This is not a list of rules or “how-to” advice for praying at an abortion clinic. So far in Hong Kong, it has not been feasible to do sidewalk counselling ministry or to hand out pro-life materials. So, what I’m doing there is really, simply, prayer. I sit or stand outside the building, and read the Bible, and pray for an end to abortion.
Below, I wrote down some of my experiences while praying outside the abortion centre in Wanchai each week during the past month. Some of the stories are meaningful. And some, honestly, are kind of weird.
By the way, as far as I know, I have still never had any conversations with clinic workers or patients. And there are too many people going in and out of this 30-storey building (which is mostly filled with government offices) to know who is there for an abortion. But this FPAHK abortion centre in Wanchai is responsible for at least 3,000 abortions every year. It’s a kind of “ground zero” for abortion in Hong Kong, which is why it’s been at the centre of pro-life prayer efforts in Hong Kong. Overall, my times there are sobering, but also very motivating for pro-life work–for working to build a culture of life.
I took this photo of one person praying in front of the Family Planning Association main office in Wanchai, during the 40 Days for Life campaign in 2017. Some random guys are smoking near the entrance. Everybody else is walking by on the sidewalk.
MARCH 27: Shortly before I arrived at the abortion centre to pray, I read news that a friend from university was on his deathbed. David Szostak was married, had 4 kids, and exhausted every medical possibility for his health condition. In the end, he needed to be taken off life support.
I didn’t know David very well. But he was very joyful and faithful, and he spent much of his short life working in pro-life ministry. I’ve cried in front of an abortion clinic for a lot of different reasons. But this was something different.
A friend had offered to pass on notes of prayer and encouragement while David Szostak was on his deathbed. I wrote this note while I was in front of the abortion centre.
APRIL 3: While praying in Wanchai, I couldn’t help but think of Ching Ming Festival (April 4), when people go to cemeteries to clean family graves and burn incense. The ashes in the air always make me sick.
Afterwards, I saw a very weak old man in a wheelchair, with old grey scabs on his head (strangely, the scabs looked like ashes). He needed help being pushed in his wheelchair, and I helped him into a government building lift in Wanchai. Two hours later, I saw him again, and he probably didn’t even recognise me, since his head was bent down so far. He needed help to go home. He was mentally ill and didn’t want to talk much. But he let me push him back to his home. His home was a large mattress and a few bags inside of a subway (an underground walkway). It’s right beside the Happy Valley Racecourse, across the road from the Hong Kong Cemeteries and Crematoria Office. Dozens of poor and mentally disabled people live right there, in that little network of subways. I know there are many NGOs and Christian groups that try to help these people, but they want to live there. It’s so sad.
Dozens of street sleepers are living underground, right between the Happy Valley Racecourse and the Hong Kong Cemetery.
APRIL 10: There was a window-washing gondola near the top of the Southorn Centre office building. So, the street level entrance for the Family Planning Association was zoned off with yellow caution tape. And that meant that I needed to stand a bit away from the building, on the sidewalk. The yellow tape was supposed to keep pedestrians from standing near the building, because of the possibility of something falling off the gondola and hitting them. But there was a section that was not taped off, so that people could continue walking in and out of the FPAHK office. This is the main office, where people can get health exams, contraceptives, etc. It’s also where people can get the morning after pill, as well as book abortion appointments.
The gondola overhead was an obvious safety concern, so nobody was allowed near this part of the building–except for the people who were going in and out for their reproductive health appointments. It was so weird that their safety didn’t seem as important.
APRIL 17: I prayed and read the Bible. Honestly, I was very distracted for most of my time there, but I finished praying, and left. Three hours later, I got a WhatsApp message, about a couple I’d met recently. They had just experienced a miscarriage. After so much joy, now there was so much pain.
And I thought of all the women who chose abortion–or who were told that they had no other choice. And I thought of all the people that would be willing to do anything–even to adopt if necessary–if it would make a difference for someone who is planning to get an abortion.
APRIL 24: Nothing really unusual happened this morning. But a bird landed right beside me, and walked around busily less than a metre away from me. I’ve been to this spot so many times, but I don’t remember that happening before.
I thought he was looking for food, because pedestrians had thrown leftovers in some bushes there. But he was actually looking for nesting material. After about 2 minutes of searching, the pigeon found a very long, strong twig, and carefully flew off. He was doing his best to build a space for his babies, because that’s what pigeons do.
(Stock photo from depositphotos.com)
“Look at all the birds—do you think they worry about their existence? They don’t plant or reap or store up food, yet your heavenly Father provides them each with food. Aren’t you much more valuable to your Father than they?” (Matthew 6:26, The Passion Translation)
Recently, some people asked me if I would be leading the March for Life again this year. They hadn’t gotten the update that I wouldn’t be able to lead any big pro-life event this year.
Honestly, even a simple weekly prayer time is not easy. But I decided to continue going weekly, for a short period of two months. My goal in this season is to remember the basics of what pro-life ministry is about, and the lives that are at stake.