On July 11, 2014, the Pro-Life Action League set out on our 15th annual “Face the Truth” Tour, bringing images of the victims of abortion to 24 major intersections across northeast Illinois to expose the brutal reality of this barbaric practice.
In addition to the full-time League staff, we were pleased to have four of National Director Joe Scheidler’s 22 grandchildren on this year’s Tour staff: Nate, Sam and Liza Scheidler and Aaron Miller were an indispensable part of the team.
This year’s tour reached hundreds of thousands of pedestrians and motorists with the truth about abortion, and we distributed over 12,000 pieces of pro-life literature to passersby!
Pro-Life Pastor from Ghana Joins Tour
Rev. Joshua Tay from Ghana [Photo by John Jansen]
The Tour kicked off in the Joliet, Illinois area with a great crew of local volunteers. Tour participants displayed first and second trimester abortion images along with signs showing a baby at 8 weeks gestation in the womb and signs proclaiming the forgiveness available in Jesus.
Rev. Joshua Tay, a pro-life activist and pastor from Ghana joined the Tour’s first day. Rev. Joshua was in town for a pastors’ conference but was thrilled to have the opportunity to connect with League Executive Director Eric Scheidler and discuss how they could partner to spread the pro-life message in Africa.
We were very grateful for a lovely lunch provided by the Knights of Columbus at St. Mary Immaculate Parish in Plainfield, who have provided lunch on our Joliet Face the Truth day for the eighth consecutive year.
Heavy Rain Can’t Stop the Truth
On the morning of the second day of the Tour on Chicago’s north side, we were met with heavy rain. Weather radar made it look as if the downpour would not be long lasting, so Tour staff and volunteers set up our display in the hopes that the rain would soon pass.
Unfortunately, the rain did not pass, but only seemed to get worse as the site went on! But true to form, Face the Truth volunteers were undeterred and held their ground, showing the truth as the rain soaked us all to the skin.
We were also pleased to be joined at that site by missionaries from Crossroads, a pro-life initiative wherein college students walk across the country spreading the pro-life message. Their presence was a great encouragement to all.
Pro-Abortion Opposition Downtown Chicago
After a break for rest and worship on Sunday, the Tour resumed on July 14 and 15 in downtown Chicago. On Monday morning another bout of rain came down at our first site at Daley Plaza, though nothing like the torrential rains from Saturday, and the skies quickly cleared.
Pro-abortion counter-protesters came out for the second two sites of the day, though they numbered only a handful. Holding crudely constructed homemade signs, they attempted to cover up our pictures of abortion victims, though their scant numbers made it impossible for them to silence our message.
At Monday’s final site outside Union Station, a woman stopped in tears before one of our abortion signs. She was visibly pregnant and sidewalk counselor Cathy Mieding encouraged her to speak with League Vice President Ann Scheidler. It came to light that this was the woman’s fourth baby and her husband, and unreliable man to begin with, was angry about the pregnancy.
Ann Scheidler looks up information to help a distressed pregnant woman [Photo by Sam Scheidler]
Ann let the woman tell her story and connected her with assistance from The Women’s Center, a local pregnancy resource center. It was clear that even the opportunity to talk was a great help to her, and the services and support she would receive at the Women’s Center would be an even greater boon.
Ironically, the pro-choice counter-protesters had no interest in helping this woman. In fact, they didn’t even notice her as they danced about waving their signs and distributing free condoms. Instead it was pro-lifers—who are supposedly waging a “war on women”—who were there to offer a listening ear and offer help to this woman in crisis.
Forgiveness for Abortion Offered in Cicero
On Wednesday, at our second site in Cicero, Illinois, a woman approached longtime volunteer Beth Roland, who stood holding a sign depicting Jesus holding an aborted baby, along with the words, “Jesus Forgives and Heals.”
The woman came to Beth in tears and said, “I had an abortion once. Do you think God could ever forgive me?” Beth replied that of course God would forgive her, and told her that His mercy extends to any and every sin if we only ask.
The woman went into a nearby store to do her shopping, but as she exited the store, she came back over to Beth and hugged her, thanking her for talking to her and assuring her that God’s forgiveness was real and available to her!
Cook County Forest Preserve Police Attempt to Stifle Free Speech
Wednesday’s final site took place at an intersection that crossed municipal borders, so each corner was technically in a different jurisdiction. Police from Maywood, one of the cities in question, initially threatened to arrest protesters, but after higher ranking officers were called in, they dialed back their threats and actually proved very helpful in dealing with an irate business owner.
At another of the corners was a park under the jurisdiction of the Cook County Forest Preserve. With only 15 minutes left to go at this site, a forest preserve police officer approached Eric Scheidler telling him that protests were not allowed on forest preserve property, and that, if the volunteers did not move, he would call his sergeant and have them all arrested.
Though Eric made every attempt to work with the officer to address his concerns while protecting our First Amendment rights, the officer was having none of it, telling volunteers individually that they would be arrested if they did not leave immediately.
Fortunately, being in such close proximity to the end of the site, we were able to finish the day with little disruption and exited forest preserve property promptly after wrapping up. Our attorneys are investigating the incident and the legitimacy of the officer’s claims as we believe he was very much in error about the legality of our display. Keep an eye on the League’s website for more on this situation as it develops.
Man Finds Help for Abortion-Minded Friend in Arlington Heights
Our visit to the Northwest suburbs of Chicago on Thursday, July 17 was met with huge crowds, as usual. The faithful pro-lifers in this area always come out in force and this year was no exception! As they have for the past several years, the ladies of the Holy Ghost Ladies Auxiliary at St. Theresa Parish in Palatine provided a fantastic lunch for Tour participants as well.
Eric Scheidler leads volunteers in prayer for a woman considering abortion [Photo by Sam Scheidler]
At the final site of the day in Arlington Heights, Illinois, a man was passing by and stopped to ask for help. A friend of his wife had just informed them that she was planning to have an abortion and he had no idea where to turn for help. He said that passing by our Face the Truth Tour was a sign from God and asked if we had any materials he could share with his wife’s friend.
I was able to give him some brochures for her as well as a copy of the League’s “Sharing the Pro-Life Message” handbook to educate himself on the abortion issue. Another volunteer from the area happened to have his sidewalk counseling literature with him and gave the man information on local pregnancy resource centers where she could find help.
He was so pleased to have found us in his hour of need and shared with me that he had paid for his girlfriend’s abortion many years ago. “They say it doesn’t affect you,” he said, “But it does. I think about it every day.” At the close of the site we offered prayers for the man, his wife and their friend and her baby.
Car Dealer Attempts to Oust Tour on Chicago’s South Side
The next day, at our second site in Oak Lawn, Illinois, the owner of the Webb Chevrolet car dealership came storming out of his business moments after we began to set up the display shouting, “No. Not here. No!” at Tour volunteers.
Webb Chevrolet that attempted to oust the Tour [Photo by Matt Yonke]
I gently explained to him that our signs were on public property and we would not be moving them. He told me he “supported our cause” and that he’d be fine if we did this in front of his house, but it was unacceptable in front of his business.
I informed the man that we would not move unless the police told us to, and he stormed off saying he would call the police. Officers showed up shortly thereafter and affirmed our position, telling the dealership owner that we were indeed within our rights and standing on public property. The man spent the rest of the site standing outside on his phone glaring at Tour volunteers.
Lunch was graciously provided by the Chesna family, longtime supporters and volunteers of the League.
Tour Wraps Up in the Fox Valley
The final day of the 2014 Face the Truth Tour visited sites in Naperville and Aurora, Illinois. We began the day outside Planned Parenthood Aurora, the largest abortion clinic in the Midwest. The League fought an enormous battle to keep this clinic from opening in 2007 and, though it did open, the League continues to protest the facility’s presence to this day as well as maintaining an ongoing prayer and sidewalk counseling presence.
Our second site in Naperville, Illinois was met with very positive reaction, including someone stopping their car and breaking out in applause for the display!
After a final site outside the Fox Valley Mall at one of the busiest intersections in the state, the Tour concluded with a party at Eric Scheidler’s home. It was a great time of fellowship and sharing of stories among activists who had developed a true bond over the course of the Tour.
As the party wound down, we joined together in singing all five verses of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” together. “Battle Hymn” had become the unofficial anthem of this year’s Tour, having been sung at the close of most sites, and in singing it we recommitted ourselves to continue to fight for our country’s soul and for the value of all human life.