The Youth For Life NI Roadshow 2017: An Immensely Important, Powerful and Joyful Celebration of Life
This summer, Youth for Life NI embarked on their third annual pro-life information roadshow from July 26th to August 2nd. The roadshow, which visited a wide variety of towns and cities across the North of Ireland, adopted the theme of ‘Love Life’ this year. The decision to brand our comprehensive summer tour of the North around this simple theme stemmed directly from the positive, life-affirming responses we received in abundance on our previous two summer roadshows back in 2015 and then again in 2016.
There’s so much tangible beauty to be found in loving life while at the same time protecting life from conception to natural death. We wanted to magnify this particular message this summer.
Our upbeat, lively and dynamic team of young activists aged 17-30 embody the ‘Love Life’message effusively.
This year we visited prime Northern locations, Derry city, Armagh, Strabane, Omagh, Enniskillen, Ballymena, Letterkenny, Newry and Ballymena, bringing with us a call to love both mother and child. We also spent the week lobbying for life, filling our bust daily schedules with meetings with a collection of local politicians, some of whom even made the wonderful effort of coming out and helping our team distribute pro-life information and talk to the public.
Although inevitably we will always provoke a mixed reaction from the public when dealing with such a controversial issue, it is truly incredible just how encouraging the overall response to our summer outreach is year on year. This year was no exception. With the media on a constant quest to polarise the abortion issue as much as possible, and with bias rife particularly in recent months, I was slightly apprehensive about the reaction we would receive when we hit the streets.
The National Union of Journalists officially adopts a pro-abortion stance, and therefore, mainstream media outlets are being paid to actively promote an often extreme abortion agenda. A by-product of this is often the blatant demonization of pro-lifers as mean-spirited, overly religious zealots and we were all too aware of this in the lead-up to the roadshow. Yet we were all happy to be united in a targeted mission to bypass the media and share the truth about abortion and an industry which cares only about profit.
This year, our pro-life tour of the North was undoubtedly one of the best weeks I’ve ever had. The seven jam-packed days of pro-life activism were a complete and utter blast, filled with laughs, craic and incredible moments along the way.
Although you may question how doing tough pro-life work which challenges people and makes some wholly uncomfortable, is in any way 'enjoyable', believe me, pro-life outreach offers a reward like no other. It’s illuminating, it’s life-saving and it’s thrilling. There’s no better feeling in the world than knowing you are directly making a difference, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem to you at the time. At the end of the day, we will never know how many people we touched with our message but if we save even one life, it will all have been worth it a thousand times over.
Our pro-life information stall attracted thousands of people throughout the week of the roadshow. We enhanced the display table with colourful signs emblazoned with pro-life slogans and lots of free sweets, a foetal model set, and different packs of pro-life literature. We were beyond proud to stand with our colourful, positive, hand-made signs as people stopped to read them and lingered as they consumed the simple yet hard-hitting messages they carried.
Over 7 days, we gave away almost every piece of literature we had, reaching thousands upon thousands! As ever, we had lots of interesting conversations in towns and cities up and down the North. We did have a few people who went out of their way to tell us things like "I think you should be banned from being here," "it's a woman's right to choose," "how dare you tell me what to do with my body!" and "I can't believe you're showing these disgusting pictures of unborn children in public.” Yet what really stood out in my mind and illuminated the week was the immensely positive reaction we received overall.
Interestingly enough, the majority of the individuals offering the hostile reactions (which were actually few and far between) were not prepared to dialogue in a calm and rational manner; we invited those who reacted adversely to talk further and explain why they held the opinions they did. Yet, this group were not prepared to tease out the topic but were only willing to rush up, say or in many cases shout something, and then run off so as to evade being challenged or listening to a reasoned and clear explanation of why we were there.
It made me wonder, perhaps that’s why those who were aggressive towards us preferred to run off; they knew deep down that the killing of unborn children is indefensible, the "pro-choice" position groundless, and downright dangerous, ultimately the rationalisation of a guilty conscience, and a total refusal to accept responsibility. It’s hard to coherently stand and defend something that is completely incoherent. This thought gave me and the rest of the team the confidence to know that we are standing on the right side of history regarding this issue.
Sadly, I couldn’t help but feel as though most of those aggressive towards us seemed to be women and men who had taken part in an abortion, either having had one or paying for someone else to have one. That realization was heart-breaking, and made me understand just how important it is to pray for these people. With the help of our prayers, God can and will transform their hardened hearts and help them to seek forgiveness and healing in time.
While we were met with some anger and evident distain by some, this was definitely the minority. We also had many people throughout the week who surprised us. One young woman in Letterkenny for instance began a conversation with one of our group saying "Well personally, I believe it’s every woman’s right to choose." The conversation closed with her happily signing one of our ‘Personhood begins at conception’ petitions. This lady ended up profusely rejecting the "pro-choice" position she had held so confidently as false and deceptive. This actually happened repeatedly throughout the week, sometimes twice or more in one day.
Another day, a woman who had paid for her sister’s abortion and was incredibly defensive and disbelieving at first, thanked us sincerely for opening her eyes to the truth. She simply couldn’t believe the litany of horrors which have been unleashed by abortion. She had the same intention as us; compassion, yet, because of the lies of the abortion industry, she did not realise that true compassion derives from protecting the lives of both mother and child.
We are bypassing the media and breaking down old-fashioned stereotypes about pro-lifers. With the pressure to legalise this genocide in Ireland mounting, our team are addressing major misconceptions about abortion. We need to be on the streets day in, day out because after all, who else is going to do it?
By the time you finish reading this blog post, an abortion will have taken place across the water in the UK. As misguided ‘Repeal the 8th’ advocates cry out for the removal of our 8thamendment, let’s remember all those little beating hearts which are being stopped every day by abortion in countries which don’t have life-saving laws like ours. Let’s remember all the women who have been killed in recent years through the same ‘free, safe, legal’ abortion procedure which disenchanted feminists are demanding we bring onto our shores.
I kept these babies and women at the front of my mind over the week, and they were the driving force for every conversation I had. The roadshow also taught me so much more than I could ever have imagined. It galvanised in me a passion to empower others, the unborn child in the womb and the people of Ireland alike, through speaking out fearlessly and publicly. Moreover, it taught me the importance of using compassion to articulate the pro-life message. We not only stood in town centres throughout the week with our posters displaying the reality of abortion for the poor babies killed by abortion. We also stood there for the mothers and fathers affected by the 21st century horror that is abortion.
Yes, you will make mistakes when you step out in public for the very first time to talk about a highly emotive, deeply contentious issue. I know I did. There’s no hiding from the fact that pro-life outreach can be mentally draining, emotionally exhausting and completely overwhelming at times. There were moments on the roadshow when the work ahead seemed to rise up like a mountain before us. Like after meeting an angry woman who’d had an abortion, or after being told to ‘grow up’ because at the age of 20 you couldn’t possibly know what you’re talking about.
However, life’s mountains are supposed to make us grow, bring us out of our comfort zones, and prove to us that we can overcome anything. The difficult people, the awkward moments and the penetrating glares were not pleasant, yet they held their own sense of value. Above all, they had the power within them to transform and improve us. I can vouch safe to say that every single member of our team became a little more equipped and a whole lot more compassionate over the course of the week through countless one-on-one conversations with strangers.
So many people on the street were profoundly happy to see us and we were met with so much more excitement, genuine support and tangible enthusiasm than we ever could have imagined. The complete craic and joy that accompanied us throughout the week was indescribable and bonded the team together powerfully. I can safely say that I have made many incredible like-minded friends for life.
I assure you that through events like the Youth for Life NI roadshow, hearts and minds are being changed every single day.
Through the presence of groups such as Precious Life and Youth for Life, more and more babies are being saved from the atrocity that rips them limb from limb. I’m beyond proud to be part of the most incredibly compassionate, lively, dynamic, and supportive team of young people and will take heart from my incredibly encouraging experience on the roadshow.
I write this blog post not only to promote our annual roadshow but to encourage you to join us; if you are feeling that you cannot speak up about life issues, if you feel that you are the only person out there who wants to see an end to the killing, if you are feeling disheartened; just keep going because there are so many more like you. Speaking out for the unborn and the countless others who are hurt by abortion every single day is certainly not easy at times but it is so worth it. We must stand together not only to keep abortion in Ireland illegal but also unthinkable, and we are certainly not going anywhere.
Interested? Inspired? Please message us directly either on our Youth for Life or Precious Life Facebook page and join us on this wonderful journey to be a voice for the voiceless and a defender of those who are not yet capable of defending themselves. I can vouch safe to say that the joy, fulfillment and friendships you will experience along the way are truly unmissable!