Morse Mill pastor calls for more pro-life unity
By Allen Palmer
July 12, 2005
MORSE MILL – Jim Johnston, pastor of Morse Mill Baptist Church since 1972, said that America needs to resolve her emotionally polarizing moral civil war over life, abortion and embryonic stem cell research.
“I think we need to pull together the pro-life people out of both parties and get them together because this moral issue affects everything,” said Johnston, whose congregation includes Rep. Belinda Harris, D-Ware, chairwoman of the Democrats for Life Caucus. “It’s like throwing a rock in a puddle and the waves go out.”
Johnston, who freely admits he was caught off guard when abortion was legalized in 1973, said America’s churches are desperately ill.
“Our country needs revival,” he said. “Without revival, we’re headed for ruin. God has been very gracious not to send judgment on our nation. Prayer can change things, and if we get revival, and people start praying, that revival’s going to filter out.
“I think if our country’s going to experience revival, there has to be the moral coming together of Christian people. Right now, even among Christians, there is the division between pro-choice and pro-life. “
In 1973, Johnston said that he was so busy ministering in and around the Morse Mill community in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains that he wound up taking the wrong position on Roe v. Wade, the monumental abortion case before the U.S. Supreme Court.
“I didn’t even realize it happened,” he confessed. “I wasn’t listening to the news. I didn’t have time. People in our church said, ‘Well, we think a woman has a right to choose, in the case of rape and incest and so forth.’ And God just kept bringing people to me saying, ‘You know, you need to look at this again.’ They were very gentle, and I became pro-life.
“I’ve had to ask the Lord to forgive me of that. I wasn’t really preaching about being pro-choice or anything, but I really didn’t understand the issue. I told the folks that I had to repent of that and ask God’s forgiveness. I really think it’s wrong to take life. We shouldn’t play God.”
Johnston extends his defense of life to the human embryo, which is at the center of a epic battle concerning job creation and alleged economic benefit to Missouri. None of that matters when a life is taken, the pastor said.
“We used to say life begins at conception, but I believe it begins with the embryo,” he said. “I don’t believe in embryonic stem cell research, because that’s destroying life. Adult stem cell research doesn’t kill anyone. It has been very effective. They can do everything with adult stem cell research that they want to do with the embryonic. That was an education process for me, because of science. Science is making us have to think about things that we hadn’t thought about before.”
“I love this nation. I think God has granted us a position of leadership, but Satan is destroying this nation morally. We can get all of the “conservative” people elected, but if the moral base is gone, what are we going to have? It’s going to be a house of cards that’s going to collapse on itself. So we need people from both parties to come together.
“Am I being naïve thinking it could happen? No, I don’t think so. Prayer is the revolution we need, and I think the rallying point is pro-life.”