Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the July issue of Townhall Magazine.
After months of studying and cramming, most college students spend their summers going to the beach, taking road trips, or catching up on naps. But, for the young adults who take part in Crossroads Walk, vacations are dedicated to marching for unborn babies. James Nolan is the current president of Crossroads and he is ecstatic that the pro-life organization is entering its 20th year. He shared their backstory with Townhall Magazine.
“We started in 1995. Some students from Franciscan University in Steuben- ville, Ohio got together after St. John Paul II challenged the world to spread the gospel of life. They decided to take that call, literally. For some of them, that was their primary goal.”
Fifteen of those inspired young people started a walk from San Francisco to the nation’s capital. Now, 15 has become several hundred thousand, and one walk has expanded to three. Every May through August, participants lead pro-life pilgrimages from Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, passing through 36 states before all ending in Washington, D.C. Dozens of colleges throughout the country take part in these lifesaving events and Nolan estimates that each group covers about 10,000-15,000 miles. But, they don’t just do it for the exercise. On weekends, the groups pray and counsel in front of abortion clinics and speak at churches.
Nolan deems it important to combat the culture of death, which he says is becoming prevalent in Western society. But, he is still hopeful based on some promising statistics.
“One thing we like to say, is there’s a big increase in support for pro-life issues. Polls over the last few years are indicating that the majority of Americans are pro-life, over 50 per- cent. We’ve been seeing that trend. Now, we run into very little resistance. We have an overwhelming amount of support.”
Nolan insists this is significant, for his groups are “not shy” about where they stand on the abortion issue.
“If you see the t-shirts, they say in huge letters that cover your entire chest: ‘Pro-Life.’ People can see it from like a quarter of a mile away. It’s hard to miss.”
He then stressed what he considers Crossroads’ ultimate identity.
“We’re not an anti-abortion organization, we’re a pro-life organization. There’s a big distinction. Because if you’re pro- life, you’re for the culture of life, standing up for the value and dignity of each person without exceptions, from the beginning all the way until their actual death. We’re seeing the culture of death beginning to wane, but breathing its last heavy breath coming out more in the open as the desperation sets in.”
That’s where Crossroads comes in. Nolan explained how the organization is helping to bring more people into the pro-life movement.
“We’ve seen amazing conversions on the issue of life, some almost instantaneous. Especially because it’s young people, it’s very attractive. Even pro-choice people are intrigued, drawn in by it. After that, you see a change of mind, they’re able to look at the issue differently.”
He then shared a couple of moving examples to prove how these walks are working in action.
“We were walking in the middle of a desert and a vehicle drove out of nowhere in Nevada. No gas station in 50 miles either direction. The mother was taking her daughter to Los Angeles for an abortion. They saw us walking with the pro-life t-shirts. They pulled over and asked what we were doing. After a half hour discussion, they changed their mind.”
The Crossroads president revealed another encouraging testimony from someone who approached the pro-life walkers after a church service.
“He said the day before he had been driving a relative to get an abortion and saw us praying in front of [the] clinic. He said they couldn’t go in. They changed their mind and decided to go to the hospital and get an ultrasound. They found out she was pregnant with twins.”
Nolan assured Townhall that the pro-life efforts of Crossroads participants don’t end when the walks do.
“We have a lot of people we know, one of our former staff members adopted two or three Down syndrome babies, just to bring awareness to that and to protect these children, let people know that they’re wanted. A lot of former walkers move on to other pro-life efforts, such as in politics.”
The organization also conducts walks in Ireland, Australia, and Canada. So, you could say they are literally walking across the globe to save precious children from the horrors of abortion. Crossroads offers young people the opportunity to make much more of an impact than just spending their summers on the couch. Who needs to save energy when you can save lives? •