Yesterday, I wrote about several powerful ways Christians can stand for life, which my friend Gary McCullough shared with me in an interview. (Click here to read my newsletter and click here to listen to the podcast.) McCullough’s passion for protecting the unborn was so powerful that I wanted to do another podcast with him. This time, he shared the story of how the Lord led him into pro-life activism—and it started when an extremely pro-choice article inspired a woman not to go through with her abortion.
In my interview with McCullough—which you can listen to here or at the end of this article—he told me he used to sell watches for the Seiko Corporation. But then God led him to sell something else: the idea that abortion was wrong. So he got involved with a pro-life organization called Operation Rescue, and he started investigating how to use media to advance his cause.
“As somebody who was trying to scope the pro-life idea of what we do with media, I was confronted with an article in what I believe was the LA Times that was a complete and total hatchet job on everything pro-life that we were doing at the time,” McCullough says. “That article … made us look stupid, and it told everything that could possibly be bad about the pro-life movement at this time.”
But not everything about the article was negative. McCullough says there was one short line about a local pastor who said a baby at risk from abortion is a child. McCullough calls it “very little good news in the middle of a fairly long article that was an attack piece.”
McCullough happened to be working on the phones the next day and received a call from a woman who had read the article.
“I thought she was going to be like all the other people and call us a bunch of names and hang up on me,” he says. “But she told me that she had an abortion scheduled for that day. Yet she read this article, and because of that, she cancelled her appointment. And I’m scratching my head and saying, ‘How is this possible? All it did was support everything about why you would want to have an abortion.’ But she had read that one phrase from that one pastor, and she found one person who believed as she believed—that what was inside her was a child.”
That local pastor’s affirmation of life was powerful enough to inspire this woman to cancel her appointment, even though her parents and boyfriend were encouraging her to have an abortion. That one line saved a child’s life.
McCullough says this is why it’s so important to speak up for life. You don’t know whom you will impact simply by speaking the truth in love. But back when McCullough and I were young, the church hardly ever talked about abortion. In fact, McCullough tells me that as a young man on fire for God, he had never heard about the problem with abortion until one emotional conversation with his father on the way to school.
“When I was in high school, I was … leading Bible studies at my own high school and at neighboring high schools,” he says. “I’m driving to school [one day]—I’m probably a sophomore at this point—with my father, who loves Jesus. … And I tell him that after school that day, I’m driving a friend and his girlfriend to have an abortion.”
McCullough tells me his father almost wrecked the car when he heard that. But McCullough didn’t understand why the news upset his dad so much.
“He had tears in his eyes and explained to me then how what was going to happen was a baby was going to be killed,” he says. “Now, that was a total shock to me.”
But the real shock, he says, was how a Christian in high school who thought he had all the biblical knowledge he needed to teach teenagers how to live for God didn’t know about the evils of abortion. And this was around the time Roe v. Wade was passed and abortion flooded the newspapers.
“I’m not saying that experience directly led me the next day to become an activist,” he says. “But it’s something I certainly look back and say, ‘How did we get to the point as a church in the 1970s and 1980s to not talk about [abortion], even to people like me, a teenager who probably needed to hear it the most?”
But just because the church failed to equip its young people with the truth about abortion in that era doesn’t mean we can’t move forward now. McCullough warns against dwelling on guilt—an emotion he says marks many in the pro-life movement. Many still grieve over their past choice to have an abortion or not to speak up when someone else had an abortion. He says even something people don’t have control over, like a miscarriage, can fill someone with guilt.
“The way that men and women have reacted to unborn children in their past puts a guilt in them,” he says. “It feels like God can’t use us in this situation. And I’m saying that there isn’t a person involved in the pro-life movement that I know of who hasn’t had to overcome the realization that, at some level, we are part of the problem. But as Christians, we know that every biblical hero has failed at some point. … And we really have to reconcile ourselves to Christ and understand fully His forgiveness to be able to be used by Him.”
McCullough is absolutely right. We all need Christ’s forgiveness. And armed with His grace, we truly can make a difference in our nation and see abortion completely eradicated—not just by overturning Roe v. Wade but also by changing hearts and minds with the gospel.
To listen to my full interview with McCullough, just click the podcast below!