at abortion clinics, schools, universities, protests, and marches by this tireless, passionate, pro-life hero who rocked the world accomplishing more for God in 28 years than many Christians do their entire lives. Kortney saved countless pre-born children from death, shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and tremendously impacted the lives of thousands of others through training, teaching, and one-on-one discipleship. I am amazed, blessed, and grateful that God permitted me to be her father. If the Bible were still being written today, I’m sure my daughter Kortney would be in it. She was a solid woman of God with a faith, love, and zeal we should long for as believers.
From childhood Kortney had a unique love for God, people, and her sister Ashley and brother Jeff. She was a child after God’s own heart. Her keen intelligence and sensitivity to spiritual things were initially developed through her adolescent and teen years but were always increasing. Kortney trusted Jesus as her Savior at a very young age.
As the daughter of a youth pastor and Christian apologist, Kortney was exposed to many church events, mission trips, and discussions about theology and defending the truth of the Christian faith. I believe this laid the foundation which led to her amazing effectiveness as a defender of the pre-born.
Kortney grew in the Lord and developed intellectually beyond all of us. She began reading at an incredibly young age and read everything in sight. School was never much of a challenge. She appeared to have a photographic memory, something I never fully understood. One day while driving her home from school, she informed me of an important test tomorrow. When we arrived at home I told her she must study for the exam before doing anything else. She replied “I did.” I said “wait, you just told me about it in the car.” She said “I studied on the way home – I looked at my notes.” I took her notes and questioned her and it became clear she absorbed every page. At some point during her adolescent years, she expressed a desire to be a pediatrician when she grew up. I was confident she would be the best the world had ever known. Perhaps I was a little prejudiced. Her heart began to grow away from a possible medical profession and more towards ministry. She loved traveling with me to evangelistic events, seminars, and preaching opportunities. But it was her observation of my brother, her “Uncle Don” and his vibrant pro-life ministry that God truly got ahold of Kortney’s heart.
Kortney’s passion for Christ and the Gospel grew tremendously and was evident in her boldness to proclaim the truth to anyone and everyone. She was inspired, thrilled, and overjoyed seeing many babies saved through the ministry of At The Well Ministries. Uncle Don, founder of At The Well was a supported home missionary who passionately and daily trekked to abortion mills all over the state and did sidewalk counseling sharing both the Gospel of Jesus Christ and pleading with people to save the life of their child. To date, Don’s ministry has saved well over 3,500 preborn children from being led to the slaughter. Kortney’s desire to be a pediatrician was soon replaced by an intense zeal and consuming desire to “do what Uncle Don does” – saving pre-born humans from the grasp of abortion centers. She would later in life develop her own personal mission statement: “Jesus Christ is my Lord, abolishing abortion is my calling.” As history will record, she lived this mission to the fullest.
Kortney attended her first “Life Chain,” a great prolife community outreach developed by Abolitionist Royce Dunn, when she was about six years old. She was thrilled to stand along the streets with many other Christians proclaiming the Gospel and pleading with passersby’s to be pro-life. But it was seeing the pictures of real saved babies and the stories Uncle Don told about precious lives saved that solidified the decision in her heart to pursue this calling. As we would visit some of the ‘killing centers’ where Uncle Don did his sidewalk counseling, Kortney would be in awe hearing her uncle encourage moms to come and talk with him as he would share “a better answer to their problem.” Then he would share the Gospel of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus and how they could place their trust in Him alone. Many were saved both spiritually and physically including clinic workers, security guards, and escorts (sometimes referred to as “death-scorts”).
This was the foundation that set Kortney’s heart ablaze with a passion to dedicate her life to saving babies and sharing the Gospel no matter the cost. Her desire to serve the Lord and learn the Word of God was evident as she would sit for hours and listen to me witness to Jehovah’s Witnesses. Many times she preferred to do this rather than go and play with the neighbor children. I would say “Kortney, I have a few Jehovah’s Witness folks coming over and I’m going to share with them how to go from Kingdom Hall to Kingdom Come, which will take a few hours. Go out and play with your friends.” Time after time she would say “but I want to listen.” And indeed she did many times. Additionally, when I spoke at youth conferences and seminars, she was there listening intently.
Kortney was always eager to learn and was fascinated with the ability to read. She read everything in sight. The books she read in her adolescence, teen years and early twenties numbered doubtless in the thousands. At an evangelistic basketball Marathon with Word of Life Ministries, Kortney, about 8 years old, asked if she could play in the hallways of the community college where we were holding the marathon. I said “Sure. Just make sure you can see me at all times.” I noticed that she walked away with a large notebook and pencil. After several minutes, one of my youth chaperone’s came running up to me and said in a very befuddled way “Pastor Larry, you need to speak with Kortney.” Kortney had walked up and down the halls of the college writing down everything she saw, including all graffiti on the school lockers and walls. She approached my youth chaperone and said “Brian, what do these words mean?” sounding them out perfectly like the excellent reader she was. I’m sure you’ve guessed by now the range of “choice” words listed on her notebook pages. I thought to myself, “Dad - here’s one of those moments, an opportunity to teach a lesson.” So I calmly sat down with her on the lawn and explained each word in juvenile but accurate simplicity. When I was done, she said “Oh. Ok. Thanks.” And that was that!
After excelling in elementary, Jr. High and High school, Kortney attended Montreat College. She continued to grow in the Lord, developed exceptional writing skills, and eventually became the editor of the College newspaper, The Whetstone, from 2002 to 2005. She also worked in the writing center helping students write better reports. She had a gift for writing and for counseling people one-on-one. Although Kortney was raised by a Christian apologist-debater, she developed her own unique way of toning down the conversation just enough to be firm in her convictions, powerful in her arguments, and competent in intellectual prowess, but somehow was able to effectively draw her opponents into a respectful relationship where opponents would actually listen to her and be swayed. In 2005 she graduated magna cum laude from Montreat College, NC with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a focus on Communication.
During these college years (she graduated in 3 ½ years!) Kortney was known by many for her dozens of pro-life, pro-chastity, pro-Christian bumper stickers scattered all over her car. Although it was sometimes embarrassing, many would later confess that they read the stickers and were moved by her strong convictions.
Kortney began to aggressively develop her pro-life ministry throughout her college years by doing sidewalk counseling at abortuaries, attending marches, protests, and driving hours to youth events and music festivals. One weekend, she drove her bumper-stickered car ten hours from Montreat, NC to the Creation Festival in Pennsylvania where Rock for Life was gathering volunteers. Kortney’s first job was to guard the band instruments. She accomplished this by sleeping on the stage. Of course, she waited to tell me after the event.
Kortney loved Rock For Life and would later work for them full time. RFL was started by Bryan Kemper and Erik Whittington. Erik was initially motivated into action after observing a “life chain” and seeing a sign that read simply “Abortion Kills Children.” Rock For Life later moved from Oregon to Virginia and joined forces with American Life League. Their original purpose was to reach youth with the pro-life message through large rock music concerts. Much of this was done at the annual Christian rock festival “Cornerstone” which would draw tens of thousands of people. The Rock For Life tent or booth would provide literature, seminars, and bold pro-life volunteers to speak the truth about abortion and answer objections from pro-abortion advocates and “on-the-fence” pro-lifers. Erik Whittington of Rock For Life would later recount his first introduction to Kortney:
- I remember the first time I met [Kortney]. She drove all the way up from Charlotte to Washington, DC to take part in some pro-life visibility events we were hosting at the March for Women’s Lives in the Spring of 2004. I could tell right away that she had a great heart for the preborn and would be a rising star in the pro-life movement. She had already been involved running a chapter in Charlotte but I knew immediately I wanted to get her more involved with Rock For Life!
- Later that year she made the same drive to join our prayerful protest of a Vote for Change tour stop in Washington, DC. She brought two fellow classmates of Montreat . . . What was impressive to me about that trip is that she left Montreat immediately after a class. She and her friends made our event just in time then had to leave right after the event in order to make a class the next morning to take a major test. Kortney said she was going to study on the way down. I thought she was crazy!
- That to me was highly unusual, impressive, and really set the tone of my future involvement with Kortney. She was a tireless advocate for the preborn. She was extremely intelligent, a great communicator and organizer. . . Kortney was friendly, loved our Lord, and didn’t have a mean bone in her body. She always had a smile on her face and a kind word to say.
An activist was born – or nurtured. Kortney continued to develop her skills in speaking the truth about abortion, the Gospel, theology, and Christian apologetics. Although she was not formally trained in philosophy she grew mightily in intellect gained from her reading literature, the Bible, and our many discussions about answers to difficult questions, atheism, defending Christianity, and much more. I had to attend years of seminary to learn what Kortney learned from countless hours of discussion and reading. She became what a dad could only hope and pray for his daughter – a chaste woman of God and a highly effective Christian apologist which gave her the fuel to be a mighty defender of life in the pro-life movement.
When Kortney graduated from college, she took her first paid pro-life job working as a night-time residential supervisor for the unwed mother’s home Room At The Inn. Under the welcoming guidance and enthusiastic leadership of Cindy Brown, her boss and Jeannie Wray, executive director, Kortney developed a love and appreciation for unwed mothers. She was a mentor to moms by night, prolife activist on weekends, and a bank teller by day.
In the summer of 2006, Kortney was contacted by Jeff White, founder of the southern California based pro-life activist group Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust. Kortney joined the team as Survivors Campus Life Tour Director. During her three years with Survivors she trained many future pro-life leaders, led many tours in California and across the USA presenting the pro-life message at Colleges, Universities, and High Schools. She was also able to spend several days in Australia speaking, training, and alarming Australians to the disinformation from anti-life promoters and the devastating impact of abortion upon society.
Kortney, along with many other heroes paved the way in many cities across America for others to fight for the civil rights for the pre-born. She was arrested unjustly a total of nine times, and was exonerated a total of nine times. Never once did she break any laws. But since most cities are not aware of free speech laws nor the Constitution, Kortney and her team had to stand firm and proclaim the anti-abortion message without compromise and without backing down. Their normal operation was to visit a public college and university, set up signs on the free speech campuses, hand out literature and speak with students in a calm, professional, and respectful manner. On high school campuses, Kortney and her team would do the same but on the outside of the schools on the public sidewalks, never entering the school property. Numerous times their free speech would be challenged and they would be asked to leave. Kortney would politely ask “on what grounds?” The answer would usually be “trespassing” to which she would reply “how can we trespass on public property?” Her team was professionally counseled and defended by the Life Legal Defense Foundation under the tremendous guidance of Katie Short, Allison Aranda and others.
On one of their tours to the University of California, Berkeley while politely and legally exercising their first amendment rights on a public campus, the Board of Regents warned Kortney, the Survivors team, and Uncle Don that they would all be arrested if they didn’t leave immediately. In her professional, respectful manner Kortney asked “what would you be arresting us for?” The regent replied “trespassing.” Kortney responded that the free speech laws of this state cannot be ignored or superseded by the board of regents and that they will continue lawfully speaking with students and handing out literature. When the police arrived, Kortney and Uncle Don debated with each other as to which one will be arrested while standing on the Free Speech Monument in the center of the campus. Built in 1991 to commemorate the Free Speech Movement at the University of California at Berkeley, the space acts as a focal point for speeches where people participating in free expression become living monuments to free speech. The large in-ground stone has an inscription that reads “This soil and the airspace extending above it shall not be a part of any nation and shall not be subject to any entity’s jurisdiction.” Minutes later Kortney was arrested on that very spot. The Survivors sued the campus and city and won the lawsuit. Kortney and her team were exonerated and freedom of speech laws were enacted as a result of “Blythe vs. the City of Berkeley.”
Kortney led the Campus Life Tour of Survivors to Columbia College, Columbia, CA in the Spring of 2007. Again she and her team were arrested and again they went to court. She and her team were unanimously acquitted on criminal charges of causing a campus disturbance. During the trial the judge declared the college’s free speech policy unconstitutional because it required individuals to apply for a permit. The community college changed its policy and now welcomes free speech advocates rather than censoring them. Kortney took the team back the next year and were greeted with open arms by the same college officials who had them unlawfully arrested.
Another blatant violation of the first amendment happened in Birmingham, AL in 2009. Kortney and eight other Survivors were peacefully handing out literature, holding signs, and speaking to students on the public sidewalk in front of a local high school. Over a dozen Birmingham police officers arrived and engaged in “outrageous civil rights violations” against the nine and forced them to spend 14 hours in the same jail cell where Martin Luther King was jailed in 1963 after being arrested for taking part in the Birmingham campaign, a non-violent protest conducted by the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. Now in 2009, history seemed to repeat. One police officer told one of Kortney’s team members that the sidewalk was private not public property for “non-citizens of Birmingham.” The group politely refused, were arrested and their video equipment and vehicle were confiscated. In the process the police damaged their van, destroyed some of the video evidence and tried to have their hotel rooms searched. During the arrests, Kortney repeatedly asked one of the officers the reason for the arrests. The officer kept assuring her that her team was not being arrested, but were only being detained and did not know on what basis they would be charged. The Survivors were never informed why they were being handcuffed and jailed. One of the Survivors, Shara Guengerich was handcuffed so tightly that she was shaking and crying from pain. The arresting officer ignored her appeals for adjusting the cuffs. All nine Survivors were forced to wear orange jump suits, placed in cells for six hours without access to water, phones, or bathrooms and were ignored by their jailors. While in her cell, Kortney was questioned by an officer regarding their actions. Kortney told him that they are protected by the Constitution of the United States to stand on the public sidewalk. After their release the next morning, the rest of the team continued on tour while Kortney remained in Birmingham for a few days and scheduled a press conference demanding the return of the Survivors’ four video cameras. As the press conference was about to begin, Kortney was contacted by one of the officers promising the release of their property. He apologized to Kortney and the return of the property was filmed by ABC News of Birmingham.
The Life Legal Defense Foundation went to bat for Kortney and the Survivors and sued the city of Birmingham. They won the suit clearing the way for free speech. “In the course of seeking injunctive relief against future interference with the Survivors’ right to engage in picketing and leafleting on the public sidewalk, LLDF lawyers learned that the city had a ‘demonstration’ ordinance that required groups as small as two persons to obtain permits before engaging in various free speech activity. ‘What started as a lawsuit to get fair treatment for the Survivors evolved into a broader challenge to the city’s unconstitutional permit scheme,’ said Katie Short, legal director of the Life Legal Defense Foundation. She continued ‘We learned from local pro-lifers that this law had been a thorn in their side for years. We are pleased that this suit not only vindicated the Survivors’ rights, but also relieved the local pro-life community of the burden of the onerous law.’” The case was Turn the Hearts v. City of Birmingham.
Kortney did many other activist events including sidewalk counseling. One day in May, 2008, she and best friend Amanda Lord were asked to visit a young mother in considering the abortion of her baby. They brought along a car seat, blankets, and clothes to give Keisha. Before arriving, Kortney did the calculations and figured the young woman would deliver around Christmas. So she and Amanda found a pair of reindeer booties and gave them to Keisha to which she jokingly said “that’s not fair.” Kortney in her polite but firm manner replied “I don’t believe in being fair when there’s a baby’s life at stake.”
After many arguments on behalf of the pre-born child, Kortney and Amanda were unable to convince Keisha to change her mind. Consequently they spend the next week at the abortion clinic watching for Keisha. They never saw her come to the clinic. A few weeks later Kortney received a call from Keisha who explained that she did indeed enter the clinic but could not go through with the abortion. Kortney and Amanda took her to a local pregnancy resource center where Keisha excitedly said “my due date is December 25!” She then made it clear that she needed another set of reindeer booties. Keisha gave birth to two healthy girls, Destiny and Faith. Kortney held them in her arms and had a picture taken that is still precious to me today. She was so excited that she was now instrumental in saving the lives of twins like her Uncle Don did so many times. She was proud to stand with Uncle Don and At The Well Ministries on many college, University, and High School campuses speaking with countless numbers of skeptics, doubters, and anti-life disciples. Many changed their views as a result of the powerful, truthful, and clear message of the preciousness of life in the womb.
“During her time with Survivors, she led a team of 6-10 young adults, traveling to 600 high school and college campuses setting up pro-life displays and distributing over 200,000 pieces of educational literature. Kortney mentored dozens of rising pro-life youth at Survivors’ annual Pro-life Leadership Training Camps, where she provided hands-on instruction on activist tactics, free speech rights and defending the pro-life position. She brought her experience and knowledge to Australia in spring 2009 with a whirlwind tour of the country that included street activism, training and an appearance on a local Catholic television program.
She has participated in countless pro-life demonstrations, counter-protests and prayer vigils. As a result, her frequent stands against first amendment violations have successfully struck down dozens of unconstitutional ordinances and school policies.”
After three years with Survivors, Kortney left and returned to the East Coast and in June of 2009 was hired to work as the chapter and street team coordinator for American Life League’s Rock for Life project, which brings the human personhood message to youth through music, education and human rights activism. She was a very welcomed and appreciated activist and was regularly called on to write articles in addition to coordinate and train teams around the country. Her activities also included starting nearly twenty new chapters, frequent blogging on trending pro-life topics and recording a weekly podcast, broadcast on National Pro-life Radio.
In June of 2010, after refusing to comply with an organization-wide mandate by ALL to promote Mary, the spouse of the Holy Spirit, as the only one to whom the world should pray to end abortion, since Mary will take the requests to Jesus, Kortney and two others including co-founder Erik Whittington were terminated. A few days later she was enthusiastically hired by Kristan Hawkins of Students For Life of America to work and minister as their Field Director.
Kortney excelled in her new position and quickly began to develop more campus teams all over the USA. While at SFLA, she helped start many pro-life groups and received much respect from pro-life students with whom she kept almost constant contact. Kortney used her knowledge of schools that she gained with Survivors to help student’s best reach their campuses. She had unique insight into the individual culture that college campuses have.
One of Kortney’s favorite things to do with SFLA was teach pro-life apologetics to students. She knew that pro-life students needed to know how to defend their pro-life beliefs clearly and accurately. And she was the perfect person on SFLA staff to do so because of her experience with Survivors and her constant intake of all things anti-abortion. Kortney was always well-read on the pro-abortion side and kept up with “pro-choice” blogs and had many books by pro-abortion authors. She knew how to argue the pro-life side because she knew how the pro-abortion side thought.
She flew and drove all over the country training, equipping, and encouraging student pro-life leaders. She profoundly distinguished herself as an enthusiastic, effective, and inspirational frontrunner of the pro-life movement. She was a determined and diligent activist who powerfully advanced this great cause while mightily touching the lives of untold numbers of people. Operation Rescue President Troy Newman said of Kortney “…Kortney’s life’s work stands as a tribute to her warm, loving personality, her fierce dedication to protecting the defenseless, and her unwavering faith in Jesus Christ.”
Kortney has been a guest speaker at various events, functions and church groups, such as Charlotte’s 40 Days for Life closing celebration and the Los Angeles March for Life. She has appeared in publications like NC’s Indy Week for her protest of the 2008 Democratic National Convention, and on radio programs, such as SoundRezn and Giving an Answer.
During one her activist adventures, the 2010 March For Life in Washington, DC, she met Benjamin Gordon, a kindred spirit, pro-life activist, and minister-in-training and the two quickly became good “friends.” Kortney said her heart skipped a beat when she heard Ben was moving to DC to attend seminary. We had talked about this many times in her life – she wanted to marry a man of God who was enthusiastic and committed to becoming a minister of the Gospel. Although she was internally really excited about the new friendship, she kept it to herself not wanting to ‘jinx’ the relationship. Her heart was saying “this is the one” but her intellect (and experience) was saying “this is a decision of a lifetime – walk carefully and slowly.” She was so excited about Ben and his love for God, music, and life that she could not successfully keep the ruse for too long. Friends and family observed their weekend hiking adventures enjoying God, nature and one another.
Although Kortney felt sure Ben was the man God had prepared for her, she did a little “preparing of Ben” herself. She was concerned that Ben needed to “cross-over” into becoming an independent adult and take on all the responsibilities that help prepare young men for marriage, children, and ministry. Kortney wrote the following note on yellow legal paper (it probably sat in her car for a while since it appeared to be slightly stained with food!) hoping to either encourage Ben to “step it up” or run in the other direction:
- You need to demonstrate that you’re a grown man who’s ready for marriage – to leave your parents, support a wife (and children). This concerns me because: you don’t pay rent, you don’t pay for cell phone, you eat your parent’s food, you don’t pay for car insurance. All of that & more will be on you when you are married.
- Your wishy-washiness is troublesome. Make a decision. What are your priorities? If seminary/ministry & I are you top 2, then both require sacrifice, lifestyle changes, saving money.
Not only did he “step it up,” but his actions won a “love TKO” with the woman of his dreams. Before long Kortney called me and was sure Ben was the man for her. She waited 28 years for Ben. One of her platforms she both taught and lived by was chastity. On her 13th birthday I took her on a real date, dressed up, dinner, opened the car door for her, and presented her with a “purity ring,” a nice white-gold ring that resembled a lock and key. I explained the biblical concept of sexual purity and she made a promise to me and God that night that she would remain pure and give that ring to her husband on their wedding night. For many years she referred to it as her “virginity ring.” My corrections saying “Kortney, it’s called a promise, chastity, or purity ring” fell on deaf ears.
On one weekend visit Ben asked to go to dinner with me. We talked about theology, apologetics, solving world hunger, and how wonderful Kortney was in his life. I finally said “are you asking for her hand in marriage?” He said “yes!” I said “well Ben, you have to say it! Ask me” (I’m afraid Kortney got a little of her warped humor from me). He did. I gave him my enthusiastic blessing and reminded him of two very important things: 1) this is the 2nd greatest decision in his life next to the time he gave his heart to Christ, and 2) Kortney was very precious to me and I own a Glock sub-compact .40 cal automatic handgun.
In the summer of 2010, Ben took Kortney to New Hampshire with the goal of proposing to her. There were three different instances where he thought it would be great to make the proposal, but his family members were always there. So he decided to assert himself and told them that he and Kortney were going to a local waterfall called Welton Falls. Kortney and Ben eagerly hiked back through the woods. At one point Kortney exclaimed “this looks like a scene out of the Lord of the Rings!” At the waterfall, Ben got down on one knee and asked her to spend the rest of her life with him and presented her with a unique Celtic-designed ring that they both had picked out.
Later that fall, Ben enrolled at Reformed Theological Seminary in Washington, DC and began his studies with plans to be a pastor one day. The engaged couple spent much time picking out which church to be involved in since Ben knew it would be there he would seek an internship. They eventually settled on Grace Presbyterian where Ben began his ministry internship. Kortney and Ben greatly enjoyed their time of ministry together at Grace. Several families from the church were such wonderful examples that Kortney and Ben developed a vision for what their future family life could be like.
Kortney always had a love for Renaissance themes. She regularly visited various “Renaissance Festivals” around the country. Oft times she would express to me the desire to have a Renaissance wedding like in the “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” movie. I told her “Whatever you want. It happens only once so you might as well plan it to the delight of your heart.” Ben had a love for all things ‘Celtic’ fueled by the Gordon family visit to Scotland – and the knowledge that they had ties to the Gordon clan. Together Kortney and Ben integrated their desires and planned an exciting “Celtic-Renaissance-themed” wedding, complete with bag piper, kilts, turkey legs, and Friar Tuck in what looked like Sherwood Forest in the middle of Spotsylvania, VA, a property belonging to the family of her good friend and pro-life activist Lisa Twigg . The bridesmaids were called “Kortney’s Fair Maiden’s” and the men “Ben’s Merry Men.” Most of their time preparing for the wedding was spent on the service. Kortney and Ben wrote their own vows that highlighted their desire to live a God-centered marriage. They also developed the text and theme for the sermon: Marriage is about becoming holy, not necessarily about being happy.
On the day of the wedding, May 21, 2011, Kortney glowed with a visible radiance of joy. The fairy-tail wedding was a success.
That evening, she presented Ben with her “virginity” ring.
Kortney was strongly against hormonal birth control and even taught others what she had learned about Natural Family Planning. She and Ben attended classes to learn more about this natural, non-abortive or non-hormonal way of planning their family. It didn't come as a big surprise to me when they announced the new life that was created on their honeymoon. Sophy Joy was to be born no later than 9 months after their wedding date. Kortney really wanted to know the gender of her new little baby, but she and Ben decided to wait. That is, until Kortney was given the opportunity to be a part of a wonderful project called The Gift of Life. This was developed into an amazing DVD promoting life and hosted by Governor Mike Huckabee. They offered to send Kortney and Ben to see their baby, Sophy Joy, in 4D. It's such a treasure to have recorded the moment on video when the ecstatic parents saw their baby for the first time. Their reactions to seeing Sophy demonstrated for all that their precious child of five months already reflected physical attributes of both parents. Sophy reflected the truth that she was fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) – a tiny miracle indeed.
They had a wonderful five months of marriage bliss and planned and prepared for a future together. Kortney was arranging her work schedule so she could back off from some of her travel in preparation for being a new mother. The newlyweds were looking forward to the holidays when they anticipated having more time with each other and family. But that time of rest and reflection did not come for them.
On October 8, 2011 while returning from a Student’s For Life conference in Georgia, a drunk driver swerved and ran head-on into the car Kortney was driving. She and Sophy, and the drunk driver were killed instantly. Kortney and little Sophy were immediately absent from the body and present with their Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). Her three passengers, one in the front and two in the back were critically injured. Her front seat passenger, Jon Scharfenberger, also a pro-life leader and activist (Jon led their Pregnant on Campus initiative) with Students for Life of America died from his injuries ten days later.
A few days after Kortney and Sophy entered eternity, we received the following amazing email from a family at the scene of the accident:
- Hello, My name is Joshua Biron. I was there last night at the scene of the accident. My wife (Ashley Biron) and I came upon the accident no more than thirty seconds after it happened. There were five other people there that witnessed the crash. They were all waiting for help to arrive. Knowing the area and knowing how long it would take emergency crews to get there, my wife and I stopped the car and got out to help. The accident was bad; one car was on top of the other. I immediately found myself out of my comfort zone, but I went ahead and climbed into the car on the bottom to check on the driver. I exited that vehicle and went to check on the one on top. The vehicle on top was in a dangerous position. It could have slid off and rolled over at any minute. As my wife and I thought about what to do, I noticed that the other drivers had come out of their comfort zones and offered help. We pulled one young man out of the vehicle and away from the car to safety. We went back for the other who had apparently crawled out himself and we moved him away from the wreck. My wife who is an ER nurse and thirty weeks pregnant cared for them while we went back for the others. We couldn't get to the other two people due to the position of the vehicle. One of them was Kortney, someone you all loved dearly. Someone that passed away doing something she cared so deeply for and devoted her life to.
- Ten minutes after it happened, Police and firemen were there and took over.
- My message is this, I came out of my comfort zone to help the 5 people that were involved in the accident. The other bystanders, seeing my wife and I trying to help, came out of their comfort zones and started helping too. There were 15 of us working to care for the hurt before EMS and Police even showed up. We put ourselves in harm’s way to help them. There were men holding the car steady while we pulled people out and away from it. It's time for all of us to come out of our comfort zones. Kortney came out of hers a long time ago. In a world where it seems a lot of people think abortion is ok, she stood against it and gave it her all. There is one thing we can do to keep her awesome spirit alive, and that is for all of you who read this to come out of your comfort zones. To help and support those in need and to stand strong for what is good and right.
- The 20 minutes I was at the scene of the accident and then reading Kortney's story today have changed me forever. I hope her story lives on and does the same for more people. Joshua Biron
We were all so moved and blessed by this special letter that my brother “Uncle” Don sat down and wrote the following to the Biron family:
- Dear Biron family, In the midst of our deepest of grief and overwhelming sorrow, my brother, Kortney's father, and I were having trouble working our way through our brokenness, even though we had an inner confidence of the hope of our coming reunion someday, when it would be our turn to meet our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
- Then your email came in and the power of your careful words and testimony ministered to us and all of the family and friends we shared it with.
- I thank you with all of my heart for you and your wife, and the divine appointment God set for you that evening.
- Your information has further confirmed in us that our Lord was still there and many concerns were answered by your actions for Kortney.
- We began the process of recovery of our spirits after reading your email.
- I hope you have also placed your trust and faith in Jesus Christ for your souls, so we can meet you in Heaven too someday.
- May the God of Heaven bring an outpouring of love and grace on you and your precious baby as you live out your lives in this world.
- I will never forget you and what you did for our Kortney. In His Steps, Don Blythe
We did not expect a response since their first note was so powerful and encouraging. But the next day Mr. Biron graciously shared the following in response to Don’s email:
- Don, Those words came from my heart and what I am about to tell you is too.
- My faith in God was almost completely gone before that night. I don't think I had prayed in over five years. If I did, it was probably for something so selfish that it wasn't worth remembering. I have prayed more in the past few days than I have at any other time in my life. God was really weighing down on me Saturday and Sunday. I felt like I had to find out who the people in that accident were. When I did, I felt like I had to send that email and to share Kortney's story with everyone I met. I continue to tell people the story of her life and how that night changed me forever.
- To say that she and the rest of the people in that accident changed my life is an understatement. They saved my life.
- My wife and I have cried tears over the pain that this must be causing you and the rest of her family. I am glad that sending these emails has helped ease that pain. I love all of God's people and hate to see anyone in pain. I hope you all find a way to make it through this tragedy.
- I can safely say now that my wife and I will have that chance to meet her in heaven. With love and hope, Joshua Biron
We have continued to receive literally hundreds of emails as well as personal testimonies from many people whose lives Kortney touched. I was already aware of Kortney’s incredible influence. What I was not aware of was the inconceivable scope of her impact.
So passionate about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Kortney told her sister Ashley a few weeks before the wreck “If I knew my death would bring family and friends to Christ, I would gladly lay down my life.”
Kortney was a prolific writer who knew what to say and how to say it. Her articles, counsel, and example will continue to have both a temporal and eternal impact. Kortney wrote the following article after being very moved while visiting the Holocaust Museum. Her powerful and insightful message to the Church and indeed the world is a timeless admonition not to be taken lightly:
- . . . Most church leaders do not hesitate when asked to collect food for the homeless or fill shoeboxes for Christmas. But when they’re asked to pray outside an abortion mill or allow a pro-life speaker to make a presentation, it’s a whole different story. No one gets upset when a church collects a special offering for Haiti, but bring up abortion and you may very well have controversy. So be it. The 50 million children dead from abortion deserve our passion.
- In the past, when the body of Christ, the Church, rose up in opposition to an injustice, earth-shaking things happened. Slaves were freed, rights were restored and killings ended.
- The first leaflet of the White Rose [see Sophie Scholl] asked something that Christians in a country with decriminalized abortion should ask themselves every day: "Who among us has any conception of the dimensions of shame that will befall us and our children when one day the veil has fallen from our eyes and the most horrible of crimes—crimes that infinitely outdistance every human measure—reach the light of day?”
- May the Christian churches remove the veil from its eyes and expose the horrible crime against humanity that is abortion. Only then will it end.
Kortney was forever writing notes to herself. Perhaps, because of her photographic memory, these notes were more helpful to her than they are when others write notes to themselves. Once she would write out a scripture, list, or ‘note to self’ and post it in her car or apartment, she would have it memorized after just a few glances. One of the last notes Kortney wrote was scribbled down in black felt pen on the white board positioned on a wall near her front door so she could see it every time she left the apartment. Her husband, Ben showed it to me and I took a picture so he could keep it. Intended as a personal message to herself, it has become a message of comfort and encouragement to me from a precious servant of the Almighty, my daughter:
- Depend on God not others
- Spend time with your best friend every day: Pray & read His word
- Be the Bride of Christ - “well done good & faithful servant” PERSEVERE…
Well done, Kortney, well done.