Tens of thousands hear that every life is more precious than gold
By John Smeaton, director
Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC)
Between 19 May and 21 July, Reverend Arthur Wood, a member of the SPUC Evangelicals committee, led a nationwide campaign to take the pro-life message to the heart of the Olympic games. SPUC supporters handed out a specially-designed leaflet and held specially-designed placards at the Olympic torch relay in 12 cities in England, Scotland and Wales. Arthur has kindly sent me the following report:
Plymouth, 19 May:
The ones who seemed to be most curious were teenagers, particularly girls. We had some great conversations and I am sure that many of these young people were positively impacted by the information we gave them. Some even wanted to have their photographs taken holding the placards. We did come across a few people who didn’t like what we were doing, but the vast majority who spoke to us were supportive, some even thanking us for standing up for unborn children.
Chester, 29 May:
We managed to distribute in the region of 3,500. The whole day went without hitch and without opposition. Two young people were so moved by what they read in the leaflets that they offered to help us to distribute them.
Stoke, 30 May:
What really stood out to me was the way people readily took the leaflets, with just a small percentage refusing them. Joshua the young Baptist minister decided to venture into the park and remarkably distributed about 1,000 leaflets on his own in the two hours or so that we he was there. In all we managed to give out about 4,000 leaflets and had some very positive conversations.
Aberdeen, 11 June:
We had many positive conversations. In all we managed to hand out in the region of 2500 leaflets which, in view of the restrictions, was excellent. A young lady swore at us, spat at us and shouted at us. She told us that she had had an abortion, and said that she was “pro-choice” and “pro-death”. We met her again later and to our amazement were able to have a friendly chat with her. She was hurting badly from her abortion experience and we have felt compelled to pray for her ever since we met her.
Dundee, 12 June:
We would like to give our thanks to Marysia and the rest of the Dundee team for their stalwart efforts which resulted in the distribution of about 2,300 leaflets despite all the restrictions and the rain. It was very encouraging to have two young ladies in our team who were a great help to us.
Manchester, 23 June:
Aileen had a brilliant conversation with a young couple who claimed to be pagans, but are strongly against abortion. Aileen recalls that: ‘The young lady recounted how she had accompanied a friend to an abortion clinic, and whilst sitting in the waiting room, had become more and more sickened by the numerous women who were there seeking a second or third abortion. For this reason she told me, she was happy to accept the leaflet. On asking the whereabouts of the place, it turned out to be the Hazel Grove clinic, where there is a Saturday morning vigil and where there will be a 40 Days for Life campaign in September.’
Birmingham, 30 June:
Many in the team were young people, students etc. We had very few negative responses to what we were doing in fact many people thanked us. A high proportion of the people who were offered leaflets took one, some stopping to discuss the issue of abortion. A senior police officer went to nearly everyone carrying a placard asking them if they were OK and sharing with some of them that he admired them for what they were doing and agreed with the stance we were making.
Peterborough, 3 July:
The carnival atmosphere was electrifying and great to be a part of. In all in a matter of about just one and a half hours we distributed in the region of 2,300 leaflets. Here as with many other cities the benefits of having a local SPUC branch was obvious. A ready-made team of enthusiastic and passionate pro-lifers made it a joy to work with them.
Cambridge, 7 July:
Quite a few people thanked us for what we were doing. One of the ladies in our team had a conversation with an elderly lady who said that she had had an abortion many years previously. She said that she regretted what she had done and still carried around the burden of it every day. This gave our lady team member the opportunity to speak words of comfort and counsel into this woman’s life, which was much appreciated by her.
Southampton, 14 July:
As the crowds left the evening venue we found ourselves faced with thousands of people pouring out through the only exit, and we were able to give out leaflets at an incredible rate.
Walthamstow, 21 July:
A man who came up to me with his wife, asked me what we were doing, read the leaflet and then asked me if I would pray for them that they would have a child. This I did at their request right there in the street. In all we distributed about 1800 leaflets which was quite good considering that we were limited to handing them out some hours before the torch arrived.
What an amazing opportunity the 70 day journey of the Olympic Torch across the UK gave us to get the pro-life message out to hundreds of thousands of people in a very short time. In all, 140,000 Olympic leaflets were ordered by individuals and SPUC branches to distribute during the 70 days. Of those, approximately 30,000 were distributed directly into the hands of the public by the 12 torch-relay teams in the 12 cities we visited.
This shows that, although the visual presence of a team at each city was what the public and media saw, behind the scenes pro-lifers were faithfully supporting the campaign by sacrificing their time to distribute leaflets in their own communities. We do believe that God will bring much fruit from this campaign. I think the one thing that encouraged us more than any other was to see so many supporters really fired up by simply going into the midst of crowds of people and being able to communicate the pro-life message in such a clear and challenging way.
Editor’s note. This appeared on Mr. Smeaton’s blog.