Christian singer Danny Gokey recently sat down with PassionLife to talk about a topic that is very close to him — advocating for the unborn children around the world.
“I was honored to sit down with them and share my heart about this crucial topic,” said Danny Gokey. “We’re all called to be voices of truth – with love – because that is what sets people free. I have been so convicted about learning to do that in a way that invites people in and offers hope … because when people find hope, lives can be saved!”
John: Thanks, Danny for sitting down with us.
Danny: Yeah, my pleasure.
John: It’s a great blessing. I’ve spent a lot of time listening to your music this week, a lot and reading parts of your story and your background and the lows and the highs and the surprises and the bends and the turns. And I looked a lot at your lyrics.
And, I came up with my title for you.
Danny: All right I’m ready for it. What is it?
John: I’m gonna call you the apostle of hope.
Danny: Hey, I like that!
John: Because that just is the theme that kind of rings through so much of your music. And I said, “Danny is like a 3d image of Psalm 42 that says Why are you cast down, oh my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him.”
Danny: Amen. It’s good verse.
John: And I thought, wow, that’s interesting too, because here’s the Psalm commanding himself. Listen soul, hope in God. And I thought that rhetorically that’s exactly what your song was, “Tell your heart to beat again.” Like step outside of yourself and command yourself, “Move in this direction.” And it seems to me that through all of your life experiences, you keep coming back to, “my best days are ahead of me, hope in God.” I pulled out some of these other titles. You have, “Hope in Front of Me,” “New Day,” “Haven’t Seen it Yet,” “Stand in Faith,” the theme, the thread that seems to drive so much of your life in music seems to be put you hope in God and hang on.
Danny: Yeah, you have to. This world is is pretty difficult and hope is… I’ve always kinda explained like this, “hope is that rope,” and I know those two words rhyme. I don’t try to make them rhyme, but it just it’s really what it is. You could call it a chain, a rope, a string, a thread, but if you hang onto hope, it’ll pull you through. So imagine yourself being in a dark cave, and someone throws you a rope and says, “hang onto it,” immediately when you get that rope, you’re like, wait, if they’re say, hang onto it, cuz it’s gonna get you outta here, that rope is sign signifying hope.
So you’ll hang onto to that with all your life, and it’ll pull you from the darkness to the light. And we need that, like that verse David said, “Why are you so downcast, oh my soul, why are you so, so much in turmoil within put your hope in God for I yet praise him.” He’s looking forward to God’s deliverance and he is looking forward to the moment that he’s gonna give God praise, and I like that. He’s command himself because there’s a dark hole that you can go down to if you choose not to hang onto hope.
John: Yeah, and it never changes either. And you don’t graduate from this need. You know, my mother-in-law is living with us and she’s 99 years old. She often struggles at 99 with, you know, “why am I still here?” The answer that we give her is the Lord has purpose, and you’re here to pray to intercede, to impact your kids, your grandkids, your great grand children, and though life seems to grow dark and shadowy at times, she still has to put her hope in God, and go through the ups and downs of being that age.
Danny: As you’re talking, I’m thinking, something just came to me that I haven’t thought about in years. And I remember being at a certain church where they had a pastor there and he was saying that there’s one thing that you need for this life, one thing… His daughter and him, I guess, were sitting, hanging out one day and she’s like, “dad, what’s the secret?” I forgot. This is back in 2013. I heard this. So this is a long time ago, but through their conversation, and then he developed this whole book on it and series said, you gotta have hope. You gotta have hope in your tank.
If you don’t have hope, you’re gonna lose your purpose to live, you’re gonna lose your reason to live. And those two things will plunge you into depression, health conditions, diseases, because your body has a way of… you know, like they say, when people retire, right? I’ve heard the same, when they retire and they lose their purpose or that thing, they die quickly.
So we must keep our tank full of hope because it makes life better, more enjoyable. You’re more grateful. You’re more engaging. You’re more looking. You know, what does faith face is a substance of things hoped for the evidence of things that you don’t have yet. And I heard my pastors say it like this.
He said, “You know, what is the picture of that? It’s like you’re waiting for a bus to come.” You know how, when people are waiting for a city bus, their neck is out. They’re looking to see when it’s coming. That’s how we should be looking at life as something good is coming something that’s gonna take me to my next destination.
John: And ultimately looking forward to the king of King’s returning. Longing for the day of his appearing kind thing. Amen. So you are the apostle hope. I don’t, mind…
Danny: It’s a great name. I like that apostle of hope.
John: In my work , we also deal with hope a lot. We work in the pregnancy crisis world of pro-life arena, and I can guarantee you that abortion pretty much comes down to hope and fear. If there’s hope for the future, the baby lives. If fear overcomes hope, you turn to the abortionist as your savior or as your deliverer, you know? So if you ever worked in the pro-life arena or pregnancy help center, the easiest way to help counselors quickly grasp the challenge that they have is you’re meeting with people who are shrouded in fear, and see no hope.
And your task is to help them slowly lower their fear and say, “even though I don’t know how I’m gonna feed this child, there’s a plan to feed the child.” That may include even your learning to pray for your daily bread, because that’s how we all actually feed our kids. So hope is just part of breathing and Kierkegaard called the sickness unto death, “the despair,” the loss of hope.
That’s what the sickness onto death was all about.
Who called it that?
Kierkegaard, Soren Kierkegaard, the great philosopher you said without hope people die.
Danny: Wow. What a statement.
John: Yeah. So anyway, my background is this. I kinda live and work at the intersection between the pro-life arena and the world missions.
So I just got back from Cuba. In two days I leave for Columbia. Next month I go to Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Then I go to Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, later this fall. And our team is going to India, Vietnam, and Mexico all before Christmas. So we bleed missions, and what we teach in the mission field is pro-life ethics and pregnancy crisis interventions.
So our particular challenge, our work is to raise up a army of good Samaritans where abortion in infanticide and gendercide is especially concentrated gendercide, meaning the targeting of the baby girls in places like India and China and other parts of Russia. So that’s kind of the world that I live in and work in.
And part of the reason that we do these interviews is we really want to introduce people who are in that space, to hear from people from different parts of the Christian life who are intersecting with that. And just hear what you have to say. And then we’re hoping that people who are really following you and others that we’ve interviewed will be able to pick up some things on how to live out the Christian life today and fight the battles that we need to fight today.
John: There’s two areas that I love for us to kick around a little bit. One is just watching your life. You’ve evidently made peace with the fact that there are times where you have to be a little controversial. You have to be willing to say things because they’re true, but they can get you some pushback in cancel culture.
And for people with a high public profile, it just seems to me that’s really admirable and noteworthy and worth imitating for people who are already afraid, and I’ve seen you do that. I love to hear us talk a little bit about how you’ve kind of made your peace with all that or how you’re continuing to do that. Moral courage.
Danny: It’s a good word. I like that. Moral courage and courage in general is not… most of the time is not a natural attribute. It’s something that you build up like, you know, muscle, you have to work out that courage, and you have to start somewhere small, right? With the abortion argument, it’s always something that really has grieved me because the most innocent, right?
The most innocent human beings are being murdered. And I remember in 2012, I went on my Twitter one time and I made a statement about abortion, cuz this would had been burning my heart for a long time. And I guess maybe ignorantly or naively I just thought that most people would agree with the statement I was making.
I forgot what the statement was, but that it was wrong and it was very harmful, and I couldn’t believe the backlash I got. It was, it actually was scary. It was scary where I actually didn’t say anything again, because so many arguments came out. I didn’t realize how well thought out the argument was. Now, was it true? No, they were actually based all on lies, right? And just like you had mentioned before, and I just realized this recently, I just remember sitting one time, I was thinking about abortion and I said, “Every argument for abortion is based on fear.” Every single… there’s not… name one argument about abortion in favor of abortion, that doesn’t have fear involved in it.
And I couldn’t think of not one, every single one was in a bathtub of fear. Which that fear started that question. So, but even before that, I remember talking to my cousin and, you know, because I remember going, growing up in school and learning about slavery and, and just, you know, if you’re a human being, doesn’t matter what color your skin is.
If you’re a human being and you especially believers, right? And you have the heart of God, slavery’s gonna grieve you. Matter of fact, you don’t have to be a Christian, right. We’re all kind of born with that conscience. What is, what is a conscience already with knowledge? I believe that’s what that word means.
It’s already, when we’re born with that conscience means we’re born with the knowledge of right and wrong. You, you know, treating people, inhumanely is very bad. And so growing up, it would grieve me. And then I started seeing throughout the years that the new form of slavery, now, some people might not like how they sound, but this is that same spirit now empowers the spirit of abortion.
Maybe that’s the best way I can put it. That same spirit that enslaved and killed, the Africans that are brought to the states is that same spirit that’s now empowering in abortion. It’s just empowering abortion. It just looks a little different now because the, the, the essence of that spirit is to steal, kill, and destroy. Steal, kill, destroy.
What they did there is what they’re doing here. And that same spirit is in different forms of functions all over the earth. But the most impactful, I believe that we’ve seen in our generation and the past generations is slavery and abortion. So that passion started there, I believe was it, you know, it’s, God’s spirit in me that feels uncomfortable with such atrocities like that.
So I didn’t know how to engage in the conversation. I didn’t, cuz I didn’t realize that people would bring up such deceitful arguments of all you care about is life. Not about the child after what inflammatory statement I want you, if you, you can say that inflammatory statement, but then go through my bank records.
You know, I, I’m not gonna sit here and just shout all that I do and all the money I give and all the things I do. That’s that’s that’s between me and the Lord. Matter of fact, part of my faith says when I give and when I do and when I help not to make a big announcement because it’s it’s for him, it’s not for anybody else.
But these deceitful arguments get into the heads of many people because you and I aren’t announcing what we’re doing on social media. Hey, I just wrote this massive check to this abortion army. We’ve saved 7,000 kids. I I’m not gonna do that, but that looks ridiculous.
John: But go back to that public statement that you made 10 years ago and how it shocked you now, you were 10 years younger.
You were you. And I I’d be curious even to go back to the American idol days cuz there you’re you know, in the public arena in the most public way, and you don’t have roots yet. I assume that, you know, you don’t have the confidence, it comes with age and experience. Right?
You’re a little bit intimidated by everything I would assume. So all your life you’ve been in a place where you’ve, you’ve had to wrestle with self censorship and fear versus saying, and being confident to speak what you believe.
Danny: So that’s, there’s so much that I can say about that because when I went on American idol, I didn’t realize.
I had never been on a platform like that. I mean, the, the first thing they told us to do on American Idol, they’re like the people who are preparing us for the show, they were kind of coaching us and saying media people, people who were just saying, Hey, you’re about to go on this roller coaster ride.
And one of the things said, “don’t Google yourself.” You know, they, while we were on the show, they froze our social media accounts. Right. Yeah. Because they just wanted everything to be in house. And so, and they would control our social media accounts or whatever. But they, so we, when you, you know, when someone tells you not to Google yourself, what’s the first thing you’re gonna do, especially when you get on a big old TV stage, you’re gonna Google yourself.
And I didn’t realize how, how horrible and mean people could be. That’s such a broad statement there, but yeah, it was very hurtful. I had just lost my wife on the show a month before I tried out and people were telling me I was, I was dragging her. I was basically dragging her legacy to build it off her legacy to become famous.
Yeah. I mean, that caused me nightmares. Tears were shed. It was of, because I just couldn’t believe people would think that who, who does that? Right? They don’t know the whole story that we had planned this to go on it. She just passed away.
John: Just had honor her in effect.
Danny: Yeah. So I got a taste of opinions even to the point where my faith was being tried when, during my year.
So during my year, 2009 American idol, the hot topic cuz hot topics changed every year. Right? In our, in the news. I mean pop culture, right. The hot topic was coming out. Right. “I’m so and so, and I’m coming out as gay,” and people knew I was a Christian and there was a contestant on our, on our season that year that was gay, but didn’t come out yet. Right. And so there’s a big controversy that we hated each other. And that I was against him. He was against me. And even to the point where the first time I had my name really just thrown through the mud was when I was doing this AOL chat, there were 10,000 people online with this AOL chat, something you had to do one of the exit interviews on the show.
And someone asked me, what do you think about homosexuality? And I’m here. Just, I just told them the biblical belief. I said, you can believe what you want to believe. I respect that. I believe what I want to believe. And that night from that interview, I was the number one training topic on Twitter, and it was the hashtag Goki is a douche. It all based on because the, the anger that I guess I, that was arousing was that, someone, they were saying, this is not a belief. This is who we are. You don’t believe you’re X, Y, Z. Get it. And I remember taking it back thinking, like, I felt like that was such an accepting statement.
You live your life. Basically. I live my life. That was just the idea. And I, I remember the first thing I did when I hope someone text me, Hey, you’re the number one trend topic. There was a whole merch store on sale. Gokey’s a douche, like a really bad picture of me with the hashtag. I’m not upset at this.
It was a learning curve. But one thing that I’m learning is to invite people to the conversation and not to X people out. And I’m learning that my words have power, even if I don’t, I guess I’m learning truth in love is more important than anything else. Not that I didn’t speak truth in love. But you gotta be so calculated when you speak because people who are mad, who are angry, who are bitter, are looking for a way to villainize you.
John: Yeah. But for people that don’t have as higher profile as you, I mean, I do think that you and senses are going to attract a lot more of that animosity, because if they don’t take you down, you have influence.
Danny: Yeah. That’s true.
John: So you get a double portion of that vitriol because of what you represent, but for average, everyday people. I think their struggle is with just the, “do I speak up or not? Do I speak the truth at all? Whether I speak in truth in love, but whether I speak the truth at all, or do I self censor myself?” And I think, you know, you represent something of a model for people, because what I hear you saying is, “the blow back is gonna come,” but look at you, it didn’t, and it didn’t stop you from speaking.
Danny: No, taught me some lessons in how to speak.
John: It did. But don’t you think that today many, many Christians are silent on abortion, on sexual purity, marriage, the gender issues, all these different issues, they’re just intimidated into silence. And if there was one or two encouragements that you would give them to say, go ahead and speak up and engage… Any particular words of counsel?
Danny: There’s a couple things that come to mind because I, I look at every experience at many times can be a teacher, right.
You ever go back and do somebody look back and say, now I know what to do for the next one, because I saw that there was X, Y, Z. I think we should be speaking up, right? But not just for the sake of speaking up, but actually, because we carry truth that sets people free. And I think if love is the motivation of speaking our truth and wanted to see freedom in people’s lives, I think you can’t, you can’t lose I have a caution for people speaking up many times speaking up can be, can be, we can be speaking truth, but we’re speaking to the choir.
And one of the things that I’m wanting to do is not just like, is it good for us to share Jesus, yet we share ’em in a way that turns people off? Or share Jesus where people invite him in. And this is my challenge to people, share it in such a way that it invites. Like, I love what you said at the beginning.
When you’re in a room with a lady who’s full of fear and wants to have that abortion, you invite her into the hope conversation. And the hopeful side, the fear goes down, the hope goes up and guess what the baby has saved. And I think that is such a powerful way to explain speaking in our communities is that we bring hope to the table and it’s, we’re speaking to it.
Now, some people are just not gonna have it. And what a Jesus tell us to do. He said, just wipe, take your shoes. What do he say? Dust off your shoes. Go to the next house because… I read on one of the sheet that you had. You’re like having arguments on social media will never win. That’s like, no, that’s a really big place for young people.
Not just young people, all people to air an opinion.
John: Yeah. That’s my number one rule for engagement, is I don’t engage with heartfelt disagreement through social media. I make it, I think it’s more like hit and run. You know, you throw it out there, you attack and you run, you might feel good that you said something, but you didn’t win anything.
And being winsome with the truth is the goal here. We went on that win the culture, which means that when we engage, particularly in things like a biblical view of human sexuality, male, and female, or abortion, and the life issue, the medium, and the message do go hand in hand. And you have to speak truth in a winsome way, otherwise people trip over the sound, the tone, the attitude, and that’s all they need to dismiss you. So I think part of the lesson that we need to do, especially now we’re in a post Roe era, and we’re really responsible now to win our neighbors win our states, cuz it’s a state by state battle now pro-life issues. A state by state battle is we gotta learn how to win winsomely, speak winsomely.
Danny: Well, what did, what did the, the father of wisdom out of our scriptures? He said he who wins souls is wise. I remember God sharing that with me one time as I was going out on my journey of speaking out, it was cuz I, when I, I always attributed to that verse to winning people to Jesus.
But when I looked at it, I was like, wait, that’s old Testament. He, of course they knew Messiah was coming, but I don’t think he was actually talking about people. If you win someone soul, their mind will emotions to you, you’re a wise person. And, and that’s what’s happen. And I think so the encouragement is that we’re here to win people over.
We’re not here to put ’em in an argument headlock you know what I mean? Like just, and we see that a lot, cuz right now there’s a lot of brilliant minds. And, but what we’re not seeing is that people are created to connect. They’re not created to be, to be put in a half Nelson by your words, because that, that hurts someone.
And when you could see, cuz let’s go back to what you said, cuz you said that so powerfully and I don’t wanna just go past that, that beginning statement. I’ll go to it again. You connect with that person when there’s fear, you don’t start saying, oh you’re wrong you know, you start telling me you’re, you’re a horrible person for fear.
And you, you brought ’em to the conversation. Well, no, God says this apply all our needs, accordance, riches and glory. You dispel the fear. You’re winning their heart because you’re not, you’re not attacking them. And I think that’s something that I’m learning because I’ve attacked some people friends in my close.
I don’t do that on social media attack. I’ve attacked some friends like, dude, you’re wrong like that. So anti-biblical, but someone’s perception is their truth and you scolding them for how wrong they are, is not gonna win them over. As matter of fact, it’s gonna shame them. It’s gonna guilt them and it’s gonna make, you’re gonna feel like you’re gonna look like a Wolf to them.
And wolves look scary all the time. We gotta get rid of the Wolf and we gotta get down to the you’re. Wait, you’re a brother. Yeah. You’re a brother in Christ. I can trust you. I can pour my heart out to you.
John: The best and most brief lesson in effective communication is when Paul says “speak the truth in love.”
Five words, whole lesson. If you speak truth without love, it’s sort of like shine and the light right in your eyes. It just causes people to, to look away. If you speak love without truth, you’re pretty much, a coward. You know, you just accepting of all things and people end up living ruinous lives. If you speak the truth with love, it’s sort of like a light being shown in front of them. So they’re drawn down the pathway to the Rocky path and so on and so forth. And it seems to me that that is our goal as Christians today. And of course my context from where I live and work is equipping, this next generation with effectively in how to, speak about the life issue, and overseas, like in China, when we’ve trained about 3 million people in China and they don’t have a lot of books and other things that they can read on counseling. What are they gonna, what, so what I, what do I teach them when I talk about helping women who are in pregnancy distress? I said, well, basically what you wanna do is you wanna say to them, “I’m sorry, you’re in this situation, it must be painful. let me help you.” Everything else you’ll figure out. That’s what the good Samaritan did. He just saw the man who was about to die, and he drew near said, “I’m gonna help this guy out.” And then love kind of teaches you one thing or another, but those are always, the starting points is just let me help you. Fear just drop from here, down to here, because all of a sudden hope that I’m not alone, there is a future, things can get better.
I can’t see it, but they can see it when hope goes up, life wins.
Danny: So true. And we need, we need more hope, right? It’s the great deception of our day that there isn’t no hope in that we have to do it in our own strength. I’ll tell you this. That’s where the fear comes. Cause we’re, we’re not strong enough.
Right? We’re not strong enough to raise kids on our own. We’re not strong enough to provide our own. We’re not our strength comes from God. And it’s like, when we plug into God, we get that supernatural strength to be everything that he wants us to be. It’s a great point
John: besides finding moral courage and being willing to be countercultural, contrarians, upstream versus downstream, the second thing that I picked up on, on your life, has been specifically your acknowledgement that abortion is not just one issue among equal issues, but it represents kind of a preeminent moral crisis. That we’re what we’re really talking about is, intentionally killing what God is at that moment, knitting together in the womb and sees as a son or a daughter.
And there are a lot of chronic injustices in the world, but this is a preeminent crisis and God says that we should rescue the innocence. So and so forth. How did you just in your growing up and in your developing years, how did you sort this issue through?
Danny: When I was younger I remember I had a friend whose mom, and of course we were pro-life growing up, but I had a friend whose mom was super pro-life.
I guess we should all be super pro-life. Right. But what I mean by…
John: She was engaged in…
Danny: Engaged. That’s a great way of phrase. Okay. The super stands for engaged.
John: Sidewalk counseling or doing something.
Danny: Yeah, we would go, I was young and so she would take us to the protests and, or we’d drive past them.
And man, it was, I didn’t know what to think as a kid. I mean, I knew there, it was like a war zone on the streets. That’s all. Cause when it, back in that day it was a big issue and the church was really trying to engage. I hope it worked. I can’t, I don’t know everything and I’m sure many babies were saved, but it looked like that protesting went down and then went away my perspective.
John: Yeah. That’s the operation rescue age and, where many, including myself sat down in front of abortion, clinic doors and wept and prayed. Many of, my friends went as an act of repentance for their own abortion. And part of the, the confession of their faith and, cleansing of their shame and guilt was, I’m gonna go down there and I’m gonna lay down and I’m gonna pray.
And then others, that went down there, just to sit to, to weep and grieve and say, Lord, not today.
Danny: Which is actually a very good response, I think. But I noticed that it went away. That was the big thing that stuck out to me.
John: It went away in, in, because I think a lot of those kinds of movements, it really depends on the maturity of the leaders.
And there were some leadership issues I think, that we’re wanting. And also has to do with the fact that once you get arrested, I was probably arrested a dozen times in Boston, 1989 to 93. And, you know, you’re in courts, you’re, you know, a lot of people lost their job, so you can get worn out from it, like in the civil rights movement.
Lot, lot of there’s a lot of ebb and flow to that whole process, but…
Danny: So kind of backtracking and looking at that over my life and watching that, and then watching it go away, I felt like it was two extremes, right. It was like, everyone’s there now everyone’s gone. And I remember thinking about that in my twenties saying what happened, because can remember when Roe versus Wade was passed.
I wasn’t even born yet.
John: Well, here’s what happened. A lot of that energy that produced a lot of awakening to the reality and the truth of abortion. It got diverted into different avenues of the pro-life movement. Many, many people said, “I can’t go out and lay myself down in front of planned parenthood and go to jail for the weekend. I can’t do that. But I can do this.” And so all the other things got fed as that kind of the radical edge of the movement started to fade, the pregnancy help movement took off in the 1990s, primarily because all that energy, that was sort of the civil rights movement, regarding the unborn got translated into organizing pregnancy, help centers for your neighborhood.
That’s our story in Boston. My church, we found out that we had about 30% of the people in my church had a firsthand personal encounter or experience with abortion. And as we began to open this up, we call it the day God lanced a boil because one, after another people stood up and began to tell their story with many tears.
From that they went to planned parenthood and some of these sit-ins. And from that, they went into, let’s organize a way to offer pregnancy tests and counseling and personal help to women who are in crisis. And we ended up starting, six ultrasound equip medical clinics in the greater Boston area.
And then we ended up going to Miami, helping that, minority communities down there start three or four more. And now we’ve been doing this all over the world, but there are 3000 pregnancy centers in the United States today. And almost all of them started in the nineties.
Danny: What was the question again? Because I had a, I’m trying to go back to what was the question?
John: Well, the question that I originally thought was how did the issue, the truth of abortion become real to you?
Danny: Yeah. So, sorry, forgive me because I. I, when I saw those extremes, I was thinking in my, my head, like what happened? That’s what really got me into the conversation again.
Was like, I saw this, I don’t see this what’s going on in our world. Like, why was it so potent here and now it’s gone here. And I think that’s what started, cuz I just started, there was like a gnawing in the inside of me what’s going on with abortion. It’s the biggest issue of our time. And that’s when I actually discovered the pregnancy centers.
And so one of the first things that, that we began to engage in was actually giving to the, because I started hearing statistics how well, I actually never knew those dots connected though. Like what you just said was like, oh, that’s what happened. You know? Cause when you’re living your life, you don’t see all the, all the dots connect.
And that’s actually where the passion started when I saw that extreme that I saw not. And I’m like, Is anything happening right now. And I saw the, and then we started, that was the thing that we started giving to the abortion clinics. I mean, excuse me, let me rephrase that to the life. The pregnancy centers are, you know, trying to yeah.
Assist these moms.
John: And now they’re gonna be the ones who are, who are now becoming the target. It’s interesting that for all these years we’ve been ignored and now we’re the ones that are being fire bombed. And so, and so, because we’re the visible buildings that represent our moral stance and our good Samaritan willingness to help one woman at a time.
So there are the kind of the attack points.
Danny: It was that’s, that’s scary. And it was, it was scary. And one thought that came to me years ago when I first started re engaging in the conversation was have we been desensitized, desensitized to abortion? And for the most part, I think much of the community, much of the population of America was desensitized to it.
it’s just abortion. And I, I think to this day, the conversations being reengaged and people are, are being brought to hard questions, right? There was a lady named Lila rose who really peaked my interest.
John: I know Lila. Yeah.
Danny: And I, I just found her, I think, on social media one day and I started seeing her work.
And her going in there calling, acting as a patient. And really, she was revealing the true hearts of the people who were doing it, you know of it became more about a money issue. It became more, it was, there was, there was a whole industry built on it. And, but it would have the, the flag.
we support women, you know, it was just.
John: Yeah, I think, for me, I’ve been involved with the pregnancy help movement since 1991 is when we started our first pregnancy center. So we were getting arrested regularly. We decided that it might…
Danny: It’s easier, more effective in the new way.
John: Exactly. Well, it really does come down to that is what if we could be there when the, when she find out that she’s pregnant, that was really the philosophy, rather than being there as the last ditch voice, we can help you, which is valuable.
I mean, there’s a prophetic role to play there. But the real winsomeness how do we win people? What if we open a clinic? Provide a pregnancy testing later on ultrasound, and women come in with their boyfriends, husbands and whatever in a state of panic. And we could say to them, let us help you.
and that’s how we ended up starting our first pregnancy center in Boston, which grew, and really what I found out is that all over the country, and then slowly now, today, all over the world, the Christian Church is taking the lead at organizing pregnancy help ministry. I think it’s one.
I think I call it the underground railroad of our time.
Danny: That’s, that’s a great way to put it because, because it’s helping individuals, but it’s saving lives. It’s for the mom and it’s for the baby. Which is another inflammatory argument that we experience is that you don’t care about this.
You care about that. And I love that it’s being dismantled by the truth of “we’re pro mom and we’re pro baby.” I mean we’re, pro-life all around.
John: You’ll love this. I brought you this take a guess what this is. I’m taking this to Cuba. Guess what that is.
Danny: Is it a little ultrasound? I dunno.
John: Yes, it is. It is. That’s a, that’s a ultrasound machine.
Danny: You could tell if that’s a, you could.
John: And it connects to an iPad.
Danny: Get out of here.
John: And so in Cuba, they’re using this now they visit the Christians are visiting mothers in their homes, cuz they can’t afford to open up a pregnancy claim.
They have no money when I was in Cuba. They didn’t even have money for pens. okay. And stores don’t sell pens because nobody can afford to buy a pen. That’s that’s what you’re dealing with. But Cuba has the number one abortion rate in the world.
Danny: Oh no, I didn’t know that.
John: Number one in the world is Cuba.
So we start working with the churches down there and we’ll taking another one of these and it basically is an ultrasound. Inexpensive connects to this, allows people, moms to see their babies. Grandmas who are pushing their daughters into abortion to, to see again how the baby’s connected to mom and you end up saving them both, which is what the pro-life mission is all about.
Danny: So good.
John: So I think there’s a lot of things to be cynical about the church today, but I always tethered that by the fact that the, the pregnancy help movement in my view is something that the church of this generation can be especially proud of because we’ve built this over the last 50 years and now it’s going international.
And now more and more people of, who are in their twenties and the thirties are, are moving in. And the Lila roses are becoming the leaders of the movement, so and so forth. So another area I just wanted touch base with you on, when Roe was ended, you went out on Instagram and you basically celebrated, which I celebrated.
And honestly, I reject a lot of the advice about not celebrating. I think, no, no, no. A win is a win. Gotta celebrate that. Okay. Everybody that’s in the Pro Life movement knows that that is a momentary celebration. And a lot of work yet to be done. And you picked right up on that, you know, we wanna celebrate, but we gotta, you know, roll up our sleeves and push this rock up the hill.
So I thought we could kick around some ideas about what that looks like. What does it mean to engage in the pro-life battle now that we’re in a post Roe era? So I came up with some ideas and I thought I’d list them for you. And then you can comment on it. Okay? So post Roe, what should we do?
Number one, I think the first thing we need to do is we need to ask biblical questions. Everything should start with the Bible. And I think there’s four questions that people should be asking. And if you can answer these four questions, you pretty much need all you need to know. You can always become an expert.
You can always go into ethic, but these are the four questions. Number one. What does the Bible say about human life and human dignity? Including life in the womb. Number two, what does the Bible say about the shedding of innocent blood, including abortion? Number three, how do we bring God’s forgiveness and grace to those feeling, the regret and the guilt over their past abortion so that they are experiencing God’s forgiveness and the freedom, so they become a testimony and part of the pro-life movement? And number four, what has God called us to do to stop the shedding of innocent blood? And what examples do we have from the Bible? Going back all the way to the midwives in Egypt to today.
Danny: Well, there’s a lot in there and there’s a lot, lot of questions that were asked.
But there they are in there. You know, one of my favorite scripture verses was at Psalm 139, just for myself, that, that, you know, that he formed me. Right. I think he said that Jeremiah, as well in your mother’s room, I formed me and I called you to be a prophet to the nations, but Psalm 139 talks about like before, I was even born you’re wrote written every day as in a book. Like there was such a intentional plan weave together for a life of a person. And I think that gives hope alone saying, “Hey, you just weren’t born.” But like, there’s actually, I believe what the Bible said. There’s a book in heaven that has your story laid out. Now of course you have a powerful thing called choice.
Right? And choice is gonna be your best asset. If you make the right one to fulfill that plan. And so there’s that. I love that you mentioned the story about, and I’m not sure if you want Midwives these. Yeah, yeah, go ahead. Yeah. Yeah. I’m not sure if you wanted to go through ’em all. But man, think about that when the decree was to was just, it was during Jesus’s time too, right?
Was it Herod who put out the decree when you heard that a savior was born when the, to kill all the babies being born at that time.
John: Child killing a lot of babies died in Bethlehem
Danny: And you think about it and with Moses being a deliberate, there were two saviors. So to speak born during this time. And what happened?
John: Clarify what you mean by that?
Danny: Moses was a deliverer. So he was a type of Jesus, right? And so they were, when they were trying to kill his baby, they were trying to kill the deliverer. Right.
John: Exactly. And then they went after…
Danny: Then they went after Jesus, who was a savior. And I’m just saying, what have, we don’t even know because we there’s been so many babies that have
have been murdered. We don’t know what our earth is missing and what benefits.
John: Yeah. Well, there’s no doubt that, that, that, and it’s easier to see this when you go overseas, but the Christian view of human value that you have intrinsic value that we have equal value, that we have exceptional value that we have eternal value.
This one concept that comes out of the idea of us being made in the image of God is radical. It’s not so visibly radical in the states because it’s part of our culture, the, in the value of the individual okay. So you can have some anti-Christian business, or a group of people. Everything stops when a kid falls down a well, because we see him as an individual.
But you go to places like China, where that value is missing, and the killing of unborn children and elderly and so on and so forth is just routine. And you begin to see how radical, just this, this one question, getting a biblical view of, of the value of human life makes you a contrarian to the culture makes you different.
And, and it makes you put you in a position where you begin to challenge everybody’s ideas around you. And I think that’s where it all starts with the pro-life issue. Is, is that first question? What does gotta say about a human life? Here’s a couple other things that I came up with.
Learn to talk about the pro-life issue to secularists, not quoting from the Bible. We need to stay the Bible, but I think we need to be also make the case that when we go on college campuses and so on and so forth, that the reason that we’re pro-life is because we think that it’s morally wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being abortion intentionally kills an innocent human being and therefore abortion is wrong.
That’s entire, that’s the entire argument right there. Not quoting from the Bible, but referring to science of the unborn. It’s a human being. It’s wrong to kill it. Just like it’s wrong to kill a two year old and I can engage at that level on a college campus, in a youth group, in, in a workplace I can defend that position fairly easy.
So I think post Roe part of that persuasion process is going to be helping this current generation be comfortable in knowing what the Bible says. Number one, and then having a certain pro-life apologetics that they can say, no, I’m gonna explain to you why I’m pro-life sure. I think it’s wrong to intentionally kill innocent babies.
Well, it’s not a baby. Well, what, what do you mean? It’s not a baby?
Danny: Yeah. Well, that’s what our society has really, really good at is redefining. You know, if you can win the battle of words, you can win the entire war. They’ve redefined the mom. Mom used to be a definition of which the true definition of a mom is a very nurturing, caring, giving life.
Like the most beautiful attributes are held within a mom. And now we have taken the mom and we’ve turned the mom against the baby. We’ve we call the baby a fetus. And I actually heard, I know’s true now, but I heard that the Latin meaning for fetus is baby.
John: Well, it means little one. Yeah, little, little child,
Danny: little child.
I’m thinking about have like, yeah, but we don’t know that, you know, many people don’t know that. And so what they do is they, they, they, what do they call a zeal light or something like that? What do they call a Zygote? Zygote that’s what, yeah. Yeah. You really can. Disattach people by saying stuff like that.
John: Yes, you can.
Danny: But this is why I think we are where we are as a culture. Because this society has, has redefined things and redefining things brings you to a whole new place of deception. And so part of what I think our job is to redefine what to actually go back to the actual
John: yes, don’t yield the ground on meanings of words
Danny: you don’t want.
This is where if, if, and this is where my truth and your truth come in, which is so destructive because there is only one truth. Either someone came up and punched me in my face or they didn’t. It’s not, I felt like they did when they didn’t. It’s not like, I, well, it seemed like it, no it’s did they or didn’t they it’s.
You know, and why is this sort of struck cause what, what truth does and what definitions do is that they create order, right? And they, but when you pull that order away, this is where chaos, I mean, are you noticing our cultures going into cast right now? I mean, and I don’t know how far this is gonna go out, but when, when the truth is red means stop, but your truth is red means go who’s right?
And this is where the definitions are coming to crash. And this is where chaos is happening. And so it’s good. We go back to biblical, because that is the, that’s where the meaning originated and that never should change.
John: That’s my starting point is I always start with the Bible, but then in the secular culture, I like to go to science, because then that’s where you get to say, what is the unborn? And you don’t get to make it subjective. My truth versus your truth. No. What is the unborn? Is it human? If it’s not human abortion cannot be wrong. If it is human, then it’s wrong to kill it. Like it’s wrong to kill a two year old under any circumstances.
It’s just different. It’s just wrong.
Danny: I agree with you.
John: So that allows us to engage people winsomely but intellectually and, and control the conversation around one question. What is the unborn? If it’s human, it’s wrong to kill it. That’s a great place for people to get to go. And then I, I guess the last thing that I, I encourage people post Roe now is to, practice speaking the truth in love.
Like you say, you had to learn some moral muscles. Right. Learn to speak without getting angry. Learn to speak and be patient with people like, okay, you didn’t win them over. But as you say in apologetics, you did plant a little pebble in his shoe. And that will…
When I was in Romanic a couple years ago, right before COVID hit, I was actually in Romania when planes started being canceled. I had lunch with, the abortionist at this hospital and it was so amazing because he came in and, he was real nervous. He was gonna go meet with this American pastor. Talk about life he was real nervous, but it came and he came in, he started talking and he was telling his story.
He wouldn’t stop talking cuz he figured when he stopped talking that we were going to attack him. And finally he paused and I jumped in and, and we began to talk very quietly and casually and friendly and so on and so forth. I had a lady with me that used to run an abortion clinic, told her testimony, told her about her regret over her own abortion.
And you could just see again, see those, those walls come tumbling down. And one lady leaned over to me and she said “he hasn’t changed his mind yet.” because we’ve been talking for 30 minutes and I said, “You can’t plant seed in the morning and have salad at supper time.” gotta, it’s gotta play out a little bit longer than that, you know, but through the whole conversation, we just kept talking to him and we told him why we thought abortion was wrong.
We acknowledged that he was thinking that he was helping women, but is he really helping women? And we encouraged him to go back to his original desire to go into medicine, which was to help people, help moms, help babies, so on and so forth. And at the end of the day, I walked away thinking, by God’s grace and his work, that guy could be a pro-life testamony within a couple years. Just learning to speak the truth in love. I don’t think I would’ve been able to do that 10 years ago, but.
Danny: Yeah, I don’t think so either because I used to take, I used to take it very personal. some of the comments that people would say to me when we have the pro-life or pro you know, pro-life or pro abortion arguments, it’s very easy to take it very personally, right?
John: Yeah. But this is where we go back to what you said earlier, and that is you go back to God only God can change a heart. Only God can regenerate a soul. So whether you’re talking evangelism or persuasion over a moral crisis, like this, you’re there to bear, witness to the truth and then just give God some space to do his thing.
And if they respond, then you brought them to life. And if they don’t respond. You were a witness to life.
Danny: Yeah and it’s what Jesus did. There’s a scripture verse that’s really been sticking out to me. That’s really helped me understand myself, understand the culture we’re in is when Jesus made some really difficult statements that people left him.
And so the, for instance, the statement he made was I’m the bread of life. If anyone eats of him and he said, I’m the, the, the, my flesh and my blood are drink. He says, I think six times in John’s six. But the first time he says it, people qued. Then the second time he said it, in third, fourth, he people said, this is a hard saying who can understand it?
He says it again. He didn’t back down. And then they, and then, he asked the question, does this offend you? He said, is the spirit of his life, the flesh prophets, nothing. After he says that people left him and then he looked at the 12, he didn’t back down. He said, are you gonna leave too? And they said, “where would we go? You have the words of eternal life and we’ve come to learn that you are the son of God,” but let’s backtrack to what Jesus said there, because I thought this was interesting. And as you’re unpacking, that’s helped me see some stuff. The flesh is never gonna understand God in his ways right.
Spirit is life flesh profits nothing. My words that speak our spirit and life. It is the spirit that brings life. If we say what he says, even though their flesh might understand it, you were just saying to the abortion is what, you know, just giving him the word of life. Right. Jesus.
John: And loving on him.
Danny: And loving on him.
Right. Cause Jesus was the ultimate picture of you. Yeah. Most people didn’t think he was loving when he was saying what he was saying. Right. Because they, in their flesh interpreted Jesus saying, you have to cannibalize me and Jesus, wasn’t saying that. Because the flesh just doesn’t understand Jesus’ words.
But I think there’s a picture there that we can do is that we speak the truth in love like Jesus did. I it’s, it’s gonna do something. It’s doing its work. Cuz people left at the time. Maybe some came back, but I’m saying it’s doing its work.
John: It’s still doing its work. It’s spreading all over the world and down through the centuries.
Danny: But he, he didn’t back down from the truth. But I think when you remember that, when we are talking to people, you speak the truth, you do it in love. The holy spirit will work inside of them. Their flesh won’t get it. It’s gonna stir up stuff. It’s gonna make them uncomfortable. Right. Just like it made. One of the first responses was they quarreled amongst each other.
They begin to say, oh, you know, who is this guy? Right. And, but I mean, it was doing its work. It was doing its work.
John: It is well, thank you. You know, you are like most people you’re not out looking for a fight. You’re not out looking to stir things up. But you’re also not running. From moments in which you either are going to collapse and stay silent or speak.
And I, I just think there’s so many of us, we just need some more examples of that in our life to just find our footing, especially in the post Roe era, we have so many opportunities now as a church to, to make influence in our neighborhood, in our towns, in our states and finding your footing, finding a little courage, speaking the truth in love.
Danny: And could I just, maybe talk to a few people who are out there, just some finishing thoughts that I have, cuz I think there’s some, you know, Paul says we can give our Bible, we can give entire Bible. We can give, Paul says we can give our body to be burned. And it means nothing we can give. All we have to the poor it means nothing.
I think the ultimate goal here is love, right? Is when we do it, we do this in love that. And. Because I don’t know if you’re seeing this a lot, but, it’s very easy to build platforms on this. Right. And platforms are not bad, but Jesus has to be the center of it. And, I don’t know if you’re noticing this, but I’m noticing like in the culture, the only thing that counts is when we do this work in love, it goes just to an extra level.
And that’s what I want to caution people who, you know, who are maybe some of fans of mine who are listening because you, I think one of the things that the striking is when you start speaking as you’ll gain some followers too, you just won’t lose followers. You’ll gain some followers. And then, you know, you can start noticing that it can give a platform which might be what God has called many people do to do.
But I always remind myself, is this being birthed outta love? Or, or just checking the motives, you know what I mean?
John: Yeah. And checking the, the motives of even when I decide to do good, the evil yeah, this is right there at me. So even your platform can become a source of pride and all your
Because the enemy is actually looking for way, little time. And so one of the things that like, that has been very on my heart is just, is like, man, when we’ve put our eyes on Jesus, you know, the author and finish of our faith, he’s gonna give us that love to do the work we’re gonna do. We make known for the flesh cuz the flesh prophet’s nothing.
And, and I, and like I said, I wanna encourage people to speak up. I wanna encourage people to fight this. The Bible calls it the good fight. Right, right. It’s a good fight of faith. Faith is believing what God says over what the world says over what my feeling says. But this, this fight, you have to have the armor of God on you gotta protect your head.
You gotta protect your heart. You have to, you have to, you know, be ready with the, the shoes of salvation. And this is something I’ve, I’ve learned so much over this last 10 years, just with this abortion, with this abortion thing, cuz God spoke to me recently this one time where, where I put out a post and it wasn’t just about abortion.
It was about a lot of cultural things a lot. And I mean, I was given scripture and I was doing, I woke up the next morning and something was no at me. And I talked to and I, and I said, Lord, what’s going on? I’m feeling a bit angst about what I did yesterday. Cuz it got, my post just went viral. Right? And the Lord, what he showed me was outta chapter Joshua chapter five, it was this that, Joshua was being downloaded the instructions to go take Jericho. As Joshua was going up and doing his thing, he meets a man with the sword and he asked, he see this man, this warrior with the sword, he says “who’s side are you on, you on our side or their, and the man with the sword said, neither I am the angel of the armies of the living God. And when I read that I thought the heart of God, teach me a new level of talking about it.
And maybe this will help. So maybe this won’t, maybe this will be edited out. But the whole point I was trying to get to was that when we speak, I’m not on their side, I’m not on their side. I speak as a representative, as an ambassador of the kingdom of heaven. And when I speak and I, and I, you know, Jesus being the greatest example of how we speak, I speak from that perspective.
And I’ve noticed since then that I I’m becoming sharper in my ability to reason to, to speak. Because at this point I don’t gonna speak my opinions anymore. Although do I have ’em a lot. I have to make sure my opinions line up with the word of God. But I’m noticing the effect because right now I think one of the things is that we’re being so polarized that you either left or your right, right?
John: Painful. It’s painful.
Danny: It is. Cuz you can’t even, because right now, yeah, you’re, you’re bad if you are bad, if you ain’t, you know?
John: And in my world, the right is sort of the pro-life camp, but victory for us means you win everybody, you know?
John: So you don’t wanna be in a camp.
Danny: We don’t wanna be the right. We won this battle because I I’m seeing people on the right intellectually winning battles left and right. But dividing more and more people. And when I, when the Lord really showed me that I was like, okay, Lord, I want to speak as an ambassador of heaven.
So I don’t sound like a Republican, so I don’t sound like a Democrat. So I don’t sound like a liberal, I don’t sound like conservative now. Obviously I am very conservative. I’m a conservative guy. But my conservative is to conserve biblical values. Right? So I hope that maybe helps someone out there.
John: And a woo and win people. Toward the truth.
Danny: Winning souls is wise.
John: Winning souls is wise. I mean, again, nobody in Abraham Lincoln’s day, you know, nobody wants to be a party member. You know, we don’t wanna belong to this faction of that faction unless you’re really into politics per se. But the slavery issue became the moral crisis of the day.
And people had to make a choice. And when I was converted in 1973, you know, we wanted to stay above the party, you know. It’s harder to do that. It’s harder today. It’s harder to,
Danny: because there is no other party but left and right.
John: But, but if I have to choose, I’m gonna do it with lamentation because I wanna win.
Yeah. I wanna win everybody my way and it’s not to a party because these people, even if they’re good temporarily, they’ll turn corrupt. It’s just a matter of time because that’s politics.
Danny: Because human love turns the hatred overnight, which is, but God’s love. See, there’s a difference between human love and God’s love.
Bible says God’s love was shed abroad in our hearts by the holy spirit. Human love will turn to hatred and that’s what the parties will do that, but that was such a, and I hope someone, you know, gets help from that because you are very seasoned. Let’s listen to you talk. I’m like, man, this guy could talk circles around everyone, but I see the love aspect.
I see the knowledge and the, and that’s what I want to attain to. I want to attain to be speaking truth, speaking it in love. I don’t care if there’s a platform created. If there’s a platform that happens to come from it it’s because people saw the truth and that platform versus anyways, right?
And, these are such challenges along the way though, as we, as we do this, but thank God. Thank God for what you do.
John: Well, I’m a, I’m a recipient of a lot of good council. I did not grow up in a Christian home. Oh no, no, not at all.
Danny: Neither was my wife.
John: Not at all. I went to church twice a year at Christmas and Easter and that was it.
And, I heard the gospel during the Jesus movement days. Okay. That late sixties, early seventies, when guys like Barry McGuire and, and all those guys were coming outta rock and roll. And you were either dying of drugs or you were started Christian music, you contemporary Christian music, Larry Norman, all those guys come on.
All those guys, you know, and by the way, within a month of my conversion, I was 17. One of the first messages I ever received in a church setting or a Christian context, was Josh McDowell who came to my town and talked about maximum sex. And gave a, a talk on the, that maximum sex is designed by God. And the rule is wait till marriage and be faithful in marriage.
And I was a virgin at the time. I said, I been an unhappy one, but I was one, but the very first message that I learned was this is the moral rule that God has for you. Yeah. And if you receive it, then this gift will be maximized. So I received it been married now for 43 years. So I feel like that one message look how many tears that saved me from.
And, and then the, so the, the, the pro-life issue was not personal to me, but when I began to see how it had damage so many people and how it’s connected to this, the, the lack of sexual fidelity and all the other issues. And I began to see how these all fit together, and how God in his word really was the beam that helps us walk through all of this stuff.
And I feel like I lived it. I received.
Danny: And you did, and my wife was the same way as you, but she was on the other side of the, the, the I’ve been married twice. First wifes in heaven. I’m married again. My wife’s parents were atheist, never took them to church. And my wife lament, the fact that she wasn’t taken to church, matter of fact, she was on her way to club one night and a friend invited her to church.
Her friend said, what are you doing? She said, I’m, she said, I’m gonna club. And she hadn’t seen this friend in a while. And he said, well, come see where I’ve been. Didn’t even tell where she was going. And she gets there she goes, oh, it’s a church. She goes, yeah. I just wanted invite you to church. And the preacher that night said, even if you’re gonna the club, you can give her life to Jesus.
She gave her life to Jesus, went to the club, but my wife had an abortion growing up in a godless home in Miami. She grew up in Miami, which is a very. it’s like a sin city. you know what I mean? It’s very, yeah, but she lament not being raised in church and not having the moral principles.
And not having, because there were mistakes made along the way. I think people want this message more than we think they want this message. And her, you know what? My wife told me. She said, cuz I wrote a whole song about it called tell somebody, it’s tell somebody about Jesus. But tell, she said I had to forgive people who said they were Christians, but never told me the gospel.
She said, people knew I was going to hell and you never told me, but there were mistakes. There were heartbreak. There were tears that you said there was a lot of tears that you said were saved. Yeah. My wife had a lot of tears that were shed because someone didn’t give her the truth.
John: Well, that’s the celebration of the gospel.
My daughter got baptized. She, she was quote the kind of goody two shoes, kind of a girl, cuz she grew up in the church. Right? She says, daddy, well I gotta give my testamony and what, what do I confess? Oh, I said, you look up in the Bible, this long list of evil and sin and your testimony is that’s what I would’ve been had you not saved me.
Danny: The most underrated testimony is that.
John: So that’s so, so my testimony is I got saved before I could leap right into the pit.
And your wife got saved out of the pit. And, and it’s the same savior.
Danny: But the Bible says we should be, we should not, not know much about, I forget what that verse says. Be very innocent of evil. Be very evil is destructive and messes you up. Just not something you wanna play with.
It’s not a toy. It’s not cute.
John: Yeah. No, I don’t want need to know the experience of crack cocaine. No, there’s, there’s just, there’s not a way to get to know it that way by experience, but anyway to God, be the glory.
Danny: Thank you, John.
John: Thank you for your life and your testimony and the thank you as I go as a world mission guy, I can tell you that music, one of the most strategic tools in God’s plan to, to carry the gospel, cuz music just sticks as you know, it just travels.
Danny: It does.
John: And so your, your message of hope in your music, travels a long way. So thank you.
Danny: Thank you. Thank you. And thanks everyone who watched us today. We enjoyed being with you. Thank you.
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