“Hang in there!” is one way to say it. In Cincinnati, the thought was “persevere.” In Puerto Rico, it was “commitment.” In Pittsburgh, “stand faithfully.”
And really, to put it all together, we are all called to make a commitment, stand faithfully and persevere in our witness — and most of all, as Paul says, in prayer.
Here are few stories of those who are doing just that.
A rainy day greeted the 40 Days for Life team for the campaign’s opening, “but, of course, we weren’t going to let that stop us,” said Mary in Cincinnati. “By the time we held our official opening prayer hour in the early evening it was clear and dry.”
Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Binzer of Cincinnati’s Catholic archdiocese led prayer and spoke about the importance of public witness to the sanctity of life.
He reminded vigil participants that even if you don’t often see the fruits of your sacrifices and hear from the mothers’ lips that their babies are going to be saved, we need to persevere.
“You could feel the unity of all those present,” Mary said.
BAYAMÓN, PUERTO RICO
“People in Puerto Rico are coming together, sharing their gifts and talents, and committing to vigil hours,” said Zulimar, the coordinator of Puerto Rico’s first 40 Days for Life campaign.
On the campaign’s first day, there was a pro-abortion demonstration in front of the cathedral in San Juan that got media attention. “We responded letting the community know about the 40 Days for Life campaign and encouraged all Christians to join the prayer vigil,” Zulimar said.
The bishop of San Juan also responded, saying that “more than this being a religious issue, it is a matter of human rights. It is a matter of the most fundamental right that a human being has: the right to live.”
The day ended with encouraging results as the abortionist left early, closing the clinic for the day as vigil participants – on their knees – prayed faithfully.
Nikki sent me an e-mail about two of the volunteers at the vigil in Pittsburgh, who are showing that 40 Days for Life is blessed by both pro-life veterans and newcomers praying outside the abortion facility.
There’s Bob, who “stands in front of Planned Parenthood, holding his sign, every abortion day, and has been doing it faithfully for almost 20 years. Rain, snow, freezing cold or blistering heat – he is there.”
Nikki, the local coordinator, also mentioned Jessica, who had signed up for a prayer time, but then e-mailed to say she wasn’t really sure.
“I encouraged her that others would be there to welcome her, and she came,” Nikki said. “She was very blessed by the experience and said she will be back, and will try to get a group from her church to come as well.”
HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA
The 40 Days for Life vigil in Halifax is in front of a large hospital. “Our witness is simply our prayerful presence on the public sidewalk to the hundreds of people who walk past on their way to work or to school,” said Julie in Halifax.
Just recently, Julie learned about something that took place during last fall’s campaign.
A vigil participant’s son was at the nearby university when a friend of his came into class — very upset. She had just found out that she was pregnant. She also told her friend that she was very angry with the people praying for an end to abortion outside the hospital.
The young man quietly said, “My dad is one of those people praying.”
“I don’t know whether this young woman was considering an abortion,” Julie said. “What we do know is that she carried her baby to term and has kept her child. My sense is that this young man’s simple witness touched this girl’s heart. And those she had perceived as her enemy — those ‘zealous Christians praying in public’ — suddenly had a human face.”
We never know where our prayers are reaching, she said, “but I feel sure that last year at this time, those prayers affected this girl and helped her to make a decision for life.”
FORT MYERS, FLORIDA
One Fort Myers church put together a video for its web site to encourage members of the parish to participate in the community’s first 40 Days for Life campaign — especially on the days this church has pledged to cover the peaceful prayer vigil at the abortion center.
It’s worth a look — an example of what’s possible in terms of getting more people to get out to the abortion facilities and pray. It shows what happens at the vigil — and what Christ can do when two or more are gathered in His name.
Can there be too much of a good thing? In the case of a 40 Days for Life event in Lawrenceville — maybe so!
Some young people were holding a sign along the sidewalk with the message, “Honk if your mom chose life.”
Once they displayed that sign, the event turned into a virtual festival of honking horns.
“We got so many honks of support it was sometimes hard to hear our guest speaker’s talk,” said Kateri in Lawrenceville. “But he was laughing about it afterwards, because he was the one who urged the kids to hold that particular sign.”
As the abortion center closed for the day, one of the employees came out and threw eight small plastic babies on the ground.
“I don’t know how long you people plan to be here,” said the worker, “but this is how many we did today.”
“Our group remained silent,” said Ryan in Tuscaloosa. “We watched the staff member leave, and prayed for the eight babies and the staff.”
The local team decided it would be best to distribute the plastic babies to vigil participants to carry as a reminder to pray for all the unborn, especially the eight from this particular day.
“We all deal with trials at our vigils,” Ryan said. “We have faith that God is using us to do His work. This trial and others are proof that God is at work in these clinics.”
The 40 Days for Life campaign in Flagstaff started with a rally in front of City Hall. For the most part, the local coordinators reported a positive response from the community — “cars honking, people waving and smiling, giving our efforts thumbs-up.”
There was one guy, however, who was taken aback by all of this. He drove by angrily — then went away and came back with his own sign: “Honk if you hate ignorant people.”
It also had an arrow on it. He stood right next to the 40 Days for Life group, with the arrow pointing in their direction.
A few of the participants tried to talk to him, “but he was oblivious to any of our arguments.” So the group simply continued to pray.
A sign in the window of the abortion center in Beaumont announces the staff’s reaction to the 40 Days for Life vigil outside: “Pray against sidewalk bullies.”
There are interesting sights on the sidewalk, said Eileen in Beaumont; but certainly no bullies. “A pastor praying with his flock, with hushed murmurs of prayers; a huge banner draped from chair to chair reading 40 Days for Life; heads bowed in reverent contemplation.”
There’s a cure for the darkness; and it’s the light of Christ.
There were no abortions on Thursday, Friday or Saturday afternoons. “Praise Jesus!” Eileen said. “We prayed for the abortion facility to close down. It hasn’t closed down yet, but no abortions being done is still a hopeful note for all of us to know.”
LifeNews.com Note: Shawn Carney is the campaign director for the 40 Days for Life pro-life prayer campaign against abortion. He is the director of the Coalition for Life.