I recorded a video for a local prolife gathering commentating on the closure of Lovejoy Surgicenter, a Portland abortion clinic that played a huge part in my life and in the history of our ministry. I hope this encourages you as you follow God’s leading in your own life. You can watch the video below or read the lightly edited transcript that follows. (See also an interview Kathy Norquist and I did about the clinic’s closure.)
I was asked to share some thoughts and memories related to the Lovejoy SurgiCenter where, it’s fair to say, more babies were killed than anywhere else in the history of the state of Oregon. If any place ever deserved to be closed, it was surely Lovejoy. I think of all the prayers and actions of God’s faithful people over the years, many of whom did far more than I did. And yes, there are still abortions and there’s the new Lilith Clinic—so the battle is not over in Portland or anywhere else—but there was only one Lovejoy clinic and now it is closed, and that is reason for great rejoicing.
I’ve always been struck by the irony of the name “Lovejoy.” Galatians 5 says, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace…” Of course, the clinic was named after the street, and the street was named after a co-founder of the city of Portland. But the dark irony was that there was no love or joy in that place, only evil and profound sorrow. I remember the women wearing sunglasses, even on rainy days, to hide the tears after their abortions, or sometimes wearing them as they came into the clinic.
Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness.” That darkness won’t be eternal; it’s limited to this present time of evil.
In 1988 I went to an Advocates for Life meeting to learn more about rescuing. It wasn’t that I wanted to do it; rather, I wanted to do what God wanted me to do. Many of us were like that—reluctant converts to this radical and costly thing. I talked to my fellow pastors and elders and told them I thought God was leading me to this peaceful civil disobedience to save the lives of babies. To their credit, though the idea wasn’t an attractive one, they said if I believed God was leading me to do it, I should go ahead. I felt very alone until I shared with Ron Norquist, and he said he wanted to join me. He was a friend who sticks closer than a brother—and not just a friend to me, but a friend to the unborn and a friend of God. Eventually Ron and Kathy would pay a much higher price than almost any of us did.
Lovejoy was really a modern equivalent to the altar of the false god Moloch to whom children were sacrificed. Leviticus 18:21 says, “You shall not give any of your children to offer them to Molech, and so profane the name of your God: I am the LORD.”
At times the darkness at Lovejoy (and other abortion clinics too, but especially that one) was palpable, as if you were standing on the outskirts of hell. There was some light there, but it was on the outside. One man, Doc Hite, was out there until he was 99, in a wheelchair, still holding a sign saying, “Stop murder. Stop abortion. Save the children. Please give him or her to us for adoption.” The sign Doc held gave a phone number for abortion-bound women to call.
In a courtroom in February of 1993, I was sitting near Doc Hite when a Lovejoy employee falsely accused him of all kinds of vile things, and I remember tears coming down Doc’s face as he listened to what they said about him. I thought, when you kill babies for a living, lying about a kind old man is no big deal.
Nanci and I were just talking about a peaceful protest (not a rescue but a legal protest) at Lovejoy when our daughters were eight and ten. We were standing across the street from the clinic holding three large beautiful intrauterine photographs of live unborn children—not aborted babies, but one in each trimester. I remember it like it was yesterday. A black limo slowed down around the corner, and the man in the passenger seat looked at us with obvious scorn. When he was no more than four or five feet away, he lifted his hand and made an emphatic obscene gesture to my little girls and my wife and me. That man, believe it or not, was the mayor of Portland, Bud Clark. It’s not speculation on my part. Everyone on that corner immediately recognized him.
If I wrote in a novel that the mayor of a major U.S. city (or any city!) did that to two young children, the editor would say, “That’s over the top. It’s too unbelievable.” But we actually saw it happen. How could the mayor of Portland be so dedicated to the idea of killing unborn children that he would make a vile gesture to born children who were opposing it? The answer is, only under the influence of Satan, who hates children and murders them. Jesus said, “You belong to your father the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him, and when he lies, he speaks his native language for he’s a liar and the father of lies.”
There were many ways our sovereign God used the rescue movement in Portland. Kathy Norquist put it this way in an interview for our ministry blog: “I wouldn’t trade those years for anything. God was with us and He was at work.” I think of Romans 8:28, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love him, to those who are called according to his purpose.”
I vividly remember the holding cells where those of us arrested for rescuing spent hours and prayed and sang worship songs together. They were the ultimate opportunities for evangelism—we literally had a captive audience! Guys wanted to move away from those crazy Christians but had nowhere to go. Others were drawn toward the gospel.
My wife Nanci did sidewalk counseling at Lovejoy every Friday for several years, approaching women who came to the clinic for abortions and giving them one last opportunity to see the truth and rescue the lives of their unborn children. That was a much tougher than rescuing. It was hard for her, but I will always respect her for doing such a thankless job. She had many conversations with clinic employees and Doc Hite as well. There was much to pray about, but the heaviness, the darkness, the weight took a toll on her, and it’s taken a toll on many over the years who continued to minister there.
I remember one time my daughters had been at the clinic with us, and it was a peaceful day with no incidents, no yelling, no excessive force by police. The next day, I looked at The Oregonian to see how much of the coverage was wrong this time. It talked about protesters yelling at women and pushing and shoving them. I handed it to my daughter Karina who was 10 or 11 at the time and asked her to read it and tell me what she thought. She read it and started crying, saying, “Dad, that isn’t what happened! I was there!” What an introduction to media bias.
I remember Judge Ellis, who presided over the Lovejoy trial. I saw that he died in 2020 at the age of 90, and I hope he came to Christ and that we’ll see him in Heaven. I saw a write up on him saying he was fair, impartial, and completely courteous to everyone who appeared in his courtroom. Sadly, that’s not what we who were there in that courtroom in February 1993 remember. Tom Baker, who was then senior pastor of Portland Four Square Church, was on the witness stand. He didn’t rescue but testified to the behavior of those of us who did because he was there a number of times. Suddenly Judge Ellis put down his newspaper he had been reading throughout the trial (I think sending the message to the jury to not listen to what these people had to say). He started yelling at Tom, who was very mild-mannered. I was shocked—I’d never heard of a judge yelling at a witness, and Tom was the last person who deserved to be yelled at. I remember the utter disbelief on Tom’s face.
That night I called Frank Peretti, who’s a good friend, and said, “Frank, this day in court was like pages out of your novels This Present Darkness or Piercing the Darkness. But if you put the specifics into your book, nobody would believe it because it was so over the top!”
The Lovejoy employees lied about us under oath. I thought of 1 Peter 2:23 where it says Jesus committed Himself to Him who judges justly, and it reminded me that God is our ultimate Judge, so we don’t have to be intimidated by what people say. God’s evaluation of our lives is what matters. A human judge or jury do not have ultimate power over us, only the Audience of One.
I’ll never forget getting a call the night before the big Lovejoy trial from our attorney Bill Bailey. He said, “Randy, Lovejoy wants to drop you from the lawsuit.” I said, “Why would they drop me?” He said, “Maybe because you have a platform and you’re in a position to make some public statements they don’t want you to be able to make.” He went on to explain that because they dropped me from the case so late, I had to agree with their decision. Of course, Bill said, anyone with a brain would say, “Sure, drop me and save me a lot of hassle.”
I sat down with my wife and daughters and asked them what they thought we should do. My daughter Karina said, “Dad, I think if the abortion clinic wants you off the case, God wants you on it.” Now, it was a time of possible substantial sacrifice for our family, and the girls knew it was a possibility we could lose our house and they may not be able to go to their private school anymore because we won’t be able to afford it. But Nanci and I saw the hearts of our children, and they were beautiful. (Ultimately, we didn’t end up losing our home, and God provided for the girls’ schooling through an anonymous donor.)
I think sometimes of the woman at our church who said to me during the trial, “Do you realize the harm you’re doing to your children and the privileges you’re taking away from them?” I prayed that these girls would come out with better lives in the most important ways and deeper convictions that there are some things worth standing up and sacrificing for.
To finish that thought, and show how God answered those prayers, eight years later when my daughter Angela was a senior in high school, we were riding bikes and saw a brand-new house for sale for $500,000, which was well over twice the cost of any of the other new homes in our area. (Of course, this was 25 plus years ago!) Angela said, “Dad, isn’t this house great? Look at this view and look at the size of it, and the landscaping. It’s so beautiful!” I said, “It is beautiful, isn’t it? You know, if we weren’t giving away the royalties to my books that are going to all those great Christian causes, we’d be able to pay cash for this house from the royalties that came in just in the last year alone.” (It was a good year for royalties!) I asked, “Do you wish we would have done that?” She looked at me, and laughed and said, “Dad, it’s just a house!” I thanked God because I had seen in both our daughters’ lives that God had given them an eternal perspective, and I praise Him that it has continued to this day.
It was like Joseph said to his brothers in Genesis 50:20, “As for you, you meant evil against me but God meant it for good to bring it about that many people should be kept alive as they are today.” Ultimately, Lovejoy did not win. Sure, they won that big court case with a human judge and jury, but that doesn’t matter. The triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—is the ultimate Judge. He’s the true Supreme Court, not nine people in Washington, DC, wearing black robes.
Fast forward thirty years. Some of us became lifelong pro-life advocates. Some of our churches are staunchly pro-life to this day as a result of our involvement in rescuing. We wrote letters and books and preached messages and passed out literature and went into school classrooms to give pro-life presentations. We gave to support pro-life ministries such as the pregnancy resource centers and Oregon Right to Life. They all benefited from what God led us to do. We were just a small part of the battle, and together we each did our part.
Scripture says, “Let us not be weary in well-doing. We will reap in due season if we don’t faint.” We’re told to not lose heart. Yes, Satan hasn’t been thrown into the Lake of Fire yet, but he will be. The end of Lovejoy is a little foreshadowing of that. It’s something to truly thank God for, but also encouragement to redouble our efforts and realize no, the battle’s not over. So let’s do what we can to share Christ and the gospel and bring the pro-life message to others.
I think of Judge Aaron Brown, who died in 2016 at the age of 89. I remember standing before him in that Multnomah County courtroom in 1989, in a trial a few years before the Lovejoy case, surrounded by flash photography, while I shared some remarks quoting Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement. When I wrote my words, I had no idea I would stand before an African-American judge. When I finished, with emotion in his voice, he said, “You know, one day I may join you out on that sidewalk.” (A shocking and risky thing for him to say!) He continued, “But today, I’m a judge and I must find you guilty and sentence you to jail.” I was handcuffed with chains that went around my waist, wrists, and ankles, like a serial killer. I was led out of the courtroom by two armed police officers who escorted me to the jail (they were just doing their job, and I get that). The flash was blinding, and the television news was all around to cover this pastor going to jail. It was profoundly disorienting and a much different experience than anything I’d ever known.
I was strip searched together with a dozen other men. I heard the disdaining comments some of the guards made, and that was my first experience of being really deeply disrespected. I thought of the contempt for the lives of the unborn, and as rescuers we were facing consequences going to jail and had a small taste of that contempt. I remember the nurse who wouldn’t allow me to have a granola bar or something to bring my blood sugar back up. She wouldn’t believe that I was having an insulin reaction as an insulin dependent diabetic, and I wasn’t accustomed to not being believed. I thought, Lord, your people have suffered like this and way more than this throughout the ages. This is just a small taste of it.
Frank Peretti later called me and asked to meet with some prolife advocates in our living room, and he and his wife stayed with us a few days. A dozen of us told our stories. Some of the women had experienced abortions themselves. The focus was on Lovejoy, and the next day I took Frank to Lovejoy so he could see it firsthand. I told him stories as we stood across the street from the building. There was a New Age altar in front of one of the homes across the street, and the owners had placed on it an offering of fresh meat. As we stood there, the clinic owner drove up in her luxury car paid for with the blood of babies, parked in the back, and entered the building right across the street from where we were standing. I won’t describe what she looked like, but let’s just say that day Frank was struck with her evil appearance. In his novel Prophet, Frank used Lovejoy as the basis for the abortion clinic that was a significant part of his storyline. He portrays the web of deception and complicity surrounding legal abortion, and the exploitation of women and the church. That is still a book worth reading!
In closing, I want to point out that many church people today are turning from God. Some are renouncing their faith. It’s the age of deconversion. First Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober minded, be watchful. Your adversary the devil is going around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.”
This time can be very discouraging, especially for those in ministry, including prolife ministry. But remember the faithfulness of Jesus, and if you ever doubt His love and question His care, just imagine Jesus holding out His hands in front of you and asking, “Do these look like the hands of a God who does not care?”
Finally, I want to quote some Scripture about God giving His people an eternal reward for faithfully serving Him, and I pray that for the rest of our lives that God has given us, we would be mindful of this. Jesus said, “Whoever gives one of these little ones of mine even a cup of cold water because he's my disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”
In Luke 6 Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil on account of the Son of Man.”
This is happening more and more.
He continues, “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy for great is your reward in heaven. That’s what they did to the prophets.”
Luke 6:35 says, “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.”
In Matthew 25, when God’s people ask Him, “Lord, when did we feed you? When were you thirsty and we gave you something to drink? When were you a stranger and did we welcome you?” He says, “In as much as you did it to the least of these brethren of mine, so you did it to me.”
God bless you and thank you for your efforts on behalf of unborn children, and above all for your devotion to Jesus and your service for Him. As we celebrate the closure of this stronghold of darkness, we look forward to celebrating the final end of evil, and living in the New Heavens and the New Earth where righteousness dwells. There will be no more sin, no more death, no more tears, no more weeping, for God will wipe away the tears from every eye.
These are the final arguments Randy was asked to write for the Lovejoy lawsuit.Browse more prolife articles and resources, as well as see Randy’s books Pro-Choice or Pro-Life: Examining 15 Pro-Choice Claims, Why ProLife? and ProLife Answers to ProChoice Arguments.
Photo by Marco Bianchetti on Unsplash
Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries.