NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (www.forerunner.com) – I was in New Orleans for a week in July with Operation Save America (OSA). It was a fitting follow-up to the OSA Regional event held in Kissimmee, Florida in June. In both cities, Planned Parenthood is plotting to open giant abortion mega-centers. In both cities, their attempts have been thwarted by community resistance.
Memorial Service for Baby Amos at St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans. (Click on all images to enlarge.)
In June, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed into law a regulatory statue that, if enforced, will make it difficult for the remaining abortion clinics in Louisiana to stay open.
In July, a lawsuit filed by a neighboring physician’s office against the Kissimmee Planned Parenthood has blocked surgical abortions on site through a temporary injunction.
That being said, no law will ever shut down the last abortion clinic in America. Even after abortion becomes illegal and criminalized, the seed of the woman will be at enmity with the seed of the serpent. We are not fighting abortion as much as tearing down the strongholds that allow the war against God’s precious seed to continue.
Strategy vs. Logistics
There is a saying sometimes used by the military, “Amateurs talk strategy. Professionals talk logistics.”
Strategy is a careful plan or method for achieving a particular goal usually over a long period of time.
Logistics is the branch of military science and operations dealing with the procurement, supply, and maintenance of equipment, with the movement, evacuation, and hospitalization of personnel, with the provision of facilities and services, and with related matters (Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary).
In other words, amateurs talk about complicated strategies. Professionals know to keep it simple. Once you know what you are doing strategy-wise, logistics are all that matter. The strategy takes care of itself. Logistics are wise decisions that help the strategy to work and move forward.
If one abortion center closes or even has difficulty turning a profit, then that is a victory. It’s not a strategy for eliminating abortion, but simply a logistical part of a longer war to end abortion.
For example, a court recently ordered that Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando (PPGO) cannot perform surgical abortion at their Kissimmee site. According to PPGO CEO Jenna Tosh in a supplemental affadavit, this will hurt them because they already “sunk” $2 million and over two years of planning into this center. I rejoice over that because I know that is going to cost PPGO lots of money – potentially millions of dollars – the longer they try to fight on this front.
Will this end abortion in Central Florida? Not likely.
Will this court ruling save lives? Almost definitely.
We are already hearing encouraging personal testimonies to that effect. Some have hit close to home. This victory has come because hundreds of Christians in Kissimmee have risen up against abortion. The lawsuit of several doctors against Planned Parenthood and the court order was a result of that larger effort. But we realize that now we have to fight harder than ever.
God’s Strategy: The Church
An abortion giant in Kissimmee, Florida may be staggering a bit, he may be on his knees, but we won’t rest until we have cut off his head and defeated every giant in the land. It is no coincidence that in 2 Samuel 17:40, David picked up five smooth stones. Apparently, Goliath was one of a family of giants. We know from 2 Samuel 21:16-22, especially the last verse, that there were at least four other Philistine giants. Goliath had four brother giants in the land who were later killed by David and his mighty men. David employed good logistics – even if he did not need more than one stone that day. His strategy was simple, to run to the battle to meet Goliath (1 Samuel 17:48).
This one abortion mill in Kissimmee has about 600 brother giants throughout America. That might seem overwhelming, but 20 years ago, there were over 2000 abortion mills in America. Now most of those have closed. What is encouraging is that most of this was accomplished during the Clinton administration without changing a single enforceable anti-abortion law. In 2014, we are still seeing more and more of these giants fall each year.
My former pastor, Keith Tucci, when he was the director of Operation Rescue National, used to say, “God has one plan for ending abortion, the Church. And there is no plan B!”
The strategy for ending abortion is simple. The Church must run to the battle. We must show up at the gates of hell. Logistically, we can begin by equipping the church to be the modern day “giant slayer” that God has called her to be. In short, as we transform the culture around us from death to life, giants will be slain. Abortion mills will continue to close, then court rulings and laws will follow.
Operation Save America’s goal is to encourage, equip and train the local church in the battle against abortion. The following contains reports by Rusty Thomas from each day, along with my video logs and some photos with captions.
The OSA National Event kicked off with a rally at a church on Saturday evening. Local pastor Bill Shanks presented Flip Benham and Rusty Thomas (left to right) with the mayor’s key to the city. Although this is a routine ceremonial observance given to any non-profit group visiting the city that requests one, it was humorous to see the ensuing hysteria of the pro-abortion media. There was even a segment on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show, which characterized the peaceful week of evangelistic activity as “terroristic” and falsely accused Flip of being a “convicted felon.”
The Macedonian Call, Sunday, July 20
By Rusty Thomas
Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them (Acts 16:6-10).
Sunday marked Operation Save America’s second official day in New Orleans, Louisiana. Local churches invited OSA to minister in New Orleans and the surrounding areas. To have their invitation, covering and blessing, is a great boost to the Lord’s work against the gates of hell.
Once in a host city, OSA extends a “Macedonian Call” to other area churches. Representatives from OSA attended close to 40 church services throughout the city. They worshiped with the churches, greeted the pastors and church leadership, invited them to lunch, passed out materials that articulated the vision, and invited these congregations to our Solemn Assembly Sunday evening. Later, they gather the church contact information and give it to the local pastoral leaders to follow up after OSA has completed their mission in their city.
At the Unitarian Universalist “church” in New Orleans, other team members took a different tack in presenting the truth of the Gospel in this synagogue of Satan. As God would have it, the “church” was filled with students from a “social justice” training school. The team presented a dynamic witness.
During an open “meditation” time, one woman in our group shared the Word of the Lord. When the Reverend Deanna Vandiver took issue, she reminded her that, “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones” (Luke 17:2). In violation of their “sacred tenants” of peace and tolerance, several were summarily escorted out of the service.
Other saints stayed and dialoged until the conclusion of the service. It created no small stir. The “social justice” candidates ran to the Christians and asked them many questions. Our brethren gave them the reason for the hope that lies within them and defended the faith. Seeds of truth were sown. May the Lord water them in Jesus’ name.
Abortion Abolitionists T. Russell Hunter and Matt Ferro talked to group of students attending a Unitarian Universalist service. Earlier in the year, this “synagogue of Satan” hosted a ground breaking ceremony in the sanctuary of their building for the abortion mega-center Planned Parenthood. Although we remained after the service for peaceful dialog, one of the men attending the service got physical with Russell and tried to push him away from his discussion with these students.
There had been an unplanned verbal disruption earlier in the service by several of our team members. Although this “disruption” incident was exaggerated by the liberal press, Abolish Human Abortion founder, T. Russell Hunter, made this video (above) of the actual church service with commentary on what really happened. For a time, the video was posted on YouTube, but some who did not want the unvarnished truth to be seen, complained and had the video removed.
Closed Abortion Mill Tour, Monday, July 21
You’ve heard of “Ghost Tours” and “Voodoo Tours” in the New Orleans French Quarter? Pastor Bill Shanks gave a tour of the closed abortion mills in downtown New Orleans. There used to be ten abortion centers in New Orleans. Now there is one near downtown New Orleans and one in Metarie. Pastor Bill explained why so many close when the church simply shows up at the gates of hell.
Bill Shanks taught on the history of New Orleans closed abortion centers. This is the outside of a former church building on Saint Charles Street, which was turned into a baby killing center and is now closed!
In the evening service, the Johnston family ministered to us in song.
Memorial to Baby Amos, Tuesday, July 22
Memorial for the Preborn Child Amos at St Louis Cathedral near Jackson Square.
The flag was lowered to half mast for the preborn as Flip Benham preached the Gospel of Life!
Tuesday marked OSA’s funeral procession and memorial service in honor of Amos, a victim of abortion. Amos means “to carry” and “borne by God,” a fitting name for a precious unborn child carried in his mother’s womb. Sadly, Amos’ mother chose to end his life. He was then borne by God to eternity. Today, Amos was carried somewhere he probably wouldn’t have chosen- his own memorial service.
As bagpipes played a dirge and young people marched with flags reading “Justice for the Unborn,” pallbearers carried Amos through the French Quarter. A hundred or more mourners followed in silence. The funeral procession began in Jackson Square, a historic park in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana, and ended in front of the St. Louis Cathedral, the “Jewel of the French Quarter.”
Mourners gathered on the steps across from the cathedral, one of the oldest in the United States. A simple white casket lay on a table, surrounded by flags and mourners. In the background, a tall American flag waved from the grounds of the cathedral.
When the memorial service blasted over the sound system, bystanders stopped to take in the scene. Rev. Flip Benham, National Director of OSA, addressed the gathering. He was followed by Beck Puckett who shared from Amos 1:13, “Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of the children of Ammon, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have ripped up the women with child of Gilead, that they might enlarge the their border.”
Becky compared America’s sin of abortion to Ammon’s sin of abortion/population control. Shelly Clegg shared her moving post-abortion testimony. And spoke on the need to protect and cherish all human life – preborn and those born with special needs. Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life gave the eulogy. His message was, “Blessed are those who mourn, they shall be comforted.” He explained the importance of honoring the memory of the victims of abortion and reminded the city that God made life in His image. For this reason, human life is sacred. Even in death, victims of abortion must be remembered. Their care, even in death, must not be forgotten.
At the conclusion of the service, mourners were invited to come forward and view the body. As the crowd approached, a song cut through the bustling noise of the city. The refrain was, “God have mercy.” Over and over, the city heard, “God have mercy. God have mercy.” The spirit of God fell. His presence came in power. The young people in OSA were particularly touched. It was as if God lifted the veil of deception and ushered the youth into a private viewing of abortion. Tears streamed down their faces. A spirit of brokenness and repentance overwhelmed them. The face of each young person registered the horror and grief that is abortion.
One of the nicknames for New Orleans is “the City that Care Forgot.” That nickname proved untrue today. Care came wrapped in the body of Christ. Care was heard in the message of the Gospel. Care was seen in the love of the person who gave out Gospel tracts. And as person after person approached the casket, person after person cared for Amos and the little lives of unborn babies.
As “the City that Care Forgot” felt the care of the Lord, an unseen, unnamed person slowly lowered the flag at St. Louis Cathedral’s to half-staff. In a public display of mourning, New Orleans grieved her sin. For just a moment, “the City that Care Forgot,” remembered.
Here is the full Memorial Service to Baby Amos.
In the evening service, Rusty Thomas shared on the history of Operation Save America. This short clip is about what happened during the “Tragic Kingdom” outreach in Orlando, Florida in 1997.
Taking Territory, Wednesday, July 23
Women’s Healthcare Center in New Orleans pretended to remain open. Clinic escorts ushered in abortion supporters as though they were “patients” scheduled for appointments. OSA’s sharp-eyed children pointed out that after a few moments of being inside the clinic, the “patients” would leave the building dressed in pink clinic escort vests, holding blue signs. The “patients” then lined the sidewalk. The pro-abortion mantra should have been, “This revolving door stays open.” Although Women’s Healthcare Center’s door stayed open, no pregnant women walked through it. As far as we know, baby murder was arrested and stopped the week Christians ministered the Gospel of the Kingdom at the gates of hell.
This is the last abortion clinic left in the city of New Orleans. Just a few years ago there were ten death mills in the metro area. Further, a state law Gov. Bobby Jindal signed last month, requiring abortionists to have active admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles, could eliminate several clinics that provide abortions in the state. The requirement could lead to the closure of abortion clinics in New Orleans, Metairie and Baton Rouge. Only two others, in Shreveport and Bossier City, likely would not be impacted.
In the afternoon, we went on to City Hall. This was one of the numerous Awareness Campaigns to expose the abortion holocaust held around the city of New Orleans during OSA’s National Event. Tom Raddell of Cleveland Ohio set up his powerful, professional display of graphic panels. The 20-foot tall by 8-foot wide displays consisted of pictures of human atrocities and genocide, presented along side of pictures of aborted babies. Each panel connected abortion, America’s modern Holocaust, to historical evils.
Passing the Mantle, Thursday, July 24th
Christians also visited the Delta Clinic of Baton Rouge on Thursday. The clinic kills on two days a week, Tuesday and Thursdays. When clinic staff heard OSA was considering a Tuesday ministry outreach, the clinic shut down. When OSA members showed up on Thursday instead, they found the clinic shut down that day too. For the whole week, Christians witnessed the Gospel and stood for life. Baton Rouge was a safer place for preborn children.
Evangelism at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge
At Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, OSA members from California, Texas, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Virginia, and Florida joined with evangelist Jason Storm and T. Russell Hunter of Abolish Human Abortion. The outreach consisted mostly of young adults, teenagers, and children. The young people of OSA were blessed to observe Jason and Russell evangelize.
The young people were engaged and passionate about leading the lost to Christ. The Holy Spirit was with the children as they shared the Good News and held signs revealing the ugliness and sin of abortion. They were not ashamed of the Gospel (Romans 1:16).
Pastor Keith Tucci gave a brief message prior to installing Rusty Thomas as the new director of OSA.
Finally, Thursday night’s rally brought a transition to OSA. Rev. Rusty Lee Thomas, assistant to the director, was set in as National Director of Operation Rescue/ Operation Save America. Rev. Flip Benham (National Director since 1994) and Pastor Keith Tucci (National Director before Flip and right after founder, Randall Terry) laid hands on Rusty and passed the mantle of leadership to him.
After the mantle was passed, faithful Christian men surrounded Rusty and prayed over him, as Curtis blew the ram’s horn. At the conclusion of the setting in, Rusty’s challenge to the brethren was, “You have bled with Keith. You have bled with Flip. Now bleed with me.” Jesus gave His life for us. Are we willing to suffer for Him?
Honoring Flip Benham, Friday, July 25th
OSA went to the proposed construction site of Planned Parenthood. The team practiced “Word in Warfare,” the concentrated focused reading of the Bible as a form of prophetic prayer and confession. As Christians surrounded the site in prayer and worship, others grouped together in small numbers to read the Word aloud. Others held posters of aborted babies and waved at passing cars.
During the “Word in Warfare,” senior citizens sat on lawn chairs under umbrellas, their precious Bibles in their laps. Little children sat on the grass and toddlers reclined in strollers as mothers and fathers read the Bible out loud as a family. Young people gathered quietly in groups and took turns reading the designated chapters.
OSA Connecticut team member, Marilyn Carroll, reads from the book of Revelation on the last day of Word and Warfare. The entire Bible was read on the site as a witness against the proposed Planned Parenthood abortion mega-center.
The abortion mega-center in New Orleans has millions in funds – including federal funds from taxpayers – but it might never open!
The following is from Pastor Bill Shanks:
I informed workers at the abortion mill construction site that Planned Parenthood had to kill babies in order to pay them and that they were accessories to the murder of the children that would be killed in that place. They heard the Word! These workers said they did not want to work here any longer. I had the privilege of praying with them and for them that God would give them the courage to do His will.
The electrical engineer for the Planned Parenthood project had already been prompted by God to quit after Brother Dale and I visited his home. He said he knew it was wrong. We prayed for him and his family. The three cement companies in New Orleans also won’t sell Planned Parenthood any cement for the project. Glory!
Simple little Christians living out their faith in the streets of New Orleans who are saying, “No!” to the devil, and “Yes!” to Almighty God!” These are small victories that are leading to an ever greater triumph that will bring these gates of hell crashing to the ground.
The last evening rally was a tribute to Reverend Flip Benham, outgoing National Director of Operation Rescue/Operation Save America. Rev. Flip had served as National Director since 1994, having received his commission from Pastor Keith Tucci (National Director before Flip and after founder, Randall Terry).
Flip is known for his uncompromising stand on the issues and his leading Norma McCorvey to the Lord. After worship, a plaque was presented to Rev. Flip commending him for his tireless efforts on behalf of the Lord’s preborn children. A slide show and video tribute by Flip’s family was played on a large overhead screen. OSA children and young people then invited Flip and his wife, Faye to the stage. The young people took turns praying over the couple. Allysa compiled a scrap book of gratitude and the children presented it to Rev. Flip while on stage. At the end of the night, a large cake with the OSA logo was devoured by hungry and grateful members.
OSA will be forever indebted to Rev. Flip for his uncompromising and unwavering commitment to end child killing. We love you Rev. Flip. Thank you for making the theology of the churches, biography on the streets.