to pick the story up now.
Walter: All right.
Jim: And talk about that conviction. You know, last time we covered your childhood conversion, really, and how you came from Detroit, kind of a good kid with the idea that you had to live bad, (laughter) if I could say it that way. But the Lord got a hold of you. And through your 20s you developed, and in your 30s I think He really got a hold of you, which is a typical story for all of us. But now you’re living in California in the Bay Area.
Jim: And this conviction is on you. And your ministry has turned into this full-time. And let’s take you back to that – that time. You started to witness, to talk with women coming into abortion clinics. Describe that. What gave you the strength to go out and do that? And then, how did people respond?
Walter: Well, let me tell you it got started, Jim. That’s a really good question. I was literally in my office. And I’m the executive elder. I’m the Joseph to the Pharaoh, if you will. I’m marrying, burying. We’re preaching. We’re teaching. We – we’re doing all of that. But I got a phone call one day. And it was from some friends of mine that actually saw me at the Walk for Life West Coast in San Francisco – my favorite – all-time favorite pro-life event. And so they had said – they said they had a proposition. I said, “Well, what is it?” They said, “Well, we need to come by and tell you this in person.” I said, “Well, okay.” I only had a few minutes.
They came by, and this was their proposition. They said, “We think that it would be harder for a woman to walk by her pastor, her priest, her deacon, her elder – someone she recognized in the pulpit – walk by him into the abortion clinic. And we want to see if this is true. So far, no one is stopping and talking with us. And we think that, ‘Well, it would be difficult for her to walk by her preacher.’“ I said, “All right, we’ll try it.” And they said, “Well, one more thing.” I said, “What is it?” They said, “Well, the police come by every once in a while. But don’t worry. You won’t have any problems with the police.” I laughed.
John: (Laughter) Yeah, what can go wrong?
Jim: You’ve never had a problem with the police.
Walter: (Laughter) No, I haven’t. But I was well aware of the police. And some of the police officers in Oakland were even friends of mine. I wasn’t even worried about it in the slightest.
Jim: And that took you, then, to what place? The curb, you were talking – describe some of those interactions because people…
Walter: Oh, my goodness.
Jim: I think people have, you know, two perspectives on this. You know, it’s a good thing to go and confront evil right there, right in that moment. Maybe some babies will be saved, mothers will be helped, maybe even led into a relationship with Christ, which is a good thing. And then others will say, “Eh,” they wince. They feel like, you know, that’s – that’s probably too much in-your-face. That’s not the right thing to do. Speak to both of those attitudes. And what – what’s your experience? Teach us.
Walter: Oh, my goodness. I was literally standing on a public sidewalk, just outside the abortion clinic in Oakland. And I was carrying a sign. My sign simply said, “God loves you and your baby. Let us help you.” And I’m here to tell you, the women would literally walk up to me. And they’d say, “Preacher” – because they’d recognize me from the pulpit. They’d say, “Preacher, is it true that God loves me?” And I’d say, “Yes, it’s true.” And they’d say, “Well, preacher, if it’s true that God loves me, does God love me and my baby?” And I’d say, “Yes, God loves you and your baby.” And then she’d look down at the ground. And – and then she’d look back up to me. And she’d give me that hard look. And she’d say, “Well, preacher, if it’s true – if it’s true that God loves me – and if it’s true that God loves my baby” – not my – not my fetus, not my clump of tissue, not my protoplasm. For mom, it was her baby.
Jim: That’s right.
Walter: “If God loves my baby, will you help me?” And that’s what we did. And, oh, my goodness. That got to be a problem for the abortion clinic.
Jim: And that help came in practical forms, right?
Walter: Oh, it didn’t…
Jim: Being there.
Walter: It didn’t matter what she needed. Sometimes it was just groceries. Sometimes she just wanted to sit down. Sometimes she wanted a doctor or a nurse. Sometimes she wanted prenatal care. Sometimes she wanted me to talk to her – her boyfriend and give him a word or two. It didn’t matter what she wanted. We helped her.
Jim: I don’t know that this is, you know, what the percentages are. But I have seen statistics that indicate that a woman is typically influenced to have an abortion by her husband or her boyfriend. And again, it’s a large number. I can’t pull that number. But your point is right, that in a woman’s heart, I think she wants to do the right thing, and often is getting really bad advice from the boyfriend or the husband who’s threatening to leave her if she doesn’t get the abortion. Has that been true with your ministry?
Walter: Yes, it has. There’s no question about that. And instead of telling her she can’t, we were telling her she can. And we were giving her the tools, the help she needed, so that she could. And many women – once they received the help, once they understood they were not gonna be alone, they changed their minds. They didn’t go forward with the abortion.
Jim: Right. And so, you’re doing this sidewalk evangelism, standing in front of the clinic, women coming in. You see this wonderful sign that says, “God loves you and loves your baby.” That sounds really encouraging. The clinic didn’t see it that way, right?
Walter: Uh, no.
John: What did they do to you?
Walter: Well ultimately, one day came where there was about 27 women. You’ve got to get this. I was only out there one day a week. I’m busy in my church. I’m working. I only had about two hours. So I went out there one day a week for two hours. Well, during that two-hour period, there were 27 women coming for an abortion. But they weren’t coming for an abortion. They were coming because they heard there was a preacher on a public sidewalk helping them. And that was the last straw for the abortion clinic. See, they were losing money. They were – those appointments – they weren’t really coming to…
Walter: …you know, get that abortion. They were coming to get the help. And so what they did – they met with the city council. They met with the – the city legal attorney. They met with the chief of police. And they put together a law just for me…
Walter: …just to put me in jail.
Jim: And what was that law – the bubble law?
Walter: It was – it was – it was a bubble law. The law simply said it was illegal to stand on a public sidewalk holding a sign and pass out literature…
Walter: …In front of an abortion clinic. And then they had the mother-may-I clause. I had to be 8 feet away at all time unless she wanted to talk to me.
Jim: Huh. And how did that go the next time you showed up at the clinic?
John: You didn’t follow it. You didn’t follow it.
Jim: Once the law was enforced, you showed up, I assuming.
Walter: Absolutely. The law was passed. We fought it all along the way. But it was ultimately passed. I go right back out there on the Tuesday, the day I came out there. They’re about three or four police cars waiting for me. They already know who I am. I’m well known now. And they say, “Well, are you aware of the law?” I said, “Yes, I am.” I said, “But I’m gonna go right back across that street, and I’m gonna stand on that public sidewalk and hold up my sign.” And he said, “Okay. We’re gonna watch you.” Now, the police did. They watched me for a couple hours right there. It was nothing wrong there. I was literally standing on the police sidewalk, holding up a sign that says, “God loves you and your baby. Let us help you.” And the women will walk up to me and want to talk about it. So that first day, right after the law was passed, not a problem. But the abortion clinic got tired of it, and eventually, a few months later, had the police arrest me.
Jim: I mean, if they’re watching you, and the law’s already passing and not arresting you, how did they do that?
Walter: Oh, the police didn’t really want to do it. The police had come before – before the law. And the police were annoyed at coming. There’s a man on a public sidewalk, literally helping women, and – in the city of Oakland. And so, they’re being taken away for much…
Walter: …More serious…
Jim: Bigger crimes.
Walter: …Yeah – issues. And so they really didn’t like to come. But it had gotten to the point where the abortion clinic said, “You had to come.” So this is what happened on the day it came. I’m, again, on the public sidewalk. I’m holding up my sign. Then all of a sudden, I notice that these abortion clinic escorts that followed me around, they were blocking my sign. They were making it difficult for me. They weren’t following anymore. They weren’t blocking my sign. They were all gathered around the entrance to the abortion clinic. Now they’ve got their orange vests on, so you can’t miss them. And so I say, “Well, fine. Well, maybe the Lord has made a way for me. All right. They’re not following me anymore. That was great.” The police drive up. And the police get out the car. And they slam the door. And they run right up to those abortion clinic escorts with those orange vests, standing in front of the entrance the clinic. And they start to arrest them.
Walter: And then, all of a sudden, the abortion says, “Oh, no, no, no. It’s that black man over there.”
Jim: Interesting. So, really, they got it right the first time, arresting those who committed murder.
Walter: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. They got it right the first time. The police put their head down. They walked on over to me, and then they arrested me.
Jim: So they arrested you. You go off to jail. How long were you in jail?
Walter: Well, in court, I was facing four years in jail.
Jim: Four years for being on the sidewalk?
Walter: Four years. Eventually, it boiled down to 30 days, but let me tell you what happened. We were in court. And the way God worked it out was amazing. I just so happened to have videotape evidence of the time I was actually on the sidewalk. Now, I was taping it, Jim, just so that I could recruit more members to our ministry from the church. I wanted them to see exactly what it was like…
John: How it goes, right?
Walter: Yeah, because if they – some of the members of my church – they were being treated the way I was being treated, maybe a fight might have broke out. We couldn’t – we couldn’t have that. So I wanted to them to see exactly what it was.
John: That’s good.
Walter: But the Lord worked it out – videotape evidence. The videotape impeached the only testimony of court against me. There were no women complaining. The only testimony against me was the abortion clinic executive director.
Jim: Right. So she was…
Walter: That was it.
Jim: She was the plaintiff?
Walter: She was – and she lied – the videotape evidence – and pieced her entire testimony, but it didn’t matter. The judge allowed the attorney to use her impeached testimony in his closing arguments.
Jim: That’s amazing. And you fought it, right?
Jim: I mean, you got a conviction at that level. And you served 30 days?
Walter: Yeah. At that point, after the videotape was shown in the court, they were all embarrassed. The courtroom was packed. Media’s everywhere. They’re expecting to see this monster on the sidewalk…
Walter: …You know, blocking women’s access to an abortion clinic. Instead, women are walking up to me, instead women are getting the help. This is not what they were looking for, and it impeached the testimony of the only witness against me. And so embarrassed, they reduced it from – ultimately from four to two, and then they got down to 30 days.
Jim: I mean, that’s something. Did you have to continue to fight it, or was that it?
Walter: No. I end up going – I ended up going to jail. And I spent my time in jail. And oh, my goodness. You know, what a time we had in jail.
Jim: (Laughter) I love it. You sound like Paul.
Walter: Oh, but we have prayer at midnight like Paul and Simon.
Jim: That’s something. So the Lord said, “Okay. I’m gonna use this time, Walter, to reach these people in jail for Me.”
Walter: We – we led countless numbers of men to Christ in jail.
Jim: Okay. So Walter, let’s get to it. When you look at Christianity in the United States…
Jim: …I mean, you’re living it, man. You are living the truth. And I don’t think many of us in this country have experienced going to jail for the Lord. Other countries – that does happen. So speak to me about conviction. Why is this so important to you? You could do other things. You and your wife Lori could be doing other things on a Monday or Tuesday than being hauled off to jail. I mean, why is this important?
Walter: I was – 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 been – has been and continues to weigh heavily on my heart.
John: This is Focus on the Family, and today our guest is Walter Hoye. And there’s an incredible book written about his story. It’s called, Black and Pro-Life in America. We’ll invite you to call or go online to get a copy. We’d also invite you to learn more about the May 4th event, Alive from New York. We are very excited about it. We’d like you to be there. You can find details about that at the website as well. The special website is focusonthefamily.com/prolife. And our phone number is 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY.
Jim: Walter, in the book, you also mention some of the backlash even from the Christian community. The church you were in, you had some difficulty there. And we want to be respectful and yet learn from this experience. I’m not sure why this issue creates such emotion within the body of Christ. I can’t imagine. And I know I’ll take some flak for this. But someone who is a believer in Jesus and know that we’re made in God’s image who can’t stand for life – I mean, I know that. I know some Christians think that abortion is okay. I don’t get that at all. But speak to some of that backlash that you had within the community of believers and within your church.
Walter: Well, within my own church, I was ultimately removed from my position at the church…
Jim: Think of that.
Walter: …because of my pro-life stance.
Jim: How did that make you and Lori feel? I mean, that’s amazing to me.
Walter: I can remember walking out of the meeting having been dismissed completely and trying to figure out, “How am I going to tell Lori I no longer have a job and that I was dismissed for being pro-life?”
Jim: And how did you tell her? I mean…
Walter: Well, you got to know Lori. Lori’s – doesn’t beat around the bush. You just got to come straight forward with her.
Jim: She seems to have a spark there (laughter).
Walter: Yeah. She does. Yeah. No, that was the only way to handle it.
Jim: In that context, I mean, they came back and, I think, changed that a little bit, right?
Walter: Yeah. They ultimately – they – about a week later, they came back. We had a discussion. Rather, Lori had a discussion and – with – with our pastor. They agreed to come back. And we met again. And during that meeting, things got a chance to be explained. But it was still very much clear.
John: And Walter, were you released because of the time in jail, or because, simply, you were standing for life and…
John: …Too many people in the church couldn’t handle that?
Walter: Well, leadership couldn’t. I think the church could have. But leadership was struggling with that. And that’s a big problem, not only in the church that I was attending, but in churches everywhere.
Jim: In that respect, Walter, you also mentioned last time we talked that, you know, women struggle with this and pastors struggle with talking about it, because they know people in the pews have gone through abortion. And I think, in the last few minutes here, if we could turn and talk to that woman who feels guilty. Maybe she has had an abortion. Maybe she came to Christ after that, maybe before. I don’t know all the circumstances represented in those listening right now. But speak to that woman’s heart. So many women have met you on the curb and asked you the same thing. “Will God forgive me?” “Does God love me?” Women suffer with the guilt of going through an abortion. And let me ask you to speak to her directly. Just have someone pictured in mind, and that woman, I’m sure, is listening right now.
Walter: Like I said, there was a situation where a woman read the sign, “God loves you and your baby. Let us help you” – and I offered to help her. And she said, “Well, you’re a man. I just can’t believe that.” Literally said…
Jim: Just because you’re a man, you…
Walter: You’re a man.
Jim: There’s no way you want to help me.
Walter: I just can’t trust you. She was at that point. And so she walked, you know, on into the abortion clinic. Well I’m getting ready to go home now, she’s coming out now. And you could tell that the procedure has been done. And she’s standing on the curb. She’s trying to call her boyfriend on her cell phone. She looks over at me, and she goes, “I should’ve listened to you. You were right.” And she says, “Will God forgive me now?” She’s already done it. The procedure’s already happened. She’s aborted the child. And she wants to know if God loves me. “Will He forgive me now?” Well, I want every woman to know that God will love – God does love you. And He’ll forgive you right now. Even now, it’s not too late to come to Christ. It’s not too late to get to know Him better and establish that relationship with Him. It’s never too late for God to step into your life, because He can always make the difference.
Jim: Well, and that’s the beginning of the healing of that. I mean, we all suffer consequences from decisions we make in this life.
Jim: And there will be consequences, I’m sure. But God wants to step in to that gap and to make sure that you know that He loves you and is concerned for you. Walter, one of the beautiful things that you’ve expressed today that I want to emphasize is that when you are on the sidewalk, the public sidewalk, talking to these women, and they would say, “Can you help me?” That you not only had the words to encourage them and tell them the wise thing to do, which was to keep the baby.
Jim: Don’t terminate the baby.
Jim: Don’t extinguish that baby’s life…
Jim: …Because you have some reason, seemingly, to not allow that child to live. But you stepped up. So often the criticism from those who support abortion is, “Well, no one’s stepping up to help the woman.” That’s what you were all about.
Walter: Oh, that was the key to the ministry. It was one thing to say that God loves them. And, yes, God loves their baby. But then when they looked at you said, “Well, if that’s true, if God’s real, will you help me?” That’s when you get a chance to make the real difference. And every time we did, God just stepped up. He was just so amazing.
Jim: Well, I think that’s the thing we all in the Christian community have to be mindful of, that as churches, as bodies of believers…
Jim: …A group of believers, that’s the thing to do…
Jim: …Is to go and minister to that woman.
Jim: Help her.
Jim: Support her…
Jim: …in her time of need. I think you’re fulfilling the very thing that James talks about there, about taking care of the widow and the orphan…
Jim: …Especially these women that are not married. They do not have a man to be a partner in this. That is a widow, in essence, that’s a biblical definition of a widow.
Walter: No question about that – imagine coming alongside of her and letting her know that we can get you through school. We can help you with your job. We can work out whatever you might need in terms of a doctor, or a nurse, or any type of medical care. We can help you with the babysitting. We can help you with your home. If we just come alongside her and we help her, that would change everything.
Jim: Walter, I mean, this is so good, and I would hope that every church – I hope every pastor listening will get a copy of your book, Black and Pro-Life in America, so that they can learn how to pull together a program that can really help the women in their community beyond the walls of their church.
Jim: And that’s the point you’re making. Um, when you get down to the ministry of this, if people are interested, how did they get in touch with you? What’s your website? We can link that at our website.
Walter: Well, thank you, Jim. Our website is “Issues” – and that’s plural – “Issues”, the number “4,” “Life.”
Walter: Dot O-R-G.
Jim: Dot org.
Walter: That’s it.
Jim: I love that Walter, and again, this is such a powerful message. And if I could ask you to pray, maybe for our May 4th event coming up – and if you have just joined us, on May 4th in Times Square, we’ll be holding our Alive from New York event, which is to honor babies in the womb and to put them up on the big screen, right there in Times Square – 4D, third trimester ultrasounds. We’re gonna have a few speakers and some music. It’s a one-hour event. It’s gonna start at 3 o’clock. We’ll be done by 4-ish, and we’ll get on with our day. But we want to lift up the reality and the truth of what’s going on in a woman’s womb, similar to what you’ve heard Walter talk about yesterday when he talked about holding his little preemie boy in the palm of his hand, because that’s how big he was at about 25, 26 weeks.
Jim: And this is the dilemma. One area of the hospital is saving that little boy or little girl’s life, and another area of the hospital is extinguishing that baby’s life. And we are the community, the believers of this nation, that need to step up and say, “Enough is enough. Let’s choose life as a culture.” So with that in mind, Walter, can I ask you to pray for the event, for women, what you would say to someone on a curb?
Walter: Let’s pray. Father God in Heaven, we want to thank You right now for just being God. You’ve got all power in Your hand. There’s nothing You can’t do. And so Lord, we commit ourselves to Your will and to Your way and to Your Word. I’m asking, Lord, that You will bless this event in New York. Bless Focus on the Family, give them what they stand in need of. Father, we’re praying for every man and every woman that is in the process of making that decision, that life decision. Lord, make it plain to them that You create life and that You are a way-maker and that You will, indeed, make a way for them. I’m asking, Father, You would just bless everyone under the sound of my voice, every listener, Lord. Step into their heart and step into their home. Be the difference. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Jim: Amen. Walter, thank you so much for your book, Black and Pro-Life in America. What a beautiful story of being there for these women and for the babies in their wombs, and for being courageous enough – being a black man in America and saying, “Enough is enough, stop killing our children.”
Jim: And I am grateful to you for that clarity and that voice that you give to this issue. Thank you.
Walter: Oh, bless your heart. I’ll see you in New York.
Jim: Okay, open invitation. Come and join us.
John: Well, you’ve heard the heart of Walter Hoye and Jim throughout the program today. I hope that you will go ahead and follow up. Stop by our website. Learn more about Alive from New York. See the book about Walter’s story, Black and Pro-Life in America. In fact, you can read about how Walter’s conviction was overturned, and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that his First Amendment rights had been violated. And then finally, learn more about standing up for life. The website that we’ve set up especially for all of this is focusonthefamily.com/prolife. Our phone number here, if you’d prefer to call, 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY.
And we’re listener supported, so please, when you get in touch, make a generous donation to help us as we take a stand for life, as we save babies through our Option Ultrasound program. We’d invite your donation today, either on the phone or at the website. And when you make a generous contribution today, of any amount, we’ll send the book, Black and Pro-Life in America, as our way of saying thank you for joining the support team.
And then I just want to urge you, today, to make that donation because right now, some generous friends have made available a matching grant opportunity. So when your gift is made today, it’s effectively doubled. And as was mentioned yesterday, I think, Jim said $60 saves a baby’s life through our Option Ultrasound program. We wanna encourage you to make that $60 gift today, and it’ll be doubled, and two babies’ lives will be saved. So please, reach out to us today, and make that generous contribution if you can.
And on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening today to Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.