Last week the government (Department of Social Development) and several pro-abortion organisations hosted a five-day international conference with the ominous name of “Abortion and Reproductive Justice: The Unfinished Revolution” at Rhodes University in Grahamstown.
The gathering of 285 delegates from 26 countries, whose “unfinished revolution” is about making legal abortion-on-demand more accessible and socially acceptable all over the world, was arranged without much fanfare, catching pro-lifers slightly off guard. But a number of Christians in Grahamstown and from elsewhere in South Africa who value the sanctity of life, scrambled to make a stand for life during the event.
Out-of-towners included Peter Throp of Value Life, from Cape Town, who parked his “pro-life mobile” which is covered in pro-life slogans and scriptures, outside the conference venue daily, and a five-man team from Family Action SA, who travelled from Ladismith, Western Cape, to pray and protest peacefully outside the venue.
Family Action SA mission
Bernard Tuffin, project manager of Family Action SA filed this report: “The proposed abortion conference in Grahamstown was already attracting attention toward the end of 2017. At the time we sent out some feelers regarding possible protest action, but with the pace of life as it is and so many other issues, it slipped off the radar screen. It was also clearly not being aggressively promoted by the organisers which would have certainly kept it in the public eye! It was then with much concern and misgiving that we suddenly became aware that this abomination was upon us…
“What to do? There are so many Christian organisations in South Africa, but our voices are just not being raised, or perhaps not heard. At moments like this that profound maxim rises up before one — ‘we were not born to fit in, but to stand out!’
“It was with this in mind and the conviction that we could not be idle in the face of the ‘culture of death’ being so brazenly and boldly professed, that on 9 July, a five-man team from Family Action South Africa took the road from Ladysmith to Grahamstown. Their mission: a public rosary rally and peaceful protest against the international “Abortion & Reproductive Justice: The Unfinished Revolution III” Conference being held at Rhodes University from the 8th to the 12th of July.
“The goal of the Family Action SA mission was threefold: to make a public act of reparation to Almighty God for this stain on our land, to pray for the frustration of the conference’s goals and for increased resistance from the various sectors where the abortion lobby is meeting opposition/inertia/rejection. In addition, we sought to pray for the mercy of God upon our country, make the public aware of the seriousness of the conference and give some fraternal support to others in the trenches – in this case notably, Peter Throp of Value Life, who himself had courageously taken the long road (870km) to Grahamstown.
”Hoot for the Unborn’
“Armed with an assortment of classic ‘sidewalk placards’, we sought an ideal spot to be seen and heard! ‘Hoot for the Unborn’, ‘Women Need Love, Not Abortion’, ‘Real Doctors don’t kill Babies’, ‘Abortion stops a Beating Heart’ and ‘Abortion offends God’, were some of our attention-getters.
“We finally established ourselves at a crossroads close to the venue, strategically positioning ourselves with the various placards. We simultaneously unfurled our three-metre wide rosary banner inviting the public to join our prayer effort. We were also joined by Peter for this action.
“The weather was perfect and the response was very encouraging to say the least. The rally lasted for an hour and a half during which time there were over 200 hoots! It is not often that one appreciates and enjoys the discordant sound of hooters! But this was music to the ears!
“In fact, I was encouraged and pleasantly surprised by this unusual manifestation of support for the plight of the unborn. And this was in a time of relatively mild traffic flow… This type of manifestation is common in America but here in South Africa we do not have a culture of such protest action, so it was interesting to gauge the level of support for life – which the media narrative would have us believe to be irrelevant.
Enthusiastic public support
“There were enthusiastic and vibrant reactions of support from passers-by and motorists alike. One lady walked past making a hoot motion with her hand and said: ‘I’m hooting! I agree with you.’
“Towards the end of the rally, a Zimbabwean lady came by and asked if she could take a picture with us. She mentioned that she and her husband were attending the conference, but that she personally was against abortion and her husband (a gynaecologist) was not actually in the business of abortion! It was a good lesson to us not to write off participants per se as sometimes there are circumstances which would place such people actually on our side! It was evident to us that we were also seen and heard by other conference participants.
“There was some opposition of course, but very little in comparison to the support we received. Several people drove past and made rude finger signs, which have become such knee-jerk responses from certain quarters. One woman walked by and having read our ‘Abortion offends God’ sign, said: ‘You offend me.’ A little while later, two young Malawian women engaged one of our party for a good while on the merits of being ‘pro-choice’, after which the respective parties parted ways agreeing to disagree. While our team member was talking with the two women, a man walked up and swore in his face and asked the women if they agreed that we should be thrown off the campus. It was pointed out that we were on a public intersection, after which the man swore again before walking away.
“The SABC was covering the conference and honed in on our banner and posters. They also conducted an interview with us, which was aired the following morning on SABC Morning Live.
“It must be abundantly clear that a lack of respect for the rights and life of the smallest, vulnerable and most defenceless inevitably seeps into the bigger culture and can only cheapen notions of the sanctity of life.
“The joy of publicly manifesting one’s rejection of the ‘culture of death’ and putting action to words was great! We were not many but we were there — standing up for the unborn and making a public act of reparation to Almighty God against a conference promoting those sins which cry out to Him for vengeance…
“One of the stated aims of the conference was to ‘destigmatise’, on the social, political and religious planes, easy and unfettered access to abortion – in other words to change mindsets, cultures, sensibilities; to numb consciences as to the awful reality constituting the ‘termination’ of life in the womb!
“The one encouraging reality is that seemingly, within our own country, our neighbours and indeed our continent (where the family institution is so strongly entrenched in the culture), there exists considerable and profound obstacles to ‘easy access’ – be these from governments, institutions, communities, nurses or doctors…
“Prior to the trip we had sent out an email to thousands of our friends and supporters and we felt palpably the presence of these who joined us in prayer and spirit.
“May this conference — which was very far-reaching in its goals, discussion and scope — goad us into a more spirited and energetic defence of the plight of the unborn. For this we need much courage, determination and prayer! May Almighty God have mercy on us for the violation of His precepts and may He give us the grace to grasp that life — all life, from conception to natural death — is sacred. Without adherence to this basic premise, society will only unravel, leading to total moral collapse and increasing disregard for life – already so clearly evident all around us!”
Peter Throp’s report
Peter Throp filed this report on his mission during which he — assisted by some volunteers — distributed 10 000 pro-life flyers.
“Dear pro-life brothers and sisters,
“I have returned home safely. I would like to share testimony as to my experience during the seven days visit to Grahamstown with the Holy Spirit.
“In November 2017 I was alerted to an evilness that was to be hosted in this community in the form of an international conference, namely ‘End abortion stigma now, unfinished revolution.’
“My observation and reflection is that this infiltration of the ‘death peddlers’ to promote a revolution in the destruction of innocent life, was repelled as it was not well attended.
“I had discerned with our Lord and prayed for guidance since being alerted, and the ‘pull’ to lift up the TRUTH was driven in me by the power of Almighty God. With my dear wife’s support, I left Cape Town for East London to include a visit to my sister, planning to arrive in Grahamstown in time for the 4 days of the conference, on the Saturday. As it happened, the ‘pull’ was so strong that my visit to family was cut short and I arrived in Grahamstown on the Wednesday, 3 days early, thus the pro-life message was present and viewed for a full 7 days.
“The Holy Spirit then brought me to divine meetings with some of His other sheep and now that they were aware of this demonised intrusion, I was privy to seeing the increase in prayer group activity including prayer for my wellbeing. One prayer warrior even made room for me at the ‘Inn’. Praise the lord.
“These prayer warriors were offended at the powers that had brought this evil to town. This prayer activity had power as the message ABORTION IS EVIL was the subject of attack by what is becoming known as intolerant liberals i.e. totalitarians. A local Facebook page was shut down after displaying 160 blasphemous comments. (See attached photo that was posted by someone on said Facebook).
“Shut down by the power of praise to our King.) A read of 2 Chronicles Chapter 32 could be beneficial to people of the Word. Take note of Verse 21. God will not be mocked !
“The age old truth is that ABORTION kills babies. These unique individual lives are all a gift from God made in His image. So is it so difficult for us to apply Genius 6:6 to our present day??
“In conclusion, I was graced to deliver a message and I believe that God has placed a warning on the good people of Grahamstown to raise up and be heard in their disgust that this intrusion of the secular death peddlers should be allowed to infiltrate their hamlet.
“I add that I was allowed to see the positive force of to “ EXPOSE LIES, LIFT UP TRUTH” by the direction of the Holy spirit and I am at a comfortable peace in hope.
“Peter Throp, a messenger who’s only desire is to serve our Lord. Isaiah 5:20.”
A Grahamstown pastor, Buyisile Geelbooi, came to the support of Throp’s mission by helping to distribute several thousand flyers. Asked by Gateway News why he helped with the pro-life campaign he said: “The Bible instructed me.”
A Grahamstown businesswoman who also lent support to Throp — and who did not want her name to be published — had this to say: “I have been fighting this evil [abortion] for many years. I was so humbled by Peter’s passion for the cause. I have distributed most of the tracts and have placed some at the state clinic.
“The conference had one objective, and that is to give women more power to make a decision on their own behalf to terminate pregnancy. They do not believe life starts at conception, therefor the baby or foetus has no rights. I have not heard of many women claiming that they are pregnant with a foetus. Most of us say that we are pregnant and expecting a baby! This is very, very sad indeed.”
Leanne Kelly’s prayer report
Leanne Kelly, who has lived in Grahamstown for 16 years felt compelled to respond to the hosting of the international pro-abortion conference in the city. After considering the most appropriate and effective response, she decided to mobilise a group that would commit to sustained prayer throughout the conference period. This is her report: “I only heard about the conference the week before. It was obviously something that stirs one — especially because it was stated in the media brief that there would be no pro-life representation at all in the conference. It just seemed to me that the conference was a very one-sided affair. And Grahamstown really does pride itself in its liberalism, and is a town of boundary-pushing and boundary-defining — and boundary-destroying. Some of that is a good thing and some isn’t. Some boundaries shouldn’t be broken and when I read about this conference I thought about what the Christian response in the town should be.
“I know from living here a long time that the town has some measure of ‘protest fatigue’ — there are often protests here about all kinds of things…. It was also the university holiday period, meaning campus was going to be very quiet, meaning that any kind of a public protest was going to be even less effective. So in thinking about it, I knew that prayer is always the most effective thing we can do. It is also something we can do without our flesh getting in the way, so we don’t need to be defensive or retaliatory or reactive when we pray…
“So I sent a voice note out to friends who I know are serious about praying and feel the same about the issue of abortion…. I encouraged people to choose slots that spanned every day so we would be covering each day of the conference consistently….
“One of the stories that God brought to mind as I was thinking about what to do was Nehemiah rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem after they had been broken down — and the responsibility placed on people to rebuild the section in front of their own home. And because this conference was happening in our town I felt it would be inexcusable not to take some responsibility for bringing it before God and interceding very intently about the issue.
“…I believe there was enough of a number gathered that it was an effective and a sincere prayer effort by some very unassuming, and humble and faithful saints…
“It was nice to have Peter Throp in town. It certainly raised a lot of hubbub on social media, The Grahamstown social media group was ringing with all kinds of things — most of it pretty insulting and awful, but for the most part I think the Christian responses on the group were good.
[Later when she felt the content of the threads were getting demeaning she reported it to the administrator who wisely removed them.] … Although one feels offended when one reads terribly blasphemous things on a thread like that, I think in the end I was feeling more fearful for the people who were saying them — realising they were speaking out of an incomplete knowledge and no personal revelation of the realness of Jesus. I really felt Jesus’prayer echo in my mind — ‘Father forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.’ … I think we were just praying for mercy as well for those who were saying those things.
“It didn’t feel like a particularly noteworthy thing to me, but one just trusts that these things in the spiritual realm are more significant than we know. God has given us the gift of prayer and He has told us that our prayers avail much — the prayers of a righteous man. And because we understand our righteousness is wholly received from Jesus, we also stand in this amazing hope that our prayers avail much.
“So I really trust that those prayers were like sweet-smelling incense to our Father and they were effective in ways that we will only see one day in eternity — or maybe never see — but I think any acts of obedience and calling out to the one true authority is the most likely to bear fruit.”