Sidewalk counselor tips
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Here are some details you may overlook as you consider sidewalk counseling.
- Pray before you arrive on the sidewalks. Your work is a prayer, but you may not have time to pray as you might normally.
- Smile often. Be joyful. You would be surprised how difficult this may be at times. Be intentional about smiling while you are there.
- Never interrupt another sidewalk counselor who is already speaking with a young mom, unless there is an emergency. When you interrupt, it breaks the bond the other counselor created. It also tells the pregnant mom that you think what you have to say is more important than what is being said.
- Avoid idle talk among other pro-lifers on the sidewalks with you. Stay focused.
- Avoid using the words “murder” and “kill” when referring to the baby. These words cast judgement. You could say instead, “Don’t let them take your baby.” No one wants something that is theirs taken away from them.
- Don’t yell – but DO project your voice when needed.
- Someone not wanting to hear what you have to say does not supersede your right to say it. Be calm yet firm when exercising your free speech rights.
- Avoid pro-life monikers such as “deathscort, abortion mill, death camp” in conversations with young moms and dads. Emphasize a mom’s choice – to stay outside and talk if she wants to do so.
- Do not engage in debates with abortion center escorts, guards or staff. It is a debate you will never win in their eyes. Pray for that instead.
- Dress appropriately, modestly and be prepared for changes in the weather. Always carry an umbrella in your car. Getting wet means you will be cold soon and off the sidewalks.
- Blend in. Do not wear your favorite pro-life T-shirt or hat to the sidewalk. If you wear a T-shirt that says, “I’M PRO-LIFE” – you might as well have printed on the back of the T-shirt, “DON’T TALK TO ME.”
- Eye contact is crucial. Looking a mom in the eyes shows that you care about HER and her child. Eye contact shows you are listening. Try not to wear sunglasses or hats that obscure your eyes.
- Avoid using images of aborted children for sidewalk counseling. They are the cold, hard truth – BUT – being near them will not encourage pregnant moms to come speak with you. These images have a place for their use, but it is not the time when a woman is seeking an abortion that day.
- Lead with a smile, kind words and pro-life pamphlets. You are talking about a new baby! This is a joyous occasion, regardless of the difficulties around the pregnancy. Bring the Gospel of Christ into the conversation after you connect with the mom.
- Do everything you can to not reinforce the stereotype of “the pro-life fanatical protestor.” Of course, they will refer to you as anti-choice. That means, be friendly. Don’t block the way, and don’t force materials on someone who doesn’t want them.
- Get organized with other sidewalk counselors. If you find that you are going to the abortion center on days when there are already plenty of pro-lifers, try another day if your schedule allows.
- If there is an incident where the police are called, log it in a notebook. Interact with the police and other officials calmly and respectfully. Do not engage them in conversations about abortion. Listen to their lawful instructions. Seek legal advice if needed, but do not get antagonistic to police.
- If you know someone who is bilingual, invite them to join you on the sidewalks in prayer for the one. There is no sweeter sound than of someone in a foreign country speaking your native tongue.
- If you pose a question to an abortion-oriented mom, LISTEN for the answer! Move to solve the perceived problem and empower her to leave. There is no place more dangerous than where she is standing right at that moment.
- Carry fetal models or have them available to look at in your literature. Educate her on what’s happening with her baby at this very moment.
- Smile and greet with the love of Christ. Offer literature and explain the help that is available. ASK and then LISTEN. Focus on mom. Solve her immediate problems. Make it her natural decision to leave the abortion center.
- If you can speak to the father, emphasize his role as protector. Men are hard wired to protect and defend. Abortion will short circuit that natural impulse. Don’t let him learn the hard way.
- When talking to the support person – highlight what it means to be an accomplice to an abortion. They may not even realize what they are helping with.
- Abortion facilities in Wisconsin are not mandatory rape reporters. If you are able to convince the pregnant mom who was raped to get out of the abortion facility, warn her about going to a hospital – as they will automatically offer the morning after pill – an abortifacient. Get her to a pregnancy resource center instead.
- If you see someone being dragged into the abortion facility by their hair (we’ve seen it), call the police! Tell the young mom that all she has to do is say NO and everything should stop.
- If you suspect that a young woman is being trafficked, call the police. The police will ignore your call if you say you suspect coercion, but if you mention sex trafficking they may be more likely to show up.
- Some women will tell you that they are there simply to pick up their prescription of contraception. Be sure to have educational pamphlets on at least one type of contraception. One thing they all have in common is that they are ALL carcinogenic (cancerous). Ask if they agree or disagree with abortion – because that’s the type of facility they are about to enter!
- If you hear a woman say, “I’m just here for a pregnancy test,” direct her to free services at a pregnancy resource center. In most cases, abortion centers do not offer anything for free.
- Get familiar with post-abortive healing ministries in your area. Have their literature on hand. Do not hand it to someone unless you are absolutely sure they’ve had the abortion.