Trusting in His Providence

I will be your God. You will be my people.”

Leviticus 26:12

Sometimes we find ourselves at the end of a journey that we never thought we would take. That’s how I felt this week as I sat on a bench in the Philadelphia courthouse with my family awaiting the verdict that could have my brother-in-law walking out a free man or facing the possibility of up to 11 years in federal prison.

My fingers laced with my rosary beads, one hand holding the hand of my sister-in-law, and the other holding the hand of my husband as the verdict was read…

“On the first count of the indictment, we find the defendant, Mark Houck… not guilty. On the second count of the indictment, we find the defendant, Mark Houck… not guilty.”

I could hear the guttural sounds of the release of pain and emotion, from my family, as the tears fell and our bodies slumped together in relief. God had heard our cries. Those same words from the book of Daniel that I had prayed earlier in the week came to mind: “Do not fear, beloved.” Prayers had poured in from all over the world. Rosary groups held, Adoration slots filled, Divine Mercy Chaplets started, promises of sacrifices and fasting, so many friends and family praying for this moment.

It was over. Twelve jurors of his peers had spoken unanimously: Not guilty.

Mark is the founder of a men’s ministry called The King’s Men. Their motto is three simple words: Leader. Protector. Provider. It is with this motto in mind that Mark would stand in front of the Planned Parenthood building in Philadelphia every Wednesday praying for the women who entered. He would often walk up to women with literature about a neighboring pro-life clinic that offered resources as well, willing to walk them there if they desired. Always the gentleman, Mark recognized that many of these women were hurting, and he wanted to be a voice to offer them an alternative to abortion if they would be open to listening. Mark had, on multiple occasions over the years, called our family with news of a “baby that had been saved” from a day at the clinic.

Planned Parenthood recognized that these were First Amendment rights that Mr. Houck could exercise. The Planned Parenthood escort training manual specifically states that the prolife protesters’ First Amendment rights allow them to “pray, offer literature, shout, and sidewalk counsel” and that escorts are not to engage in any conversation with these protestors or attempt to infringe on these rights. 

One specific morning in October of 2021, Mark got into an altercation with an PP escort who was intimidating and harassing Mark’s 12-year-old son who had joined his dad’s mission for the day. This altercation resulted in Mark physically shoving the escort to the ground, and out of the way of his son. The altercation, while dismissed in the courts of Philadelphia, was picked up by the federal government, and Mark was now facing two counts of violation of the FACE act against a “reproductive rights provider.” This act, created to protect any reproductive health care provider against violence because of their position, was now being used to intimidate pro-life activists from protesting at clinics nationwide.

For our family, it was simple. Mark had pushed a man who was harassing his son. He was in “protector” mode. His actions had nothing to do with this man’s role as a reproductive health care escort. This was clearly an overreaching of this federal statute. It was a simple truth that we understood. But would twelve jurors see it that same way?

When federal agents stormed the Houck residence in September of 2022 to serve a warrant for his arrest, we asked ourselves, “How did we get here? How would God allow this good and holy servant of His to be brought before the federal courts? Where was God in this injustice?”

Our cries for his innocence of these charges seem to fall on deaf ears. But our prayers were being heard. But our prayers were being heard. “I will be your God. You will be my people” (Leviticus 26:12). The Lord had given me that verse as I sat in adoration the night before the trial. Always a comforter, the Holy Spirit was reminding me that we serve a mighty God. The Lord was reminding my family that we were “His people.” He had not abandoned us. He was leading us down this path, and He would see the outcome to fruition. Scripture tells us that when we walk with the Lord:

Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”

James 1:2-3

My brother-in-law Mark Houck would tell you that he counted it as joy “to be chosen to sacrifice for the greater good of the pro-life movement.” He was willing to undergo the stress of having his name defiled, his family attacked for their beliefs, and the very security of his home shaken. Throughout the months leading up to the trial, Mark’s faith in God’s provision never faltered.

Mark is a righteous man. He knew that he held the Truth but he also knew that  justice, in this world, may not be granted to him. He trusted that the same God that brought him to the doors of this courtroom would continue to guide and lead him even if that meant into a jail cell.

Paul tells us in his letters to the Corinthians that “we destroy arguments and every pretension raising itself against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive in obedience to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

We take every thought “captive in obedience to Christ”. We place our fears, our anxieties, our insecurities at the foot of Christ, obedient to what the Lord is asking of our lives.

We lean into trust.

Trusting in God’s providence does not often mean that we are going to fully understand what God is asking us. However, it is in our willingness to undertake whatever trials and suffering come our way that we fully embrace God’s will in our life.

When we have anxiety about our future, we lack trust that God sees what the journey ahead will be for us. We must face the unknown with a certainty that the Lord will always provide what we need.

About Author

Tammi has a heart for people and a need to communicate her love through blogging about parenting, homeschooling, marriage, and her faith journey as a Catholic. As a former teacher and now homeschooling mom of five, Tammi sprinkles humor and sarcasm into many of her Instagram posts and personal blogs. Both Franciscan University alumni, she and her husband of over 22 years live in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Through her authentically Catholic blog she strives to “fill the banquet table of the Lord” through writing about His whispers of love and faith. Check out her blog:

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