Bryan Kemper almost missed out on speaking at the St. Gianna Molla Pregnancy Outreach banquet Feb. 12 for several reasons. Most involve his near death experiences.
Kemper, founder of Stand True Ministries, was nearly aborted after being conceived by an unmarried couple just out of high school. Instead, his grandparents forced his mother to move to San Francisco, so no one would know she was pregnant.
"So, for the first nine months of my life my parents tried to have me killed and my grandparents were too ashamed of my existence," he said introducing himself.
His parents were married only briefly, and Kemper's mother and stepfather raised him. He admits to being a problem child. He had spinal meningitis, declared clinically dead at 8 months, and was expected to be brain damaged. Instead he grew up with ADHD and parents unable to care for him.
At age 12, he was sent to live with his biological father in San Diego, with no love or religion in his house, but plenty of access to drugs. By 17, he dropped out of high school and lived on the streets. An effort to clean up by joining the Army resulted in a suicide attempt six months later. The only job he could find was being a nanny for his drug dealer. He would babysit while high.
"I had no respect for my fellow human being," Kemper told the 300 people gathered at the banquet, which took place at Classic V in Amherst.
A drug freakout after a Bob Dylan, Grateful Dead concert in 1987 led to a hospital stay where a doctor looked him in the eye and said that God loved him and he had value. The next day he ran into the EMT who saved his life who said the same exact thing.
"No one in my life had told me that I had value. Nobody had ever told me I was worth anything," Kemper said.
A note from his doctor led him to a church, where he told God to do what He would to him. In 1987, he read the Gospel of John and has never used drugs again.
Kemper said he should be dead or in jail, but what he can do with Christ's love is so amazing.
"I am a blessed man, but none of that is possible except through Christ," he said. "Christ is the only foundation that we can stand on."
In his presentation, he drew comparisons between the abortion issue, slavery and the Holocaust.
"We live in a world that has destroyed personhood in so many ways," he said.
He cited such things as the Dred Scott Decision which stated that African's were not fully human, Nazi Germany where Jewish people were not regarded as human persons leading to 6 million deaths and the Roe v. Wade decision allowing abortion which was passed with a 7-2 vote, the same as Dred Scott.
"Our society has gone through these times where we take our fellow human beings and we just take away their personhood," he said. "What's sad is that we let this kind of thing happen."
Although it is too late to protect slaves or stand up to Nazis, Kemper said there is still a need to stand up against abortion. Each day, 3,500 preborn babies are aborted.
"We don't have to ask, what would I have done? We have to ask what am I doing now?" he said.
Kemper, who also serves as the youth outreach director for the Priests for Life, is an author and speaker on pro-life issues. He has been featured on EWTN's "Life on the Rock" and "Journey Home," and will appear in an upcoming HBO documentary on pro-life youth.
The diocesan Office of Pro-Life Activities hosted the banquet.
To learn more visit www.buffalodiocese.org/Evangelization/ProLife.aspx.