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|An Amazing Prophetic and
African American Perspective on Life, Justice, Intercession, and Today's
William Ford III
The purpose of this article is to give a perspective on abortion through my Christian worldview as an African American. Together, we'll explore history in order to gain greater understanding of what I and others believe we are facing today. You'll see historic prophetic comparisons that are alarming. I'll also share a personal encounter which broke my heart and has profoundly impacted me regarding this issue. My attempt is not to solve all societal ills or address them in this article, and I'm sure others could do better. I'm only a voice. First, let's start by introducing some of the history of God's faithfulness, and the sacrifice of those who've gone before us.
Prayer Bowls Over America
Many have heard the testimony of the great spiritual inheritance representing the prayers of the saints in my family. It is a 200-year-old black kettle pot, which was used by my Christian slave forbearers in Lake Providence, LA. This kettle was used for cooking and washing clothes, but secretly it was used for prayer. My ancestors were forbidden to pray by their slave master, and were beaten unmercifully if found doing so. However, in spite of their master's cruelty, and because of their love for Jesus, they prayed anyway. At night, sneaking into a barn, they carried this cast iron cooking pot into their secret prayer meeting. As others looked out, those inside prayed. Turning this pot upside down on the barn floor, they propped it up with rocks on the edge, which suspended the pot a few inches above the ground. Laying prostrate or kneeling on the ground, they prayed in a whisper underneath the kettle to muffle their voices. The story passed down with the kettle is that they were risking their lives to pray for ensuing generations. While researching for my book "History Makers" (co-authored with Dutch Sheets), I found this story repeated in slave narratives around the country. As slaves were sold across the country they continued these secret prayer gatherings at their new plantations, and the practice of these prayer meetings spread wherever they went.
Whispered Prayers on Earth, Shouts and Loud Cries In Heaven
It is important that we understand the dynamics of what happened in the spirit realm. Revelation 5:8 speaks of "bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints" before the throne of God. Zechariah 14:20b says, "And the cooking pots in the house of the Lord, shall be as the bowls before the altar." These containers caught muffled prayers on earth, just as bowls in heaven caught their prayers as incense. Symbolically, without their knowing it, these vessels became their bowls of intercession. Another interesting dynamic is that, in Revelation 8, when these bowls are released, one of the manifestations upon earth is voices.
Voices For The Voiceless
White Christian abolitionists became voices for the voiceless. Their sermons in public became answers to whispered, private prayers. Along with black Christian abolitionists, like Frederick Douglas and Sojourner Truth, they awakened the conscience of America to the value of human life, equality, and justice. They knew intercession was more than prayer, but also a call to respond to comfort God's heart in obedience, thru whatever assignment or action given by Him. In Hebrews it says that Jesus' prayers were heard because of His obedience, and these intercessors were heard for the same reason. Revelation 8 also says that at some future point, God adds His incense and fire to these prayers, which manifest His judgment or justice on earth. And that is just what He did.
The Supreme Court of Heaven Rules Courts on Earth
In 1857, the Supreme Court passed a law which many felt sealed the fate of enslaved African Americans. The case was Dred v. Scott. The Supreme Court basically said, in a 7 to 2 decision, that slaves were the property of their masters and had no human rights. However, because of prayer and acts of obedience, hearts changed and eventually this demonic decree was broken over America. Like the memorial stones of Joshua's day, our kettle (and others like it), is a shared inheritance and a memorial stone to this generation that reminds us of God's faithfulness to our forefathers -- He Who delivered this nation out of slavery. Had it not been for these remnant intercessors, white and black, this institution would not have ended in America. Justice came, setting slaves free in America, and God's heart was comforted thru prayer and action. Now, our generation is being called into prayer and action today to be voices for the voiceless, releasing justice in our day.
God's Heart over Injustice
Is justice really that important to God? Could He really need comfort? Isaiah 59:15-16 gives us the answer:
"Yes, truth is lacking; and he who turns aside from evil makes himself a prey. Now the Lord saw, and it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice. And He saw that there was no man, and was astonished that there was no one to intercede; then His own arm brought salvation to Him."
Take note of two very important words in these verses: "displeasing" and "astonished." In Hebrew, these words reveal God's heart over injustice. "Displeasing" is the word "raa," which means "to spoil something by breaking or shattering it into pieces." The Hebrew word for astonished is "shamem," which means "to devastate, to amaze, to stun, or to grow numb." Think of it: When the Creator of the universe sees injustice, His heart is broken. He then seeks someone on Earth to share this burden with Him in intercession and bring relief to His heart. When He can't find anyone who is concerned about injustice, He is astonished, stunned, and devastated!
The word "justice" in this verse is "mishpat," which means "a verdict announced judicially," especially a sentence or formal decree. Whether the lack of justice is legalized racist decrees, such as the Dred Scott decision during slavery, or other court injustices, it is God's desire to have intercessors be moved by His heart and, through prayer, release His kingdom justice on Earth. I have experienced what this feels like in intercession.
During one prayer journey (called the Kettle Tour), I had an experience and a depth of travail I'll never forget. I agonizingly wept for more than two hours. While praying and seeking to find out what was happening to me, I heard the Lord say He was sharing with me His heart for America. With intensity I'd never known before, I wept over the pain and division in America. I then heard the Lord speak to me: "If I heard the whispered prayers of slaves underneath cooking pots, how much more do I hear the silent screams of babies being aborted in America."
My heart, like His, was shattered to pieces. In the act of abortion, we kill that for which we once would have died, and spurn what others gave their lives to protect -- the sanctity of human life.
A New Mantle to Break Roe v. Wade
Another unjust decree is upon the nation -- the 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade. In similar form, the Court said that unborn babies are the property of their mothers, and have no human rights. Just as Dred Scott, this decision was passed 7 to 2. The similarities are eerie. In 1857, when people were outraged about the decision, Chief Justice Taney basically said that if people didn't like slavery, they didn't have to participate in it, and that they had no right to force morality on anyone else. In 1973, when people were outraged over Roe v. Wade, Justice Blackmun basically said Americans didn't have to participate in abortion, and that we have no right to impose morality on someone else. Slavery and abortion are both inhumane. So are fleshly attempts to kill abortion doctors, an action similar to some rogue abolitionists, who tried to kill slave-owners.
We haven't learned our lessons from history. Consequently, we're breaking God's heart again.
The Affects of Abortion on African American Community
The statistics regarding the affects of abortion in our communities are staggering. As a race, the affects of abortion on the African American community have been devastating. Racially, our population is on the decline in America. As a whole, millions of African American babies die every year at an alarming rate. Close to 1,500 are aborted every day. Though we only account for 11 percent of the population, more than 30% of all abortions in America are African American babies. Why are these statistics so disproportionately high, especially since blacks as a whole don't support the philosophies of this institution of death?
Is the fact that 70% of all abortion clinics are in minority communities contributing to this holocaust? Maybe it is because the same spirits of death and racism from slavery are attacking us today.
The hurts of fatherlessness, which began during the peculiar institution, has carried over to today. Part of the reason for our pain, of course, is the affects of slavery. This, of course, does not excuse immoral conduct, but does shed some light on the fruit we see manifesting today. Satan's remedy to this has been programs and facilities set up as a means to help and educate; but instead they have imposed alternatives that promote sin and death, showing no hope or future for our children. New technology has uncovered the lies made to us all: It isn't tissue, it's a person.
Humanistic Ideologies of Racism and Death
The person Satan used was Margaret Sanger, whose philosophy of population control began many organizations, including Planned Parenthood. She was a Eugenicist, who believed that blacks and other "lesser strains" of society should be eliminated. She felt the poor of all races were a drain on mankind and these weaker, "dysgenic" people should be eliminated.
Sanger once even said, "Colored people are like weeds, and must be exterminated."
Keeping her motives hidden, she used black clergy during the early to mid 1900s to carry and disguise her message, unbeknownst to them.
Many pastors were outraged and resisted these efforts. However some were blinded by Sanger's charisma, money, and power, and were manipulated by Sanger, thus her plan infiltrated the black community. Though her motives were not exposed in the past, they since have been revealed through her memoirs. Greg Keath, African American leader in the fight to end abortion in America, thoroughly researched her documents in the 80's at Smith College, and what he found was appalling. For example, in a letter dated December 10, 1939 to a board member, Margaret Sanger wrote the following regarding her project, code named The Negro Project: "We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members." As George Grant writes in "The Grand Illusion," "…since minority communities are the primary targets for contraceptive services, Blacks and Hispanics inevitably must bear the brunt of the abortion holocaust." In most communities, abortions among African Americans outstrip births 3 to 1. Our people are truly perishing for lack of knowledge. We've been lied to by the enemy.
A United Church: The Answer
Will ending abortion in America fix the ills in the black community (crime, murder, drug addiction, economic disparity, etc)? Of course not. But can we truly solve any problem in our community while abortion still exists as it is? The answers, of course, lie in the church of Jesus Christ.
The church was the answer during slavery and the civil rights movement. And a new remnant of Christians of all races, working together on this issue, must pray and be voices for the voiceless in our day: the unborn. In Exodus 10:10-12, Pharaoh agrees to let Moses and the older generations go into the Promised Land, but as a concession, he says that the children must stay in Egypt.
Moses could have taken the easy way out. After all, carrying infants and young children on the journey into the Promised Land could have been viewed as burdensome. Moses, however, rejected Pharaoh's compromise, knowing that the future of Israel was in its offspring. The same is true for us today. Our children are not our burden, they are our hope, and we must fight for their future. If not, we forfeit our own voice and existence. Dr. King has been quoted as saying that in the end of our lives, it will not be the memory of hurtful words from our enemies that wound us most, but rather the silence of our friends. As God's friends, we must be voices for the voiceless on this issue, interceding with prayer and action.
A Call to Prayer and Action Today
The angels of Revelation 8 are standing at attention, waiting for us to add our prayers as incense to the cloud of witnesses that have gone before us. No one thought slavery would end in America, but they forget about the praying remnant of cooking pot intercessors and white abolitionists, who reminded God of how He delivered Israel from Egypt. The prayers of this godly remnant broke the power of Dred Scott, and slavery ended in America.
The same God who broke the power of that unjust decree, can break the power of Roe v. Wade. Truly, the commitment of our fathers has become the calling of our time, and this generation has been called for such a time as this to shift the courts in America. The key of justice purchased by the sacrifice of our black forefathers, which shut the door to Dred Scott and Jim Crow segregation laws, must be used today to close the door to Roe v. Wade. We can turn the courts of this nation again. We must pray for changed hearts and righteous judges, who do justice and love mercy to the unborn. Also, we must reach out and pray for healing for those who have had abortions. They don't need pointing fingers, but rather open arms of mercy, compassion, and hope.
Voting is one of your greatest acts of intercession. Many believers sacrificed their lives for this generation's right to vote in this nation. However, millions of Christians of all races in the last presidential election didn't turn out. As ambassadors for Christ, we must show up at the polls! And when we vote, we must vote for candidates who value the sanctity of marriage and are against killing the unborn. There are those who say that you cannot legislate morality. Sadly, these same people don't understand how this same mindset is what kept slavery intact. The purpose of law should be to protect humanity, not destroy it. Legislation should be used as a moral means, and not as part of supporting an immoral end. Vote to protect life.
Let's agree with the prayer of Harriet Beecher Stowe in 1852 during slavery, who cried,
"O, holy church universal, throughout all countries and nations! O ye great cloud of witnesses, of all people and languages and tongues! Differing in many doctrines, but united in crying, 'Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, for he hath redeemed us from all iniquity!' -- awake! -- arise up! -- be not silent! Testify against this heresy of the latter day, which, if it were possible, is deceiving the very elect. Your God, your glory, is slandered. Answer with the voice of many waters and mighty thunderings! Answer with the innumerable multitude in heaven, who cry, day and night, 'Holy, holy, holy! Just and true are thy ways, O king of saints!'"