Public Speaking Dynamics

In my early ministry life, learning post-abortion speaking dynamics occurred through “trial and error” because so few were sharing at the time. God promised that He would touch listeners and establish a new army of healed voices to join my own in sharing about abortion’s devastation. That truly hasn’t happened yet because abortion is such a difficult topic for anyone to share, particularly when it involves sharing a journey through an abortion clinic.

Since I’ve learned a great deal, my purpose in the following pages will be to pass this information along to others who are considering this calling or helping train future speakers. Here are several points that I have learned along the way.

God does the talking

Jesus said in John 15:5 – I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

John also talked about this in John 3:27 and 30 — that, A person can receive only what is given them from heaven and He must become great; I must become less.

In sharing our abortion testimony, we must first understand that our main role is to allow the words of the Holy Spirit to flow through us and not our own.  Only God can move hearts. Jeremiah 1:9 relays this concept beautifully – Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “Now I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations.

 Write it out first

Rarely do I suggest a person read their testimony to an audience. Yet an important first process in preparing to speak is to write out your story to allow you to go over it with a trusted friend. Your goal is to verify that your message will be biblically based and tasteful. For example, listeners can be offended at specific details of illicit sexual relationships!

In addition, details on rape, homosexuality, occult ritualistic abuse, or incest can be too overwhelming for many audiences. Many initial speakers lack the maturity to understand these points. With a trusted friend, you can discuss the content of the talk and then break the written word out into an outline form. This summary can be useful in the public address to prompt you about the points to cover.

Practice, practice, practice!

When the outline is complete, set up several “practice” sessions in front of small groups to help you gain confidence and experience. Recognize that confession to friends can be more difficult than sharing in front of strangers! If possible, videotape these sessions so you can critique your presentation later.

Don’t waste these practice sessions. Set up these sessions in front of individuals who need to be educated on the pain of abortion (i.e., women’s Sunday School class, pregnancy center staff, etc.). Tears are acceptable in a presentation but not to the point where you cannot speak or are overwhelmed with emotion. If you cannot maintain composure throughout the presentation, you may not ready or called to speak for a public audience.

Incorporate scripture, poems, hymns, etc. 

I begin most talks with Jeremiah 31:15, A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping. Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted because her children are no more.

I then compare that Scripture to the pain post-abortive women can feel after abortion. When I share about the remarkable touch of God during my memorial service, I recite a 1961 hymn written by John Peterson entitled “Heaven Came Down.”  

“Heaven came down and glory filled my soul

When at the cross the Savior made me whole

My sins were washed away, and my night was turned to day.

Heaven came down and glory filled my soul”

Other hymns such as “Amazing Grace,” “It is Well With My Soul” and “The Old Rugged Cross” can help the audience understand that those experiencing abortion need evangelism. I’ve heard several women read poems that they wrote for their children which express their feelings beautifully.

Dress up

No matter what the event, I always recommend that the speaker is well dressed. Now this doesn’t mean a $700 suit either! I normally always wear a dress or a suit that is comfortable and of a neutral color. You don’t need to be flashy but it is nice to look your best for giving a testimony of God’s grace. If you don’t have the appropriate attire, try to see if you can borrow something from a friend or visit a high-end thrift store.

 Time constraints

Having a set speaking time is often the most difficult aspect of sharing. Be clear on the amount of time available to you and try to keep within that minimum during practice sessions. Having a clock or watch on the podium is suggested to keep within time requirements. Do not be discouraged if there doesn’t seem to be enough time to share everything. God has a unique way of multiplying minutes like He did loaves and fishes.

Many years ago I was given 90 seconds in three church services to share about the work of Ramah International, educate on post-abortion trauma and offer the hope of healing. The task seemed impossible but it wasn’t up to me. God spoke through me quickly and succinctly.  Afterwards, as my flight was delayed 4 hours, I wondered aloud to God about what could have been accomplished in such a short amount of time? I didn’t receive any answers but felt that He clearly had a plan that I didn’t understand at the moment.

Seven months later I came back to that city to speak for their pregnancy center’s banquet. Afterwards, a woman who had earlier shared a testimony about how her baby was saved from abortion approached me. She asked if I had spoken at a local church several months earlier. I quickly responded, “For about 90 seconds….”

Her response humbled me. She said, “Well, I don’t know how long you spoke but I had an abortion scheduled for the next day. After hearing your story, I couldn’t do it and called this center for help. I think my son is one of ‘your’ babies!”

As I humbly held that baby that God had used my testimony to save, I promised God to never whine about time constraints again! 

Utilize important statistics

Sharing abortion statistics can be a powerful way to emphasize the alarming impact of abortion. Each statistic has to have a definable source or the talk could be discredited. I share statistics from the research arm of Planned Parenthood, The Alan Guttmacher Institute.

Before I give the statement, I make sure the audience understands that Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in the world and I’m using their statistics. Two that are great to include are:

  • “At current rates, 33% of all American women will experience abortion at least once in their lifetimes. Of that 33%, 44% will have multiple abortions.[1]
  • “50 million abortions occur annually around the world.”[2]

God receives all the praise

I am careful to never take credit after speaking but give all glory to God. My heart tells me that once I start accepting praise, the Holy Spirit’s power could be diminished. Should I receive praise through applause, I always point my finger to Heaven and clap along.

When people comment on my bravery or courage in sharing, I’m adamant that I don’t deserve even that credit. I’m just a broken vessel that God has found fit to fix and use! This allows me the peace and enjoyment of God moving through me.

C.S. Lewis put it this way, “In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him!”[3]

 Encouraging listeners to respond

There are two goals in public speaking – generate awareness of the impact of abortion, and reach the wounded with the hope of God’s healing. Understand you will be reaching out to the post-abortive in every audience. These people will be watching everyone around them as they react to your testimony that may be similar to their own. It will amaze these listeners when you are not stoned! This is the perfect point to reach out to them directly and encourage them to seek help.

Here are several things to include in reaching out to these hearts:

  • Make a statement that touches individual’s Here’s an example — “There is no sin that God can’t forgive. It took time in the Word, and the fellowship of a post-abortion bible study group to help me forgive myself.”
  • Relay that abortion touches everyone – not just the mothers and fathers of aborted children. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and future children are also greatly impacted as well as anyone who has participated in an abortion decision.
  • Speak directly to pastors and church leaders about the post-abortive in their congregation – The goal is to educate them on how to reach these wounded hearts. Make a statement like – “While you may not believe this, statistics show that nearly half of all church audiences are post-abortive. Please reach out to our hearts with the unconditional love of Christ. If you preach against abortion, always include a compassionate statement for us so we won’t feel condemned.”
  • Present information on the local abortion recovery program (phone numbers, group start dates, etc.) and offer them your e-mail address for a confidential contact. Some groups put ribbons or flowers on the lapels of the post-abortion ministry leaders for easier identification should someone want to speak afterwards about their involvement in an abortion.

Prepare for the fact that no one may come forward

Post-abortion is a lonely subject. Many are afraid to approach a speaker because they fear “guilt by association.” I have had countless people approach me who proclaim loudly, “I’ve never had an abortion….” Other times I have seen the post-abortive in the audience and watch tears roll down their faces as I share a story similar to their own.

It is a great honor when post-abortive people come to share with me but this is rare. Those faces stay in my heart and I remember them in prayer. The speaker’s primary role is to plant seeds. God may have other people set up along the way to water, fertilize and eventually harvest the souls. It may be eternity before they know God’s fruits of their confession.

Be ready for tough responses

As I share on radio programs that offer call-in comments, I always make sure to be prepared for anything. One day a particularly irate post-abortive woman called in to a national show and detailed how her abortion had benefited her life. Clearly I had touched her point of pain.

After she was finished with her tirade, I simply said, “I’m not here to say that everyone will experience the same pain that I did but at some point in our lives, many of us can come to regret this choice at various levels. If you ever get to that point, please give me a call. I’d be happy to be there for you.

I received numerous e-mails thanking me for my compassionate response to this caller. When I responded, I was sure to inform them that the Holy Spirit responded for me – I’m not that good!

Debrief After the Event

Make sure you have a good friend in the audience to encourage you with a hug and a warm smile after the event. It requires a great deal of energy to share and exhaustion usually results. It’s wonderful to have someone whom you respect give you added encouragement – especially if you end up sitting alone and no one is approaching you. Most of the time I remember stuff and grimace because, “I should have said that…” Then I’m reminded that God’s message was perfect through my heart as He knew each heart in the audience!

Sharing an abortion rarely involves pride

My former boss, H.B. London, Jr., once sat me down for an important conversation. He said, “You’ve been doing a lot of speaking lately and I’m afraid you are going to be battling pride issues.” He went on to relay that he had struggled during his younger speaking years with this and wanted me to be aware of the possibility.

I thought for a few moments and quietly replied, “When does confessing to taking the life of my own child ever involve pride? It’s humiliating each and every time, H.B.” The expression on his face changed immediately and he sat back and apologized. Yet I have always remembered his point.

While I knew that I wasn’t battling pride issues at that point, any public speaker can struggle with this issue. God is good because He always sends a little bit of humiliation to my heart to keep me focused on Him!

 

[1] “Facts in Brief: Induced Abortion,” The Alan Guttmacher Institute, Washington, DC, January, 2006.”

[2] Ibid.

[3] Reflections on the Psalms, chapter 9, paragraph 6, pp. 96-97.

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