Guest post by Charlotte Ostermann
50,000,000! When we reached that abortion toll, I woke up, in a way, to the horror of this ongoing holocaust. I wished then, before Internet, email, and computers in every home, there was a way to give names for all those babies. No way!
But the idea of 50millionnames.org was conceived.
A few years later, delivering my dead son Timothy, after a miscarriage, I held his teeny body and felt again the sadness for all the babies that had not even been named. I would hold him, by his name, in my heart forever, and would now and then do something special “for Timothy,” or “in his name.” But what about the unnamed children? The idea grew more insistent, but seemed as impossible as ever.
Fast forward to 2012 – a conversation among pro-life stalwarts about what in the world we should be doing “about abortion.” I’m so proud of those who are fighting this fight politically, but that’s not my way. I’ve prayed clinics closed and fasted for an end to abortion, and hope everyone who loves life will do the same.
But how can we create some sort of positive, beautiful, simple way to call attention to “the child” and not just to “abortion”? I remembered the idea of naming every precious one of those children, and put it out for discussion.
Now, we do have the means, the technology, the communication channels! Now, this is possible! Testing the idea with various people, I found myself reminding others that the babies would probably want us to pray for their relatives and abortionists. It’s hard to pray for an abstract, unknown person, but with a name God can link us to real, particular people! This naming is going to bring blessing and healing. We realized, as we planned the collection of names, that much, much more was happening here.
We began to see each child as a channel of God’s immense grace into the world. If he was meant to bless his family, but his life was brutally ended, was that the end of the story? No! Violence is not the end of the story! Not if we carry him in our hearts as a unique, specific, named person and pray for that grace to flow to all who are connected to him and live in the world today deeply wounded by his absence.
Some of those are the abortionists themselves. Surely God’s instructions to “pray for those who curse you” mean that we should pray for those who are intimately connected to each, specific child because of their own violence against him. So, we designed 50MillionNames.org to encourage these prayers for the unrepeatable, actual children to whom we give names. And then, it got even better!
In the name of each child, we had a kind of “excuse” to do something concrete, something others would notice and that would call attention to the humanity of unborn children without any argument or anger. “In honor of a child I named at 50MillionNames.org, I offer this donation…. I want to volunteer for two hours…. I am planting this tree…. I am writing this letter…. I have designed this work of art…. I wrote this poem….” Do you see? The gesture we offer for each child we name becomes another blessing!
On the night we launched the website, I cleaned up after the launch party, exhausted and happy. Someone asked if all that work I had done was worth it for the number of names we collected that night. I had to think about it for a moment. It had been a huge investment on a “per child” basis! And then I knew my answer: It was worth all that, and more, for just one child!
Please join us as we “Honor the Babies – Give them Names” at 50MillionNames.org.
Charlotte is the author of Souls at Rest: An Exploration of the Eucharistic Sabbath, and Souls at Work: An Invitation to Freedom. Her feature articles and poems have been published in Envoy, Canticle, Hereditas, Thessauri Ecclesiae, Mater et Magistra, St. Austin Review, and Gilbert magazines. Charlotte lives with her husband, Russ, and five of their eight children on a ‘farm wannabe’ north of Lawrence, Kansas. Charlotte has spoken for home educators, women’s retreats, moms groups, C.S. Lewis Conferences, and more. See CharlotteOstermann.com for more information.