Some people prefer to wake-up early, some at the last minute. Some like coffee to start their day, others prefer orange juice. For one day every week, Mike Frison inhabits a different world, often alone, in a routine where sleep schedules and caffeine levels seem small issues in comparison to the life and death decisions he witnesses.
“It’s a little like standing at the edge of an abyss,” he said.
The abyss is abortion, and Mike strives to convince women not to fall into it. He stands at the edge of it in front of the Planned Parenthood in Ann Arbor from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Thursdays, the one day of the week they perform abortions. He said he began this work four years ago after feeling challenged by the local 40 Days for Life coordinator Paul Dobrowolski. More than praying in front of their office during 40 Days for Life campaigns, Mike felt called to actively promote the loving option of adoption.
“I was thinking maybe I should take this to another step,” Mike said.
As a sidewalk counselor, Mike wanted to not just promote adoption but be able to tell women going into the clinic that he would personally be able to help arrange care for their child. He had the idea to create a sign that says in large, bold letters “we will adopt.” In order for his idea and sign to be legitimate, Mike had to find volunteers willing to take on the responsibility of being a parent at a moment’s notice. As the associate pastor of Knox Presbyterian Church, Mike decided to take his mission to his congregation, knowing the prolife character of his church.
“I have a sympathetic employer,” he said. “If I’m a little late getting across town, they won’t dock my pay.”
One of the groups at his church is involved with adoption, founded by members who went through international adoptions. Mike hoped they would expand their focus to help back up his work on the sidewalk. He asked the group founders if anyone in their church would volunteer to be prospective adoptive parents for an unborn child facing abortion, and two couples have made firm commitments to be on-call parents. Mike said he can truly offer a woman heading in for an abortion an assurance that her child will be loved, either by his volunteer parents or through working with the woman through an adoption with Bethany Christian Services.
“We’re willing to jump in that process with anybody who is interested,” Mike said.
Despite having a wonderful gift to save the life of an innocent child, Mike’s opposition doesn’t make it easy for him to reach women. The Planned Parenthood office is configured purposefully to make it hard for sidewalk counselors to have contact with women, and they also employ abortion clinic escorts to discourage conversation. Mike tries to be polite and kind to the staff at the abortion business. One of the escorts is very condemning and somewhat abusive, Mike said, but he tries to love everyone no matter how difficult it is.
“I try to treat them not as the enemy, but victims of the enemy,” he said. “I treat them as people made in the image and likeness of God, but blinded by the culture they live in.”
Despite these obstacles, Mike has been able to make a difference. No women have taken him up on his adoption offer yet, though he said one woman called their office to begin the process. Sadly she suffered a miscarriage. Another woman cancelled her appointment at the clinic, and Mike thinks a few others have turned back as well.
Thursday morning has opened Mike’s eyes up to the effects of abortion. Far from being abstract academic arguments in a college classroom, abortion has a profoundly negative impact on the child and often everyone else involved, and Mike said he’s seen it first-hand through his work.
“It has put a face on it, I see the faces on the women and the men who drive in there, often they have a forlorn look on them,” he said.
Since being challenged four years ago through 40 Days for Life, Mike has continued to become more involved in the prolife movement. He has volunteered with Right to Life of Washtenaw County and spoken at educational events and rallies. Though his Thursday routine may be far more difficult than his other workdays, Mike said he feels called to be a voice for the voiceless and will continue doing everything in his power to save the lives of unborn children.
If you know someone who is experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and needs counseling on the issue of adoption, click here for a list of prolife agencies in Michigan that can provide help.