Last Saturday night presented us an emotionally-charged experience indeed as
Claire and I were honored to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from Nebraskans Embracing Life.
Other guests at the dinner program at St. Vincent Catholic Church (the program was also live-streamed) included Gov. Ricketts, Lt. Governor Foley, Congressman Bacon, and a whole host of pro-life colleagues with whom we have been blessed to work with over these many years: John & Mary Ann Kellogg, Ann Marie Bowen, John & Karen Miller, Joe & Louise Ferrante, Larry Donlan, Mike Steil, Steve & Carolyn LaGreca, John Sieler, Sister Renee Merkes, David Zebolsky, and a few others.
In accepting the award, we presented the following remarks. I started off, “One of my favorite quotations of all time comes from my dear friend that many of you also know, Rick Duncan, a constitutional law professor at the UNL Law School. Like others of us in this room, Rick was a later convert to Christianity and I remember with great fondness this remark he once made at a pro-life event. Rick said, ‘You know one of the neatest things I’ve discovered is this — in Christianity your heroes can also be your friends.’
“Well, believe me, Rick’s observation is particularly relevant this evening as Claire and I humbly yet very gratefully accept this NEL award because it comes from the hands of some very special hero-friends. Some of you (I’m smiling especially now at Ann Marie Bowen) go back with us to the old days of Metro Right to Life, before we started the Omaha Christian Action Council which, of course, was long before we had ever imagined starting the AAA Crisis Pregnancy Center. We also remember so many of our beloved friends from those days that have already gone on to their reward: Rita Gradoville, Mary Ann Tiehen, Jo Elworth, Joyce Schuster, and others.
“So we accept this award, dear friends, in behalf of the whole team — for all of you, for all of the steadfast champions who have stood alongside us with Vital Signs Ministries, even for the Christian pro-life friends we have made in our travels in England, Eastern Europe (especially Belarus), Africa, and all the other places we’ve been.
“We are blessed beyond measure in being part of a forever family of heroes because of the grace of God poured out upon us. Thank you so much for this honor…
And then Claire added, “Several months ago, Vital Signs Ministries hosted one of our book brunches in which we listened to a Peter Kreeft video about JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. And in our discussion afterwards, we talked about the difference it makes to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ but also the crucial importance of friendship for those engaged in the grand adventure of heralding truth, justice, and such holy causes as defending the sanctity of life. There is no doubt that we have remained in this struggle through the years because we have taken full advantage of one of God’s greatest gifts; namely, the friendship of like-minded brothers and sisters.
“One dramatic picture of how helpful this is looking down the line of friends when I’m standing in a public pro-life witness at an abortion business. Several such friends are sitting right here in this room tonight. In such situations, I look to those friends as a joy, a comfort, and a sanity check. I’m reminded of who I am, the Lord I serve, and what a blessing it is to be part of such a company of Christian ‘doers of the Word.’ Yes, the comfort of seeing those friends reminds me that we in the pro-life movement are truly on the side of the angels. And that’s a very good place to be! Again, thank you very much.”
Yes, thank you so much for the honor, NEL, and for a truly wonderful evening.