Author and speaker Bruce Wilkinson, best known for writing the best-seller The Prayer of Jabez, has cleared off his 2012 schedule to devote his efforts to reducing abortions in the United States.
A project that he has dubbed The Great Turnaround seeks to raise $100 million for faith-based pregnancy centers nationwide. The first stop is Toledo, where he is to speak at a fund-raiser for the Pregnancy Center of Greater Toledo on Thursday.
“The opening [event] will be in Toledo and it will be nothing less than awe-inspiring,” Mr. Wilkinson said in an interview this week from South Carolina. “I’m calling upon Toledo to take a stand, to be at the head of a whole line of hundreds of centers, and I believe in my heart that Toledo will rise to the challenge.”
The author said he hadn’t planned to get involved in such an effort. “It was not anticipated, nor was it a goal of mine,” he said.
But after speaking at several pregnancy-center events across the country, he said, he was touched by their work and dedication. The nonprofit Toledo center, for example, performed 900 pregnancy tests and 311 ultrasounds in 2011, all free of charge. Representatives of the Toledo group also spoke about sexual integrity to more than 4,000 junior and senior high students last year, Janet Bosserman, executive director, said.
“These devoted people provide the counseling and support pregnant women desperately seek,” Mr. Wilkinson said. “They help transform the lives of these women and, in turn, save the lives of unborn children. Many of the centers have professional nurses and they have physicians who partner with them, and all their services are for free. The only way they can possibly help women in distress, women in crisis, is by people donating money to keep the doors open.”
The goal of raising $100 million for pregnancy centers in 2012 represents less than 10 percent of Planned Parenthood’s $1.1 billion annual budget, Mr. Wilkinson said. Funds raised for the centers would go toward advertising costs to raise awareness of the services offered as well to hire more staff. He said he is hopeful that raising $100 million will result in 100,000 women deciding against abortion this year.
“One of the primary goals is to market the message that we’re here for you, for a pregnant woman who is trying to decide between various alternatives,” he said.
Looking over the decades, he praised the Catholic Church’s consistent support on all pro-life issues after the 1973 Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision legalized abortion in the United States.
He also said radical protests by Operation Rescue and other groups in the 1970s and ‘80s, in which protesters chained themselves to abortion-clinic doors or shouted angrily at women entering the clinics, paved the way for today’s more calm, reasoned, and effective strategies to reduce abortions.
“Until Roe vs. Wade, there was not much attention to this topic because it was against the law and everybody accepted that. Then when it was transitioned into law, the church as a whole didn’t quite know what to do with it,” he said. “Those people who rose up and took a public stand and tried to get the country to face the reality, they were brave and courageous individuals, in my book. You may not have agreed with their approach, but they did something. They didn’t stand by and not act.”
Mr. Wilkinson, a New Jersey native, has written more than 60 books. The Prayer of Jabez has sold more than 15 million copies and is the fastest-selling book of all time, according to Publisher’s Weekly.
He also is the founder of Walk Thru the Bible, a religious seminar that has trained more than 100,000 teachers.
The Sweet Endings Fund-raiser for the Pregnancy Center of Greater Toledo, which includes Mr. Wilkinson’s talk and a dessert-and-coffee reception afterward, is to start at 7 p.m. Thursday at Westgate Chapel, 2500 Wilford Dr. Tickets are $25 and will be available at the door. Information: 419-531-6842 or online at pregnancycenter.org.