When Carlotta arrived at the FPA abortion center, she was surprised to see
protesters on the sidewalk. The same day Carlotta dared to reach out to
pregnant women just "happened" to be the day that Steve and Stephanie Hanson
Passion for babies, compassion for moms:
a firm foundation for two decades of ministry
first stepped out in faith on the sidewalk outside the killing center.
A coincidence? Perhaps it was a divine appointment. "It's a God thing," Carlotta nodded. "We couldn't have set a plan in motion any better than what happened," Stephanie agreed, noting that "everything gelled."
Carlotta, Steve, Stephanie and others began offering help and information to women who were entering the abortion center, and soon they met together with Sharon Johns to begin the process of establishing LifeSavers Ministries. Just as someone who is drowning is thrown a "lifesaver" to help them stay afloat, Stephanie explained that the organizers of LifeSavers Ministries "felt like we were throwing out a lifesaving ring to somebody, so that they could grasp on and hopefully be pulled out of a terrible circumstance."
Paul "planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then
neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who
gives the increase."
- 1 Corinthians 3:6-7
One day Carlotta approached a woman who was heading toward the FPA door. The woman stepped to the left, so Carlotta stepped to the left. Then the woman moved to the right, so Carlotta also moved to the right. The back-and-forth dance made both of them laugh, lightening the mood. The abortion-bound woman quickly changed her mind, revealing to Carlotta "I told God, if anybody is there to try to stop me, I won't do it."
Although the Hansons and others had begun their pro-life ministry by holding "protest" signs, their new ministry vision required a different approach. "We made a conscious decision to separate the 'protest' signs from the counseling," Stephanie emphasized. "When we began LifeSavers, we would stand near the clinic entrance trying to contact people with information, but we didn't have signs, and the information we passed out was educational... we were there to provide help, sympathy, and empathy if we could assist in any way."
Outside the context of sidewalk counseling, signs still had their place, whether they contained words or photographs. "The sign of a dead child is such a powerful statement of the reality of abortion that we felt that we had to use them," Steve declared, "but we tried to keep them separate from the sidewalk counseling effort."
The key physical ministry tool of LifeSavers Ministries from the start was literature. Steve Hanson prepared some of the first LifeSavers pamphlets on a Macintosh computer, and the group also purchased pamphlets such as "8 week baby" and "Did you know?" from Hayes Publishing Company (these pamphlets continue to be two of the pieces of literature used most by LifeSavers today).
When the host of a local pro-life radio show left Bakersfield for the mission field, Steve and Stephanie were provided with the opportunity to host the broadcast "A Matter of Life and Death," challenging more local Christians to become involved in efforts to stop abortion and help pregnant women.