I have childhood memories of helping my parents set up chairs for the annual life rally at a local school. That was back in the day when public schools still encouraged nonprofit organizations to use their facilities to educate youth on such topics as (Gasp!) respecting each others’ bodies and valuing life at all stages.
I was only in third or fourth grade at the time, but my parents encouraged me to tag along for this day-long event of speakers, food, and fellowship for teenagers. My parents were members of our local Lutherans For Life chapter which supported the event, and together we set up the display of fetal models for viewing, hung signs to direct students to various rooms for breakaway sessions, and decorated the cafeteria with helium balloons. At the time, I was more interested in the balloons than the speakers, but over the years I was exposed to such life issues as human sexuality, caregiving, unplanned pregnancies, abortion, and adoption.
An accident? I think it was intentional parenting. Not only were my dad and mom modeling for me the act of service to my community, but they were also exposing me to the likes of Molly Kelly and Jim Lamb. Formative influences, for sure.
My parents did not stop there. In junior high, they brought me to life chains, conferences, prayer vigils, and pro-life fundraisers such as banquets and community breakfasts. In high school, my mom took me to two national life marches in D.C., and she encouraged me to start a local Teens For Life group at my school. Over the years, my parents showed me how to give of my time, talents, and resources to support local crisis pregnancy centers and other pro-life organizations. They taught me early on my responsibility to my littlest neighbors and showed me ways to advocate for their right to life.
No doubt, my parents’ example lit a fire under me in my childhood that continues to burn into my adult years.
How can we expect our youth today to defend the right to life if we do not teach them what that means? How can we expect them to advocate for the least in the world if we do not show them how?
My parents did that for me. God help us to do that for the next generation.