The ProLife Team Podcast 159 | Barbara Saldivar

Hear Barbara Saldivar talk about the memorial for the unborn – a park that went from a bunch of tires to a place of healing and reflection.


The transcript was automatically generated and may contain errors.

Hi, Barbara. Welcome to the Pro-Life Team podcast. Would you introduce yourself as if you were speaking to a small group of pregnancy clinic directors? Yes, my name is Barbara Saldivar. I am the director and founder of Christians for Life, and we facilitate a memorial wall for the unborn that we built back in 2005. Okay, awesome. Tell us about this wall.

Like, tell us the story behind, yeah, where it got started and how it’s, yeah, we’re, yeah, just tell us the story that goes with the wall. It got back in like probably 2000, probably about 2001, 2002, somewhere around there. I attended a meeting for, I worked for Kansas for Life as a church coordinator, and I attended a meeting for pro-life family or pro-family people throughout our city, which is Topeka, Kansas, and at one particular meeting, the director of the Pregnancy Resource Center started describing to us about post-abortion and how people suffer, and I had observed from people testifying that that was probably true because they were awfully upset, it seemed to me like, and so then she said what they need is this Bible study, or a Bible study, to lead them through the denial and the guilt and the depression to a point where they could name their baby, and after they name their baby, to be able to put to put it somewhere where for a memorial, and so she had this idea of this beautiful park, and the way she described it just made us all cry, and then we started talking about miscarried babies also, and the fact that a lot of people have just been told when they have miscarriage that it was a blob of tissue, and it was nothing to be concerned about, but for some as we’ve talked, the park was was inclusive of people who have had stillbirths and miscarriages, so none of our entities of the group that was there would even describe, you know, would even be able to describe to this because it didn’t fit in their mission statements, and so we just kind of set that idea for about a year, and after about a year’s time, God spoke to me to start a group, and I really didn’t put together that it was supposed to be this park, but I just knew that it was supposed to be a group that did ministry like post-abortion ministry, so we started off with Forgiven and Set Free, and we took several people through that, and our board, well, our board was made of men also, so they didn’t really participate in the post-abortion Bible studies, and they requested a project, and so immediately, I recalled that vision of that park, and I described it to them, and they were so excited about that, and so that’s what we did. We decided that was going to be our special project, and then it just became, because other people could do the post-abortion just fine, but this a place to maintain and build onto for the ending of that process. Okay, so tell me, how does someone’s interactions with this memorial wall, how does that help them find closure or healing as part of their experience after an abortion when they’re seeking recovery and healing and mourning? Right, especially after abortion, it’s recommended that you, when you go through the Bible study, it’s recommended that you name the baby, that you put a personhood onto the baby so you have an understanding, and then for the miscarried babies, we already have deep down inside of us an understanding, so we can have a child that was, or anybody dies, it’s a place to where you can go and remember like on Memorial Day or whenever, you know, maybe the time of the child’s birth, and plus this park also offers a lot of comfort to people who are just driving by. There’s a nursing home down the road, the community uses it to just come and pray basically, and it’s a great, because the memorial is located not in the most expensive part of town, it’s located in a town where people need to know about pro-life, and so it helps them to come to that, to an understanding that these are babies, not just blobs of tissue. Wow. When it comes to, you know, room for more names to be added, you know, what’s that look like?

You know, is there currently more room, or when people, when you run out of room, do you add a new space for people to put names? Well, I have a praise on that. Last year, we did notice that the back, we have the front of the memorial covered, and we have the back mostly covered, so we started realizing we were going to have to have more stones, and we planned on getting a stone on each side of the main stone, and it was going to cost us about $30,000, and as usual, we didn’t have $30,000, so we talked to this business over in St. Mary’s, Kansas, and they donated two walls to us, and they’re now placed at the grounds, ready for more names.

Oh, that’s awesome. He is so glorious. And one of the pictures on the website, I can see the wall, and then I see a small rock placed in front of it. It looks like with someone’s name either written on there somehow. What is on the property, so outside of the wall or these walls, what else is on the property? Well, we have lighting all around with pretty lights, and then we have a sidewalk leading from the south and the north and the west to the wall. We also, we have a fence in the front with Christians for Life arch on it that tells who’s working on, who facilitates it, and there’s a we have about a half an acre to an acre of woods behind it that we’re now working on clearing and making into probably something beautiful.

That’s basically what we know at this point, but we have an excavator helping us with that, and so that’s, it’s not just a stone like you would put in a churchyard. It is a park like our person, her name was Pat Holloman, that envisioned so many years ago. So tell us, tell me about the volunteers and the team that help you take care of this property. Well, could I just add this one praise right here? Oh, sure. From the very beginning when we had got the land, we didn’t have any money for the land when we decided to do this as a spatial project, so we started praying. We prayed for one week and the land was donated to us.

That’s another God praise. Oh my goodness. Yes, yes. That’s beautiful. So, but the land was covered with, it wasn’t all pretty. It was covered with lots of tires and debris from building and many, many, many, many tires, so we just looked at it and we said, oh, well, I guess we have a little work to do, and God provided people who volunteered for the cleanup. The excavators came and helped pull out, people came and pulled out the tires, and then we had donations for to improve it, like the sprinkler system, the fencing, the sidewalks, the lights, plants, and there’s even some stone benches around, and he’s, he’s been pretty awesome in providing for this.

I really believe that this was something that he wanted us to do. Yeah, and I can see the, I can see there’s like a, a fence that goes around, but there’s no gate, so it looks like this is probably open at all hours. Is that the case? Oh yeah, it’s, it’s open to the public and, you know, it’s in, the best part of Topeka, but it is, it is protected by the Holy Spirit. We pray over it regularly, and so far we’ve had not too long, we’ve had some trash thrown and, you know, stuff like that, but pretty much protected. Okay, so where did the name Christians for Life come in? Was that, you know, how, how much sooner than the, than the memorial or this, these grounds?

Like, when did that name, where did that name come from? Well, when I left Kansans for Life, the former executive director of Kansans for Life and I met, and his name was David Gitrich, and he, we were talking about that when I was very first started, and he, he says, what I’ve always envisioned is a group called Christians for Life, so that’s how we became Christians for Life. I said, that’s a good idea, and, and then, you know, it just, because it’s a group, group of all denominations, Christian denominations, we’re Catholics, we’re Assemblies of God, we’re lots of different churches involved in this, so that’s why it’s Christians for Life. Awesome, and what, what sort of events have taken place on these grounds? We do memorial services, at least one a year, private ones for people who put names on the wall, and then once a year we join with the National Day of Remembrance for Aborted Children and have a service where we usually have about 50 or so people show up for that, from Catholic, Protestant, all, all sorts of denominations come to the wall, and we just go through a, like a memorial service and praise God’s service, and we’ve also had, like, oh, we’ve had celebrations of life where we invite different people to come and set up booths. We haven’t done that for some time, like, for instance, the Resource Centers and, and Kansas for Life, and, you know, just the different types of, of pro-life peoples. Okay, wow, so yeah, the grounds look very, very beautiful and green, and it just, yeah, it looks very well kept, like your volunteer team, looks like they’ve done a lot of work to make it look amazing, going from tires to nice green grass, it’s well kept. Yes. So, when it comes to the impact that this is having on the community, what is your thought on, you know, how it might be impacting the community for life or, you know, for seeing, yeah, how would you describe the impact it’s having on the community that may not be Christian or pro-life?

Well, well, it’s testifying, it’s really, I think, for people who have, who have accepted God, actually, through the process of, of healing from abortions and healing from miscarriages, but pro-life leaders can benefit from the park by using it for the memorial service at the conclusion of their Bible studies, and then grief counselors, which we have grief hospital, they use it for the conclusion of their counseling of those who suffered miscarriage. So, we’re always, and we’re always happy to, sometimes people just pass by, and their phone number, our, this phone number is there, and they call, and they want to put a name on the wall, so we’re always happy to place the name of any unborn baby on the wall, and the cost of, of upkeeping the park engraving is engraving those names, it’s covered by donations from clients and private citizens and businesses and pro-life legislators and churches, although the churches have kind of fallen behind currently because, probably because of COVID and everybody trying to get back on their feet. Wow. There’s another thing about it that we, that we got, that we received notice for, as far as the community is concerned, the, the city representative or the city council person has complimented us on, because on cleaning it up, she says it’s affected the whole neighborhood, everybody wants to fix their places, so, you know, one person starts cleaning and, you know, it makes, kind of blossoms. Yeah, it’s, I mean, the pictures, it looks so, well, you know, very, very nice, and so I can imagine it, you know, going from tires to this beautiful park landscaping would really impact the area. Right, it did, it is. So what’s something that would, you would like to share that would be encouraging to a pregnancy clinic director?

You know, what’s something that you, yeah, what comes to mind when I, when I say that? Well, it is a place for, for them to come, like I said before, to benefit for them to come and for an ending to a post-abortion Bible study. Most of them around here use Forgiven and Set Free, which I’m very familiar with. Also, you know, I think this is a, this is kind of a personal thing, this is not, not with Christians for Life, but this is personal outside of Christians for Life. I also think that we can help, because a pregnancy home or a maternity home is needed in Topeka for people, for people who do not have a place to stay during their pregnancy, and I think we can, I think I can help maybe locate a place and maybe, you know, help them do something with that. It’s just an idea, but you know, that’s what I think I can really, you know, offer the acquaintances that I know and, and help that situation. And are there any buildings that are on the property currently?

Are you looking at buildings on the property in the future? Well, no, I think not. I think we’re just going to beautify the property, because I had thought of a building for a pregnancy resource center or for a a maternity home in the woods behind, where the wooded area is behind the memorial wall, but it’s not good, it’s not a good location. It’s better to have a location like, yeah, yeah, oh, that makes sense, determined, yeah, yeah. So, besides the initial gift, where else have you seen God’s fingerprints in this, you know, you know, in this work and in this journey? Well, God’s fingerprints, yeah, I was thinking a lot about that. Takes me all the way back to, I’m a 76-year-old woman now, takes me all the way back to when I was 18, and I felt such a pull towards something in Topeka.

I lived in Leavenworth at the time, which is another city in Kansas. And, well, first of all, after moving from Leavenworth, it was 1973, and the Equal Rights Amendment came out, and we were trying to, well, it’s before 73, but when Roe v. Wade happened, but the Equal Rights Amendment came to Kansas, and we were trying to decide on that, which, fortunately, we did not decide for that. But, anyway, this lady in my church told me, because I was shooting off my mouth, basically saying, well, I believe in equal rights, you know, women should be paid the same as men, so, so, so, so. And she said, Barbara, it’s not about that. She said, it’s about abortion. I said, well, what is that?

And she told me what it was, and I was done with that Equal Rights Amendment. And so, you know, then a little time went by, and Kansans for Life put out information in our church, and so I started learning more and more about pro-life and what they were doing. And then, eventually, I became part of Kansans for Life. That was kind of a story in itself. I was, I was working, and I had a little boy who was just six months old when I had to go back to work, and, and I didn’t like it. I wanted to be home with my family. I mean, you know, but the circumstances were the way they were.

So, one day, on my lunch break, I was walking by the Capitol, and I saw Kansans for Life and their annual rally going on, which I didn’t even know anything about at the time. And I just told God, you know, if you straighten out my home life, because I know you’re not satisfied with the way it is, I will do something for pro-life. And sure enough, shortly after that, my husband got a better job at Kansans for Life. I showed up at their office, and first thing you know, I’m volunteering, and next thing you know, I’m a lobbyist, and then I become their church coordinator, and then that led me to the vision of the park. So, yes, God definitely had his fingerprint ever since I was a teenager. So, one of the next questions that comes to mind is, do you have any idea of how many tires were on the property that got cleaned off as part of this transition? I was trying to remember that this morning.

I think there was over 500 tires. Oh my goodness, 500? But I think it was that many. They stacked them up, and they were, they were over the, over our head.

They were so tall. And we didn’t know what, you know, what do you do with all these tires? Well, what happened was our project manager at that particular time got in touch with, there’s a women’s industrial farm for women who had gotten in trouble with the law in our area. So, he contacted them, and they came and loaded up those tires and took them. We think they probably took them and chopped them up to make parks out of, you know, for the parks.

Oh, yeah, the rubber. Yeah. Yeah, that makes sense. Yeah. Yeah. Wow. So, that’s what happened.

That’s a lot. It was a lot of tires. We had a lot of volunteers who did a lot of work. And actually, we’ve been starting to work on the back area where those, we found more tires, just about five or six more back there. Just a couple, just last fall, when we started working on this. Yeah. Those tires.

So, with the names on the wall, how many do you think are local, like in Kansas, and how many do you think might be from somewhere else? We have quite a, most of them are from Kansas, and a lot of them are from the Topeka area. But there is, there is some that have left Topeka, and things have happened in their life. And so, they had, they’re from out of state. We had somebody from Missouri come over and look at the, you know, tour the grounds, and then they started building their own over in, I think it’s in St. Joseph. So, you know, we’ve been an influence here and there.

And we are affiliated with the National Memorial Wall for the Unborn in Chattanooga. I think you did a view on them, and we know Regina. Yeah. Okay. Very interesting. Yeah, I wonder, I guess that’s an idea that’s, that’s a unique idea of, you know, adopting this idea for someone’s, you know, for their county or their state. That’s, that’s, how would you, if someone was to consider that, what would you say to that idea?

How would you, you know, would you encourage that, or how would you talk about that idea? Oh, yeah, I would.

We don’t refuse any names that come in. We even had some, a couple of homosexuals call us. I think they were from back east somewhere. And we would, of course, you know, they wouldn’t participate in the, in the, the board, but we would put the name of their child, of that child on the wall. Yeah. We don’t have any, have any, yeah, yeah. Oh, I guess, yeah, Barbara, the question I was, I guess what I was trying to ask was, like, let’s say if someone in a different state wanted to, you know, consider opening up a memorial in their area for, you know, for people in their area to have a place to visit and have this experience.

What would you say to someone thinking about opening up, you know, a memorial in a different part of the country? Well, I think there is some in California, or at least one I know of. Oh, okay. Yeah, I would say, I would say, oh, yeah, do it. And get in touch with the National Memorial, and, you know, in Chattanooga, and they can give you some ideas, and I’d be glad to share any ideas that we have, too, that, that they have. It’s just a matter of knowing people and allowing people to, be in on it, basically. Awesome. Well, Barbara, I really appreciate, yeah, you being on here today.

Are there any final thoughts before we wrap things up that you’d like to share with people? Well, I would just like to share how good God is, and what a, what a presence He is through, through all kinds of trials, and, you know, because there was times when, when it was a little difficult, and I do remember a prayer at, at the radio station with, with the manager of the radio station with, and with Pat, who envisioned the park.

I do remember a prayer. They prayed over me that there would be hard times, and there were, but God is always there, and He always has the answer. And if you feel the tug toward building a wall, or toward anything pro-life, go for it, because it’s, it’s, it’s so important, especially, well, the whole, every state, but, you know, I’m a Kansan, so I say, especially in Kansas, we really need, we need homes, we need memorials, we need pregnancy resource centers, lots of them to combat all this influx of people coming up from other states that have better laws than we have. Yeah. What, what’s one of your favorite Bible passages that somehow inspired or, or helped connect to this memorial? Well, one is, the Lord of this is the strength of my life, and the other one is, is that be kind, be kind one to another, and another one is, I’m the way, and the truth, and the life, John 4, 16, 4, 6, 14, 6, I think it is, but I’m the way, and the truth, and the life always comes up, because people think that their, their religion is the, is the thing, but we’re all, you know, we’re all pro-life, you know, so yeah, it’s our way, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, Jesus is like the common denominator, just like, and very often pro-life work seems to be a bridge between different groups. Yeah, it really is taking place, it’s kind of exciting, yeah, yeah, because we are all Christians, we, and we love the Lord, all, all the larger denominations. Awesome. Well, Barbara, I really appreciate having you on here.

Would you close this in prayer with the expectation that those who are listening may join in? Dear Lord Jesus, I do thank you for all the blessings you’ve given to Christians for life, and to the Heart of America memorial wall for the unborn. I thank you for your guidance, I thank you for your strength, I thank you for your word that you give to me daily, dear Lord. Just getting into the word has meant so much to me. I thank you for the friends that have come forth, I thank you for the board members that are still with me, I thank you for Jacob, dear Lord Jesus, and this is a great opportunity to talk about what you have done in Topeka, Kansas. Thank you again, and I just give you all the glory in Jesus’ holy, holy, precious name. Amen. Amen. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Amen. Amen.