Missouri Baptists morun, pray, protest Illinois ‘death camp’
By Allen Palmeri
May 11, 2004
|Singing hymns at the gates of hell, antiseptically referred to as the abortion clinic, is an important piece of a kingdom strategy to conquer abortion.|
GRANITE CITY, Ill. — In a cold, steady rain that made the industrial sights and smells of Granite City, Ill., seem all the more depressing, an army of watchmen made up largely of Missouri Baptists came to wage spiritual warfare on the Hope Clinic for Women abortion mill.
About 90 saints prayed, sang hymns, marched around the building and carried bold pro-life signs April 24. More than 60 were Missouri Baptists who were mustered to the front lines by Steve Smith of Focus on Missions, a St. Louis area-based organization that facilitates short-term mission trips. Smith is a member of Heartland Baptist Church, Oakville.
“I wish we would have been involved sooner,” said Smith’s wife, Judy, upon arriving at the mill at 8 a.m.
Heartland Baptist Church and First Baptist Church, Arnold, led the charge, with Florissant Valley Baptist Church and Garden Baptist Church, Overland, providing reinforcements. Many got a taste of what it is like to do battle with demonic activity. Pastor Ronn Brooks of Florissant Valley Baptist Church was among that number of first-time combatants.
“Frankly, this is really, really hard for me,” Brooks said. “I felt an incredible pall come over me. All I can liken it to is some of the feelings I felt watching films about the (Nazi) concentration camps—the death camps in World War II.
“My heart’s just broken. I’d always felt like I felt strongly about it, but today has kind of made that even stronger. I just sense the Lord is just brokenhearted over what’s going on in this place.”
Granite City is known as a magnet for abortions. Minors from all of the surrounding states – Missouri, Wisconsin, Iowa, Kentucky and Indiana – pour into the clinic to abort their babies. All of those states have laws that require parental consent, but Illinois does not, which means that abortion has become big business in Granite City.
More than 366,000 babies have died in Granite City since 1974, including 130,000 in the last decade at the so-called Hope Clinic.
“The name in itself is an incredible oxymoron because there’s no hope here,” said John Daly, 35, a layman at Heartland Baptist Church who works closely with Pastor Darren Casper to rally the congregation to the front lines. Heartland regularly organizes protests at the dreadful facility.
“Pastors have to set the example by leading,” said Casper, his head shielded by an umbrella as he stood in the pouring rain. “When the people see you doing it, they’ll follow you.”
Smith was concerned about the preparation of first-time participants, so he emailed them a document on spiritual warfare written by Rob Sanazaro, a Heartland member who specializes in intercessory prayer. Sanazaro ducked out of the rain to report that the group, including several who were of high school age, was holding up well under fire.
“I think people are getting a better understanding that it’s in the heavenly realms,” Sanazaro said. “We’re fighting above this place. We have to ask God to take away the authority that’s been given over this place and for Him to cut at the very root of the life of this place, which is money. What is the force that drives this place? What keeps it going? Of course, it’s evil, and its root is money, so we ask God to sever that root.
“This morning I was praying, and God just gave me the parable of Jesus cursing the fig tree. This place is a temple of death, so we have the power of God to really, in effect, curse this place and cause death—not to the people, but to this operation. As I talk to the people, I think they know it. You have two sets of people. I think you have those who are praying over the spiritual powers of this place, and then I think you have people who are trying to minister to the people coming in. It’s a good combination. So we’re all growing and we’re all learning, and I think this is a powerful thing.”
Brian Lawrence, youth missions coordinator, First Baptist Church, Arnold, brought 13 youths. Twelve were first-timers. Kelly Weber, 17, spoke for the Heartland youth group which turned out, like the Arnold teens, in adverse weather conditions because they wanted to “stand in the gap.”
“I think if we waited for the ideal time we may never do it,” Weber said.
The reinforcements breathed new life into Angela and Daniel Michael, who are called to a full-time ministry at the Granite City clinic with an organization called Small Victories. Since January 2000, the Michaels have recorded more than 930 “saves,” or mothers who have seen the pro-life forces and changed their minds about killing their babies. The Michaels have been so encouraged by the regular participation of Heartland in the rescuing ministry that they are now attending the church. On April 29 they held a banquet at Heartland to give people more of an idea of what they do. A chronicle of their daily effort to rescue babies can be read at http://www.operationsaveamerica.org/streets/il/gc2004-2nd-quarter.htm.
Angela Michael credited the large Missouri Baptist presence on April 24 with the one save that day when a woman decided to keep her baby.
When asked what she would like to say to 600,000 Southern Baptists in Missouri, she responded with a “God bless you. I encourage Missouri Baptists and I invite them to stand outside these gates. We see many covenant children going in here, and it speaks volumes. That’s why we’re encouraging the church to come stand out here, because abortion exists because the church allows it to exist, and when the church of Jesus Christ says, ‘That’s it, no more, we’ve had enough,’ we can bring these walls down.”
Michael said abortion is preeminently a Gospel issue. By that she means the solution will not come through the primary means of education, politics, economics or compassion. The “seed of the serpent” is battling the “seed of the woman” (Genesis 3:15). Only the church of Jesus Christ can crush the head of the serpent, she said.
“I can’t imagine much more important work than what they are doing,” said Sen. John Loudon, R-Ballwin and a member of Ballwin Baptist Church. A pro-life bill sponsored by Loudon in the state Senate would save approximately 800 lives annually at the Granite City abortion mill, but it has been bogged down in the legislative process for much of the spring.
“Every life is precious,” Loudon said. “If they can save one, that’s awesome.”
When you come to Granite City, the life you help save may be a Missouri Baptist. Brooks, the pastor from Florissant Valley Baptist Church, said he watched one man share Christ with someone going into the abortion mill who told him, ‘No thank you, we already have a home church.’
“I wonder how many from Missouri Baptist churches are driving across the border taking their daughters and their girlfriends and having their babies killed?” Brooks said.
When a group of Missouri Baptists can go to Granite City on a day like April 24 and report to their home churches that a baby was saved, the kingdom is advanced, participants say. Cathy Westwood of Heartland Baptist Church has been coming to the mill for two years. Every “save” she sees blesses her.
“It’s just such a thrill,” Westwood said. “You’re just rejoicing. They’ll come out, and they’re usually crying. They’ll say, ‘We couldn’t do it,’ or ‘Thank you for being here,’ or ‘I know it’s a baby,’ or ‘I’m glad you said what you said.’”
Just off a corner of the fortress-like abortion mill structure stood “Brother” John Bailiff, an orator of the Gospel and a regular rescuer. Bailiff prayed in the rain: “Lord, you can change this place into a revival center. Blessed be the name of Jesus. God, bring deliverance in this place. God, bring revival. God, bring revival, that Your name would be glorified.”
Lawrence, the youth missions leader from First Arnold, prayed for revival. He circled the building seven times while pleading for the walls to fall down and that women would not kill their babies.
“I’m praying that God would convict their hearts, change their minds,” Lawrence said. “Maybe God will weaken the arms of the surgeons so they can’t perform their duties.”
There are 15 lawsuits against abortionists Yogendra Shah and Al Palmer and the Granite City mill, Michael said. The church needs to keep putting pressure on these “surgeons” through spiritual warfare, she said.
There used to be more than 2,000 abortion clinics in the United States. Now there are 754. The church is making a difference.
“The weakest link in the abortion industry is the abortion mill itself,” Michael said.
Number of Missouri abortions
1998 – 12,751
1999 – 12,600
2000 – 12,292
2001 – 12,266
2002 – 12,250