The following is an interview with Bud Shaver, a pro-life activist who ministers to women outside abortion facilities in New Mexico.
From the interviewer, Tyler Ellis: Bud and I have been roommates, groomsmen, and friends for more than a decade now. We went to Bible College together years ago and later got to do ministry together in Arizona. It was in Arizona that Bud and his wife first got their feet wet volunteering in a pro-life ministry. Since then, they have become full-time missionaries. They currently live in Albuquerque, NM and work alongside Project Defending Life www.lateterm.com. Their mission is to end abortion in New Mexico and to minister to women and families in crisis.
TYLER: What is it that you do?
BUD: In the past five years, I’ve lived out my faith in the public square to restore justice to the oppressed and minister to people who have nowhere else to turn but to God. I’ve toured the country, visiting over 180 colleges and high schools. Currently, I’m out on the street 4-5 days a week at abortion clinics in Albuquerque, NM. I’m an activist…a pro-life activist.
TYLER: What do people often assume about you?
BUD: Many people stereotype pro-lifers who stand outside abortion clinics. Without saying a word, I’m often judged as being one who judges. People assume I’m angry and hateful. But nothing could be further from the truth. While there’s always the exception to the rule, what I’ve witnessed and how I strive to interact with people is seasoned with grace, tempered with truth, and centered in the love of Christ.
TYLER: What motivates you to talk to people who are coming and going at abortion clinics?
BUD: When followers of Christ step out in faith, sometimes into the darkest and most desperate places in our communities, God can use us to offer healing and hope to people who are often among the most burdened and desperate you’ll ever meet.
Christians are supposed to represent Jesus, who said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) As we point them to Jesus…He will do the rest!
TYLER: How do some of your conversations start when you’re talking to someone who is opposed to what you’re doing?
BUD: Whether I’m at a college or a clinic, I often meet people who confront me about my faith. They rarely ask me if I am a Christian; they just assume it. It seems like most of the people who are opposed to me being there turn out to be people who’ve abandoned Christianity and even hate God and Christians. Not all of them of course.
They get angry, assuming that I believe I have some moral high ground to tell people what they can or can’t do. Before hearing me out, they call me a hypocrite. But they don’t see the irony of telling me what I should not be doing.
TYLER: How do you respond to people who misunderstand what you’re doing?
BUD: I try to listen and understand where they’re coming from and how they arrived at their conclusions. I also look to find common ground where I can. I love these opportunities because it gives me a chance to offer a perspective about God and Christianity that maybe they’ve never considered.
TYLER: From your experience, what do most people’s biggest hang-ups come back to?
BUD: People seem to have one of two hang-ups (or sometime both). The first common hang-up has to do with organized religion and all the problems it has caused. The second common hang-up has to do with God and the problem of evil, pain, and suffering.
TYLER: How have you been treated by people who oppose you?
BUD: I meet a lot of people who claim to be spiritual and tolerant of all faiths…except of course the Christian faith. Often times, the very people who demand tolerance for their beliefs and behaviors are the most intolerant of the beliefs and behaviors of Christians. Sometimes they’re even violent.
TYLER: What would you say has been the most important thing you’ve learned since becoming a pro-life activist?
BUD: I’ve come to learn that Christianity isn’t about having all the answers. It’s about leading people to the one who does. It’s about loving people just where they are, like God does.
The love God has for the child who is brought to an abortion clinic to be killed is the same love God has for the woman who comes out after her abortion. There’s a word that summarizes one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned about the activism we do. That word is not judgment but mercy.
TYLER: How has your type of activism changed you for the better?
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BUD: I’ve lived much of my Christian walk studying about Christianity and learning ways to influence people with my mind about God, the Bible, and Jesus. In the past 5 years, I’ve had a crash course in learning to influence people with my heart, by loving them serving them in their urgent hour.
Communicating the message of the Christian worldview is not just a matter of conveying theological concepts. It must be demonstrated by love. Even love for our “enemies”, as Jesus taught.
Grace and truth came through Jesus (John 1:17). And each day, I’m learning how to minister on a sidewalk with an equal measure of grace and truth. I’ve seen people’s minds get changed, and I’ve seen people’s lives get saved. I’ve witnessed that with even a mustard seed sized faith, mountains can move.
TYLER: If you could inspire 1,000 Christians to become more active in their faith, what would say?
BUD: God is working to end all pain and suffering. He has promised that death is an enemy that will be destroyed. (1 Corinthians 15:26) Until that day, God’s people should be striving against those same foes. Where there are lies, let’s be there to bring truth; where there is hunger, let’s be there to end it; where there is injustice, let’s be there to restore justice; and where there is darkness, let’s be there to bring the light. Instead of adding to the chaos of this world, let’s bring calm to the raging storm!