Reggie Littlejohn is a woman on a mission. Her life is an amazing journey from atheist to believer, from litigator to international-rights advocate, from a person with boundless energy to a bedridden patient for five years – then back again to world traveler, leader, screenwriter and public speaker.
She views her path as part of God’s plan to give her the passion and skills to shed light on abuses done to women and girls worldwide, especially in China.
From atheist to believer
Although Littlejohn grew up in a Christian home, at age 16 she announced to her parents that she was an atheist and refused to go to church. She moved from an atheist to an agnostic after she read the Bible for the first time in an ancient literature course in college.
“As I read the Gospel of John, I realized just who this person Jesus was and what he did,” she said. “I told myself, ‘This is not what I rejected.’”
Littlejohn married her college sweetheart. Following graduation, she enrolled at Yale Law School and her husband attended Yale Divinity School. She took a year off from her studies to travel around the world. On two separate trips, Littlejohn had the opportunity to meet Mother Teresa and volunteer with the nun’s Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta.
After law school, Littlejohn and her husband headed to San Francisco, where she took a position in a major law firm and practiced litigation for eight years. During her time as a litigator, she performed pro bono work helping Chinese refugees seeking asylum in the United States.
“My first refugee was someone who was persecuted as a Christian and forcibly sterilized,” Littlejohn said. “That opened two whole worlds up to me. First, I didn’t know that Christians were persecuted in China. Second, I knew that China had a one-child policy, but I never stopped to think how it was enforced. I did not realize until I represented this first woman that it is enforced through forced abortion, forced sterilization and infanticide. I was utterly appalled.”
A new mission
Littlejohn had two pregnancies end in miscarriage. She believes the pain of the miscarriages sensitized her to the suffering of women losing babies against their will. In 2003, Littlejohn developed multiple breast lumps. She underwent bilateral mastectomies with implant reconstruction. During the surgery, she contracted a staph infection that often proves deadly. She left her practice on medical leave and was disabled for five years. Her time as a patient, however, became a spiritual awakening.
“My mission went from making lots of money as an attorney to helping women and babies devastated by forced abortion and female gendercide in China,” she said.
Littlejohn recounted the unintended consequences of China’s one-child policy – forced abortion, forced sterilization, death from botched procedures. As a result of the policy, there are 37 million more men than women living in China, which in turn has prompted human trafficking, sexual slavery and a high rate of female suicide.
Littlejohn came to realize that a film would be the most powerful way to communicate the devastation caused by China’s one-child-policy, and to move hearts and minds to end it. She wrote “Pearls of China,” a feature-length drama. The script has won numerous awards. She has taken the project through development and is currently raising production funds for the film.
With renewed energy, she founded the nonprofit Women’s Rights without Frontiers in 2008. The organization has been called a leading voice in exposing and opposing forced abortion, gendercide and sexual slavery in China. In addition, the organization is directly saving the lives of girls at risk of sex-selective abortion through its Save a Girl Campaign.
“I see it all as part of God’s plan for me,” Littlejohn said. “Mother Teresa, my illness, the opportunity to represent Chinese refugees as a lawyer, and even my miscarriages. If I had not lost my own babies in miscarriage, I might not have developed the passion to help women who were victims of forced abortion.”
Littlejohn is scheduled to speak at the Silicon Valley Prayer Breakfast March 28. For registration and more information, visit svpb.net/annual_events.
Skip Vaccarello is a longtime Los Altos resident. For more information, visit findinggodinsiliconvalley.com. Vaccarello plans to publish interviews from the site in an upcoming book.