Many Christians have been blessed by Randy Alcorn and his organization Eternal Perspective Ministries. Many Christians, though, are unaware that the author of bestselling books like Heaven and Pro-Life Answers to Pro-Choice Arguments was ordered to pay an $8.2 million judgment to an abortion clinic for protesting peacefully. Many Christians are also unaware that Alcorn made the courageous decision to obey God rather than men by making decisions that helped keep him from subsidizing the abortion clinic while helping to finance many Christian ministries. In a post on his blog, he explains how God used persecution to glorify Himself and to grow the Christian author’s faith.
It all started in 1990 after Alcorn had been pastoring and writing books for 13 years. Dedicated to the pro-life cause, he led people from his church to peacefully protest in front of an abortion clinic in Portland, Oregon.
Alcorn writes that afterward, “An abortion clinic won a court judgment against a group of us. We were told we were liable to pay $2,800 for having prevented ten abortions (child-killings) on a particular day. We were also made liable for the abortion clinic’s legal fees, which were over $19,000. Like most of the others, I refused to pay.”
Alcorn’s refusal to pay landed him in jail for two days and resulted in the garnishment of his wages. Jail was humiliating and hard for him, but the bigger issue was the garnishment of his wages. He explains that the decision came down to “The church would have to either pay the abortion clinic or defy a court order.”
To prevent either one, Alcorn resigned his pastorate, explaining that “The only way I could avoid garnishment in the future was to make no more than minimum wage.”
Not long after his resignation, he learned that another judgment was being handed down by the courts to the tune of $8.2 million awarded to the abortion clinic. Alcorn writes, “It was the largest judgment ever against a group of peaceful protestors. It seemed likely our family would lose our house, and we would not be able to continue to send our children to the school they loved, Good Shepherd School.”
Yet, in the darkness of persecution and with his family facing financial ruin, God provided. Amazingly to anyone who doesn’t understand the goodness and faithfulness of God, Alcorn confesses, “That judgment was one of the best things that ever happened to us. Because what others intended for evil, God intended for good (Genesis 50:20).”
Before explaining some of the ways in which God worked (and continues to work) seemingly evil things for good, Alcorn provides this important and edifying mini-sermon in his post:
God is sovereign over all the apparent uncertainties and negative twists in your life and mine. He is never taken by surprise, never perplexed, never faced with circumstances out of His control. In this situation, God’s hands weren’t tied by the vengeance of child-killers. He didn’t merely “make the best of a bad situation.” He took a bad situation and used it for His highest good. So much so that I can no longer think of it as a bad situation—it was a severe mercy, a grace disguised in hardship.
In short, and I encourage you to read Alcorn’s post in its entirety (linked to here), people stepped up to pay for his kids’ Christian school, his family didn’t lose their house, and he started Eternal Perspective Ministries after resigning his pastorate. More amazingly, the $8.2 million judgment ended up being in force for 20 years, which meant that Alcorn had to support his family making only minimum wage for two decades. Praising God, he reveals: “God provided faithfully and most of the time we didn’t even think about it. With joy in our hearts, now nearly thirty years later Nanci and I continue to give away 100 percent of the book royalties to a wide variety of Christian missions, famine relief, and pro-life work.”
Ironically, the amount of book royalties that the Alcorns have donated to Christian ministries almost mirrors the amount the courts awarded the abortion clinic. As he concludes his post, Alcorn writes:
Some have wondered if I realize what we could have done with over $8 million dollars. My answer is always the same: “Nothing that would have brought us nearly as much joy as we’ve found in giving it away.” I firmly believe they’re not my book royalties—they’re God’s. Nanci and I certainly don’t need them, and it delights us to see God using them to touch lives all over the world!
For those of us who have been served by Randy Alcorn and his ministry, this peek into how God used evil for good in his life is an encouragement. The lesson for all of us is to obey God rather than man and trust our Heavenly Father.