Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Good Man

I received an e-mail memorializing an man who passed away Tuesday. Normally I wouldn't even think to share something like that here, but there was something to it that makes me want to post it. Here is a portion of the e-mail:

Bill Connor's life left a huge imprint on the campaign. He spoke out with tremendous courage and grace to save every unborn life that we possibly can. Bill was a very private person, but when the opportunity came to tell the world his personal story, he didn't hesitate and shared the experience of how he came into this world. He was conceived in rape and molestation. He grew up in foster home after foster home in unbelievable adversity as a child.

The secular world says, "Why bring a child in who may be abused, who isn't wanted, or isn't born to perfect circumstances?"

But God doesn't create junk, nor does he make mistakes. Every person is unique in God's eyes with special talents and giftedness.

Bill sought the Lord's help and made a decision to make a difference. Our life is God's gift to us, but what we do with our life is our gift to him. It's not how long we live, it's how we live that matters. Bill's story was written in over 50 newspapers in South Dakota in the last campaign.

Thank you Bill Connor, for sharing you life with us. Now the Lord has welcomed you into his kingdom with a greeting, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."

Leslee and Allen Unruh

That letter led me to google the man. I found what I was looking for on the Catholic Advocate Network site. Here is his story, written by him:

Chosen, Not Forsaken
The Bill Connor Story
My name is Bill Connor. I have to speak out about abortion, because by the grace of God, here am I.

I live in Colton. I own Prairie Coach Trailways, a charter bus fleet company. I am a husband and a father and an entrepreneur. And I am a product of rape.

My mother started babysitting the children of a 55-year-old man when she was 10. He sexually assaulted her for five years, until she was 15. I was conceived through that abuse.

Abortion wasn't legal at that time. My mother’s attacker impregnated her with 3 other children as well. My grandfather was a devout Catholic. It’s because of him that I’m alive. He supported my mother in giving birth to me.

We had nothing. My mother was a welfare mom. We lived with my grandfather for several years. But I did attend Catholic elementary school in St. Paul.

Eventually, my mother couldn’t care for us. I grew up in foster homes. The foster care system wasn’t as regulated back then, so some of the people I stayed with were less than nurturing. I was bounced around a few times. Eventually, I lived with the Johnson family. They were good to me. I remember eating dinner with them. They would put out a big plate of chicken. I could eat as many pieces as I wanted. I could even have a whole glass of milk. I didn’t know what that was like. I wasn’t used to that kind of luxury.

When I was living with them my foster father encouraged me to play basketball. I became an All-State, All-Conference player. I had always been the kid on the wrong side of the tracks. But now I was the cool kid.

I went on to tech school and eventually got a good banking job. When I was 40 my scrimping, saving and risk-taking paid off. My wife and I were able to pursue the formation of our bus company. I was living my dream.

But six years ago, my son, Jaran, was diagnosed with brain cancer. We had to drive to Mayo Clinic for his treatment, a 4-hour drive. So we took our luxury bus. It turned many arduous drives into fun trips.

While I sat in the waiting room during Jaran’s treatments I saw dozens of other cancer-stricken children. I wanted to do something for them. I wanted to give them the same kind of experience that I gave Jaran. So I started a non-profit organization called Angel Bus. It gives terminally ill kids luxury bus rides to treatment. Today there are a couple hundred Angel Buses in America. The rides we provide add a great dimension of excitement for the most critically sick children with few other options.

Two years ago my son Jaran died. He was only 24. It was the hardest thing that I’ve ever gone through. Those of you who have lost a child can relate. But throughout his illness Jaran insisted that it wasn’t brain cancer that was taking him. It was God calling him home.

Three weeks after Jaran died, I was diagnosed with leukemia. The doctors told me to get my life in order. At times I have been so ill that my physician fears I won’t live through the hour. I’m 48 now. If I reach 50 it will be a miracle.

In the midst of my grieving and cancer-fighting, I started hearing about HB 1215 on the news. For obvious reasons, I’ve always been pro-life. God laid it on my heart to call Dr. Allen Unruh, the husband of campaign manger, Leslee Unruh. I said: “Dr. Unruh, you and Leslee are getting beat up in the news all the time. I just wanted to call and tell you that there’s somebody out here who supports you.” Dr. Unruh started telling me about Leslee’s desire to create a mobile clinic for pregnant women. This “clinic on wheels” would provide free ultrasounds, counseling and education for rural South Dakota women who were considering abortion. I just happened to have an Angel Bus for sale.

The rest is history. The Fleet for Little Feet bus will tour the state this year. I pray that it will save children conceived in less than idyllic situations just like mine. Planned Parenthood’s philosophy is that everyone has to be born at the perfect time, to the perfect parents who have a perfect relationship, who have the perfect family and the perfect job. But where is that world?

When Planned Parenthood says, “Rape and incest children should be aborted,” they’re talking about me. It’s like they think these innocent children will be born with horns. But I can’t help the circumstance I was born into. Two wrongs never make a right. A woman should never be ridiculed for carrying a child conceived through a sex crime. A lot of people think that we should only be responsible for the intentional consequences in our lives. But I know that we’re also responsible for the unintentional consequences that come our way.

Sometimes children like myself ask the question, “Why me?” Sometimes I thought that God had forsaken me. But eventually I realized that I am here to witness to other people. That’s how God is using me. I wasn’t forsaken at all. I was chosen.

I know that you will be inundated with commercials claiming that abortion should be legal for rape and incest cases. But when I see those ads I say to myself, "They want to kill me." I should have never been here nor my family. If there's any question in your mind on the value of giving dignity to human life - I urge you to vote yes on six this November.

My name is Bill Connor. I have to speak out about abortion, because by the grace of God, here am I.

He seems to have been a genuinely good man.
May the souls of the faithfully departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

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