Editor’s Note: Guest author Janet Cowne is a local pro-life advocate who was one of 11 speakers at Saturday’s Luminarias event. To read her speech, click here.
EL CENTRO — The wind died down leaving only a slight brisk breeze Saturday as 3,000 little plastic lights flickered on their own inside 3,000 white paper bags filling the gentle slopes on the northeastern corner of Bucklin Park in El Centro. The event marked the tenth pro-life rally led by Real Hope Center of El Centro, along with the Imperial Valley Coalition for Life, and WOVEN, all non-profit Christ-centered organizations.
Each light in the luminaries represented the lost life of a child aborted daily in the United States of America.
No one knows for sure how many babies are aborted daily as this number of 3,000 does not include the chemical abortions that occur by woman using the “abortion pill.” Although the actual number of abortion clinics in the U.S. is declining with more closing than opening each year, the pill is readily available at many pharmacies and through the Affordable Care Act.
In Imperial and Mexicali valleys, estimates say abortions likely have increased due to the accessibility of obtaining them at the Planned Parenthood Clinic in El Centro.
The mainstream news reported of the purported half million marchers in Washington, D. C. on this same Saturday, marching for, among many causes, pro-choice (pro-abortion). According to pro-life sources, hundreds of pro-life rallies were reportedly held this same weekend across the entire nation marking opposition to the January 22, 1973 Supreme Court Decision to begin the legalization of aborting babies in the womb.
Rallies like the March for Life in Bozeman, Montana mourned the “over 57 million babies aborted since Roe v. Wade and the countless more hearts broken.” Like the annual Rosary Pro-life Rally in Cincinnati, Ohio, the March for Life in Cleveland, Ohio, or the one in Cranston, Rhode Island, or Dubuque, Iowa, or Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and on and on, undoubtedly reaching half a million or more, men and women. But the public and mainstream media do not generally hear about these events. Nor will they hear much of the Jericho March sponsored by the Catholic Churches of Imperial Valley held Sunday afternoon January 22.
The local rally of Speak Up Imperial Valley at Bucklin Park featured 11 women who shared their experiences with abortion, some having only one abortion, others multiple abortions — most all having a family member, a mother, sister, boyfriend, or even husband encouraging the choice to end the pregnancy. Each speaker spoke of assuming the responsibility for the final decision, coerced or not, each admitting that for a time the choice was buried and set aside, a choice often festering and leading to drugs or alcohol addiction until help arrived.
Real help, the speakers said, came in the form of someone sharing the love of Jesus Christ and His gift of forgiveness.
Marty and Debbie Ellett and others with Real Hope have often been part of that help. The couple began pro-life work some 20 years ago, but they founded Real Hope about 10 years ago to meet the specific needs of men and women who either face a crisis pregnancy or have done so in the past with abortion being the solution.
“Our goal is to expose abortion for the evil that it is,” said Marty Ellett, “and show compassion to the women and men involved. God tells us there is ‘no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.'”
“It is not just the diapers, or wipes, that help, but meeting Jesus and receiving His forgiveness,” Ellett said. And that involves someone being compassionate and helping women to learn to accept that forgiveness.
His wife, Deby Ellett, said over 70 people have attended the abortion Recovery Weekends Real Hope puts on at no charge to those attending. Meals and materials are provided. The next recovery weekend is scheduled for Friday, January 26 through Sunday, January 28, at the Real Hope office located at 548 West Main Street Suite B in El Centro (760-791-2253).
Real Hope volunteers Karen Kim and her twin, Dominique, are seniors at Imperial High School. Along with their mother, Shirley, the twins helped set up and take down at the event this year. The girls volunteer at the Real Hope Center babysitting, doing office work and tutoring. This year, they began a free photo studio for families being helped at the Center.
Shirley Kim explained, “I want to be a role model to my girls, not just say ‘Do this or that,’ but to serve the Lord together.”
Individuals from many different churches in the Valley participated by arriving shortly before 4 p.m. to fill and place the luminaries, as well as gather them up at the close of the event to redistribute all 3,000 bags to five different churches this year to be on display next week.
Locals can look for the luminaries along Highway 86 between El Centro and Imperial on the grass at Faith Assembly. Youth from the Imperial Community church will be placing and collecting them a week later. These youth will place luminaries at their own church as well, located across from Donut Avenue on Barioni Boulevard in Imperial. Gateway Church in Brawley will also have luminaries at the south entrance with Grace and Truth Church members doing the placing. The Central Apostolic Tabernacle on 8th Street in El Centro near Pico Market will also have luminaries, as well as placing them at the Central Baptist Church in El Centro.
The sponsors of the rally wanted to thank the Centro Cristiano Jesus un Nuevo Comienzo for the band which played for an hour prior to the women speaking. They also thanked local musician Luke Hamby whose violin renditions of old hymns rolled across the park as volunteers collected luminaries that ended the rally. Bob Sagar of KGBA Radio provided free advertising for many days prior to the date, and Susie Sagar hosted a homemade chicken enchilada dinner at the radio station following the event.