When Don Cooper’s wife was pregnant with their first child, God began calling him into the anti-abortion ministry. “I became more aware of life before we are born. I heard Scott Klusendorf speak and he challenged us to do more about abortion. I began to study the apologetics for the anti-abortion position. Then I saw with my own eyes pictures of abortion, followed by video. That really set the hook that I needed to put more time into volunteering. I began spending so much time volunteering, I was practically working two full-time jobs. It was at that time that I felt God pulling me to do the work full-time and quit my day job.”
Don followed God’s call, left his professional engineering career, and has been working full-time in pro-life ministries for 12 years. Following eight years as director of operations at the Center for Bio-ethical Reform (CBR), Don created the World Life organization. After coordinating and participating in World Life’s Jumbotron event at the San Francisco Walk for Life in January 2013, Don became fully transformed into an abolitionist.
As the result of providential orchestration, Don was asked to bring his experience, wisdom and vision to the role of executive director for the international abolition movement, Abolish Human Abortion (AHA). Don’s unique leadership style, born out of his servant heart, promotes collaboration, independence and creativity. Don’s faith and his work was invigorated by the San Francisco event; his renewed mission for abolishing abortion includes a passionate focus on sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Don is a graduate of Oregon State University, receiving his Masters in Electrical Engineering. Don worked 10 years in the industry as an engineer. Don also served as a Nuclear Power Submarine Officer for five years in the Navy.
Don and his wife homeschool six children and are devoted to the protection of children and the weighty responsibility God gives to parents, especially mothers. “I think there is no more honorable and godly job than a mother mothering her children.” The Lord has continued to draw Don closer to Himself through the years, showing Don that he must trust God with his entire heart. “I have learned that God is bigger than any of my problems and that He is always faithful to give me what I need to endure them.”
A former athlete and naval officer, Don values the discipline necessary to follow the call
of Christ. No stranger to the apostle Paul’s analogy of buffeting our bodies to run a worthy race for the Lord, Don has dedicated his life to being a warrior for God in the fight to stop the genocide of abortion. In his years on the front lines, he has found opposition not only from abortion supporters, but also from pro-lifers. Rather than become discouraged, Don has learned the importance of seeking the approval of God over men. “I think that the Christian walk is like a fight where the fighter sometimes gets beat to a pulp but he never quits because his purpose is to fight. And in this case we fight for the Lord. And then someday in Heaven we are awarded the champion’s belt for ‘standing firm’ for the Lord.”
Russell Hunter is a degreed historian, an academic who has received awards and accolades for his achievements, but says none of that matters to him. “By providence, I started reading the works and debates of nineteenth century slavery abolitionists and saw something in them which I lacked, and something in their movement that seemed altogether missing from the movements against evil going on in our world today.”
Russell believes that his previous artistic pursuits and academic accomplishments were tools used by God to shape him for service as an abolitionist. He began his academic career with an art scholarship, continued with studies in philosophy, science and history and walked away years later, just shy of completing his PhD. “I am 100 percent certain that God needed me to believe that I was going to be an artist for Him, then a philosopher for Him, then a historian and professor for Him, in order that he might make me an abolitionist for Him.”
Had he been living in antebellum America, Russell would have been “a Garrisonian abolitionist calling on the Church of Jesus Christ to rise up boldly against the evils of chattel slavery and the colonizationist schemes to gradually abolish it.” In like manner, Russell has dedicated his life to abolishing the evil of abortion and fighting the modern pro-life movement’s incrementalist approach to the annihilation of our defenseless preborn neighbors.
Passionate about ending the slaughter of babies worldwide, Russell used his artistic gifts and historical knowledge to give birth to the AHA ideology, symbol, and activist materials. Drawing inspiration from the lives and writings of William Lloyd Garrison and William Wilberforce, Russell’s work and mission in developing the AHA grassroots movement was to inspire Christians everywhere to do all they can do to fight the greatest evil of our age. Feeling the privilege and the burden, Russell bears the abolitionist cross as he follows Christ. “I am a great sinner. Jesus is a great savior. He has decided to transform me into a saint. I am determined to follow Him as he does this.”
While navigating God’s path for his life, Russell has experienced adversity that he considers lessons for the future. “I don’t enjoy adversity, but I do come to count it as joy.” Driven by a desire for righteous justice, Russell is willing to fight this battle as long as it takes, as long as he lives. And when he someday takes his place in Heavenly realms, Russell would love to paint epic murals of “the bride of Christ as Jesus’s helpmeet destroying the works of the devil under the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit.”
Jeremiah Smedra came to know the Lord at a young age, but began desiring a more passionate Christian life after becoming a father. “My faith has been radicalized over the past six years. It grew out of internalizing the idea that children depart from their ‘parent’s faith’ because it isn’t real to the children. It isn’t the kind of faith that changes peoples lives … that turns darkness to light … changes destruction to redemption. If your faith is defined by theological arguments, church disputes, petty issues … why would any child grow up thinking he wants that?”
Looking for opportunities to serve the Lord, Jeremiah realized he wanted to do evangelism work. He organized community outreach events with his local body in southern CA, and became a jail chaplain when he moved to northern Idaho. A dedicated friend and supporter of Don Cooper and his anti-abortion work, Jeremiah realized he wanted to participate more personally to end the slaughter of innocent babies.
The San Francisco Walk for Life event in January 2013 ignited Jeremiah’s passion for anti-abortion work. “When Don asked me to help out with the Jumbotron event … and I saw the video that they were going to use for the first time … the video that shows graphic abortion imagery and bible verses … I knew it was what I had to do.” Spurred on by the intensity of the event and observing the powerful effect of World Life’s message to a populace that scorns it, Jeremiah knew he had to join the small band of anti-abortion warriors. He welcomed the call of Abolitionism, eagerly working with Don and Russell as they merged World Life and Abolish Human Abortion.
With a background in mechanical engineering, an MBA and a management position with General Electric, Jeremiah may seem the corporate type. But in real life, he is anything but. No stranger to bucking the status quo, Jeremiah eschews the food and medical industries and collusive government interference into private life. A man who loves to work with his hands, Jeremiah enjoys artisan woodworking and Clean Food homesteading (influences include Joel Salatin, and the book Shop As Soul Craft). “I want to create things that will bless others…to be a reflection of God’s majesty and glory!”
Jeremiah is no stranger to radical living, and desires to live a radical Christian life above all other goals. Founder of the Idaho chapter of AHA and an AHA board member, Jeremiah currently resides in northern Idaho with his wife and three children. He is inspired by the lives of the prophet Elijah and the evangelist/songwriter Keith Green…both radicals in following God’s will. Always one to enjoy a stimulating conversation, Jeremiah seeks regular opportunities to share with his community the message of truth and hope found in Jesus Christ, and to stand against the evil of abortion. “If laying down my life would halt the slaughter, I would do it.”
Todd Bullis began his ministry work doing “open-air” preaching on the beaches and high schools of Southern California using Ray Comfort’s ”The Way of the Master” as a teaching tool to share the Gospel with people young and old. Todd’s technical background is in the development of high end database driven websites through his company Digital Insight Software, LLC. Todd owns and operates many successful websites.
Todd worked on raising awareness of the plight of the pre-born around this center but his abolitionist work took a turn as he made an observation. “There was a church across the street from the abortion clinic. As I stood in front of the abortion clinic, I watched the church members come and go. I watched them carry on traditional church functions while at the same time they seemed oblivious to the killing going on next door.”, said Todd. “I then felt called to move across the street and stand in front of the church because I felt that God was telling me He would rather look at the place where the babies were being killed, then to watch His church do nothing about it.”
Todd’s passion is for the bride of Christ to stand pure before God and do the will of Christ. And to call the church to repentance and obedience by helping the church see God’s heart towards the pre-born. Todd is married to his wife Stephanie for 11 years. They have three children and currently reside in Dallas, Texas.
Toby Harmon has experienced firsthand the incredible power of God to free people from their bonds of sin. Raised in a Christian home, Toby became born again as an adult after pursuing years of drug and alcohol abuse. From the day that Toby repented and turned toward God, accepting Christ’s gift of salvation, he was set free from his addiction and he committed his life to serving his Saviour. Toby believes that God’s redemptive work in his life has shaped and prepared him for abolitionist work.
After seeing CBR and Justice for All presentations on the horrible truth of abortion, including the heart-rending images of child sacrifice, Toby was seized with righteous indignation against this wicked act. “It was natural for me to want to be out there defending the right of these pre-born babies.” A part of the group of activists that initiated the AHA movement, Toby put on hold his theological studies at Liberty University, as well as leaving a youth ministry position, to wholeheartedly engage in the abolitionist movement.
Burdened for the plight of the pre-born as well as for unbelievers, Toby desires to spread the truth of the gospel as far as he can. “I have always been a confrontational and argumentative person; now the Lord has redeemed those traits in me and is using them for His glory as I confront the greatest evil of our age.” Toby has a heart for the underdog, the oppressed, the overlooked. His yearning to protect children is evidenced not only by his work with AHA, but also in his family’s determination to adopt foster children.
A former collegiate basketball player, Toby understands the need for discipline, focus and dedication when facing challenges and adversity. “I really admire and am often encouraged by the life of the Apostle Paul. He fearlessly, tirelessly, and selflessly endured hardships and sufferings for his bold proclamation of the truth. He often caused riots and stirred up hatred, yet he still pressed on. The further involved I become in the work of abolition, the more I can relate to the apostle and what he endured for the truth.”
Toby’s dedication and willingness to fight in the battle to end abortion is all-consuming. “I would give my life, my dreams, my comforts, my money, my time, my energy. This is why God created me.”
More Bios of well known abolitionists coming soon.