Looking Like Dad

By Joanna Krawczynski, Western Campus Coordinator

Photo credit: Josh Willink (Pexels.com)
Photo credit: Josh Willink (Pexels.com)

 

When I was maybe seven years old, someone had the audacity to tell me that I had my father’s features. My little princess heart immediately took offense – you mean I look like a boy?? As I seethed, my well-meaning relatives continued to coo over how much we’ve grown.

While I have not yet completely forgiven those adults, this gives me the opportunity to reflect on what it means to look like Dad – on a deeper level than simply remarking on the bend in my nose.

Recently, I rediscovered one of my favorite videos: a compilation of mind-blowing “Dad saves,” those moments when Dad defies even gravity to rescue a kid destined for disaster (or mild bruising at least).

Hilarious. And mildly frightening. There is also an irony in these “Dad saves” that I had never noticed before: in some cases, it is Dad who causes the danger in the first place. So, in these cases, rather than depicting “Dad saves,” these are Dad-mess-ups. Yet Dad is still regarded as a hero at the end of the day.

Mistakes do not have the final word in these stories.

Neither should they in ours. The video of “Dad saves” ultimately serves as a two-fold reminder for me this weekend: first, in spite of Dad’s mess-ups, he can turn around. Secondly, in spite of our mess-ups, Dad can still catch us.

I owe Dad for some amazing saves: the times Dad stayed up with a tearful me trying to study for my Math test; the times Dad got back into the passenger’s seat despite my repeated horrendous attempts at driving; the times Dad took us hiking so that we would get lost and learn to find our way; the times Dad held Mama tight to keep her heart from falling into pieces.

The courage of a man is often portrayed in popular culture as a reckless, exploitative exercise in brute strength for a man’s own interests. However, this Sunday we are celebrating something vastly different and far greater: the selfless, life-saving courage of a loving father.

Perhaps looking like Dad isn’t so bad after all.

From all of us at NCLN, rock on Dad! Happy Fathers’ Day!

Happy Father's Day!

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Dialogue Series, Part 1

Over the next couple weeks, we will be sharing a series of posts that address many of the tough questions we encounter during our pro-life outreach. We hope to provide you with practical responses that help you not only understand how to respond, but also why we are addressing these concerns and questions in the first place.

However, even with the “right” answers tucked into your belt, pro-life outreach often includes being personally attacked. Regardless of the accusations made against us personally, there is one way in which we must always respond: with a heart full of love, reaching out to the other’s heart that is in need of healing and of hearing the truth. This initial blog post addresses this core foundation of our pro-life outreach and how you can live this out, even when faced with hostility.

Let Love Win:

Bringing our Hearts to our Pro-Life Outreach

Written by Joanna Krawczynski, Western Campus Coordinator

Sometimes, Life Chain can seem like a discouraging form of outreach. The only feedback we tend to receive at a Life Chain are honks, yells, and a variety of hand gestures. The high school students I was with during my most recent Life Chain event were the recipients of all the above – one student was even the victim of a drive-by drink throwing.

Luckily, the fellow who threw his unfinished iced coffee from his car window did not aim right, and his drink crashed between the curb and the highway, rather than on the bright purple shirt of the student. The other high school students on the sidewalk were understandably shaken and surrounded their friend with concern, “Are you okay?”

One girl asked, “Aren’t you mad?”

The student responded, “No… why should I be?” She laughed, “I mean, maybe he just thought I was thirsty!”

Grace abounds from the heart that is full of love.

That’s the only way I can understand this student’s gracious response to adversity.

One might be tempted to think that we have every right to be frustrated with the censorship and opposition we so often encounter. But how can a heart that is held captive by bitterness or anger be free to extend love?

After all, what kind of Canada do we want to grow old in?

Are we seeking to build a culture of hostility or of hospitality?

Reaching out to students at UBC-O
Students reaching out with the QA Project

And I’m not talking compromise – to be a voice of hope and healing requires that we recognize that something has been broken, that something has gone seriously awry and is in need of rescue.

And yes. Even when we approach each conversation with the kindest heart and the most sincere compassion, we will still face adversity. Many of the people to whom we are reaching out are standing on shaky foundations built on lies about their value and the value of human life. When we try to dismantle this, it is no wonder that we encounter reactions such as anger and are personally attacked with iced coffee or hurtful comments.

One afternoon, a fellow who identified as pro-choice told me, “I honestly hope you do not succeed. You will be hurting a lot of women in the process.”

As I mentioned then, dear student, and I repeat now, I honestly hope we do succeed in sharing this message of hope and healing. I personally know too many women who have been hurt by abortion. For their sake and for the lives of their little ones, we cannot keep silent.

In the words of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr, in his letter from the Birmingham jail,

“If I have said anything that overstates the truth and indicates an unreasonable impatience, I beg you to forgive me. If I have said anything that understates the truth and indicates my having a patience that allows me to settle for anything less than brotherhood, I beg God to forgive me.”

Next time you engage in a conversation, ask yourself: What is motivating you to have this conversation? Are you speaking out of a true desire to heal the broken, or out of a need to win a debate? Further, when we encounter situations of hostility or adversity, how do we respond: with grace, or with grumbling? When we bring our hearts to pro-life outreach, even in situations of hostility, we really only have one option:

LET LOVE WIN.

 

Martin Luther King meme

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Resolve to Reach Out

On butterflies, duffel bags, and the end of info tables

Written by Joanna Krawczynski

 

Okay, I’ll admit it: the idea of campus outreach, like clipboarding and tabling, does get my heart beating a faster out of excitement for these opportunities to reach my peers with the message of life.

Actually doing campus outreach… to be honest, that can get my heart beating for a different reason, racing with the cold determination of nervousness that makes me feel faint. Or nauseous. Or a combination of the two. Either way, I know I’m not the only one (feel free to sing along). However, I also know that if I do not give myself a swift kick in the pants and stop dwelling on worst-case scenarios, I will spend the rest of the afternoon hiding behind my info table or clipboard. And my campus will be poorer because of it.

Rewind a couple months.

It was my first time clipboarding – and we were downtown Vancouver. I was being ignored, misunderstood, turned away, and the courage I thought I had was steadily dwindling. Almost by accident, I walked into the conversation of two tradesmen from Quebec.Your shadows talk while you listenBoth carried grungy-looking duffel bags and wore wrinkled clothes as well as unshaven, though genuine, smiles. The eyes of the younger fellow lit up more often than his cigarette as he talked. The other fellow seemed old enough to be the father of the younger man. The older man’s deep, browned wrinkles told a part of his story that he did not seem ready to share then. His was a fatherly tone, though he was adamant that a woman should be able to abort her child if she will be unable to care for the child after birth. After about a half hour of conversation, I had to run to catch up with my clipboarding crew. But before I left the conversation, the younger fellow stopped me.

“Can I show you something?” he asked. “I want to show you a photo of my son.”

The man’s pride for this little one was unmistakable as he pulled out a school photo of his smiling seven year old, looking smart and bright-eyed. My heart just about melted. The young man shared that he was here on the other side of the country for this little guy, catching jobs to make their ends meet. I went home feeling helpless, torn between feelings of joy for the younger man’s determination to support his son, and sadness for the stubborn resolution of the older man, whose comments conveyed the perspective that children without caring parents are better off eliminated. To follow this logic is to say that it is a greater tragedy to be unwanted and alive, than to be unwanted – and killed. Fast forward about a month and a half. I’m just getting the hang of Vancouver’s transportation system, catching the skytrain home after a day of campus activism. My head is buzzing, trying to debrief the day’s conversations as well as make sure that I get on the right train. As I slide onto the train and carve out a place to stand, the smell of cigarettes makes me catch my breath. There is a pile of beaten-up bags at the feet of a fellow passenger. I lift my eyes, piecing together the baggy pants, layers of clothing, and a salt-and-pepper scruff crowning the unshaven face of a man with deep, browned wrinkles. “Bonjour, Monsieur…!” I greet the familiar face with astonishment.

His eyes wrinkle around the edges as he smiles back, “I did not think that you would recognize me.”

Of course I recognized him, though I was definitely not expecting to see this man, the older tradesman from that afternoon of clipboarding, ever again. The man shared how he was heading back to Montreal after traveling all across Canada for work. The man then paused, motioning to his bags,

“You know, I’ve been here in Vancouver, on the streets. No home or apartment. My sleeping bag is in there.”

SW 3rd Avenue
The duffel bag lay sprawled at his feet. The man glanced back at me and continued, “You know, my kids, I’ve got five of them. My kids, they are all grown up and established. I gave them all I could. Now it is time for me to live my life.”

Hold on. Where are his children now, and why don’t they seem to care that their father is living on the streets? My heart ached as this man shared the story his wrinkles betray.

How did I not see this earlier? His earlier assertion that an unwanted life is better off destroyed came from a deeply personal place, a place beaten up and worn like the baggage at his feet.

I wanted to do something to help this man, to show him his worth, but the best I could do was to learn his name, shake his hand, and wish him well, as we both had another train to catch.

Reflecting on this, I realize that we have an incredible opportunity as pro-life leaders. We have peers who also carry around with them that heavy feeling of being unwanted. Like the student who was abandoned by his father when his mother decided to give him life. Or the girl whose parents remind her daily that she is not the boy they wanted.

But how can we help our peers to see the value of their lives, if we let the butterflies in our stomachs keep us from reaching out to initiate a conversation?

Okay, granted – maybe they don’t have time for a conversation. Are we doing any harm by wishing them a good day?

Brochures and pamphlets are helpful resources to have on hand, and an info table can be an effective background tool,

but there is a reason why we work with student leaders, not printing machines.

In our activism, let us resolve to reach out and, in doing so, touch the heart of another. We have the opportunity – indeed, the responsibility – to encourage our peers to recognize the value of their own lives, to be voices declaring the profound truth that every life is wanted.

Without exception.
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Welcome Joanna Krawczynski to the NCLN Staff Team!

Joanna Krawczynski

National Campus Life Network is pleased to announce the hiring of Joanna Krawczynski as the new Western Campus Coordinator, working out of NCLN’s B.C. office. Joanna will be replacing Anastasia Pearse, who is moving into the Executive Director position as of August 1st. As the Western Campus Coordinator, Joanna will serve pro-life students from Manitoba to British Columbia.

Joanna graduated this spring from Trinity Western University with a Bachelors of Arts, majoring in International Studies. She also completed her Certificate in Leadership and Applied Public Affairs from Trinity Western.

As the former president of Trinity Western’s pro-life club, Joanna has extensive experience in campus pro-life activism and received training, guidance and assistance from NCLN’s staff throughout that time.

“Joanna will be a great compliment to our NCLN team,” states Anastasia Pearse. “Not only has she been creative and effective in her pro-life outreach, but she regularly goes out of her way to support her club members and other students in B.C., impacting them with her compassion, empathy, and dedication. I’m excited to have her on staff! She has a lot to give and our students out west are blessed to have her supporting them!”

Joanna will take on the position on July 17th.

We encourage you to join us in welcoming her! She can be reached at joanna@ncln.ca

Welcome to the Team, Joanna!

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