Much of the work is done ahead for the project. Connection is made with a student prolife group and negotiations are made with the university for security guards and metal barricades (at the University of Tennessee someone had tried to drive his car through the signs almost hitting one of the women working with the project).
So, Bob and I flew to Florida On January 8th and the next day awoke to temperatures in the 20's (brrrr, this is Florida?). The clear southern skies soon warmed up and once the signs were in place on the University of Florida campus, students began to come around to check us out. We had placed smaller signs about a hundred yards out that said "Warning, Genocide Pictures Ahead" which seemed to make people even more curious.
We stood nearby in front of the signs that displayed three pictures. The first was a picture from the Nazi Holocaust showing dead Jewish people stacked up like cord-wood and underneath it the word Ungentile. The next photograph showed a hanging of a black man by a group of white men. Under it was the word Unwhite. The last picture was an enlarged picture of a dime. Draped across it were dismembered arms and legs, the results of a first-trimester abortion. Under it were the words Unborn.
I have never experienced better quantity or quality conversation with people about life issues than I did that week. One freshman co-ed reluctantly took my literature and with genuine disgust in her voice said she was greatly offended by the ugliness of the pictures and the comparison of abortion to the Holocaust and slavery. I agreed they were truly ugly and said "There are similarities, though. In each case an innocent person is being killed. And in each case the victims are dehumanized in order to make their killings acceptable. The Jews were called vermin and insects and black people were said to be nothing more than animals. Pre-born children are called blobs of tissue or pregnancies which can be terminated."
She continued to look at the pictures then argued "but fetuses aren't yet people." "They're not comparable." I paused to let her think.
I love it when the conversation gets to this point because then I get to ask the big question, the foundational question about abortion, certainly one of the most fundamental questions of our age. "When does a person's life begin and deserve protection?"
As she rolled it over in her mind she finally said, "At birth." Asking her "Why?" took us into a discussion about babies and personhood and death and life and eventually her life.
Connections like this were made with students, faculty, administration and campus workers throughout the week. Questions about life often lead to questions about eternal life and I was able to share the gospel with four different students during our week in Florida.
In the early 1800's, William Wilberforce, a British parliamentarian, would periodically reach under his chair while in session and pull out chains, draping them over himself. The rattling of the chains was a forceful reminder of the plight of slaves in the British Empire. It took him twenty years to abolish slavery but he got it done.
God used some rattling of chains at the University of Florida to spread his message of truth.
This article appeared in the Spring 1999 issue of Eternal Perspectives.