Pastor John Lewis helped to save an unborn child who had only moments to live. In fact, it would be an experience that would change the man forever.
It all went down in July 2021, when Lewis was standing in front of a Planned Parenthood in Memphis, Tenn. In the midst of starting up his pro-life organization, Beyond the Pews for Life - the mission of which is Changing Lives – One Conversation At a Time - he was there to change the hearts of women who had decided to end the life of their unborn children.
“The last few weeks, we had experienced several success stories and God moved in the hearts of several women as we spoke to them of Christ’s love and of the value of their baby’s life,” he said. “They had chosen, instead of killing their baby, to nurture and love them and had allowed us to walk alongside them and provide the things necessary for the eventual birth of their child.”
One day, Lewis saw a young man sitting in the front seat of his car. The vehicle’s door was open, and the man’s feet were on the pavement.
“I had no idea that what God was about to do would change my paradigm forever,” Lewis said.
At first, the pastor hesitated about approaching the young man. After all, there were three Planned Parenthood escorts between them. And perhaps the man would rebuke him angrily.
But Lewis decided to make the attempt anyway, calling out to the young man and saying, “Hey, sir. I am Pastor John. Could I pray with you today?”
“When I said this, he immediately looked at me, threw the cigarette he had been smoking on the ground, snuffed it out, got out of his car and started walking my way,” Lewis recalled.
The young man then said he would never turn down a prayer and walked past the three escorts, who quickly attempted to dissuade him from approaching Lewis. But it was of no use: The two men shook hands and introduced themselves.
The young man’s name was Brandon, and he was quite pleasant.
Brandon’s fiancé, Haleigh, was about six weeks pregnant. She was also already inside the Planned Parenthood building, preparing to have an abortion. But Brandon was against it. In fact, he had tried to talk her out of it and found himself on the losing end of the discussion.
Brandon and Haleigh already had one child together, and he wanted to keep the new baby. He believed God had a plan for the child.
“I told him that we could help with whatever was needed,” Lewis said. “At this point, he started texting on his phone.”
For a moment, the pastor thought this indicated that Brandon had checked out of the conversation. The young man would only respond with “yeah” as Lewis continued to speak. The pastor believed his new friend had already stopped listening.
But that wasn’t the case. Not at all.
Brandon suddenly informed Lewis that Haleigh had already received medication for the abortion.
“It was at this point that I realized two things,” the pastor recalled. “One was that he had been intensely listening to everything I was saying. Another was that things had just gotten intense. We were now on a very limited time schedule as I knew that the baby was, quite literally, moments away from perishing.”
Lewis quickly asked Brandon what made her want the abortion, even in the face of his objections. In short, she wasn’t convinced he would be there for this new baby.
And so, Lewis asked his new friend the obvious question: Would he be there? And Brandon affirmed that he would.
“I then went for broke with something that I had never done before,” the pastor recalled. “I said, ‘Okay then, I’ll tell you what you need to do. You go back into that clinic and in front of the other mothers, the nurses, the doctor, God, and everyone else, and you declare that loyalty to her and assure her you will care for her and that new baby through whatever life brings.’”
He assured Brandon that Haleigh would not allow their baby to die if he did this.
“He then stopped looking at this phone, slowly raised his head, looked dead into my eyes, and said, after hesitating for what seemed like minutes but could not have been more than a few seconds, ‘That is exactly what I am going to do.’”
Haleigh wrestles with her decision
While all of this was going on, Haleigh herself was going through her own ordeal.
It turns out she had asked God the night before to have someone out in front of Planned Parenthood the next day to tell her abortion was wrong.
She needed someone there to say it to her.
Unfortunately, Lewis and Haleigh ultimately missed each other upon her arrival. And now, as she was in the facility, she felt “indescribably sad.”
The abortionist had entered the room and given Haleigh a description of what was about to happen, including someone coming in to give her medication that would begin the abortion process. Afterward, the child’s body would be removed.
Haleigh had begun to cry, asking why God hadn’t sent someone to tell her this was wrong. And that’s when the Lord responded.
She heard her phone beep; it was a text message from Brandon, telling her about Pastor John Lewis. He had texted about meeting Lewis, who wanted to pray with her. He wanted her to know there was another way.
At that moment, Haleigh still hesitated.
The nurse then came in with the medication. Before handing it to Haleigh, she began to fill out paperwork and asked Haleigh if she wanted the remains of the fetus cremated.
And that’s when the new mother realized God had answered her prayers. She told the nurse she couldn’t proceed; the nurse then reportedly became frustrated and escorted Haleigh out the door.
A family all together
“At the opening of the door, she immediately turned right and started half-running, half-walking, and half-crying to where she knew where both I and her fiancé were standing,” Lewis recalled.
The moment she opened the door was the same moment when Brandon had said, “That is exactly what I’m going to do” to Lewis.
The couple met in the middle of the parking lot and embraced.
“As I watched this unfold in front of me, I was amazed at what I was witnessing,” Lewis said.
“The grief of a beautiful young lady who had come so close to killing her child, the desire of the father too, for that moment, stands in the gap and promises to care for them both, the pure innocence of the unborn child who was unaware of any of the struggle for its very existence, and the callousness of the Planned Parenthood escorts, all converged to paint a picture for me of what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is,” he said.
That moment became the Good News for the pastor.
Lewis was able to starkly contrast the love of Christ with the “ambivalence, apathy, and hatred of the culture that wants nothing more than to bring death, destruction, and grief to all humanity.”
Brandon then led Haleigh to Lewis, and they all prayed together. Soon, they went to a Christian pregnancy center, where she received an ultrasound. Afterward, the couple came out smiling.
And Haleigh thanked the pastor for showing her another way.
“If not for you, and God working through you, I would have killed my baby today,” she told him.
“The emotion that overcame me was uncontainable,” the pastor recalled.
“I knew then that this is where I belonged,” he continued. “Even if my earthly end was brought about by the anger and hatred of those seeking to snuff out anyone who believed in the sanctity of human life enough to stand in front of abortion clinics and declare the love of God to all, I would do this.”
Tweet This: “If not for you, and God working through you, I would have killed my baby today” - mom who considered abortion to John Lewis
Lewis and Haleigh kept in touch even after the birth of the baby—an adorable boy named Mason.
Sadly, Lewis stopped hearing from Haleigh for almost a year. The pastor prayed to God, sad and confused.
And God would answer this prayer.
“It was on a day that had not been a good one,” Lewis said. “Other things had happened associated with a few of the mothers that were quite discouraging, and I stood on the sidewalk, alone, in a state of melancholy.”
Discouraged, Lewis began to doubt what he was even doing there. But that’s when he saw a black car dart in front of him.
It was Haleigh, with Mason in the back seat!
“In less than a minute I had gone from despondency to utter joy,” Lewis said. “God’s timing was perfect.”
Haleigh had lost her phone and all her contacts. She subsequently drove by Planned Parenthood multiple times, searching for Lewis without success. And now that they had finally been reunited, they made sure not to lose touch again.
“Over the few years which I have been involved in the ministry of fighting for the unborn on the sidewalks in front of abortion clinics, we have experienced many Haleighs,” Lewis said.
“All are unique in their own way, yet this one stood out as truly miraculous,” he continued.
“Even through our doubts and fears, God is still working to save lives,” said Lewis. “All we have to do is follow Him and be willing to step out and do more than sit in the pews of our churches.”
An interesting note is that Lewis did not attend seminary.
“The Biblical term ‘pastor’ simply means someone who shepherds others,” he said. “Since that is exactly what I do, that term would accurately apply. I shepherd people who are lost and have either drifted away from God or have never known Him to Christ.”
Learn more about Pastor John Lewis and his organization, Beyond the Pews for Life, by visiting beyondthepewsforlife.com.