Operation Save America: Rochester Report
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Rochester, New York-Laboring for a revival to end abortion, members of Operation Save America converged on the historic city of Rochester, New York for the first day of the 2013 OSA National Event. OSA members from as far away as Connecticut, North Carolina, Ohio, Louisiana, Texas, and Nevada joined with area churches to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves (Proverbs 31:8-9).
Rochester, a city majorly impacted by the Second Great Awakening, has a spiritual tradition of emancipation dating back to the 1830’s. Rev. Rusty Lee Thomas commenting on the heritage of Rochester declared, “This is the city of Fredrick Douglass and the underground railroad. This is the city of Charles Finney and heaven sent revivals. The sin of slavery and the slavery of sin met in Rochester and they were broken here as the liberty of Christ swept this city and beyond. God did this once before and it is our prayer that He does it again.”
During the time of Charles Finney, countless souls were saved. Finney’s preaching motivated the social application of the gospel. According to one Finney biographer, the Great Awakening birthed more than personal salvations. It also united Christians around two significant social issues, slavery and alcoholism. As Christians faithfully addressed these evils according to the Word of God, the forces of darkness were broken and the captives were set free, both physically and spiritually.
Finney and his followers were early leaders in the abolitionist movement. Finney was uncompromising in his opposition to slavery, “Two million…in our own land stretch their hands, all shackled and bleeding, and send forth to the church of God the agonizing cry for help. And shall the church, in her efforts to reclaim and save the world, deafen her ears to this voice of agony and despair? God forbid. The church cannot turn away from this question. It is a question for the church and for the nation to decide, and God will push it to a decision.”
The Evening Rally
The evil is no longer slavery, but abortion. And God is pushing us to a decision. With the Second Great Awakening as a rallying cry, OSA began its week long outreach with a Solemn Assembly.
Wednesday evening, saints of God echoed the same words heard so long ago in Rochester, “The church cannot turn away.” Rochester prolife leaders, Jerry Crawford and Mike Warren, delivered a warm welcome at the Bethel Christian Fellowship. This was followed by a passionate teaching by the National Director of OSA, Rev. Flip Benham.
In preparation for the week long city outreach, local and national church leaders took ownership for the sins of the city and the nation. As Rev. Flip Benham explained during his opening sermon, “The church must remove the plank from her own eye, before she can see to remove the speck from her brother’s eye.”
Bethel Christian Fellowship offered OSA the use its historic sanctuary, a beautifully ornate room with stained glass windows and an impressive balcony, for the evening rallies. The Fellowship’s pastor, Ron Dominais a courageous and committed “gatekeeper” of the city. The majesty of the sanctuary invoked a special sense of awe and reverence during the Solemn Assembly. After an anointed time of worship led by Pastor Dale Sochia of Louisiana, OSA saints began the painful process of self-examination (2 Corinthians 13:5). After quoting Numbers 10:9, which states, “When you go to war in your land against an enemy who oppresses you, then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets, and you will be remembered before the Lord your God, and you will be saved from your enemies” a long blast on a Jewish Shofar (ram’s horn) officially commenced the Solemn Assembly. Local pastors and national OSA leaders Mike Warren, Ante Pavkovic, and Cal Zastrow led the saints in personal and corporate repentance. Apathy, the squandering of our godly heritage, the failure of men, fearing man more than God, the abandonment of God’s law, and blood guiltiness were corporately confessed.
At the conclusion of the Solemn Assembly, Rev. Flip gave the altar call. Two came forward. Rev. Flip also left time for private prayer and confession. One by one, the saints of God left their pews and knelt before the podium. It was especially moving to see the young people come forward, full of brokenness as the love of God consumed their souls. The spirit of the Lord was at work in the assembly, as saints quietly and tearfully bowed their heads.
Wednesday evening in the historic city of Rochester, New York, the Church of God sought to meet God’s righteous conditions and not to deafen our ears to preborn child’s “voice of agony and despair.” The Church of God heard the “agonizing cry for help” and answered with repentance. May God see fit to bring revival to the city of Rochester, and our nation stained with innocent blood.
Thursday, July 25, 2013
After a late night of confession and repentance, OSA members with coffee in hand, met at 7:00 a.m. in the parking lot of Quality Inn. After Rev. Flip taught from the book of Ezra, Chet Gallagher gave the “marching orders.” OSA members were divided into teams, with some were sent to area abortion clinics and others to baby killing hospitals.
Preaching the gospel of life throughout the city, OSA members experienced the favor of the Lord and the anger of the world. In an effort to silence the Christian witness, members at one abortion clinic were read an injunction by local law enforcement officials. In 1999, New York passed a “temporary” injunction that limits how close to an abortion facility a Christian may preach. A number of years later, the “temporary” injunction became a permanent one. In keeping with this injunction, officers ordered OSA members to remain 15 feet away from any ingress and egress of any abortion facility, hampering the rescue process. Undeterred but respectful, saints continued the public proclamation within the legally established, yet unconstitutional boundaries.
At one of the hospital outreaches, Allis Villavso led the young people in worship and intercessory prayer. Meanwhile, Jubilee Thomas successfully handed out OSA brochures to hospital staff unable to say “no” to a six year old. At Planned Parenthood in Greece, Pastor Dale Sochia led a powerful time of intercessory worship with his sons, David and Jonathan. Cheryl Gonzales and her daughters poured out their heart to the Lord in song. Other OSA saints held signs or preached the uncompromising message of the Gospel of life.
Later in the day, OSA held a memorial service for Daniel Pavone, a 14 week-old victim of abortion. Pall bearers carried the small white casket containing the body, as the haunting sound of bagpipes filled the air. As the casket was placed on a viewing stand and the lid lifted, the horrible tragedy of abortion was evidenced by the numerous black bruises on his tiny body. Baby Daniel was killed by prostaglandin, a poison which induces violent contractions.
It was fitting that Father Frank Pavone presided over the funeral service. Daniel was given the surname of Pavone, in honor of his work as National Director of Priests for Life. After preaching a powerful message on solidarity with the preborn, Fr. Pavone led mourners in a group prayer, “I know there is nothing that destroys more life than abortion; yet I rejoice that you have conquered death by the resurrection of your Son. I am ready to do my part in ending abortion.” Fr. Pavone then encouraged mourners to reach out and literally touch Daniel. The children seemed especially moved by Daniel’s death, with child after child reaching out to tenderly touch the bruised body. It was a timeless moment of hope and grief, as the young mourned the youngest. With the help of God, abortion will end. Perhaps God will use these children as part of His remnant that will accomplish it.
Operation Save America: Second Rochester Report
Friday, July 24, 2013
Rochester, New York-“Why do you do this?” It’s a question every member of Operation Save America has been asked, in their home state and in Rochester, New York. This question by a well-meaning pastor, church member, family member, or stranger on the sidewalk may seem like criticism but more often it is a genuine query. “Help me understand,” is more to the point. The post-modern culture has taught that Christianity must remain secluded. It is okay to believe, as long as your faith is unspoken. It is okay to act, as long as your faith does not offend. When a member of OSA speaks the truth about Jesus Christ and acts like a murder is taking place, it is offensive. Hence, to stand on a street corner sharing the truth and love of Christ is to participate in a counter-cultural event. That can be scary for a person who lacks the theological understanding of the social application of the gospel. In addition, those who participate in street ministry are often portrayed as radicals. And who really wants to be identified with troublemakers? Which brings us back to the question, “Why do you do this?” The Bible teaches it is our duty to give an answer (1 Peter 3:5). Here is ours.
Friday, July 26, 2013
On the third day of the 2013 OSA National Event, eternal souls were saved. On Friday, the theology of the church became biography in the streets of historic Rochester, New York. As Rev. Flip often states, “Abortion is preeminently a gospel issue. The cross of Christ is the only solution.” As OSA members from all across the nation joined with area churches to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves (Proverbs 31:8-9), more than babies were rescued; souls were rescued.
After gathering for Bible study and prayer in the parking lot of Quality Inn, OSA members ministered at area abortion clinics or helped Tom Raddell set up his 200′ wide “Genocide Awareness Outreach” by the beach at Lake Ontario. As Tom described it once, “The large 8′ by 5′ panels pictorially depict historic acts of genocide and then visually link these atrocities to our current abortion holocaust.” With images that assault the soul, the display reveals the humanity of the preborn and the inhumanity of “choice.”
The saints also went back to the hospitals. On busy street corners throughout the University of Rochester Medical Center, students, hospital staff, and visitors heard and saw the reality of abortion. Strong Memorial Hospital is part of the University of Rochester Medical Center complex. It is primarily a teaching hospital, owned and operated by the University of Rochester. A number of OSA members were outside of Strong Memorial, preaching the unapologetic message of the Gospel of the Kingdom to a hospital who does not want to be confronted with its sin.
Interestingly, Strong Memorial Hospital has a sordid history of violating the Hippocratic Oath. From 1945 to 1947, Strong Memorial injected 17 patients with plutonium or uranium without their knowledge or consent. This secret human experimentation was called the Manhattan Project. The Atomic Energy Commission tracked the poisoned patients until their death, even exhuming their remains for testing.
With such nefarious beginnings, it should not surprise us that Strong Memorial Hospital still kills. Strong Memorial is the hospital of Dr. Timothy Quill, an advocate of physician assisted suicide. Sadly, Strong Memorial Hospital also teaches students to murder innocent preborn babies.
Andrew Anderson of North Carolina reported that during the outreach at Strong Memorial, a young man came to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. As Andrew stood on the sidewalk holding a prolife sign, a man walked up. The man wore a badge, so Andrew concluded he was a student or faculty member of the teaching hospital. Andrew offered him literature, explaining, “3,700 babies were killed today.”
As they spoke, Andrew discerned the man was unsaved. Andrew asked the man about his faith. Then he proceeded to use the Way of the Master approach to evangelism, reminding him of the Ten Commandments. Finally, he asked the man, “If you were to stand before the judgment seat of God, what would you say?” He explained the work of Jesus, “Someone has to pay for your sin. If you know the Holy Spirit is convicting you, today is the day. He has given you the opportunity right now. He may not give it again.” With that, Andrew got on his knees and the man followed. With both men kneeling, Andrew led the man, Ephraim, to the Lord. This occurred on a public street corner outside a baby killing hospital.
Why do we do this? Ask Ephraim.
The Evening Rally
During the evening rally, the young people of OSA were challenged and encouraged. Allysa Rayburn shared her testimony. Allysa is a lovely young lady, preparing for a lengthy missions trip. She is an outspoken advocate for the Lord and His precious babies. She shared how despite having grown up in the church, it was still difficult for her to fully comprehend the salvation of the Lord. The Lord touched her recently, with a deeper understanding of His love and the futility of work based salvation. This message to the young people was perfectly timed.
Pastor Keith Tucci of Living Hope Church was the keynote speaker at the evening rally. Pastor Keith took special interest in equipping the young people, inviting them to the front pews and holding a special time of prayer and impartation for them at the conclusion of his sermon. A prolife veteran and a former Operation Rescue National Director, Pastor Tucci, gave a resounding sermon that had Christians ready to charge the nearest occupied territory for the Lord, with unsheathed Bibles, the blood of the Lamb, and the word of their testimony, and not loving their lives to the death (Revelation 12:11). Of particular significance to many was the humorous and faith building history of Operation Rescue.
After Pastor Tucci concluded, the young people were asked to come forward for a special outpouring. This was clearly the work of the Lord. A sea of young people pressed towards the front of the church, hungry for the Lord. They wanted a touch from God. The young people were personally prayed over and blessed by the pastors. Some young people recommitted their lives to Christ. Others confessed. Two young people came to the faith for the first time.
Why do we do this? Ask the young people.
Saturday, July 27, 2013
Before heading out on Saturday, the saints gathered in the parking lot at Quality Inn to hear Rev. Flip deliver a message from the book of Nehemiah. As the saints shook off the chill of the early morning, they were reminded that the wall builders in the time of Nehemiah weren’t “called” to build walls. Each person was responsible to rebuild the wall-priests, goldsmiths, perfumers, rulers, and daughters. Rev. Flip challenged the church to rebuild the broken walls of our nation.
The name of the man Andrew spoke with was Ephraim. In the Hebrew, Ephraim means fruitful. Saturday was a fruitful day. Gentle Christians left the comfort of their pews to bring the gospel to the streets. All local clinics were shut down. As far as we know, there were no babies killed.
Saints still ministered the gospel of life. At the Planned Parenthood in Greece, children held signs for the cars to see. Men and women prayed. Ron Brock and others drove Truth Trucks throughout the area. Pastor Dale led worship. Musicians and singers gathered under a tent directly outside of Planned Parenthood. Anotherman played his guitar across the street from the clinic. A gentle spirited group of young ladies gathered around him joined in the praise. Worship surrounded the clinic. The songs could be heard across the street in the shopping plaza. It penetrated the spiritual darkness of the place. As the worship went forth, prophetic men of God preached. Territory was taken.
From there, OSA members traveled to Twelve Corners. Twelve Corners is where Elmwood Avenue, Monroe Avenue, and South Winton Road intersect and form a triangular island. It is bordered by retail stores and restaurants. In the middle of this busy intersection, gentle Christians had church. Pastor Dale Sochia led worship, with Allysa Rayburn, Jonathan and David Sochia, and Josiah Thomas. They offered up beautiful songs of praise. God’s Word went forth in power reverberating off of the walls of this rich liberal community.
Around the outer edge of the green, saints held signs or handed out literature. After a time of public witnessing, the team broke into two. Most of the OSA members took signs and literature and walked through a nearby abortionist’s neighborhood. The remaining OSA members continued to minister at Twelve Corners.
Two notable things happened during the outreach. First, a pregnant young woman approached an OSA member holding the poster of Malachi. She accepted the literature and then asked about the picture. She didn’t understand the meaning of Malachi and asked her father. The OSA member mentioned that Malachi means “My messenger.” Though dead, his life still speaks and he has volumes to teach our bloodstained land. The picture of aborted Malachi is hard to look at, yet she wanted to understand. After hearing the story, she was so moved she vowed to name her own baby Malachi, in honor of abortion victims.
The next miracle happened when Pastor Dale, wearing his OSA t-shirt, went into a local eatery. As he stood in line, he learned the staff was instructed not to talk to any OSA members should they come into the restaurant. The Lord was at work, however. Once he reached the counter to place his order, a waitress asked to speak to him. The Holy Spirit was doing a healing work in her heart and she needed ministry. Pastor Dale left the line and ministered to the woman quietly, in the middle of the restaurant. She tearfully confessed she had been raped by her father when she was only thirteen. The baby was aborted. She had been carrying the shame and guilt for years. Pastor Dale ministered the gospel to her and prayed.
On the return to the hotel, Rev. Rusty had a divine appointment with lost manhood. Rusty reported that he was approached by two men in the parking lot of Quality Inn. They told Rusty that they had observed OSA throughout the city, and were impressed by the courage of the saints. They were offended by abortion and thanked OSA for “exposing those murderers.” One of the men confided that his wife of twenty-three years had committed adultery and left him. Brokenhearted, he revealed she had been unfaithful with two different men and had aborted two babies. Rusty ministered the gospel and explained, “Abortion is truly a man’s issue. God has called men to protect, defend, and care for women and children.” When Rusty said those words, some long forgotten flame of manhood ignited. The man dropped the F bomb and angrily denounced abortion. Although unsaved, he was remembering what he was called to be. Although they were not his children, he was angry, very angry, that he could not save them.
Why do we do this? Ask the men who lost their manhood and children to American holocaust.
So, the next time someone asks you, “Why do you do this?” Tell them. Tell them about Ephraim, about the young people, about the pregnant woman and her baby Malachi, about the rape victim, about the two men at the hotel. Tell them and they might be compelled to join in this battle for the souls of men, the lives of children, and the future of our broken, wounded land. And if they call you a troublemaker, reply as Elijah did. “I have not troubled Israel [America]; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim” (1 Kings 18:19). Perhaps, they won’t need to ask you again