Pastor Bill watched The Silent Scream, a twenty-five-minute film documenting an abortion that created a storm of controversy and launched the international pro-life movement. The film concluded with the question, “Who will speak for the unborn?” He raised his hand.
Bill had a secular job to supplement his pastor’s salary when he learned of plans to picket an abortion clinic. He joined the picketers on his lunch hour. “My biggest fear was someone I knew would see me,” said Bill. “When some girls entering the clinic yelled at me to mind my own business, I wanted to leave. Then I heard God say, ‘If you leave, babies will die.’” The thought of innocent babies dying gave Bill the strength to overcome his fear. He remained the duration of his lunch hour pleading for the life of the unborn who could not speak for themselves.
Several months later, a friend called with an invitation. “They are putting pastors in jail for trying to save the lives of babies in Atlanta. I’m going, and I’d like you to come.” Initially, Bill declined but then changed his mind and traveled to Atlanta with thirteen pastors. The pastors sat in front of the abortion clinic door, blocking the entrance. Soon, the police arrived and shouted through bullhorns, “If you don’t move, we will arrest you.”
“Everything in me said to move. Obey the police. Then one pastor said, ‘If we move, they will kill babies today.’” Bill stayed. The police handcuffed the pastors and put them in the back of a paddy wagon. On the way to jail, Bill heard the Lord say, “This is the first of many times they will arrest you.” Bill grew somber as he continued his story. “In that moment, I realized the degenerate condition of America. Why were authorities putting us in jail for trying to save innocent babies from slaughter?”
The week Bill spent in the Atlanta jail radically changed his life. Over one-hundred inmates and guards accepted Christ as their Savior. One of the female guards asked them why they were willing to go to jail. Bill answered, “The unborn children belong to God. He has a purpose for their lives, and the children have a right to live and fulfill that purpose.” The guard burst into tears. She was pregnant and planned to have an abortion.
While the authorities debated what to do with the pastors, they sent them to the hundred-year-old Hero Prison Farm. The buildings had no air conditioning or screens on the windows to keep bugs out. Roaches scurried across a makeshift altar as the pastors held a communion service with bread and water. They wept and repented for allowing the nation to slip into an immoral abyss.
As Bill awaited his fate for participating in civil disobedience, fear overwhelmed him. He remembered Jesus’ words as he marched into the courtroom with the other pastors, “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say” (Luke 12:11-12). The scripture comforted Bill and dispelled his fear.
The African American judge questioned several of the pastors and then turned his attention to Bill. “Where did you meet these men?”
“I met them in the same cell block Martin Luther King was in,” said Bill.
“What’s that got to do with anything?” demanded the judge.
“Sir, if he had not laid down his life for your rights, you would be cleaning this court instead of sitting in judgment.”
The judge was silent for a moment and then brought his gavel down with a thud. “Case dismissed.”
In the summer of 1991, Bill participated in the Summer of Mercy sponsored by Operation Rescue and Operation Save America. Dr. George Tiller had sent a letter to doctors all over the country advertising his late-term abortion services. He had developed a method called MOLD, which produced, according to Tiller, “a normal, safe, natural miscarriage.” Tiller killed the baby by injecting digoxin into the baby’s heart. He used Laminaria to dilate the cervix and then induced labor. Mothers of the dead babies could cuddle their aborted child to aid them in the grieving process. Then the bodies of the babies were thrown into an incinerator.
Bill was one of the forty thousand people who traveled to Wichita, Kansas, to protest the barbaric practice. “When Tiller turned on the incinerator, the ashes of those babies would settle all over us,” said Bill, “on our bodies, on our Bibles. We planned to block the entrance while another group created a diversion by sitting in the street. The rest would go over the fence that surrounded the clinic. One leader told us we would only incur a twenty-five dollar fine, but I’d been in it long enough to know this wasn’t a twenty-five dollar offense.”
Federal marshals arrested Bill, charged him with a felony, and incarcerated him until he could post a $10,000 bond. A Louisiana pastor arrived a week later and bailed the pastors out of jail.
The protest in Wichita concluded on August 25, 1991, with a rally at Cessna Stadium. Thirty-five thousand people attended the “Hope for the Heartland” rally. Pro-life activists continued to lead similar campaigns of protest and blockade in other cities until 1994. With support from Kansas senator Bob Dole, Congress passed the Federal Access to Clinics Entrances (FACE) law. The FACE law carried a federal fine of $1,000 and one year in jail for the first offense. The $10,000 fine and ten years in jail for the second offense persuaded many to abandon the campaign against abortion.
Bill continued the fight against abortion but adjusted its tactics to be more gentle and kind. From a public sidewalk, he challenges the people in the clinic to search their hearts. Then Bill and his team take turns repenting for their own sins and praying that God would grant repentance to the employees within. They offer women entering clinics names of pro-life doctors and the locations of free pro-life clinics.