This former abortionist is now FOR LIFE
- Candice Atherton Women's Channel Editor
- 1999 23 Jun
I grew up living with my mother, who is a Christian, and my stepfather. My stepfather was an alcoholic and very physically abusive of my mother and myself. But my mother insisted that we go to church every week, even if she couldn't go. I even won a bible for not missing a Sunday in two years. The church I attended was full of wonderful people, but very legalistic and that just didn't appeal to me. Plus I was kinda angry at God. I was getting beaten all the time and I thought, "Okay God, what about me? I'm not a bad kid." I definitely had this resentment of God. I was going every Sunday, winning bibles, but I just became disenchanted with the legalism.
I was a very intelligent child, and I didn't have any interest in hunting and stuff. So my stepfather was always telling me I was gay, or a queer. I heard it for so long that I started believing it. When I was 16, I left to go to New York City, where my grandfather had always told me that the gay people were. My first homosexual encounter was in New York with a 47 year-old married man. I then became totally engulfed in the homosexual scene.
In New York, Eric launched a successful career in liberal politics. He became the first male ever elected President of a state chapter of NOW. Harrah later became known as a menace to the pro-life movement due to his success in opening abortion clinics in towns where clinics were not wanted.
I came to State College, Pennsylvania, the home of Penn State, to open an abortion clinic. It's a college town, but apart from the school, the town is very conservative. Well, these people were not having it when they heard that we were opening a clinic. We were successful despite the numerous prayer marches and prayer vigils. With all the resistance, I was in the media constantly. Plus, it was summertime so the kids were out of school. There was nothing going on in State College but me and a drought, which I think I even got blamed for once or twice.
Then in August of 1997 I went home to be with my family because my grandfather was dying of lung cancer. We went out one night to eat at Bob Evans and my brother-in-law had just returned from a Promise Keepers rally. Well he decided he was going to be Billy Graham, Benny Hinn and the Pope all rapped up in one and he was going to save my soul in a Bob Evans restaurant over gravy and biscuits. He confronted me about being a homosexual and an abortionist and a drag queen. I got so upset that we almost got into a physical altercation. But I came back to Pennsylvania and prayed for the first time in I don't know how many years, "God I don't even know if you're there or if you care. But if you do, and if what I'm doing is so wrong then please send someone to show me the right way."
A month later, one of the clinic staff came to tell me that a guy was outside. What was weird was that for the first time in months, he was the only person out there. Usually there are dozens if not hundreds of people outside. I asked him," What are you doing here?" He said he just felt the need to be there. After repeatedly asking and getting the same answer, I got bored and started cussing him out. But no matter what I said, this man replied "Eric, Jesus loves you and so do I." I kept insulting him, saying "but your this, this, this, and this!"
He replied, "I may be two out of the four but Jesus loves you, and so do I."
I asked him one last time, "Why are you here?"
"I'm here because you prayed that someone would show you the right way. I'm the one the Lord has sent"
So I got mad and screamed "I never want to see you again! If I do, I'll have you arrested!"
The man was Steve Stupar, former Penn State football player and a local church elder. Stupar came back to the clinic every day for a week.
After a week I figured if God had answered my prayer, I had better go along for the ride. So I finally talked to Steve and he invited me to lunch. Now, when you ask a homosexual from New York City to go to lunch, that's a pretty big todo. Lunch is the social event of the day. Well Steve took me to McDonalds, and he even had a coupon for an extra value meal. It was so embarrassing. But we started going out to lunch often. He told me "I want to be your friend because you're looking for a peace and a love that you're not able to find with all your money. What you see in me is the fact that Jesus Christ lives in my heart and soul."
Steve's middle son, Nathan, invited me to go to church one day. Before I went, I figured that if Steve's church wanted to see me, they'd see me in my full glory. So I died my hair with Ms. Clairol 39, and it was as red as red can be. I asked Steve, "What do you think about my hair?"
"What will your people think?"
"They'll like it."
"What will your pastor think?"
"Oh, he'll really like it."
When I got there I saw this man in a navy blue suit whose hair was twenty times redder than mine (and it was natural.) I got so mad that I was outdone by someone in the Assembly of God. But people didn't pay any attention to my hair because it wasn't the weirdest hair they'd ever seen.
What I didn't know then was that Chrissy, the woman who did my hair, also went to Steve's church. She apparently prayed for me every time I went in to see her.
I went to church that day and it was nice and everything, but I didn't give my heart to the Lord. Incredibly enough, Steve and I continued building an amazing friendship after that. Even though I hadn't been saved, he increased his efforts in being my friend.
On November 1, 1997, I left the clinic early to get my hair died back to its natural color. The clinic called to tell me that an abortion had been botched at the clinic. I returned to find everyone in a panic, but we eventually finished the procedure. Afterward, I was preparing the baby, who was a boy, to be sent to the lab. For the first time, it really hit me. I was so overwhelmed with grief over my involvement in this that I just stood there crying and apologizing to this baby. You're supposed to fill out a form for the lab and include the patient case. Instead of giving him a number, I named him Adam.
When I left that day, and knew I could no longer be involved in the day to day operations of the abortion industry again.
That night, I went out to dinner with Steve, his wife, and the pastor of his church and I gave my heart to the Lord.
Eric has spent a lot of time thinking about the qualities of Steve's witness that made him effective.
Steven has a motto - truth without relationship equals rebellion. To be honest, a lot of times, Christians can be very arrogant. I think it stems from being children of a king, we just automatically get a complex. But we need to be lanterns who go to the places that need light and are held close to the road. I don't want to be a lighthouse, which is stationary and towering. Don't look up to me, because I'm nobody. I'm just a sinner saved by the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ.
We're all so happy and content in our own lives that we want to force that on someone else. But in order to reach someone for Christ you have to build a relationship with them. There are a lot of Christians, I call them Pharisaical, who say "I could never talk to an abortionist, a homosexual, a crack addict." I say "Why not? Jesus did!" He spent very little time hanging out with the people who were already righteous, because he knew that his time on this earth was short. Kirk Franklin has a song that says "we say we love Jesus when we never see his face. Yet we see a world that's dying and we turn and walk away."
So take your lantern and take it to the streets. Satan does. Satan takes it to the street, he never waits for people to come to him. So go to where the people are. Keep it real, remember that you're not going to automatically lead everyone to the throne. Over the course of a lot of years there were many wonderful Christians who had planted seeds in me, many whose names I don't even remember. But some people think that every time they witness they're going to lead someone to the Lord. That belief will cause them to be depressed because they'll fail a lot of the time.
I found out that before I was saved, there were people who cut my picture out of the newspaper and posted it in there prayer book. Lots of people across the country prayed for me, and some even said a kind word. And all those people over the years really did soften the soil. So when the right time did arise, the ground was already a little bit fertilized. When Steve Stupar planted God's seed, it was finally able to take root.
Eric Craig Harrah is currently creating an organization to be called "Lantern Ministries" which will promote "compassion without compromise." After leaving the abortion industry with $11 in his pocket, he has become a popular speaker with engagements booked into the year 2004. He has just completed a manuscript for a book that tells his story detail in greater detail. Eric's ministry can be reached at (814) 861-3370.
Click here to read about Eric's experiences in the abortion industry and his thoughts on how the pro-life movement can be most effective: Behind abortion's curtain.