Welcome to the Pro-Life Warrior Spotlight!
I am pleased and honored to be joined by my friend, Lauren Muzyka, Esq. for our second-ever interview here at ProLife365.com. She has allowed us to place the Pro-Life Warrior Spotlight on her. She has started an ambitious, but entirely vital sidewalk counseling ministry organization. She has agreed to tell us more about it.
Lauren is the Executive Director of Sidewalk Advocates for Life. According to Lauren’s bio, she is a licensed attorney in Texas. She has served in pro-life ministry positions for the 40 Days For Life National Team, and for the Catholic Pro-Life Committee of North Texas. She is a graduate of Texas A&M University, as well as Ave Maria School of Law.
ProLife365.com (Kevin Kukla): Thank you for joining us on ProLife365.com for an interview, Lauren Muzyka.
Lauren Muzyka: Kevin, I am so excited about your new blog, defending human life! Thank you for your generous work as we aim to counter the culture of death with truth and love!
#1. So, tell us, to what do you attribute your zeal for the pro-life movement, and your love for sidewalk counseling? Did you have a faithful Catholic upbringing?
Well, I am here because of the grace of God! I believe the Lord called me to go to law school to become an attorney or advocate to defend the sanctity of human life, and my great love for grassroots pro-life work led me to eventually starting Sidewalk Advocates for Life in order to fill a gap in the movement.
In short, I saw the great need not only for peaceful sidewalk counseling training, but tools and on-going support to help local communities sustain that peaceful, prayerful sidewalk counseling presence year-round.
I am a cradle Catholic, but also a revert to the faith. I left in High School for a time, and through studying Scripture and theology, I was led back to my Catholic faith during my Junior year.
One of the things I enjoy, though, is bringing people together across denominational lines to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; it’s a joy to work with people of all walks of life in Christ who may not see eye-to-eye theologically, but are willing to stand arm-and-arm on the sidewalk to save God’s precious children.
Still, I can’t ignore that the rich teaching of the Catholic Church on life is foundational to the work I do every day–it has given me understandings and insights into the beauty and glory of human life that I don’t know I would have received anywhere else.
#2. When did you begin sidewalk counseling and what motivated you to get started?
I remember when I was 10 years old and my mom told me what abortion was. I asked her if there was anything we could do to help the babies.
She ordered pamphlets from Texas Right to Life, and we walked up and down our street and passed our information to our neighbors about “Life Before Birth” and how abortion was the taking of a human life. I will never forget that! My mom planted a seed in my heart by encouraging me to speak out and defend life, even very peacefully.
In college, I began as a prayer partner at the interdenominational Brazos Valley Coalition for Life during my freshman year at Texas A&M. The “Stand & Pray” program there invited us to adopt one hour per week and pray at the local Planned Parenthood abortion facility.
My sophomore year, they brought in well-known sidewalk counselor, Karen Black, and I became a trained sidewalk counselor under her very peaceful, woman-oriented method.
I’m not sure what it was exactly that motivated me to get involved — it was just this pull towards the pro-life movement, coupled with the understanding that the right to life is foundational to any other right that we have.
The idea that a child could lose his or her life due to so-called “safe and legal choice” was completely absurd to me, even though I understand the great pressures a woman might encounter in an unplanned pregnancy. Still, I knew that taking human life wasn’t the answer.
#3. Lauren, your Texas A&M Aggie pride precedes you. While in school there, you became involved in the first-ever 40 Days For Life campaign, and then later worked for them full-time. Can you describe your time with them?
It was during my graduate school year (2004-2005)—when I was doing a graduate certificate in International Affairs—that Days for Life started in ‘Aggieland,’ and the entire atmosphere on the sidewalk went from being apprehensive, disorganized and even chaotic, at times, to very peaceful, prayerful and purposeful.
I remember taking hours with friends from Church—especially covering late evening hours at the abortion facility. My friend, Peter, who is now my husband, joined me and other friends frequently, in fact! The abortion rate dropped at the end of that first 40 Days for Life campaign by a whopping 28%. Over 100 lives had been spared in Aggieland! That was my shining example.
Soon, [40 Days For Life] spread to my home city of Dallas, TX… And one by one, cities began to take up the campaign. It’s exciting to see where it is today! We never imagined it would grow as much as it has!
God has shown us that prayer is the foundation, and peaceful activism built on that foundation gets results!
#4. You graduated from Ave Maria Law with honors. Didn’t you intent to practice law? I mean, it would mean paying off your student loans quicker than ministry work. What did God do to convince you to go down a path of ministry?
In short, YES! When I imagined my legal career, I saw myself as a pro-life litigator or lobbyist, to be quite honest! I never imagined that I’d be leading a non-profit organization or working full-time in grassroots pro-life work!
Yet, I see how God uses my law degree and the skills gained through that each and every day. In fact, I strongly believe that if I had not gone to law school, Sidewalk Advocates for Life may not exist.
After law school, I thought the Lord wanted me to be a prosecutor in order to gain the necessary skills to be a litigator or lobbyist in the pro-life movement.
Well, after almost a year of interning and waiting for an interview (would you believe I was the next one in line, but at one point, they announced a hiring freeze in our county!), suddenly, my old friend David Bereit approached me and asked me if I might like to consider joining 40 Days for Life, full-time. I had just co-led the Dallas 40 Days for Life campaign as a volunteer. Quite honestly, I had to take that to prayer because I wasn’t sure it fit with my vision for my legal career!
Around the same time, I remember a local mentor of mine, Mike Refakis, saying to me: “You know Lauren, every time you talk about lives being saved, you light up like a Christmas tree. And practicing law really isn’t all that. Are you sure you’re not called to go into pro-life work full-time?” That really stayed with me.
Finally, I realized that if the boat to save lives and impact eternal souls was coming sooner than later, who was I to say no to God? I accepted the invitation to work for 40 Days for Life National — and I had two great years serving as their Campaign Strategist. It was a true gift as my job was to advice people running a local campaign. I learned so much from them!
I think after that, I was hooked! I saw how God could use the skills I developed in law school in mighty ways to serve him in the pro-life movement and save lives!
#5. What led you to start Sidewalk Advocates for Life and what do you guys do exactly?
In the Spring of 2013, I got a chance to meet a little girl whose mother I sidewalk counseled in the Summer of 2006. That lit a fire under me. I thought, how can I help more people experience more beautiful moments like this?
This is the video of that story:
In short, our Vision / Mission is to train, equip, and support local communities across the United States and the world in “sidewalk advocacy:” to be the hands and feet of Christ, offering loving, life-affirming alternatives to all present at the abortion center, thereby eliminating demand and ending abortion.
#6. How many communities have signed up to receive your training materials thus far, and how far-reaching is your organization? You’re already in more than one country, right?
On April 1,  we started with 22 locations (20 active, since two were waiting to start the following quarter). [That included] 19 in the U.S. and three International (Canada, the UK and Australia)! In short, we are in four countries and on three continents already! We guestimate that we’ve already trained about 400 people in our peaceful, prayerful, woman-oriented method!
We’re in the middle of an application period which ends May 23, so after that, we’ll have new locations added, as well!
Participating locations are found at: http://sidewalkadvocates.org/locations/
#7. God is clearly using your apostolate. Can you tell us some of the successes you have seen from your ministry already to date?
Reports continue to come in, but already, we’ve seen 40 babies saved and 28 “hopefuls!” Very exciting! (Editor’s note: A “hopeful” is a mother who left the abortion center without having the abortion, but still unsure whether to ultimately choose life for her baby.)
We have an average of one baby per day being saved on the sidewalk! And that’s considering that some of our locations are not abortion facilities, but abortion-referral facilities, too!
We also continue to receive stories of our Sidewalk Advocates ministering to those going into Planned Parenthood and/or the abortion facility regarding chastity, post-abortive healing and pro-life health care alternatives.
We also reach out to abortion workers. Whatever we do, we always reach out lovingly and peacefully. That’s ministry that you cannot even begin to quantify!
#8. Who should get involved in sidewalk counseling? What qualifications are needed? What if someone is not sure they can do it?
We say that if you can hold a conversation, you can sidewalk counsel! But in all seriousness, we invite everyone to consider it! God will work through your unique gifts and talents — and you might be able to reach someone that I cannot!
So, whether you are a woman or a man, young or old, introverted or extroverted, God can work through you to save a life!
The most important thing to remember is that God will equip you. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (cf. Phil. 4:13). And Sidewalk Advocates for Life is here to pray for you and help you to be successful!
#9. What can people do to learn more about Sidewalk Advocates for Life?
Please visit us at www.sidewalkadvocates.org — there’s so much great information there! Or anyone is welcome to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
#10. Where can people sign up their community, and what materials will they receive to get started?
People can apply for our program at www.sidewalkadvocates.org and click APPLY in the upper right-hand corner!
Here is what you receive when your application is approved:
• A brief training manual (which describes how to set up a local training and sustain that program at a local abortion facility)
• A training DVD (which teaches interested community members Sidewalk Advocacy)
• A number of training workbooks (to guide the Sidewalk Advocacy training in the local community)
• Access to materials (flyer templates, bulletin announcements, literature options and other resources) in our Online Program Headquarters
• Access to on-going training (training primers, examples, etc.) in our Online Training Headquarters
• A listing under the “Locations” tab of our national website (which includes a drop-down that shares local information so interested community members can find you)
• Regular Q&A calls with our National Team & Program Advisors
• Authorization to use our name, logo and program
• Access to national team members who work for and serve YOU so you can be successful
After the first three months of running the program, a local community may choose to renew their membership with Sidewalk Advocates for Life for either 3 months, 6 months or 1 year for ONLY $12.50 / month to continue to receive our training, tools, technology and on-going support! This includes access to ANY new training materials that we develop in the future — which, truly, we’re always developing!
Thanks for your time, Lauren. I know you are busy, and I want to commend you for taking a step of faith in starting this grassroots initiative. God bless you!
Thank you, Kevin, for your incredible defense of human life! (And your beautiful wife, Milissa, as well!) You both are a true light to a hurting world that misunderstands the beauty and glory of every human life! God bless you and thanks for all you do!
To read our previous Pro-Life Warrior Spotlight, on former Planned Parenthood Clinic Director, Ramona Trevino, click here.
Sidewalk Advocates for Life sure is an impressive ministry, don’t you think?
I encourage everyone to contact them to get sidewalk counseling organized and moving in their local community.
What do you think of Sidewalk Advocates For Life?