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Christian Union: The Magazine
July 2, 2023

Prayerful Penn Students Are Making a Difference

By Anne Kerhoulas 

The following article was actually written in 2021, when the universities where Christian Union works were beginning to come out of the COVID lockdown.


While most college students spend their Saturday mornings sleeping in, recovering from a week of late nights and coursework, a group of students from Christian Union Martus at the University of Pennsylvania participate in sidewalk abortion ministry with Quakers For Life, a pro-life organization founded by Martus alumnus, Eric Hoover ’19.

a quakers for life
Quakers for Life (QFL), whose name comes from Penn’s mascot, assemble at 7 a.m. at a Planned Parenthood surgical facility and the Philidelphia Women’s Center, two of the deadliest abortion clinics in the state, to pray and minister to women and men as they enter the facilities.

Benjamin Zeisloft ’22 and Kassidy Johnson ’22 are among the CU Martus members who participate in QFL, showing up weekly to pray and start conversations. Both Zeisloft and Johnson came to Penn as nominal Christians, having grown up in Christian homes, but without the gospel ever taking deep root. It was through the zealous faith and example of Hoover that both found themselves drawn into a transformative Christian community and empowered to go out and share the good news of the gospel.

Thankful for Christian Union 

“I reached out to Eric Hoover during New Student Orientation about Quakers for Life, and he invited me to a Christian Union event that night,” said Johnson. “Since then, my life has completely changed. I grew up in a Christian household, but never really believed in Jesus...God had a plan that was much bigger than my chase for the best school––learning and growing with the Lord through Christian Union. Words cannot express how grateful I am for this ministry and that God has used it to connect and build in so many of us.”

Before coming to Penn, Johnson had worked the front desk at a local crisis pregnancy center. That experience opened her eyes to the pain and horror of abortion, but as she entered college she feared that her pro-life stance would be rejected and criticized by her peers. When she joined QFL she did so knowing that it would not be a popular choice.

“I was scared to be at Penn, where most people did not believe in the same things as me and most strongly disagreed,” she said.

But in spite of her legitimate social fears, Johnson ’22 remained firm: “Having seen over fifty six to eight-week ultrasounds (in her job with the crisis pregnancy center), I knew I could not risk giving in on this issue. The urgency of abortion in this country compelled me to join and give attention to the issue. Above all, it was through the grace of God and the Holy Spirit working in me that I joined this group.”

The Sanctity of Life

Zeisloft’s story is similar. Being welcomed into the profound Christian community at CU Martus, his life made a dramatic turn during his freshman year. That summer he heard a sermon addressing the evil of abortion and sanctity of life. 

“The sermon opened my eyes to the fact that Christians can glorify God by taking the gospel to hard places,” he said. “For American Christians, we have a unique opportunity to minister at abortion clinics and watch God change hearts through the power of the gospel.” 

“Over the past year or so, members of CU Martus have endlessly encouraged me toward love and good works, especially in my passion for pro-life ministry. Tucker Else, our ministry director, has repeatedly made a point of encouraging us in our ministry, and it is wonderful to know that he has our backs.” 

Johnson ’22 said the CU Martus community has empowered her to put her faith into action.

“Christian Union has given me a community of bold believers, and I now see a need for that in the pro-life movement,” she said. “Sometimes outside of the abortion facility, the most urgent issue is the life that hangs in the balance, but the most important issue will always be the gospel. CU has consistently reminded me of what we should be doing this work for––the glory of God. Fighting a ‘good fight’ is meaningless apart from Christ. CU has discipled me and my energy and passion for this work comes from the Lord.”

Though sidewalk counseling is often a harsh environment, the QFL team saw a work of God in the fall as a young man and woman decided to not have an abortion after talking and praying with members of the organization. As the father and mother went into the facility, the father left to wait in the parking lot. There he spoke with QFL members about how he did not want his girlfriend to go through with the abortion. The students prayed with him, shared the gospel, and exchanged phone numbers. Later that day, the young father texted the members saying that his girlfriend had a sudden change of heart. 

The team was thrilled, giving all glory and praise to the Lord who worked in the young couples hearts and minds to preserve their child. The QFL team continued to stay in touch with the young family, checking in, and when the child was born, buying baby clothes, diapers, gift cards and an ESV study Bible for the family. They were able to bring the gifts and meet the new baby just before Thanksgiving.

“Every time I think about it, I praise the Lord and smile,” says Johnson ’22. “I am so grateful for all of the affirmations that the Lord has provided to the group and me, and this is by far the biggest one.”

“One of the greatest blessings has been the ability to show others and tangibly share Christ's work—seeing this precious, adorable baby who is made in God's image. I am still processing it all and praising God for His miracle. I have also been convicted of being bolder in our outreach. I pray bigger prayers both for abortion and in all of the other areas in my life. Above all, I rejoice in God and His gifts and blessings upon us and this family.” 

To learn more about Christian Union's ministry at some of the nation's most influential universities, please click here.