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Update on “Alive From New York”

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Update on “Alive From New York”

Jim Daly and John Fuller share a retrospective look at Focus on the Family's May 4th "Alive From New York" event celebrating the sanctity of human life and discuss the public reaction to the event.

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Episode Summary

Jim Daly and John Fuller share a retrospective look at Focus on the Family's May 4th "Alive From New York" event celebrating the sanctity of human life and discuss the public reaction to the event.

Episode Transcript

Opening:

Excerpt:

Alveda King: We are Alive in New York today! Alive from New York with Focus on the Family! We’re praying that everybody Sees Life Clearly!

End of Excerpt

John Fuller: Well, that’s just one of many wonderful moments at Alive from New York, the Focus on the Family event in Times Square this past Saturday. You’ll hear more today on Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller, along with your host, Jim Daly.

Jim Daly: John, we had the best time in New York. It was nothing short of amazing to see – well first, so many people gathered in Times Square. I heard it was north of 18,000 people that came together to celebrate life. And I wish we could share the entire event with the listeners, but we have time for only some of the snippets – the highlights. And I hope you appreciate it.

Uh, before we get to those, I’d like to thank all of you for the generous support to make Alive from New York happen. Uh, I wish, again, that you could be there – great comments, the NYPD did a fantastic job keeping about 250-300 protesters where they needed to be. And I mean, the event – you could feel the Spirit of God there. And that’s what mattered – talking about Jesus Christ right in Times Square.

John: Yeah, and the emphasis on life was something that felt a little bit, um, out of place with all the billboards for stuff. But it was so important for us to be there.

Jim: It was. And I – so many people commented on the fact that it felt so refreshing. That was what I heard from people that live here in New York that are believers. And they said to have that kind of positive message going out across Times Square made such an impact on people. You’re gonna get a sense of this in a moment by hearing what was being said.

And that’s why the call to action that we had there in Times Square was to get engaged. You know, the Scripture’s so clear: “Do these good deeds so they’ll honor your Father in Heaven.” Folks, working with a pregnancy resource center, volunteering your time, your resources, doing what you need to do is the best way to get involved in community. And this life issue – we’re right at the precipice where I think we can win in the culture. That’s why I felt like doing this now was critical. Um, people have said, “Oh, this took a lot of courage to do.” I think it was the Lord saying, “Go, because now is the time.” And I’m excited. You’re gonna hear it.

John: Let’s go ahead and hear how you, Jim, started off the event with the president for March for Life, Jeanne Mancini.

Body:

Jim: Hey, are you guys Alive in New York?

(CHEERING)

Jim: Now, I’ve been told this is now the largest pro-life event in New York history!

(CHEERING)

Jim: Here’s the great news: you’re a voice for the voiceless! Right?

Audience: Yeah!

Jim: We’re grateful for each one of you that are here to support a woman and her baby. And I wanna tell you, at Focus on the Family, we’re about strengthening marriages, helping parents parent better, but also, we are pro-life.

Jeanne Mancini: And hello, New York! My name is Jeanne Mancini, and I am honored to be President of the March for Life. And I know I’ve seen a lot of you in Washington, D.C. in January. And thank you! Thank you for your witness and testimony to life! More than ever, your witness and your testimony, in terms of being here today, could not be more important, so thank you! Thank you for being here! Thank you!

(CHEERING)

Jeanne: Now, I am delighted to introduce you to a true advocate for life – a friend of the life and the defenseless, Mrs. Alveda King, the Reverend Alveda King.

Alveda: Thanks Jeanne! Thank you! We are Alive in New York today! Alive from New York with Focus on the Family. We’re praying that everybody Sees Life Clearly! Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” In the mid-1970s, I had an ultrasound after I had a live birth, two abortions, and a miscarriage. I saw a little baby, a beating heart, a live baby. So you know what? A woman has a right to choose what she does with her body, but the baby’s not her body. Where’s the lawyer for the baby? Right! Right! So how can the dream survive, if we murder the children? You may have heard me say somewhere, a blog somewhere, you know, women – we love women. I’m a woman! We want good health, but there has to be a way to serve all of humanity without killing humanity. So let’s See Life Clearly. Let’s celebrate life. We’re gonna see a little baby in a sonogram. I saw one in the mid-70s and that baby’s almost 50 years now. How about that? Wow! So I bless you! Glory!

Jim: Alright, wow! Alveda King! Amazing! Isn’t that great? I, uh, wanna introduce Christina Bennett, communications director for Family Institute of Connecticut. She’s been working to save women and babies for the last 15 years. She’s a wife, stepmother, and minister – Christina Bennett!

(CHEERING)

Christina Bennett: Thank you! I’m honored to be here today with you in New York. We are here to celebrate and proclaim life over this city!

(CHEERING)

Christina: In New York, sadly, there are more black children that die yearly than are even born. Abortion is the number one cause of death in the black community. And since 1973, over 16 million black babies have been aborted. And I was scheduled to be one of those children! In 1981, in Hartford, Connecticut, my mother had an appointment to abort me. She paid for the abortion. The counselor didn’t give her any counsel, only telling her, “This seems like the best decision for you to make.” But in that eleventh hour, God heard her silent cry, and He sent a janitor to approach her, and to look her in the eye as she was crying in the hallway, and say, “Do you want to have this baby?” And guess what my mother said? She said, “Yes!”

(CHEERING)

Christina: Thank you, Lord! She said yes. And this janitor said, “God will give you the strength to have your baby.” And today, I am here Alive in New York because of my mother’s sacrifice! And I thank you, Jesus, for rescuing me! And I want you to know that you are part of a movement of hope! This is an extension of the civil rights movement! This is the human rights movement of our day!

(CHEERING)

Jim: Alright! I’ve got a great honor, ‘cause I’m a football fan – anybody a football fan?

(CHEERING)

Jim: And I’ll tell you what, there’s a man’s man playing in the NFL – Benjamin Watson!

(CHEERING)

Jim: Plays for the New Orleans Saints, but more than that – and when you talk to him, one-on-one, across the table, backstage – what he’s really excited about is his wife, Kirsten, and their new twin children. Number 6 and 7! Help me welcome Benjamin Watson!

(CHEERING)

Benjamin Watson: Hey hey! It a pleasure and a joy to be here with you. It is beautiful to see so many faces, so many people from different walks of life, so many people who are young, who are old, who are from different economic status. Ethnicity doesn’t matter because what we are here for, what we are standing for today, what we are here in Times Square for is for truth! It is not for hate. It is for truth.

I prepared a few words that I want to share with you. And I – I’ll just – I’ll just share them. Just listen. As we look in retrospect at the history of this nation, our battle in this nation has been about defining who is worthy of personhood. That’s what’s characterized our struggles. Yet, in every time, there were those willing to stand and raise their voices for those who had none. For them, the role was desolate and dangerous at times, but the mission was worth the risk because the life-affirming, life-giving reward that they pursued was going to change generations. Now today, we are standing as one of those people during the greatest civil rights crisis of our time.

Now, I’m a man. I play football. So I have no problem speaking to men. And for the men that are here, bless you, but I have something to tell you. It’s been said that we, as men, have no place in this conversation, but today, my call is for men to step up and to step into these conversations with boldness and with grace and with conviction.

(CHEERING)

Benjamin: As – as families across our country are being destroyed, and as lives are being extinguished, we must expose the lies that are being told. We must peel back those layers of deceit. We have to be men who are willing to step into that boldly and with confidence because we were made to be protectors and providers. You have what it takes to be the man God designed you to be! Your support, and your love, and your leadership, your integrity, your voice, not only in the lives of the people that live in your house, but in the public sphere, is greatly needed!

We’re suffering from people being scared. It’s okay to be scared! But that’s when you are met on the other side, when you are willing to step into those things. Truth, dignity, sanctity of life, is under attack. But men, fatherhood begins in the womb. That’s where it starts. It doesn’t start when the baby’s out. The relationship you have with the mother, the relationship you have talking to that child in utero, fatherhood begins in the womb. There are millions of preborn children and courageous, precious mothers that are depending on us, men, to be men! So let’s do it!

(CHEERING)

Benjamin: I wanna – I wanna leave you with this word of encouragement from the book of Proverbs. It says, “If you falter in a time of trouble, how small is your strength? Rescue those being led away to death. Hold back those staggering toward slaughter. 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 that? Will He not repay everyone according to what they have done?”

Remember friends, although we live in a culture of politics, we don’t fight simply to win a political argument. That’s not why we’re fighting. We continue to fight with passion because here on our watch, there are innocent lives that are being led away to slaughter. We humbly preserve and persevere because injustice comes in a lot of forms and this is just one of them. We, as a pro-life movement, need to be people who understand the entire garment of justice, as my friend would say, that pro-life and all those things all fall under justice – things that are incorrect. We need to be people that stand for life from conception unto the grave.

(CHEERING)

Benjamin: We should be people – we should be people who dedicate our lives to reckless love and forgiveness for the men and women making these tough decisions. Because we know that even in our most wretched state, He who guards our lives forgave us.

(CHEERING)

Benjamin: Finally, sometimes we feel like we’re alone, but I promise you that even in Times Square, there are millions around the world who share the same sentiments that you do. Don’t ever think that you’re alone. There are people everywhere who want to uphold and affirm and cherish life. There are people everywhere who want to lead their families well. There are people everywhere who want to enter into this fight humbly with compassion, understanding that it’s not about being right. It’s about saving lives. May our grieving of today, because of these laws, may it soon turn into joy as men and women unite with one voice across culture, class, and creed. And we hold our country to the fire because they said that the unalienable right is the right to life. Let us continue to fight for that. God bless you!

(CHEERING)

John: These are segments from our Alive from New York event in Times Square on Saturday, on this special Focus on the Family broadcast.

Jim: Man, and I loved what Benjamin had to say there, John. You may be wondering, “How can I get involved? How can I help?” Well, we’ve done the research and the math. It takes only $60 to save a baby’s life through our Option Ultrasound program. When you donate $60, we put those funds right to work, right away, supplying pregnancy resource centers around the country with ultrasound machines, training for technicians, and other great resources. And so far, we estimate that over 425,000 babies have been saved through the program. So partner with us today – that’s one thing to do. $60 to save a baby’s life! I can’t think of a better way to invest in the Kingdom.

John: Well, and a $5 a month gift is a baby a year.

Jim: Right!

John: If you can do $60 a month, that would be wonderful and that would be 12. Go ahead and donate today when you contact us. Our number is 800-A-FAMILY – 800-232-6459. Online, we’re at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

Let’s go ahead and get back to more clips from Alive from New York with abortion survivors Melissa Ohden and Claire Culwell. They’ve been on the broadcast recently – also, Josiah Presley. And then we’ll go ahead and hear from the star of the recent popular movie, Unplanned. Her name is Ashley Bratcher.

(CHEERING)

Melissa Ohden: Really briefly, what I would like to say to all of you is that we’re not alone in this. A lot of survivors will never share their story publicly. Just yesterday, I had contact – or heard about – four other survivors. And we hear this talk that abortion survivors don’t exist, but what I’m gonna tell you is that they live private lives for many reasons. But just because we live private lives, doesn’t mean we don’t exist. So I would encourage you to go forth, share our stories with the world, be willing to speak the truth in love, and truly continue on in this battle. This is not a one-day event, folks. This is a great start but an everyday battle for life. And we’re alive, not only because of God, but because ordinary people just like you said yes and did things to intervene in our lives. So thank you all so very much!

Jeanne: Awesome!

Jim: Alright! Josiah!

(CHEERING)

Josiah Presley: Good afternoon, uh, I’m here to share with you today because even though my life started as a tragedy, from the very beginning to this point right now, my life is a story of God’s love, mercy, and grace. And so when you hear my story, what I hope you hear, my prayer and my exhortation is that as followers of Christ, you’d be changed by God’s love, mercy, and grace to then go love your neighbor, both unborn and born.

(CHEERING)

Jim: Alright, awesome! Alright, Claire!

Claire Culwell: My name is Claire Culwell. Thank you so much for being here today and for standing up and speaking up for people just like the three of us. We are so grateful for all of you. I wanna share something that my birth mother shared with me. Um, years ago, ten years ago, when I met her, she told me that if there had been someone standing up for her, telling her that she was worth it and that she had another choice than abortion, that she would have never made the choice to have an abortion that took the life of my twin. Many will not look at what medical technology and science shows you, that we were separate human beings, with separate DNA, and a separate beating heart inside of our birth mother’s body. But you have such a unique opportunity today. You are able to see the face, hear the names, and hear the stories of three abortion survivors, and I am honored and I am proud that this is my story that children like me, children like my twin, children like my daughter who wouldn’t be here if that abortion had been successful on my life, that we deserve better than abortion, and we know who wins.

(CHEERING)

Jim: Woo! That’s awesome. That is awesome. How many have seen the movie, Unplanned?

(CHEERING)

Jim: Woo! Look at that!

Jeanne: Very exciting.

Jim: Very exciting!

Jeanne: So many of you may recognize this beautiful actress from movies like The War Room or 90 Minutes in Heaven, but perhaps you may most recognize her from her recent appearance in..

Jim: Unplanned!

Jeanne: Unplanned. Ashley Bratcher.

Jim: Welcome her! Ashley Bratcher! Yay!

(CHEERING)

Jim: Okay, so we’re gonna ask you some questions.

Ashley Bratcher: Okay.

Jim: Okay, why did you do the movie?

Ashley: Because I was crazy, apparently.

Jim: (laughter)

Ashley: Uh no, because I was like most of America before I auditioned in the sense that, I thought I was pro-life. I’d never have an abortion. I’d never encourage anyone else to have an abortion, but I thought another woman should be able to decide what she wants.

Jim: Mmm.

Ashley: And then I saw Abby Johnson’s testimony.

Jim: What a story, Abby Johnson. What courage!

Ashley: Right.

Jim: Woo!

Ashley: And when I – when I heard what she described working at Planned Parenthood and what she saw during that ultrasound guided abortion, I was devastated because you see I bought the lie. I believed the lie that is perpetuated that it’s just fetal matter, that it’s just a blob of tissue, and that is a lie. Because we know that life is precious and the – the sonogram is a window into the womb, and we see the humanity of life within the womb.

Jim: It’s so true. You though, also have a close connection to this issue, this topic of abortion. How does that connect to your life?

Ashley: Well, when I took on the role of Abby, the producers called me and they said, “Ashley we’re so excited to offer you the role, can you get on a plane in five hours?” That’s not usually how it works.

Jim: Five hours?

Ashley: But because God had prepared my heart, and I’d had this moment of conviction, and I knew the truth, I knew that I wanted to be a part of it, so without hesitation I said yes. Um, but when I arrived things were happening so quickly that I had to be in pre-production meetings, I was learning over 100 pages of script, and no one really knew that I had left except for my husband, my son, and my sister. So on the fourth day when my mom called me, I realized she had no idea where I was. And I figured um, I should let my mom know I’m making a movie.

But I – but I hesitated. I was really proud, but I hesitated because you see, my mom had told me that when she was younger, she had had an abortion when she was in high school. So I didn’t want her to think that in me doing this movie that I was judging her or that this movie was about condemnation or judgement because it’s not. It’s about grace and redemption. And as I started explaining it to her, she started sobbing, and I could hardly understand what she was saying when she said, “Ashley, I need to tell you something that you never heard before. When I was 19 years old, I was in the clinic for the second time. I had been taken back into the room, and I was on the table being examined by a very pregnant nurse, and I got really sick to my stomach, and I knew that I couldn’t go through with it, and I got up, I walked out, and I chose to have you.”

Jim: Wow!

(CHEERING)

John: That was Ashley Bratcher, the star of the movie, Unplanned, and her story, Jim, like so many we heard from – during Alive from New York, was just gripping. I mean, it was pretty incredible.

Jim: It just goes to show how abortion affects so many people, and I think the stage, I mean the wonderful thing about the presenters is it was one after the other how abortion had impacted them either as a survivor, as a woman who sought an abortion, et cetera. Christina Bennett said it earlier, “This is the human rights movement of the day.” Think about it: even if you oppose life, that is such a true statement. This is the human rights movement of today. The most defenseless child – the child in the womb grasping for life – that’s what we’re fighting for. That’s the voice that we’re fighting for. My favorite moment of the entire event was the live, 4D ultrasound.

John: That was incredible.

Jim: I knew it would be, and you know we built it and kept saying it: “We’re gonna get there. 4D, third trimester ultrasound,” you’ve heard me say it on the broadcast many times. It was awesome, and the whole, you know being on the stage with 20,000 people out there, you didn’t hear anybody talking. It was so amazing. The quietness and everybody looking at the screens going, “Wow!” And then, you know, that heartbeat, and that gripped everybody. Tears, uh, even the protesters, there was just nothing when you heard the heartbeat of the child, and I think it sent the most powerful message of all.

(HEART BEATING)

John: That was a real moment of exclamation mark!

Jim: It was it. It was the Lord. Bam!

John: I mean, written by the finger of God in the hand.

Jim: And uh, the biggest reveal was having Ashley, the star of Unplanned, on stage with Jeanne Mancini and I, and then we had Ashley reveal the woman in the mobile unit , doing the ultrasound was Abby Johnson. And so, she came out onto stage.

John: And Abby of course, for those who don’t know, a former Planned Parenthood director who left the industry, and that’s what the movie, Unplanned, is about.

Jim: Yeah. And – and it was just – you could hear roars from the crowd.

John: What an ironic moment that was.

Jim: It was perfect. It was perfect, and again it shows everything: redemption, forgiveness, and then sanctification. I’m so proud of Abby and what’s she’s accomplished and what she’s come from. You know, Focus on the Family, she came to Focus first for her first interview after leaving Planned Parenthood, and we cooperated, we worked on a book with her, Unplanned. And that now is the movie, and we are so grateful for the partnership that we’ve had with Abby Johnson.

John: Let’s go ahead and hear from Abby Johnson. She was our last speaker for Alive from New York.

Abby Johnson: Abortion is not normal. Abortion is not healthcare, and the one thing that we need to understand is that those who speak out against life are people who are hurting, and we pray for them to find truth. We want them to find truth because we want them to know peace. That is our ultimate goal. And friends, through this, through so many of the efforts that you guys participate in, we will see a day when abortion in this country is unthinkable!

Jim: Yeah! Awesome, awesome!

Closing:

John: Well, these are just some of the highlights from almost 90 minutes of Alive from New York, our event in Times Square in New York City on Saturday the 4th.

Jim: It was incredible! The event was a major undertaking, and I wanna give a shout out to Cardinal Timothy Dolan who provided a wonderful video greeting – really set the stage for the event. And Bishop Peter Burn from the diocese here in New York, and it was great working with the Catholic Church. They were part of it. Jeanne Mancini from the March for Life, which is a Catholic effort, was my co-host. We felt it would be good to get everybody together and do this as a community of believers who stand for life. Um, also Pastor Conlon from Times Square Church, their team, they were great. We called them first, early on when we were doing this, and they said, “Okay, here’s what you need to do and the pitfalls.”

John: Yeah, they’re the experts. They’re experts at that kind of thing.

Jim: They’re experts. So they were terrific, and I’ll never forget this amazing time, John. This is one of the highlights of my thirty years at Focus on the Family. The reason is, to me this is the core message. This is what we’re all about. The idea of every human being being made in the image if God. And uh, there’s been no greater day in my experience at Focus on the Family then Alive from New York, and it just felt like God’s Shalom, His peace hitting a chaotic world right here in Times Square, and you could feel it. It was palpable.

John: It was, and we would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge that this is a painful topic for a lot of women and men who have experienced abortion, and we’re mindful that you might be sitting on top of a secret that you’re never shared with anybody. It’s been twenty, thirty years maybe, or perhaps it’s been very recent that you or a loved one has gone through an abortion. We have caring, Christian counselors at Focus on the Family, and it would be a privilege for us to talk to talk to you. To help you kind of unpack things and give you some resources and help, to pray with you. Call our counseling team and talk that through if you need to. Our number is 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. Or of course, we’re at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

Jim: That’s right, John. Benjamin Watson and Abby Johnson both indicated that women and men who have abortion in their past feel alone, and you know, in the Christian faith, that’s where we need relationship. We need to connect with people, and we’re here for you. So, I’m appreciative of that, John. Call the counselors, get the help you need. Also, be a part of the team. I mean, sixty dollars to save a baby’s life. And I’ve often said this – if you want me to get down on a knee and beg you, I will – but why don’t we do this together? Why don’t we save a million babies by 2025? We’re already at 425,000 saved. We need about twenty million dollars to finish a million babies being saved at sixty dollars a baby. Can we do it together? I’m putting my effort into it, and my resources into it. I hope you will too. We’ll handle those in a trusted way, those finances. We will not disappoint you, and I think together we can make a statement in this culture that will continue to tip the culture toward life. So join us, help us to get this done.

John: Call us today. Our number is 800-A-FAMILY, or you can donate online at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

For now, on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, I’m John Fuller thanking you for listening to Focus on the Family and inviting you back next time as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.

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