Crippled by Fear? Rise and Do Feet Work.

JFA’s October 2014 Impact Report

In JFA’s October 2014 Impact Report (Crippled by Fear?  Rise and Do Feet Work), JFA volunteers Angela, Molly, and Afrika describe how JFA’s training program turned their fears into productive conversations with pro-choice advocates.  Read the Impact Report first, then read below for additional helpful thoughts on fear and the confidence JFA’s training approach produces.

Impact Report Extras

Here are some additional reflections on different types of fear mentioned by these women and the ways in which JFA helped them overcome those specific fears.  See if you identify with a certain type of fear, and note the additional resources from JFA that might help you:

Fear of Conversations and “Maybe I Don’t Know as Much as I Thought”

Angela started to become more afraid of engaging people when she was asked to use her pro-life apologetics in the context of a conversation (a role-play in our seminar, what we call Seat Work).  The antidote for her, though, was the fact that we made Feet Work (outreach conversations with strangers) an essential component of the training program.  That’s why we highlight the fact that with Seat Work and Feet Work, you can’t have one without the other, at least not if you want to say you have been “trained” to create dialogue that changes hearts and saves lives.

Angela later highlighted how important the Seat Work and Feet Work combination is:

It does not matter how much you read, how much you know, or how much you care about changing people’s minds about abortion. Period. I have read the books, studied talking points, given presentations, written essays, and there are few things I care about more than ending abortion. But I was not prepared or equipped adequately until I participated in the Seat Work and Feet Work of Justice For All’s training program… 

As I reflect on my time with JFA, I can confidently and honestly state that it is the best training I have ever received, and I know without a shred of doubt that I will be using what I learned in my work with Students for Life of America.

Fear of Starting Conversations

In the Impact Report, Molly described the step-by-step process that she and her mentors walked through on campus to help her build confidence in starting conversations.  But this process started for her much earlier, in a JFA seminar in 2012.  That day she said,

How to build the conversation was really helpful. Getting to practice with our mentors in a group really gave me the opportunity to respond.

Molly then attended the JFA outreach at KU in 2012, and then two years later she joined JFA again for a seminar and outreach experience.  Molly is a model of the sort of tenacious spirit any of us would have if we really wanted to learn a new skill.  We must practice.  We can’t expect to learn to navigate challenging conversations about abortion with only a one-hour lecture or even a JFA Seat Work seminar (four hours or more).  Sure, some people can take what they learn there and put it into practice immediately (note Amanda Hill’s experience with a crash course from Catherine).  That’s great.  But the much more common experience is like Molly’s: Learning to start conversations takes practice and effort, and not just any practice and effort, but the right kind of effort.  In this case, it took repeated efforts in an outreach context where the purpose is creating conversations (with JFA mentors present to help).

Note also the community component here that was critical for Molly’s success.  Catherine and Joanna and other JFA mentors ministered to Molly in the midst of the outreach event, but they also ministered with Molly, starting conversations together.  This was essentially the same experience that I suggested was the key for me to accomplish outreach at a restaurant called “Beefy’s on the Green.” Another JFA mentor Jordan Newhouse also noted the same thing recently regarding outreach at Starbucks.  Both my and Jordan’s reflections are in a collection of letters called Beefy’s on the Green.

Fear of Being Stumped

Through her Feet Work experience, Molly also learned that there are questions she wasn’t sure how to answer.  She remarked that having experienced mentors on site helped her do some of her research on the spot so that she could continue to have conversations.  This is one reason JFA makes its mentors and the mentoring process such a priority.  It’s how we help people like Molly become world changers.

Fear of Offending and Fear of Embarrassment

Like Molly, Afrika’s training process with JFA began years earlier.  In 2011, she heard a chapel presentation at her school (CHA):

I was really glad to hear of how they were defending the unborn and would like to learn to defend them if I ever needed to.  

Then in March 2014, on a mission trip with a team from CHA, she participated in JFA’s Seat Work seminar and Feet Work outreach to the University of North Texas.  After the seminar, she wrote: 

I walked in with no confidence to have a conversation about abortion. I walked out not only with confidence but a good understanding to have a conversation with someone about abortion.

In September 2014, Afrika continued her training on her own intiative when she attended another Seat Work and Feet Work project, this time to Oklahoma State University.  In the Impact Report, she mentioned fear of offending people and fear of embarrassment, both very common fears.  Through the outreach event, though, Afrika saw these fears fade in the light of the important truths we have to share.  Now she is starting conversations with friends about abortion intentionally.

Here are two newsletters with additional perspective on these fears:

  • Facing Our Fears – Joanna Wagner (August 2012) – Joanna shares some of the fears she and two young women she was mentoring worked to overcome: fear of others thinking badly of us, fear of failure, and fear of being seen as young and ignorant.
  • Practicing What I Preach – CK Wisner (Oct. 2014) – CK comments on the very common fear of failure and makes a helpful point about how no conversation is a failure.

What’s Your Next Step?

Want to join these JFA mentors and volunteers and give your fears a good dose of Feet Work?  Visit JFA’s Join Us page to register for upcoming training projects (including Seat Work and Feet Work).

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