It was almost midnight on May 4, 2019, when I finally laid down in my hotel room near New York City’s historic Times Square. At this point I had been awake for more than 72 hours – by all rights I should have crashed the minute I hit the pillow! Yet I couldn’t sleep. After all, I had just finished the most amazing event in my 26 years at Focus on the Family: Alive From New York.
As we look forward to even more “Alive” pro-life events in 2020, I can’t help but recall the powerful moments that took place in 2019.
The year certainly didn’t begin on a positive note. When New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill in January allowing abortions through all 40 weeks of pregnancy, I knew it was a moment I would look back on with great sadness. But less than four months later, we demonstrated that a preborn baby is fully human and worthy of protection by showing a live third-trimester ultrasound for thousands of people gathered in Times Square.
That night in my hotel room, and on the long trip home, I couldn’t stop smiling. I thought of all the “God moments” that had occurred. I started writing them down and, before I realized it, I had filled two-and-a-half pages with instances of divine intervention, protection and provision. God is so good!
Moments of inspiration
I spent much of my time that day in the mobile ultrasound unit, and one of my favorite moments was when the sonographer looked out the window and pointed to a building. “That’s where I had my abortion when I was 19,” she said. “Who would have thought God would have me here in Times Square at this precise moment, showing life 19 years later?”
Among our many volunteers in Times Square were a doctor and a nurse from Bath, New York – the same area where Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger was born. I also watched how a nurse and a pregnancy center director from Long Island reacted to the protestors who shouted vile things at all of us in the mobile unit.
The director saw their signs and heard the commotion, yet she responded with neither fear nor anger. “Oh, we need to pray for them,” she said. “They are so wounded.”
When I looked over at the medical team, they were holding hands and praying for the protestors. I am so inspired by the men and women who work in pregnancy clinics!
Highlight of the day
But the highlight of the day was being in the mobile unit with Abby Johnson. Abby is a former Planned Parenthood clinic director who resigned in 2009 after witnessing an ultrasound-guided abortion. Abby is now a powerful advocate for life, and on May 4, 2019, she was about 36-weeks pregnant. Yes, it was Abby’s preborn son, Fulton, who was scheduled to appear on the big screens in Times Square that day.
Trouble was, Fulton was not cooperating with the sonographer. Despite our best efforts, he kept turning away from the screen. Our entire program depended on this precious baby. The executive producer was standing in the doorway of the mobile ultrasound unit, waiting for me to make the call: Would we broadcast a live-from-the-womb shot of Fulton or switch to an ultrasound scan we’d recorded earlier that morning, just in case?
As I stood there praying for God to show me what to do, I heard the sweetest sound: Thump thump thump thump … It was a baby’s heartbeat – beautiful and strong! I looked over at the producer, and the tears in his eyes told me that he heard it, too. Fulton had turned again; this time the way we wanted him to.
“Show that now!” I said, and Fulton made his big-screen debut.
Whether they were holding up a protest sign in Times Square or were watching via livestream from somewhere around the world, tens of thousands both saw and heard life that day! Our prayers in the weeks leading up to that day were for God to be glorified and for life to be celebrated, and our prayers were answered indeed.
Join us for ALIVE 2020
If you couldn’t join us in Manhattan, you’ll have another opportunity. Turns out that Alive from New York was just the beginning, as we’ll be “Alive” in five different cities on May 9, 2020, with locations in Southern California, Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta and South Florida. Each event will have inspiring speakers, music and yes, a live ultrasound. Come celebrate life with us and be a part of ALIVE 2020!