Mind Matters, Love Conquers

Written by Ashley Bulthuis, NCLN Summer Intern

Last week NCLN and Advokate joined efforts to co-host our final BC Summer Semester event: training in how to engage others in open, loving conversation, followed  by Clipboarding combined with Student Life Chain. Through our combined efforts, over 40 participants were able to lovingly share the pro-life message with the local community in Abbotsford, showing them that every life is worth living.

Youth from the Gospel Roads Retreat

Our volunteers were primarily composed of high school students in grades 10-12. Most of them were decked out in purple shirts, with the name of their affiliate organization, Gospel Roads, plastered on their backs. These youth joined our event as part of their social justice retreat; the retreat was geared towards helping high school students serve their local community while raising awareness about various social injustices. The students were excited for the opportunity to put their passion for social justice into action as they showed the Abbotsford community that pre-born humans have rights as well!

“Whom you would change, you must first love. And they must know that you love them.”

To help prepare the youth for engaging the community, Joanna, NCLN’s Western Campus Coordinator, presented about the need to speak out in truth and love, sharing the words of Martin Luther King Jr: “Whom you would change, you must first love. And they must know that you love them.”  She shared personal stories of how conveying the pro-life message with a loving, gentle approach is the most effective way to engage our culture. She provided tangible ways the students could put their passion and convictions into action, encouraging them to do all they can to share the truth. As St. Augustine of Hippo said “The truth is like a lion; you don’t have to defend it. Let it loose; it will defend itself.”

Students participating in the Life Chain part of the event

The participants then spent a fruitful hour of activism on the street. Most held Life Chain signs, conveying the messages that “Abortion Hurts Women” and “You’ll never regret loving this much.” Those who more directly engaged passersby through clipboarding carried themselves with great compassion, empathy and courage; they listened patiently to those they were conversing with and responded in a gentle, loving manner, acting as great ambassadors of the message of truth and love. Their enthusiasm bubbled over from their wide smiles and shining eyes and their joy was contagious.

Clipboarders ready for action!

After the event, every single participant enthusiastically said that they would do this again. Educating our minds with pro-life arguments matters, but ultimately, it is love that wins people over.  In the words of Maya Angelou,

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

 

Photo credit: Fr. Jim Zettel, SDB

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4 Things to do NOW to have a Successful Year of Campus Outreach in September

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Summer is here and with it comes a great opportunity to make a difference here and now, as well as to set yourself up for successful

1) Connect with NCLN.

This is a great time to:

  • Talk to your Campus Coordinator about your hopes for next year, so we can help you set and plan to meet your goals.
  • Get NCLN’s help in starting up a new club on campus.
  • Have NCLN Skype into your meeting or a Google hangout with your club members.
  • Remember: Applications for the NCLN Symposium open at the end of June. Talk to NCLN for template fundraising letters and your travel options!

2) Get involved now.

  • Take part in NCLN’s Summer Semester activities. 
  • Join in community pro-life activities (postcarding, Choice Chain, and events run by your local pro-life society! Use the summer as an opportunity to reach out to these local groups and explore what they have to offer!).
    Run a clipboarding event with your friends (it’s easy and – almost – free!) with friends.
  • Give an appeal at your church or have a bake-sale with friends to fundraise money for your club this fall (money to help you attend the NCLN Symposium? hint hint. Applications open at the end of June.).

Being involved now will:

  • Give you more experience in outreach, giving you more confidence and expertise to bring back to your campus in the fall.
  • Help keep pro-life activism as a regular part of your life.The summer shouldn’t change whether or not we’re active as pro-lifers, just where and with whom and how we’re active. Pro-life should be a lifestyle.

3) Connect with your club

Stay in touch over the summer. Start a private FB group for your club members and post updates on the Pro-Life movement, as well as updates about your life, jobs, stories about sharing the pro-life message. Keeping up to date with your club members now will help you work better as a team in the fall!
If you’re in the same geographical area, plan a meeting and social soon for your club members! Debrief from the past year, if you haven’t already, and share hopes and goals for the next year. Plan some ways to be active this summer (see number 2).
Plan a minimum of one meeting/month this summer to help you get the ball rolling for the fall. Even if you don’t live in the same city, you can still connect via Skype or Google Hangouts!

4) Expand your knowledge base.

CCBR’s Pro-Life Classroom has must-read/watch resources, broken down into bite-sized pieces. And consider adding a few books to your summer reading list to help you grow as a leader and as a pro-lifer.

Some of our favourites?

  • The Case for Life, by Scott Klussendorf
  • The Unaborted Socrates, by Peter Kreeft

See a whole list of favourite books by Canada’s Pro-Life leaders here.

Following these 4 tips will get you on a great head start for September!

 

 

 

Photo by Joshua Earle, CCO

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see – think – act

Written by Anastasia Pearse

“The way we view something changes the way we think about that thing, which changes the way we act towards that thing. Therefore, if we change the way people see abortion, then we can change the way they think about abortion, and we can change the way they act towards abortion.”

Yesterday pro-lifers from the Vancouver Lower Mainland had a chance to educate and transform themselves as they explored the pro-life position and how they can be a voice for the voiceless victims in our country. They were able to see the logic of the pro-life position and understand the reality of what this means for the children who are killed through abortion, for the men and women who suffer because of abortion, and for themselves personally who are called to bring about an end to abortion.

Emily Ryznar provided the presentation, equipping pro-lifers to change and save the culture as they reach out as a Voice for the Voiceless.
Emily Mraz provided the presentation, equipping pro-lifers to change and save the culture as they become an active Voice for the Voiceless.

Afterwards, the pro-lifers reached out and impacted the culture through ‘Choice’ Chain.
“A woman standing at the bus stop walked over and thanked us for being there. She said she was pregnant at age 16 and “it’s because of people like you that I have my son today!””

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“A man was riding by on his bike and stopped to talk when I asked him what he thought about abortion. He said that he didn’t think it’s a good thing, but that if a woman was raped it would be okay. I asked him if he thought it’s okay to kill a child because of the crimes of their father and he stopped to think about it, then broke into a great big smile and said “Where do I sign?!” When he left he said, “I totally support your cause!””

Visit NCLN’s Summer Semester page for more information about upcoming pro-life outreach events!

“If more people can see that abortion is a violation of human rights, more people will act to stop it… No injustice has ever been ended by hiding the injustice that happens and covering up the victims.”

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Without Exception

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Written by: Anastasia Pearse

Hopefully most of us haven’t had an occasion where we’ve needed a lifeguard to save the day – that is, to save our lives. But even without such personal experience, we know one thing to be true about lifeguards: if someone calls out in need of help, the lifeguard won’t call back to confirm his or her identity; a lifeguard won’t be checking IDs or going through a list of questions before mounting a rescue to decide if the person’s life is worth saving. Lifeguards are there to save our lives – without exception.  

We also demonstrate the urgency and importance of saving lives when we clear the road for an  ambulance; we know that there are lives at stake, so we indirectly assist those who are directly assisting the vulnerable – without exception. So many of our societal norms and laws are geared towards protecting the lives of the vulnerable. But unfortunately those of us in the pro-life movement know that there is a gaping exception: how society treats pre-born children.

We’ve seen the inconsistencies in the way people act when it comes to the abortion issue, and we’ve heard the many exceptions that are raised. We’ve been confronted with students who are animal rights activists, students who are involved in the blood donor club, medical students, students who volunteer at the local food bank; students who are dedicating their time to saving the lives of others but who speak out against saving those who are most vulnerable in our society – the pre-born. We’ve heard people state they are pro-life, except for the case of rape. Or if the child will have a disability. Or if they will be born into poverty. So many people pride themselves on their dedication to saving the lives of others. But they have exceptions.

As pro-lifers, we see that there are no exceptions when it comes to saving the lives of innocent human beings. We see the dignity of every human being, and so work to uphold and protect them – without exception. This does not end with the pre-born, but also extends to the lives of all who are vulnerable in our society, and to each and every person we speak to on a daily basis. By our words and actions, we need to affirm their value and worth – without exception.

But sometimes exceptions creep in when it comes to our own pro-life activism. How many times have we put conditions on when or where or how we participate in pro-life activities? We will help at the pro-life Outreach Table, except if it’s in a public space where our classmates  may see us. We will attend a pro-life lecture, except if there’s a paper to complete that we’ve been procrastinating on. We will go to a club meeting, except if our friends are having a movie night that we’d prefer to go to. We act as pro-lifers, except when it does not fit into our schedules or comfort zone.

We want you to be pro-life – without exception. To help you be exceptional pro-lifer student leaders who can overcome these exceptions, we are excited to announce our 2015 NCLN Symposium: Without Exception. The Symposium will equip you with the knowledge and tools you need to defend the lives of pre-born children, in spite of the exceptions people may pose to you. It will prepare you to have productive conversations that affirm the dignity of those we speak to – even when we disagree with them. It will give you the strategies, leadership skills, and motivation you need to overcome those exceptions we place on our own pro-life outreach. So join us for an amazing, life-changing weekend! Applications open June 22nd!

As the summer moves forward, consider how you can make a commitment to being an exceptional pro-lifer. Continue to educate yourself on the pro-life position so you can show how each and every human life deserves the right to life. Challenge yourself to fully engage and give yourself to those difficult conversations so you can show those you speak with that their life has value and dignity.  Make a commitment to participate fully in the activities of your pro-life club so you can work alongside your team to share the message on your campus.

We challenge you to be pro-life. Without exception.

For more information about the 2015 Symposium, click here.

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I’m Sick of the March for Life

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Written by Rebecca Richmond

As long as you remember to wear sunscreen, the March for Life can be a lot of fun. At the National March we had gorgeous weather, great speakers, and a large turnout, and it all produced a contagious energy that gives you hope for the movement. Take a look at the smiling faces of the attendees and you can immediately tell that we are a people who love life, and we’re not afraid to share that with the nation and, in particular on that particular day, with our elected representatives.

But I’m sick of marching. I want to go to Ottawa every year to enjoy the tulips and have a reunion with my friends and colleagues. I enjoy the day, but the reality of why we march is sickening. The March is a protest, a public witness to politicians and to the country that there is a (taxpayer funded) human rights violation killing 100,000 Canadians every year.

I’m sick of the March because I’m sick of the injustice.

The March for Life and the dinners, EWTN TV specials and youth conferences that accompany it are only truly good in so far as they propel us back into our communities, our networks, our campuses. These one-day annual events are only truly impactful in so far as they serve as a springboard for local pro-life action that is regular, visible and engaging.

The point of a springboard is to help us reach new heights, but it only works if we choose to jump.

Tens of thousands marched at events across Canada last week, and that is good. And every year, people are impacted and inspired by the March to continue making a difference. That inspiration is a natural effect of the March. But we need to resolve to turn that inspiration into effective and regular action.

Because it’s not enough for tens of thousands to march. It’s not enough to have the largest gathering on Parliament Hill. It’s not enough until each one of the marchers become actively involved AND actively involve others.

What do I mean by actively involved? I don’t mean merely attending events. Attending pro-life events as a passive participant is insufficient; we need to be involved in the active mission of the movement.

1094735_10204669195348244_9006174920356542384_oAre we doing something – whether it’s from an educational, pastoral, cultural or political angle – that is changing hearts and minds and shifting the public consensus?

This action could be through organizations, through campaigns, through meetings and letters to your MP, through how you’re raising your family, through how you’re speaking up in conversations with coworkers and friends – the list goes on.

This is what is going to make our movement start to move. This is what builds a cultural juggernaut that obliterates the political talking points that (repeatedly) proclaim that the abortion debate is closed and/or that this is a woman’s right.

Our social movement is addressing an injustice that does more than discriminate or oppress Canadians – abortion kills.

angelaSo do our own lives and actions reinforce or undermine the pro-life message?

Do our commitments of time, energy and resources communicate to our communities that we are serious about the pro-life cause, that this is an injustice that needs to be addressed with urgency? Do we speak and act as though this issue – that of 300 pre-born children killed daily – is like any other charity…or do we treat it like the emergency it is?

If we aren’t living this way, if our pro-life commitment is largely based on one event a year, then no wonder our politicians don’t take us seriously. If we aren’t living this way, then our fellow Canadians won’t take us seriously either.

Social transformation requires us to have more than pro-life convictions, but also a pro-life lifestyle. And when tens of thousands of Canadians take up that lifestyle of active commitment, then we will hold captive the attention of politicians and, shortly thereafter, the March can become the celebration of a victory rather than the protest of an ongoing injustice.

For the sake of the lives we march for, we should all be sick of marching – but that shouldn’t discourage us. Instead, it should serve as a springboard into a lifestyle of committed action. Then, soon enough, we’ll be in Ottawa to admire the tulips rather than to protest an injustice.
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If you’d like to join our mailing list to receive updates on ways you can get actively involved in reaching campuses and Canadians this summer, send us an e-mail.

Not everyone can work full-time on the front lines of the movement, but you can support this necessary work. Click here to donate to NCLN, making it possible for us to continue reaching campuses and changing Canada. 

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BC SNMAC Tour – A Week in Review

Written by Anastasia Pearse

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2 NCLN Staff Members, 4 Speakers, 5 Days, 7 Campuses and Over 10,000 Students Reached!

I first came into contact with the Silent No More Awareness Campaign (SNMAC) in 2009 when I attended the NCLN Symposium in Toronto. I was moved to tears by the story of Angelina Steenstra, National Director of the Campaign in Canada, shared with us. The circumstances that led to her abortion, the regret and pain that followed, and her journey to healing opened my eyes in a new way to the pain that so many students on our university campuses feel because of abortion. With our age demographic – that of university students – undergoing the most abortions, it was clear that this message is so needed on Canadian campuses. But with our club in Victoria, it seemed too difficult to bring the campaign to campus. 

photo 2 (1)The next year, an NCLN staff member based out of Vancouver coordinated a tour of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign to several British Columbian campuses. My club in Victoria jumped at the chance to have them on campus and I saw firsthand the impact that the testimonials of the speakers had on students.

Now, several years later, as an NCLN staff member, I was determined to help bring the campaign once again to campuses in BC. After months of planning, we had seven campus groups on board, four speakers confirmed, and pleasant weather in the forecast, and I was ready for a fruitful week of sharing the campaign.  But even from the very first day, I could tell this was more than fruitful: it was life-changing.

On their campuses, the clubs booked outdoor space in high traffic areas. We reached students through our resource tables as well as through posters stating “Women Do Regret Abortion,” “Men Regret Lost Fatherhood,” and “A Pregnant Woman Needs Support, Not Abortion.” The speakers shared their stories of abortion and their journeys of healing through a sound system, helping extend the reach of their message. Students walking by would stop to listen: sometimes they paused for a moment, sometimes for a minute, and often for the entire presentation. Club members, as well as myself and my colleague Kathleen Dunn, were on hand to distribute information as well as engage with our peers in conversation.

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Some students, after hearing the message and talking to one of us, left with resources in hand, seeking to give them to people they knew who had experienced abortion, or to use themselves as they started on a path to healing. We saw lives transformed in front of us with women breaking their silence about their abortion stories – one woman after 50 years – and leaving with a sense of hope. We estimate that we reached over 10,000 students in those 5 days, not including those who encountered the message through student newspaper coverage, discussions in their classrooms, and social media discussion.

The campaign’s impact also extended to the pro-life students and to the speakers themselves. The pro-life students saw the reach the campaign had and were even more convicted and encouraged to be active in sharing the pro-life message. The speakers shared their testimonies multiple times over the 5 days, but by the end of the week felt more fulfilled than fatigued, as they saw the impact they had, and felt the support from each other.

For myself, I was truly inspired: inspired by the speakers’ heart-felt witness to the cause; inspired by the pro-life students’ energy and determination to reach out with the message; and inspired by the students who were open to listening to our message and sharing their stories with us.

It is heart-wrenching to encounter so many young men and women who have been hurt by abortion, but I have a great deal of hope for our generation. I have hope because I see pro-life students becoming leaders who are reaching out with compassion to help their peers, and I have hope because I have seen firsthand how the pro-life message is touching students on campus.
Thank you to all those who supported this campaign! If you’d like to help continue making these campaigns possible, please consider supporting our work financially: www.ncln.ca/donate

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To hear the testimonies that were heard on BC Campuses, visit our Youtube Channel! 

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To see more pictures from the Campus Tour, visit our Facebook page!

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Candy Plus: Making the Most of Your Outreach Tables

 Rebecca Richmond

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Having a ‘hook’ at tables you are running – such as candy – can be a great way to attract people to your table. Particularly when it’s something like Clubs Days and EVERY club seems to have some sort of treat to draw people to their table.
 

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And although I still have a former club member complaining about the fact that I wouldn’t let him make and distribute fresh waffles at Clubs Days back at uOttawa, I’m all for creativity. (In my defense, we were outside and, as it turned out, the day of the table featured extremely windy weather. Things got sticky enough with the lemonade we were distributing, thanks very much).
 
Sometimes, though, it’s not what kind of treat you use, but how you use it.
 
Brandon University Students for Life, the club I ventured deep into snowy Manitoba to visit last week, demonstrated that creativity and strategic thinking when they told me about how they put stickers with fetal development facts on the candy they were handing out during their Clubs Days.
 
Come for the candy, leave with an educational fact. Tasty tasty facts.
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5 Steps to Making the Most of Your Tabling Event!

By Clarissa Luluquisin, Central Campus Coordinator

 As NCLN’s Central Campus Coordinator, my job involves getting my boots on the ground (specifically winter ones in this weather).  I trek to campuses across the province to train and assist pro-life students in their outreach, and my favourite project to help with is the club information table.  

What can be better than engaging with a person one-on-one, hearing their thoughts on abortion and responding to their concerns, and thanking them for taking a moment to speak to you?

Can you tell that I’m an extrovert?

Although events like debates and movie screenings can be very impactful, the information table marks the start of many personal relationships of the pro-life club’s members with soon-to be club members, as well as engaging with students who are not informed about abortion.  It is pro-life activism and recruitment – all packaged into one easy event! 

How you begin these relationships matter, and in maintaining these relationships, your club has a greater opportunity to grow.  And the more it grows, the more people there will be working alongside you to spread the pro-life message.  This engagement is all the more important with lives on the line.  

Check out our information guide on tabling here, and also find my 5 suggestions:

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TWU Tabling Event

1. Create an eye-catching display board with a variety of resources on the table.

Make an event out of it with your Exec too – no need to do this all on your own.  And if you’re short on resources, contact your local campus coordinator and you’ll be sent a bunch for free. Don’t forget to print out a sign-up sheet too!

2. Start all conversations with a kind smile.

People want to talk to people who are friendly and approachable, and this is harder to do on some days, with all that you have on your plate.
Think of laughing babies and joyful mothers if you need some motivation! 🙂

3. Speak with compassion and conviction.

Asking someone how they feel about abortion can bring up a lot of different emotions in a person.  Whether it be anger, sadness, or indifference, listen attentively, tell stories, and ask good questions.  Agree with them where you can, and explain with clarity where you cannot.  Illustrate your points well and schedule an apologetics trainings for your club members every once in a while to refresh yourself.  

 4. Follow up personally with the people who have signed up for your email list and invite them to the next meeting or club event.

This cannot be emphasized enough.  A day or two after your table, send a personal email to the student you spoke with, thank them for taking the time to chat with you, and invite them to your next meeting.  If you got along really well, why not suggest meeting up for coffee to tackle a bit further that interesting point they brought up?

5. Debrief with your club members.

Whether in between conversations, or soon after a day of tabling is done, debriefing about your conversations is so essential.  How else are you ever going to get better and spread the message as effectively as possible?  If you didn’t like how you said something, think about it some more, and come up with ways with your fellow club members you would have liked to say it instead.  

Ready? Set? GROW!

Have any stories about tabling on your campus?  Send us an email

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