By Frank Lewis
Some people were stopping to catch their breath, some were wiping sweat from their brows - sweat brought on by what would be the warmest day so far this year - while in a corner of the project a woman pounded a cross with a hammer and wept as she did.
The Innocent Cemetery memorial was being assembled on the knoll alongside Christ’s Community Church on 25th Street in Portsmouth Saturday morning. The Innocent Cemetery is not a fancy marble monument etched with well-thought-out sentences. Instead, it is simply 4,000 small white crosses that takes some 35 people several hours to pound into the ground. Those 4,000 crosses represent what the people placing them there say is the number of babies aborted every day of the year.
“This is a silent, yet poignant, display that depicts the babies that have died since Roe v. Wade, through abortion,” Larry Sembelbach of Cold Spring, Kentucky, whose ministry is to take the crosses wherever people will allow him, said. “This is one day’s worth every day in the United States since Roe V. Wade. It’s over 55 million now.”
“This gives people who are driving by an opportunity to visualize what is happening in the United States and throughout the world with the pro-abortion people that are taking the lives of these babies every day,” Sembelbach said. “With the help of the Lord and this beautiful day, and with the reverend here allowing us to put them up here, we hope to change the mind of at least one person. Mom or dad, grandma or grandpa that drives by and sees that sign.”
People from all walks of life carried the crosses up the hill and carefully hammered them into the ground, row after row.
“I can testify that through 17 years of putting this up two times a month all year long in all kinds of weather, good and bad, that I have at least five babies that have names right now, and countless others that have probably been saved because of it,” Sembelbach said. “That’s all I have ever tried to do is ask the Lord to give me an opportunity to change one person’s mind. So he blessed me with five babies and countless other opportunities for people to get healing.”
Sembelbach said there are at least 20 names on the memorial that have been placed there by people.
Rick Clark, pastor of Christ’s Community Church, took a towel and wiped the sweat from his face as he gazed at the crosses on the hillside.
“When God judged nations in ancient times, they were judged because they killed their babies,” Clark said. “They killed babies and they were burying them in foundations, asking for blessings from their gods. They would sacrifice babies in the fire. It was a common practice, and it was because of that practice that God didn’t bless nations - he judged them. And then I think about abortion. And I think - here we are in a country that was founded initially, whether you like it or not, on Christian principles and yet we kill babies - 4,000 a day on average, and yet we are quick to ask God to bless us. We’re quick to ask God’s favor on things. How can he really bless a nation that kills its own?”
Frank Lewis can be reached at 740-353-3101, Ext. 252, or on Twitter @FrankLewispdt.