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Lubbock Baptist stands up for righteousness

The sidewalk counselor:
Lubbock Baptist stands up for righteousness

Southern Baptists of Texas - CROSSROADS • WINTER 2007

By Melissa Deming

It's cold. Dorothy can see her breath crystallize in the morning air as soon as she exhales. She wraps her scarf tighter around her neck and stamps her feet in a bid for warmth. All she has to do is wait. She's done this for the past 15 years – waiting on the sidewalk outside Lubbock's Aaron's Women Clinic to dissuade young women from seeking abortions.

"They are hard pictures to look at, but it's the truth," explains Dorothy Boyett,
a sidewalk counselor in Lubbock, protesting along with Lawrence d'Souza.

From 7:00-7:30 a.m. every Thursday and every other Tuesday morning, women begin to line up on the sidewalk outside the abortion clinic for appointments to terminate their pregnancies. Some have family members or friends with them, and a few boyfriends linger nervously outside. Acting as a sidewalk counselor, Dorothy quickly hands out gospel tracts and pamphlets and shares her testimony with them.   Although not everyone will talk to her or accept her tracts, no one can avoid viewing the large magnetic signs on the side of her parked car. One sign shows the head of an aborted fetus. Next to it is a picture of a healthy, smiling baby.

The pictures are gruesome, but necessary, believes Boyett, a registered nurse and member of Victory Life Baptist Church in Lubbock. “They are hard pictures to look at, but it's the truth,” Boyett said, adding that the clinic terminates pregnancies up to 13 weeks. “After looking at the pictures, some have decided it was a baby after all.”

By 7:30 a.m. most of the women have filed inside the clinic. But Dorothy continues her post, witnessing to husbands and boyfriends in the clinic driveway and even talking to the clinic guards who try to shoo her away. On slow mornings between 8:00-8:45 a.m., Dorothy will make her way over to the nearby high school where she holds the magnetic signs for rush-hour traffic to see. In cold weather, Dorothy will grab a cup of coffee and head back to the clinic as 10:00 a.m. brings a second round of women for appointments.

“Sometimes people will tear up and leave. Sometimes we'll see three in a row come out of the clinic and tell us they aren't going to go through with it,” Boyett said.   Boyett shares her sidewalk post with friend and fellow nurse, Judy Kreller. The two women often reap blessings from their tag-team operation of passing out information and witnessing. One day at work, Boyett said Kreller discovered one of her patients was a girl she talked out of having an abortion. The girl was in the hospital delivering her baby, with her mother beside her.   “They said, ‘We've seen you someplace before. Your voice is so familiar.' And then they said, ‘We know! You were the one who talked us out of an abortion!”   “Recently, another lady came up to me and said I talked her out of [getting an abortion]. She now has a 2-year-old child. She said her baby was born with one arm, but she didn't mind and didn't know what she would do without him.”

Although she doesn't keep exact records, Boyett estimates 30 women decide to keep their babies each year due to their efforts outside of the abortion clinic. “God is the author of life. All our days are written by God, and if [God] decided to take my life tonight that's okay with me. That's in his providence and his plan. No one else has that right,” Boyett said, adding that the sanctity of life also extends to the disabled or people with special needs.

“Everybody has value in their life - whether they are young or old. And what's ‘disabled?' There are people who might not have a lot going for them, but the whole reason for us being here is to glorify God and know God.   So you can bring glory to God with one arm or two arms.”

But Boyett is careful to add that she has other intentions beyond saving babies while standing outside of the abortion clinic.   “I also witness to people. My motivation   is to bring glory to God by obedience and taking a stand for righteousness and against evil in the land.”

In taking a stand for righteousness,   Boyett and her friend, Kreller, have incurred the wrath of clinic personnel, city officials, and the local media. One morning while on duty, Boyett said, the clinic administrator assaulted her.  “She hit me, and they filed a suit against me for blocking the sidewalk. She didn't hurt me, but if I had done that to her it would be all on the news, and I would have been in jail for six months,” Boyett said.   “But that's what we expect. The Bible says people are going to hate you if you are standing up for righteousness sake. You can't start complaining when people throw things at you and say things about you.”

Boyett has been arrested three times in the city of Lubbock for her stand for righteousness.   “We've taken a lot of abuse from the clinic in the past. They figure we aren't going away, so they don't bother us now.   We've had false arrests and at one time, they hosed us down with pipes and sprinklers turning the water up full blast to keep us away.”   In 2003, Boyett and Kreller were arrested after clinic personnel alleged the two women trespassed. The charges were later dropped, but Boyett said she is prepared to rescue more women and children regardless of the consequences.   “If I go on the property during a rescue and go up to the door, then if they came to arrest me that is the price one would pay.

I have been arrested in the past,” the grandmother of seven said.nbsp;  In one such rescue attempt, Boyett recounted the story of a 17-year-old girl who was in tears when she arrived at the clinic for an abortion.   “She had a very strong Christian background, and she didn't want to do it,” Boyett said, who watched the girl walk in and out of the clinic doors several times in indecision. For hours, Boyett pleaded with the girl to keep her baby. “So, the last time she walked into the clinic, we were walking to the door, and I was on their property of course. My heart was breaking for this girl. I knew her name and everything. I begged her not to go in. I was standing on the top step, and then the guard came up and grabbed me by one finger and twisted it around to pull me away.”   The guard called for backup, and Boyett watched the frightened girl walk into the clinic.  “That's when they hauled me off to jail - the one time I stepped on their property. I don't know what happened to her - whether she changed her mind or not. That was the most difficult encounter I've had. I would have put myself in there before she went in.”

Over the years, Boyett says it is normal to see Christians coming in and out of the abortion clinic.   “People think these are wicked women coming to the clinic. But so many people who go in there tell themselves they are Christians, and there are a lot of church goers. They say, ‘God will forgive me',” Boyett said.

“People's consciences are there. They know the difference between right and wrong, but they tell themselves that God will overlook it. They rationalize that they are sending the baby back to God.  They've made a god to suit themselves.

“The problem is most church [goers] and those who say they are Christians go to the clinic, because there is no fear of God. It is kind of old fashioned to fear God. We tend to think of God as our boyfriend or someone who is there for us,” Boyett said. “I explain to the girls or people in the street, God has made a way for us to be forgiven – He doesn't automatically forgive. Without repentance there is no salvation. That's my message to the ladies. It's not a message of condemnation. I was just as guilty before God as they are.”

Taking the message of God's judgment and grace to other locations throughout the city, Boyett also hand out tracts and witnesses at the probation office and the Saturday night hot spot, the Depot District.   “That is my life. If I'm not at work, I'll run home and clean up my house and I'm out on the streets someplace. I like to do that. People think, ‘well, I don't have the gift of evangelism.' But it is not a gift - it is a commandment.”

For those who are not comfortable standing outside of an abortion clinic, Boyett said prayer is also an important aspect to the issue of sanctity of life. Groups from Christian schools will often stand around the clinic praying, while Boyett talks to women and their family members. “People don't even have to get out of their cars.   They can drive by a clinic even when they are closed, park and pray.”   For people desiring a more hands-on approach, Boyett suggested volunteering at a local Crisis Pregnancy Center.   “Crisis Pregnancy Centers are doing a tremendous job. They always need volunteers, help, and money - especially the ones who don't have an ultrasound machine.”

Boyett said she often refers women she meets at her sidewalk post to Crisis Pregnancy Centers, because the centers offer a different environment in which the women can receive counseling.   “Their best weapon is the ultrasound machine. Once the woman sees her baby, you can guarantee she is not going to go back to the clinic [for an abortion],” Boyett said. “If there is no abortion clinic in your town, go help the Crisis Pregnancy Centers because they always need people. Anyone can answer the phone, and anyone can smile and open the door.”

Whether she is praying outside the clinic, handing out brochures, or witnessing, Boyett admits that it is easy to become discouraged.   But regardless of the results, Boyett said she will remain faithful as a sidewalk counselor in Lubbock.  “I'm 60 years old, and I don't know how much time I have left. I want to make it worthwhile. It's not often they say my baby is alive because of you.   Even if no babies were ever saved, you know you are doing what God called you to do,” she said.

“There is an emphasis on results in the church today - how many were in attendance and how many came to worship. We don't have to have a great number. It is just faithfulness. You do what God calls you to do.”