At the beginning of a 40 Days for Life campaign, those driving by are often judging the prayer vigil.
At first, the reactions vary from supportive honks to perhaps a distasteful shout or gesture. As the campaign goes on, those passing by see you in all sorts of weather conditions … and even if they disagree with you, over time they come to respect you.
Their attention may turn from you … to the reality of abortion in their community. We have seen people who mock the vigil during the first week of the campaign actually join the prayer participants in the final week.
Here are some stories…
Auckland, New Zealand
“The majority of the time we will not know the fruit of our prayer or work to promote and save lives,” said one of the leaders in Auckland. But occasionally, God will reveal His blessings.
A woman approached the prayer team outside the abortion center. They recognized her. At last year’s 40 Days for Life vigil, she was one of the most vocal opponents.
“But here’s the thing,” said the 40 Days for Life team member. “Our presence affected her so much that she realised she needed healing!”
They learned that her vocal abuse was a manifestation of the deep hurt she experienced after being forced to abort three children. Finally, this mother went to God in prayer. Today she is praying for the 40 Days for Life effort, with plans to join the vigil if she is able.
“From vocal abuser … to healing … to praying in solidarity with us,” the volunteer said. “God is so good!”
Among the 20 countries where 40 Days for Life vigils are currently in progress are Australia and New Zealand.
Volunteers have an uphill battle in these nations. Abortion seems to be deeply embedded in the culture … and in many cases, it is government-funded.
But 40 Days for Life is shining light where it is so greatly needed. Here are a few examples.
The 40 Days for Life team in Brisbane has seen more than its share of opposition in front of the abortion facility. They’ve even had people holding a sign that says “abortion is a civil right.”
“We know it’s not easy or comfortable to pray outside the Bowen Hills abortion clinic,” said one of the volunteers, “but we continue to hear amazing stories from those who courageously take part.”
“I prayed last night outside Marie Stopes,” said another participant. “Lots of opposition … but also had some support from a friendly passerby at the end of the night.”
There’s support from the clergy as well. “It is profoundly contradictory that a culture like ours, which is so concerned with human rights, seems so often unconcerned about the most basic right of all upon which all others depend – the right to life,” said Archbishop Mark Coleridge.
“That is why it is important to have people like those involved in 40 Days for Life who are prepared not only to speak up for life, but to act in defence of life.”
Adelaide’s state, South Australia, legalized abortion in 1969. Abortions are free – covered by Medicare. Most of the abortions take place in a government-run facility that is set far back from the road, making it difficult to speak to women arriving for appointments.
But there are still ways of reaching out. One of the volunteers runs a café near the abortion center. And a pregnancy help center operates a shop next door to the café that’s called Reborn Baby Gear.
“With Australia being so secular and abortion so well entrenched, it is a difficult battle,” said Alan, the leader in Adelaide. “Nevertheless, it is heartening to see many denominations coming together and we are inspired reading of campaigns held in the snow and sleet in the northern hemisphere.”
Alan reports one confirmed baby saved this campaign … and another young woman who now seems likely to choose life “after a long discussion with one of our most enthusiastic volunteers. “
Wellington, New Zealand
The 40 Days for Life vigil takes place outside Wellington Hospital, which performs more than 2,000 abortions every year.
“The hospital advises its clients to avoid us, so our sidewalk counselling efforts are thwarted before we begin,” said Clare, the local campaign leader, “so it is the public we get to share with, offering the pro-life view for consideration.”
She is amazed at the number of new people joining the vigil this year. Over a third of the participants are new to 40 Days for Life.
One woman offered encouraging words. “She related the story of her past abortions and the anger she felt at having being told her babies were nothing but a bit of mucus,” Clare said. “She hopes we get to meet and help young women in similar situations to hers.”
LifeNews.com Note: Shawn Carney is the campaign director for the 40 Days for Life pro-life prayer campaign against abortion.