'I Asked the Lord to Lead Me'
- June 20, 2023
Members of the Zoe pro-life group were among the students from Moody Bible Institute who participated in the Illinois March for Life event held March 21 in Springfield.
By Nancy Huffine
Lydia’s freshman year at Moody Bible Institute was filled with new experiences, discoveries, adjustments—and one enormous surprise. After arriving in Chicago in August of 2021, Lydia wanted to learn more about Moody’s environs, so she decided to explore the neighborhood around the college. But just four blocks from campus, she stopped.
“I had the blessing of growing up on the mission field in a Muslim country in Southeast Asia where there are no abortion clinics,” Lydia says. “I was walking down LaSalle Boulevard, and I saw Planned Parenthood. I was shocked to see it. I was having a hard time processing that.
“Later that semester after Missions Conference, I decided to go down (to the clinic) and pray. There's a section of clinic with gates, and behind the gates is a trash area. I stood there thinking about what might be in the trash cans and was emotional—bawling over this. I asked the Lord to lead me.”
Answer to prayer
Lydia heard about a small, student-led pro-life group on the Moody campus that had dwindled over the 2020-21 school year. The group was called Zoe, which means “life” in Greek. Lydia recalls, “During COVID, Zoe took a hit. It wasn't doing much. Only one girl was in the group.”
After meeting with Zoe’s only member, Lydia knew she wanted to be part of reviving and rebuilding the group. An Elementary Education major, she became the group’s president during her sophomore year. Slowly, Zoe began to welcome new members, including a new vice president, Jonah, a Children and Family Ministry major from Normal, Illinois.
“I've always been pro-life,” Jonah says. “I wanted to get involved because I saw a lot of people talking about the issue (abortion) but not doing anything about it. There's an abortion clinic a half-mile from Moody! I thought, here's an opportunity for me to help do something.”
Love, serve, educate, advocate
Zoe’s mission statement is three-fold and simple: to love, to serve, and to educate. Lydia explains, “We love in our words, actions, and prayers—never shaming, never condemning, always loving as Jesus loves. We serve by doing what we can to help local pregnancy centers. Last semester we raised almost $1,000 and bought baby items for Caris Pregnancy Counseling and Resource Center.
“We also desire to educate the wider student body on the pro-life stance and engage in conversations with those who are confused or in disagreement. We do this by hosting forums, info lectures, and training sessions.”
Educating other students, even at a Christian school, is an ongoing goal. On February 21, Zoe hosted a forum on campus with the Student Theological Society entitled “Abortion and Christianity.” Expecting about 25 people to attend, Zoe’s leaders were stunned when 150 students showed up.
Zoe also takes a public stand to advocate for unborn children. On March 21, members of Zoe were among 22 Moody students who participated in the Illinois March for Life in Springfield. The students joined over 3,000 marchers in front of the State Capitol.
“It’s so encouraging to know that Zoe isn’t alone in this fight for the voiceless,” Lydia says. “Not only are there many students on campus who are willing to sacrifice their time to take a stand for life but there are thousands of others in Chicago and across the US who are faithful prayer warriors and advocates for the unborn.”
Over the last few semesters, Zoe has expanded from two members to around 20 active participants, each sharing a heart for women experiencing unplanned pregnancies and a love for the unborn. But while Zoe members share a common commitment to the pro-life movement, they often bring unique and differing motivations to the group.
“Some are motivated by their disappointment that the pro-life movement doesn’t always love as Christ loves,” Lydia says. “Others are motivated by their desire to either start or work with a pregnancy center after (graduation from) Moody. Others feel called by God to be actively involved with this work during this season of their life, burdened by the prevalence of abortion in Chicago. And still others are involved because of their desire to share the gospel with the lost.”
Everything Zoe does is purposefully wrapped in and rooted in prayer.
“Working in the pro-life movement can quickly wear you down if it’s ‘left up to you.’ God must be our foundation if we are to keep going,” Lydia says. “That’s why prayer is not only our basis but the main thing we do.”
“Each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoon we go for prayer walks to Planned Parenthood,” Jonah explains. “We meet in the Arch (on campus), have a short devotional, we pray, and then walk down there and divide into groups.”
Outside the abortion clinic, some members of the group will try to talk with women who are entering the facility. Some share the gospel, and some hold a sign that says, “Free Prayer Because Jesus Cares.” All of the group’s interactions come from a place of genuine concern and compassion.
“As we do this,” says Lydia, “we try to come from a loving approach. We try to love the women, meet them in their most vulnerable state, and share the gospel with them. We also try to get them connected to pregnancy resource center materials.”
Right: Moody students pray and offer hope and compassion outside an abortion clinic in Chicago three times a week during the school year.
Encountering enmity, encouragement outside the clinic
Reactions are mixed, both from women who are entering the abortion clinic and from people passing by on the street.
“We’ve gotten occasional pushback in front of the clinic,” Jonah says. “Once the clinic called the police, but when they arrived and saw that we weren't doing anything wrong, they let us continue. People curse at us.”
Lydia is quick to add, “But the Lord blesses us even in those moments. Every time we're there at least one person passing by will stop and pray with us or pray over us and tell us, ‘You're our prayer warriors.’ That's very encouraging.”
Though Zoe members can rationalize the discouragement they sometimes experience from people they encounter outside the abortion clinic, it’s reactions from inside the Christian community that can feel the most disheartening.
“The word I would use is apathetic: ‘We don’t want to think about abortion, so we don’t,’” Lydia says. “When we don’t think about it, we forget about it. A half-mile from our beloved school lies an institution in which dozens of lives are routinely taken on a daily basis. We live ‘down the block’ from an extermination camp, and rarely does anyone blink an eye. The issue is not a lack of pro-life beliefs; the issue is a lack of pro-life passion.”
Called to be passionately pro-life
Lydia, Jonah, and the other members of Zoe remain hopeful as they continue to serve. And they encourage believers to find practical ways to demonstrate the love of Christ and honor the value of human life.
“I don’t think the Lord calls all people to dedicate their lives to the pro-life movement,” Lydia says, “but I do think every Christian is called to be passionately pro-life. Being passionately pro-life means having your eyes open to the women in your workplace, neighborhoods, and spheres of influence who may have an unplanned pregnancy.
“It means knowing exactly where the crisis pregnancy centers are nearest to you and where women can get quick resources. It means giving money to support mothers who are alone and organizations helping pregnant women. It means praying about the unborn, and it means being educated on your pro-life beliefs.”
If all Christians were passionately pro-life, Lydia believes “the pro-abortion movement would soon crumble because there would be no more victims paying their bills. All their prey would have already been seen, pursued, and helped by the passionate pro-life Christians around them.”