By Rusty Thomas of Operation Rescue/Operation Save America:
Many articles are being written that insist Rescue, as a tactic, "failed." This erroneous claim has even come from men I respect. It's time we examine the truth of these assertions. Jesus said you will know something by its fruit (Matthew 7:16). So what was the fruit of Rescue?
Fruit of Conviction
For the first time, a segment of the Church in America pointed the finger in the right direction. Instead of pointing the finger at the usual suspects- Supreme Court, pro-abortion groups, feminists, politicians- we pointed the finger at ourselves. We, in the Church, were to blame.
We came to understand that although we were citizens of heaven saved by grace, we were still citizens of America. As such, we were culpable for the lawless, brutal act of child sacrifice. The blood was on our hands (Isaiah 1), even though many of us did not participate in an actual abortion. We were corporately guilty for shedding innocent blood. We realized abortion was a national sin bringing national calamity upon us all, Christian and non-Christian alike.
Fruits of Repentance
Recognition of our corporate guilt produced genuine, "heaven-sent" repentance. But we did not stop there. We were determined to bring forth fruits meet for repentance (Matthew 3:8). After we wept over our sin and confessed our failure to love our neighbor as ourselves, we got off of our knees and set our face like flint towards the death camps. Abortion was the sin and crime of murder. Therefore it was at the clinics that we lovingly, peaceably interposed by laying our lives down so that others might live. Rescue was the fruit of our repentance.
Fruit of Revival
With our repentance came revival. The grace, conviction, and power of the Holy Spirit was so strong upon the Rescue community we were able to suffer great affliction and still continue rescuing. We experienced slander, beatings, loss, financial ruin, betrayal, imprisonment, death threats, and tyranny yet we were filled with joy in the midst of these spiritual battles.
The Holy Spirit's presence was so powerful, I believe that if the government had come, pointed guns, and ordered us to move away from the doors or be shot some Rescuers would have died in defense of the preborn. When was the last time the Church had that much conviction? When, in modern times, has the Church suffered for what is good, true, just, righteous, and holy?
Fruit of Reformation
During the time of Rescue, there were close to 80,000 Christians arrested. Yet, there was not one conviction for violence. This makes Rescue the most powerful, peaceful, godly social movement in American history.
Was this a "failure" of which to be ashamed? Or a godly example for today? We celebrate the fact that 15,000 people were arrested during the civil rights struggle. We erected monuments, changed street names, and established holidays to honor the men who fought the good fight.
What is the true legacy and history of Rescue? Thousands of lives were saved. Thousands of souls were birthed into the Kingdom and added to the Church. In fact, God used Rescue to save three people who were arguably the most responsible for ushering in the abortion holocaust- Norma McCorvey the "Jane Roe" of Roe vs. Wade; Dr. Bernard Nathanson, who started the National Abortion Rights Action League and framed the pro-choice narrative; and Sandra Cano, who was duped into being the plaintiff for Doe vs. Bolton, the case that made it "legal" to murder children through the ninth month of pregnancy. All three came to the saving grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ through the gospel witness of Rescue. Is this a failure?
Rescue was used by God to bring the humanity of the preborn baby to the forefront of the American conscience. Rescue was also a "measuring stick" by which to judge the condition of the Church and the condition of the Prolife Movement.
God used Rescue to shut down hundreds of death camps. In fact, Rescue was so effective abortion supporters convinced the federal beast to go after us with draconian laws. The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (F.A.C.E.) were used to crush us. Again, what other Christian ministry or pro-life organization drew the dragon from its lair? The Lord used Rescue to expose the injustice of abortion and the intractable tyranny at the highest levels of power.
What group in the battle for the souls of men, the lives of children, and the future of our blood stained nation can claim the same effectiveness? I am not saying this to boast in Rescue, but, like the Apostle Paul, "I have become a fool in boasting; you have compelled me. For I ought to have been commended by you" (2 Corinthians 12:11).
The charge is that Rescue failed. But one would be hard pressed to prove BIBLICALLY that such repentance was failure. I would argue that repentance, revival, and reformation are biblical definitions of success.
Does this mean we should reignite Rescue in our day? I believe, like most, Rescue as a tactic has come and gone. But no one will ever convince me that Rescue as a Christian witness is failure. Christ's commands us to "love one another" and his admonishment that "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" will never be inferior to the best human strategies to end abortion.