Everyday I look out onto a sea of faces, each of whom has a story. Some are in loving homes. Some are in very broken homes. Some have parents who are not providing proper care for them. Some are being raised by extended family members. Some are being raised in "the system".
Every summer I travel to Romania and interact with hundred of orphans and at-risk children, many of whom have been physically, emotionally, and/or sexually abused. Many of these children have been neglected, abandoned, and cast off.
No matter their background or story, I have a fierce love for each and every one of them. No matter their story, each and every one of them has impacted and changed my life in some way--and not only my life, but the lives of their other teachers, their peers, and everyone else with whom they come into contact as well.
Their lives matter.
I have had the privilege of teaching many students who have had horrific pasts and who have ended up in "the system". I will refer to one of these as Jane Doe. With quite a tragic back story, Jane ended up in foster care. She could have become jaded, hardened, angry. She could have slipped through the cracks. Yet, every morning Jane came into class with a giant smile on her face. Though the work was not easy, she fought through it and tried with everything she had. She was a friend to her classmates, a support to everyone around her, and a comic-relief when we all needed a laugh. She matured, and she grew. Jane realized her worth. She made goals and stuck to them. She decided that she wanted to be someone when she grew up. She taught us all what it is to be an over-comer. I cannot wait to see what God will do with her precious life. As for me, I know I'll be her biggest cheerleader, for her smile and sweet face are forever burned into my mind.
Her life matters.
And, take "Little Rabbit" for example. He is a thirteen year old boy I met in a Romanian orphanage this summer. He is the size of a four or five year old. He is crib or wheelchair bound. He cannot take care of himself, and he cannot communicate. At a glance, most would say that his quality of life is nil or none. Yet, after spending just an hour with him, he exuded more joy than I have seen in most people in their entire lives. You see, Little Rabbit had had a stone cold expression most of the week. He had sat expressionless in his wheelchair or with our physical therapist as he worked with him. Yet, as one of my teammates sat and played the guitar one afternoon, I quietly sang to Little Rabbit and began to touch his face and tickle him. Out of this dear child, who seemingly had a terrible quality of life, joy erupted. He laughed and giggled and smiled with one of the greatest smiles I have ever seen. When I looked into his face, I saw my Savior, my God who is bigger than circumstances, my God who is mighty to save. God taught me more about Him in that moment than perhaps he had all week.
His life matters.
What about the "others" you ask? The ones who aren't in loving foster care homes or classrooms? The ones around the world that don't get the love and attention of organizations like Children to Love? Well, what about them? Who am I to say their lives don't matter just because the "quality" may not live up to my standards? Who am I to decide how our almighty God might use them or their situations?
Let's take a moment to look back on the trial for which I served as a juror a few years back. The victim was a thirteen year old girl. She was one of eight or nine siblings of her very young mother (and various fathers). I will fairly confidently assert that most, if not all, of those eight or nine children were "not planned". The thirteen year old has been in and out of her home and "the system" throughout her young life. She was a classic example of a "problem child". She had a record. She was in a continuation school. She often ran away from home. In the words of the defense attorney, she was a "throw away kid". Unfortunately, she got herself into a sticky situation one evening when she was hanging out with some older friends, and she ended up in the hotel room of a pimp. Without going into all of the gruesome details, this man attempted to traffic her. Her case was the first one heard in Kern County under the new human trafficking laws. The defendant was found guilty on various charges and sentenced to over thirty years in prison. This young victim's story, our jury, and our judge set a high precedent for future cases around the county and state. Think about that for a moment... Who knows how many lives may be saved because of this "throw away kid's" experience?
Her life matters.
What if these precious children had been aborted for whatever "valid" reason there may have been? My heart absolutely breaks at that thought. I would not be the woman I am today without them. My classroom, our school, our county, our world would not be the same without them.
Their lives matter.
I am beyond grateful that God has allowed these three precious lives (and so many others) to cross my path.
These are just three short glimpses into the myriad of lives I have come into contact with who others may have considered "unwanted" at some point in time. I could go on and on, but it's not necessary here. I'm more than willing to share more stories with you in person.
This is what I know to be true:
* All lives matter, regardless of situation or circumstance.
* Everyone can make a difference in someone's life.
* Abortion for any reason is murder.
* Abortion not only kills babies, but it hurts mothers, and my heart absolutely breaks for them.
* My God is sovereign and just and good.
* My God is mighty to save.
I am not willing to enter into a debate or discussion about "everything else" Planned Parenthood does or doesn't do. NONE OF THAT matters to me. What matters is that millions of babies are being killed around the world every year (http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/data_stats/abortion.htm) and it must be stopped.
In the words of my dear friend Jessica, "If we believe abortion is the unjust killing of an infant, then it is our biggest fish to fry, and it would be hypocritical to act as if this matter didn't deserve some sense of urgency."
I'll leave you with this:
Finish this sentence: It is ok to kill a baby in the womb when...