Fourteen years ago, I graduated from Village Christian High School in Sun Valley, CA. I recently answered the questions below for a piece they're running in a coming school/alumni newsletter. Since it touches on the history and purpose of Abort73, I decided to include it here:
What is the goal and purpose of Loxafamosity ministry? Does the name mean anything?
Officially, the mission statement of Loxafamosity reads as follows:
"Primarily, but not exclusively, through web-based resources, Loxafamosity Ministries, Inc. will assist the general public in any way appropriate in understanding the philosophical, religious, and ethical underpinnings and consequences of how we live, and how we regard social issues and the Christian gospel."
To date, Abort73 has been our only work.
The name Loxafamosity does mean something, though its certainly not profound. It literally means "famous hair" (locks of famosity). The phrase was first coined by a friend of mine (fellow Village grad, Brodie McClain), and I immediately latched onto it. When it came time to name our corporation, we threw conventional wisdom to the wind and chose a name that's hard to pronounce, hard to spell, and doesn't communicate anything about what we do. I still like the sound and ambiguity of it, though, and it doesn't carry any of the baggage or stereotypes that more traditional ministry names might have.
How did you get involved with pro-life work: (perhaps related to question below?)
While living in Nashville, I went to a one-day, pro-life training seminar at my mom's bequest. Coming in, I was wrestling through my life's calling and looking for something more eternally significant to invest in. Gregg Cunningham, of the Center for Bio-ethical Reform (CBR), was the speaker and he demonstrated to me for the first time that abortion isn't primarily a political or moral issue, it's a "love your neighbor" issue. I spoke with him at some length over the lunch break and ended up having dinner with him that night. He was looking for someone to do web, video, and design work and my background was in web, video, and design work. I came home that night knowing that the course of my life had been significantly altered. Six months later, I moved back to Southern California to start working for CBR.
Why this ministry above others, say, for example working with the homeless or going to a foreign mission field?
I don't know that I'd rank the importance of ministries against each other, but I do see abortion as a uniquely neglected and misunderstood issue. For the most part, the world celebrates Christian relief efforts that focus on hunger, poverty or depression. Such is not the case with abortion. Even those in the church who oppose abortion are generally under informed. I certainly was. This means that a lot of Christians who label themselves "pro-life" actually behave as if they were "pro-choice". They wouldn't personally have an abortion, but they're not doing anything to eradicate this injustice from the world at large. Abort73 put a booklet together last year (A Biblical Mandate to Do Something About Abortion) which is a fairly thorough explanation of why I believe God wants his people to intervene on behalf of dying unborn children. You can read it online or order the hardcopy.
What do you hope to accomplish through Abort73?
Essentially, we're out to do two things: educate and activate. As a starting point, Abort73 exists to present the overwhelming body of evidence which stands against abortion in a way that is engaging and accessible. Abortion is not being covered in the classroom or in the media with much honesty or depth, so we're trying to fill the informational void. From there, we want to give people some simple ways to help extend the Abort73 education to those around them. All of our promotional materials (shirts, pens, cards, stickers, flyers, web banners, etc.) are designed to creatively provoke people into visiting Abort73.com by simply piquing their curiosity. Once they reach the website, we quickly lift the lid on this hidden injustice. The more someone knows about abortion, the less likely they are to have one; and when enough people grasp the truth, the law will finally change.
What are some ways your ministry has touched young people, particularly high school and college students?
By God's grace, Abort73 is changing the way lots of students understand abortion. The following are real testimonies that we've received and are representative of the types of things we hear time and time again:
"Just visiting this website changed my whole view about abortion. I never realized how many children were dying..." "I just got my [Abort73 shirt] in the mail yesterday and I wore it to the mall and had so many people ask me what it was about... I really can't believe a T-shirt does all that..."
"[Abort73.com] is incredible. As a young Christian woman, I often find myself stumbling over my biblically based arguments against abortion with friends who don’t believe in the Bible. I now feel much more confident knowing the 'secular' facts that reveal the cruelty of abortion, and I will not be bullied into feeling unintelligent about my pro-life stance anymore."
"[Abort73.com] is what just made me change my mind about having an abortion."
Testimonies like this one remind us of what is at stake every day:
"If only I had watched your video before I went through with my abortion, I would never had done it. I was always against abortion but when I found out that I was pregnant, I figured that I had no other choice. The people I spoke to assured me that an abortion was the right decision and I foolishly listened to them... It has been almost a week since the abortion and I cry everyday. I am overwhelmed with guilt and sadness... I made the biggest mistake of my life and I pray that God forgives me. The abortion will haunt me for the rest of my life."
What kind of response have you gotten from the Christian community?
By and large, the Christian community is doing very little about abortion and some denominations actually support abortion rights. For evangelicals, I'd say that most church fellowships aren't sure what to do about abortion, so they default into doing almost nothing. There are notable exceptions, but I'd say that's a fair characterization. Many pastors feel an abortion sermon would be too painful for all the women in their congregation who have already aborted. You even hear stories of "pro-life" pastors pressuring their own daughters to abort as a way of covering up sexual sin. Some churches fear that social involvement will distract from the message of the gospel or will invite persecution for the wrong reasons. From the start, I've wanted Abort73 to be a ministry that churches can get behind, and that is happening more and more. This last January, on Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, churches across the country added Abort73 inserts to their Sunday bulletins as a way of introducing their people to the work we're doing. Both of the churches I've belonged to since starting Abort73 (first in Burbank and now in Rockford) have been very supportive.
One of the press releases about Abort73 say the hope is to “allow young people to have an influence well beyond their own campus.” Have you seen that happen? If so, how?
For the average student who wants to help Abort73 educate their peers about abortion, it usually starts on their own campus. Wearing a T-shirt, giving away a pen, putting a sticker on their notebook: there are lots of ways to bring Abort73 to campus. Even one student, regularly wearing Abort73 shirts to school will get noticed. From there, there's no telling where the influence will end. As students from one campus visit the site, word spreads to friends at other campuses. Some buy shirts of their own. Some add Abort73 graphics to their MySpace or Facebook accounts. Others embed the Abort73's YouTube videos or add an Abort73 link to their emails. Thanks to the internet, what begins with one student at one campus can literally span the globe. In fact, any student who is at all active online already has an influence beyond their own campus. By adding Abort73 to the equation, that influence can go a long way towards promoting justice for "unwanted", unborn children.
What college did you attend after VCS? I see you worked for Nashville Business Journal: were you a journalism major or writer?
I went to Washington State University. I majored in Fine Art (with an emphasis in electronic imaging) and minored in English. My job with the Nashville Business Journal was as a production artist.
How did your years at Village prepare you for life after high school and your present ministry? Were there any particular friends, mentors or experiences that shaped you?
My only memory of abortion in high school was when a girl in my ninth grade English class said she didn't see anything wrong with a Christian supporting abortion rights. Though abortion was barely on my radar at that point, I was extremely disturbed by her remark. Whether or not abortion was ever addressed in class or chapel, I honestly don't remember. What I did know of abortion back then owed to the influence of my mom who was a regular volunteer at our local Crisis Pregnancy Center.
If I had to pinpoint one way that my years at Village helped prepare me for the work I'm doing now, I'd say that it was probably on the writing front. I took AP English as a junior and senior and gained valuable experience as a writer. The ability to clearly communicate is crucial to just about everything we do.
What did you do at CBR? Are you still associated with them?
For my first few years with CBR, I toured the country extensively with the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP). GAP is a traveling, outdoor photo exhibit which uses billboard-sized imagery to graphically compare abortion to traditionally recognized forms of genocide. It was a tremendous experience and allowed me to see first hand that when the basic facts about abortion are rationally presented, minds change. When not on the road, I was CBR's one-man, graphic design department. I still do some web and video work for them remotely.
What are the challenges and blessings of what you are doing?
One blessing is that I've never, for one moment, dreaded my work day or found myself counting the minutes until lunch or quitting time. And not only is it a job I love, but it's also one that has historic (eternal) ramifications. One of the biggest challenges is to keep things in their proper perspective. There's a natural tendency for anyone in ministry to start idolizing ministry "success" over and above Christ himself. I can become far too pragmatic in my approach to this work and neglect things like prayer or fasting. Like any Christian husband and father, I've got family, church, and work responsibilities all competing for my time. Of course, when work is also ministry, it complicates the priority equation a little bit.
I read that you have left the financial security of secular work: are you able to make a living doing this and/or are you supported by contributions?
Abort73 is almost entirely supported by the donations of private individuals. We've received 2 grants in our 3-year history and received financial support from one national ministry. Otherwise it's been all individuals and families. Currently, we have two full-time, paid staffers and one part-time accountant. Because of dramatic fluctuations in giving, there have been months when I haven't been able to take a salary. Our 2008 budget is online at: Abort73.com/budget
Is there a local way for readers to get involved? Does abort73 or Laxofamosity meet or have “chapters”? I know I have seen some of the youth group at Calvary Bible in Burbank wear your merchandise.
We don't have local chapters, but there are certainly lots of entry points for getting involved. Working for CBR, one of the limitations we faced was that our public education projects were extremely labor and resource-intensive. That makes them hard to reproduce and hard to expand. We also received frequent emails from young people wanting to know what they could do to get involved. Unless they could travel to one of our exhibits or make a donation, I didn't have a very good answer for them. With Abort73, I wanted to provide people with some simple, manageable ways to make a difference right where they were, in the context of their everyday life. We've got a "10 Ways You Can Help" section on our website which lists all sorts of ways to help Abort73 expand its reach. You can also sign up for our email list through the website which will keep you up to date on all that we're doing.
Any final thoughts or anything else you would like to add?
John Piper is one of my spiritual heroes and his book, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals was instrumental in getting Abort73 off the ground. In his chapter on abortion, he called on his readers to dream up new ways of exposing the injustice of abortion. I'll end with a quote from that same chapter:
"The point is this: I believe pastors should put their lives and ministries on the line in this issue. The cowardice of some pastors when it comes to preaching against abortion appalls me. Many treat the dismemberment of unborn humans as an untouchable issue on the par with partisan politics. Some have bought into the incredible notion that they can be personally pro-life but publicly pro-choice or noncommittal. In response to this attitude our church sponsored an ad in the Minneapolis StarTribune with these simple words: “I am personally pro-life, but politically pro-choice” – Pontius Pilate... The law of our land is immoral and unjust. That should be declared from tens of thousands of pulpits in America."
Michael Spielman is the founder and director of Abort73.com. His book, Love the Least (A Lot), is available as a free download. You can also find him on Facebook and Google+. Abort73 is part of Loxafamosity Ministries, a 501c3, Christian education corporation. If you have been helped by the information available at Abort73.com, please consider making a donation.