by Ed Szeto
It’s Thursday, Jan. 22, 1998. Tens of thousands of people have gathered near the Washington Monument to hear politicians speak and priests and pastors pray. As my friend and I stand underneath the Lutherans For Life banner, preparing to be part of the largest pro-life gathering in America, my thoughts wander while I’m trying to keep warm, and I wonder to myself, “What am I doing here?”
Twelve years ago, I participated in my first March for Life. I don’t really remember much of the particulars, like the weather or the people I met that day, but I do remember that my friend and I left New Jersey in the middle of the night to get to Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Springfield, Va., for the pre-march Divine Service sponsored by Lutherans For Life. I remember that this was a pivotal moment in my life.
Before 1997, before I became pro-life, I believed that abortion was wrong and that it was murder. But I also believed that it was a woman’s choice; it was a woman’s right; and ultimately, it was a woman’s problem. How ignorant I was back then.
Since becoming involved with pro-life organizations, I’ve learned much about what it means to reach out to someone in Christian compassion when the world is telling them that the only solution for their situation is death. What we say to, and how we help, the pregnant teen abandoned by her boyfriend, the parents whose child has a disability, or the wife who has a husband with a terminal illness says more about what we believe and who we are than anything else. Human life, no matter what stage of development and no matter what condition it’s in, is precious because of God’s creative work and Christ’s redemptive act. This fact alone should motivate us to speak for life.
It’s Friday, Jan. 22, 2010. Hundreds of thousands of people have come to the National Mall to participate in the March for Life. After attending a pre-march Divine Service at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Alexandria, Va., Lutherans gather under two banners this year: Lutherans For Life and LCMS Life Ministries.
The past year has brought one blow after another to the pro-life movement in America. The federal government is once again promoting abortion internationally through the United Nations with taxpayer’s money; federal funding of destructive embryonic stem-cell research has returned; and the Montana Supreme Court has ruled that assisted suicide in their state is not illegal.
And yet there is good news! More Americans believe that abortion is wrong. More Americans are speaking up against federal laws and programs that do not protect human life. And more Americans have the courage to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.
There seems to be no end to the sea of people as I look around from our gathering place near the Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building. Twelve years later, I know why I am here—I am honored and humbled to be able to serve God by taking part in the largest pro-life gathering in America.
On the Web
For articles, interviews, and photos from the 2010 march for life, visit LCMS Life Ministries’ March for Life Newsroom: www.lcms.org?16366.
For the latest information on the current health-care-reform legislation, visit the LCMS Life Ministries’ Health Care Reform in America Web page: www.lcms.org?15667.
About the Author: A commissioned lay minister, Ed Szeto is the special projects coordinator for LCMS Life Ministries, part of LCMS World Relief and Human Care.