Matthew 5: 3-16 is a powerful message for us who pray for these 40 days. In the first part of the Sermon on the Mount, the teaching on the Beatitudes, Jesus tells us all of the blessings that will come to us when we experience difficulties in this life. Then He goes on to encourage us, that we are to be salt and light to the world, so that men may see the good we do and so give glory to our heavenly Father.
With all of that being said, I’d like to focus for a moment on the verse from the above passage that came to me today at the vigil: “Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.” (Matt. 5:11-12a)
I heard about some persecution that occurred today, and I experienced some myself. But this does not make me afraid or discouraged. Rather, it makes me think that we are in GOOD COMPANY. Jesus Himself was persecuted falsely as well. I am in no way trying to compare our small sufferings to His…. and yet, when we are at the vigil, we ARE doing something FOR HIM, or as He says in this passage, “because of Me.” We are there “because of Him.” He is our Hope and our Strength for ALL that we do for the unborn and their parents. And I thank Him for allowing us this “white martyrdom” (not “red” with the shedding of blood). It unites us closer to Him, and closer to one another as Church.
Let us pray for one another as we read about some of the experiences of the day. Shift Manager Marie H. shared about her shift from this morning:
I was pleased to have 4 people form Hosanna with me during this shift. I was not expecting anyone. They were a good group and we had several smiles and nods from people passing. Only one guy told us to “get a life.”
Then, we hear from Marie P.:
This morning started out fairly quiet after Marie H. and the four people from Hosanna left shortly after 9:00 a.m. I was alone in prayer for about a half hour when Brandon stopped by with donuts. William also showed up so he and I each had a donut – compliments of Brandon. After speaking for about 15 minutes with Brandon before he had to go on his way it struck me how many people are praying during this vigil – whether they are standing in front of 933 Liberty Avenue or not – they are praying!!! Some are praying for the babies that will be aborted – that they be saved. Some are praying for the mothers – that they change their mind. Some are praying that Planned Parenthood be closed and that our city be made whole again. Some are praying for all of us as we stand vigil – that we be safe and warm. This morning I reflected on that and thought “God is good and He will hear all of these prayers!”
Maybe one of God’s signs that He is hearing our prayers was that everyone who went up to the door of PP this morning had a hard time getting a response from inside the building. The UPS man and another delivery man couldn’t get a response. Several girls couldn’t get a response. Finally I overheard one of the men from inside the building tell the female security guard that showed up to work that the intercom wasn’t working. I thought it seemed odd that everyone that was trying to gain entrance couldn’t do so. Makes doing business a little hard when you can’t hear your customers and they can’t get your attention! Maybe God is listening to us after all.
Maybe we are getting God’s attention.
Shift Manager Marilyn shared both the good and the bad that happened today:
Do you sometimes wonder if praying in front of PP really makes a difference? I know I do. On this blustery day, I was reminded of the importance of our prayerful witness. What an interesting shift it turned out to be today!
I am ever so grateful that Beth Ann is able to accompany me for most of my shifts. She is truly a blessing to me. Shortly after our shift began, a lady from across the street was waving and motioning at us. She came over and told us that if anyone had been praying outside the clinic where she had her abortions many years ago, she may not have gone through with them. She needed to talk and we were there to listen. And, talk she did. She said she could always get another bus. Sometimes we don’t realize the impact that just listening has on someone. She was grateful for the literature on Rachel’s Vineyard and for the booklet, Rachel, Weep No More – How Divine Mercy Heals the Effects of Abortion by Brian Thatcher, MD & Fr. Frank Pavone. I only had one copy of that booklet and had been carrying it around. I was so grateful to have it to give to her.
Later, a man came out of PP and said to us, “Don’t worry, just here for a pregnancy test,” and walked away. In a little while, he came back and told us he thought abortion was wrong. His fiancee was inside having the pregnancy test and they hoped it wasn’t positive, but if it was, oh well. I gave him the Pregnancy Resource Sheet. He told us about his children and how proud he was of his daughter. He shared that he didn’t know about the abortions that a former wife had had until afterwards. He still wonders about those children. You could see the sadness in his face when he talked about it. He went back into the clinic. We gathered and prayed that they would embrace life if she was pregnant. Much later they came out and told us they were going to have a baby. She was smiling and they seemed happy.
Unfortunately this afternoon we were also reminded of the darkness in our society. A very troubled woman walked by and stopped in the circle to talk to a man coming from the other direction. They must have known each other. This woman was very agitated, maybe on drugs? Her back was to us, only a few feet away. She was tall, emaciated, salt and pepper hair, between 40 and 50. The three of us were praying and heard her say loudly, “I gotta get me a gun.” She said it again, the second time I saw her motion towards us saying “For them.” Immediately when we heard it the first time we started praying a Hail Mary. The man immediately ushered her away from PP and they walked down the street. They stopped in front of a restaurant to continue talking for a while. Then, alone, she started walking back towards us; however, this time she did not walk through the circle. She did not walk past us. She went around and continued on her way, not uttering a word. We know God heard our prayers. Such a troubled soul. At the time of the incident, I got the impression she was more or less just talking crazy, than actually meaning what she said. But then Nikki advised I should have called 911. Nikki wanted me to blog about this to let people know to be on the lookout for her and not to hesitate to call 911 if they feel threatened. I did not personally feel threatened, but felt sorry for her.
It means so much to have people pray with the shift managers at the vigil. There is safety in numbers. If you cannot make a shift you signed up for, please let somebody know. Today was a sparse day at the vigil. Praise the Lord that two of our shift managers, Pat and Beth, came by and stayed to pray with my shift manager buddy, Lisa. I did not want to leave her there alone. Granted, Thursday is not an abortion day, but it is so important for us to be there to witness to life and to minister to the people who come up to us. Our being on the sidewalk in the cold does make a difference. It matters. Don’t ever think that it doesn’t.
God bless you,
Dee, another Shift Manager, reported about her shift and sent photos from later in the day:
Tony showed up unexpectedly and this was a big help. Beth and I would have been alone. Shift was calm.
2 people from Hosanna church showed up–Pamela and Wayne. Earl Elder, from Peters Creek Baptist church in South Park showed up also, unexpectedly.
One woman passed me and told me I should be ashamed of myself.
Nothing special happened today–that I know of.
I love that Dee ended with this line. It is so true…. we may not know– we may not EVER know. But just think of the story that Marilyn shared above, and the stories we have heard from so many others over the years. We thank and praise God for all that He does through these vigils…. all of the things that are visible and invisible.
We have one last photo from Shift Manager Jeff’s shift. And thank you to Jeff for being one of our NEW Shift Managers this vigil!
We are truly blessed to know all of you. Thank you to the hundreds of faithful people who come to pray each 40 Days. You are appreciated. And you are a BLESSING. And remember…. DO NOT FEAR when you are persecuted. Just keep on being the salt and light our city needs. The Lord is our Strength and our Hope.