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ss nucleus - summer 1996,  Standing in the Gap

Standing in the Gap

Standing in the gap was the theme of the 1996 CMF Students' Conference. God calls us to be his voice, his hands, his feet, to spread the Gospel and to serve him. At Swanwick it was encouraging to meet so many people who seemed prepared to do just that. At times though, speaking out can land you in some very lonely and daunting (but exciting) situations. Sometimes the attitudes and standards which Christians have will be held up to public scrutiny, puzzlement or ridicule. We must defend our beliefs with sensitivity, accuracy and reasoned explanation.

For example, abortion makes me angry and sad. Our society cannot see the harm that is done: a life is destroyed, a women is damaged (although she may not realise at the time), relationships are affected and we do wrong in God's eyes. I feel the same about lots of other things: human embryo experimentation, euthanasia, IVF, also issues such as housing, employment and so on. It is very easy to be disheartened at the size of the problem and the tremendous human and material resources needed to meet it. One way in which I feel called to 'stand in the gap' is to be informed, to be a part of campaigning for changes in the laws and policies concerning these areas and to show God's love to people.

Hopefully, it will spur some of you into action on the things that God calls you to do, if I share a few reflections on how I have been involved... it's not so difficult really! I have been a member of SPUC (The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children), for about eight years now and CARE (Christian Action Research and Education), for four years. Mostly through their news briefings and education campaigns I have written many many letters to local newspapers and my MP on the issues I have mentioned. I have been to the House of Commons to talk to my MP as part of organised lobbies. Whilst still in school, I delivered several talks in RE lessons and assemblies, giving children an opportunity to think about these very important issues. Other avenues are Church and your own friends.

Two years ago, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority was considering the proposed use of aborted female fetuses for egg donation or ovarian tissue grafts to infertile women. Just as the news broke, I was invited to take part in a discussion on a programme for young people on BBC Radio Wales on the subject. That same evening I was at the studio in Cardiff- feeling ill-prepared and apprehensive. The panel of five was quite diverse, including myself (the token 'medical voice' I later discovered!), a young woman who works as the health correspondent on a regional newspaper, two other women and Julian, a regular on the programme as he enjoyed an argument whatever the topic. The discussion was prompted by a pre-recorded interview with David Alton MP. He was quizzed on whether science is 'going too far'; issues of fertility treatment, genetic engineering, the increasing eugenic attitude in society were raised. The debate was then thrown open to us, the panel, live! The next 30 minutes or so involved some rational discussion, a good deal of side-tracking and some heated disagreement. Since then, I have been invited back to the programme twice. Despite initial anxieties, it's great fun and a privilege.

It is really important to get down to the area under discussion... politely but firmly steer away from peripheral topics. Don't get flustered if your words come out wrongly, correct yourself and carry on, (I vividly remember describing the operation of hysterotomy as similar to a hysterectomy... I had of course meant to liken it to Caesarean section!). If possible, prepare yourself well with the facts. I had just heard about the idea of using fetal tissue in this way that day, since then I have come to a better understanding of the issue and would now tackle some arguments differently.

Be bold - I arrived to take part in a discussion on abortion to find that one of the panel was a very articulate professional working with the BPAS (British Pregnancy Advisory Service, essentially an abortion agency). Torn between feelings of running away or rising to the challenge I chose the latter and we had a really interesting debate. I haven't yet mentioned a powerful help - prayer. Trust God, be faithful to him and stand your ground.

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