The sidewalks in front of Planned Parenthood were very lonely today…but unfortunately the employees inside Planned Parenthood are anything but! While the clinic seemed to be extremely busy today, brand new vigil shift manager Bob held the vigil all by himself this morning…with the temperatures in the teens. He bravely volunteered to do the entire 4 hours from 7-11am…I really don’t know how he did it. From 9-11 he was kept company by Mary from St. Juan Diego and another prayer volunteer who came to pray.
Bob wrote about his 4-hour shift this morning:
Today was a good day. It was sooo much warmer than Friday, when I was last at the vigil. Even the wind-chill did not become negative. I understand it never went below 5 degrees! I had many people refuse literature, but felt like cheering anyway when the first couple tried the door to PP and found it locked! They stood around for a few minutes looking confused, and finally walked away!
The time from 7 to 9 was not lonely. A good friend of the campaign, Bill, stopped by twice to offer encouragement and prayer. He told me he has graduated from 40 Days to Stop Abortion to Everyday For Christ! He campaigns daily for God and His Will. I expected to be without a constant companion (other than Christ Himslef, of course), so I brought with me an old pamphlet for 40 Hours Devotions, and managed to pray through the entire booklet. I had time to pray each prayer, and sang each hymn, including the litanies and Latin hymns. Many people came by. Most avoided any eye contact with the crazy guy who would stand on the sidewalk in the cold. Several many smiled or passed on blessings. Only one person was rude, calling me a socialist pig. He ran away when I offered to discuss with him why I believed he was wrong. (sigh).
Mary, from St. Juan Diego, came before 9:00 this morning. She radiated happiness and goodness and upheld everything we did in prayer and in song. She was uncomplaining of the hardships of the cold and sharing the sidewalk with someone as unbalanced as myself. Her life is a testament to faithful service to God. She has a years of witness teaching God’s Word, and lives it in a marriage, and in raising her children to be Godly examples. She led us in a Life-Rosary near the end of the shift.
Mary and I were joined by Helen, who came by herself from Indiana Township. She stopped by in the slush and snow, and wanted to spend some time with us. We cautioned against simply parking by the sidewalk, however, since it is a regular business day. She had difficulty finding trouble, but persevered and joined us, joyfully helping to make our witness more visible.
I felt so incredibly blessed to be sharing the time with such great witnesses! Even so, it was a very welcome sight to see the multiple prayer warriors arrive, led by Nikki and by Fr. Tim! Where two or more are gathered in His name, He is there with us. How much greater must His power and presence be when met with such a joyful crowd!
I (Nikki) arrived at 11am for my two hour shift, and had the honor to share the sidewalk with Fr. Tim’s Guardians for Life of Indiana & Westmoreland Counties. They prayed and sang non-stop for the entire two hours.
I tried to give out information to the MANY couples who were entering and exiting the clinic. One young man said he didn’t want his girlfriend to have the abortion. They have a two-year old, and she was inside scheduling the appointment. He accepted all the information on fetal development and crisis pregnancy centers and went back in to try to talk her out of it. Please pray for “A” that she would say “YES” to the life that is inside her. Our 40 days team is also praying for another young woman, “H” who has an abortion scheduled here for Friday. She has been counseled, but is remaining firm in her decision to abort. Please consider offering your prayers and fasting for “H” and for “A”.
When my shift was over, I passed the torch to another brand new vigil shift manager, Chris…who had no one signed up to stand with him for his entire shift, until 3pm. I felt so guilty leaving him there alone….but my feet were frozen…I hope some volunteers stopped by to pray with him!
Oh, this is such a difficult fight we are in! It’s hard to fight against the temptation to give up. Thank God for giving us 40 Days for Life! It provides a framework…a structure if you will…that those who are weaker can take shelter in. Those lonely warriors who are willing to commit to be there NO MATTER WHAT…even if no one else shows up…make it POSSIBLE for those who aren’t so bold to come out when they can. And come out they will…as the icy grip of winter releases into the warm embrace of spring…our vigil will continue. I see a parallel in what we are facing with the weather to what our culture is facing with abortion. Our culture is being held in the icy cold grip of abortion right now, but I believe our witness will begin to thaw frozen hearts. I was encouraged to read in Sheila’s report yesterday that a clinic worker came out and said very sweetly, “You can leave and go get warm now if you want…the last client just left.” To me, that is like the first green shoot of the Crocus, appearing out of the hard, cold ground.
Chris wrote about his shift from 1-3pm:
I observed about a half-dozen couples enter Planned Parenthood during my shift. One of the couples did accept the other-alternatives literature offered to them. About halfway through my shift I was joined by Michelle- it was great to have someone to pray the Rosary with and stand in witness in front of the abortion clinic. The warmth and light of the sun was hidden from the sidewalk for most of the shift until it gloriously appeared around 2:45pm. I couldn’t help but think of those entering the darkness of Planned Parenthood and prayed that God’s love would shine upon those entering the clinic, warm their hearts and souls, and encourage them to choose life for their unborn child.
Barbara wrote about her shift from 3-5pm:
The second most compelling reason I have for coming downtown to stand in front of PP for 40 Days is the outrageous bullying perpetrated by the American abortion industry. They wrest precious dollars from the tax payer and shove it in the already chock full pockets of Planned Parenthood. They insinuate themselves in the American education establishment supported by unsuspecting taxpayer families. They perpetuate the killing of babies who are unable to run away. They cajole and lie to a woman in a crisis pregnancy and promise that abortion will solve her predicament. They appeal to the shabbiest instincts of her male partner in the pregnancy. It is a choice that viciously steals from everyone.
Standing and praying with Richard and me today were Michelle, Mimi and Amy. Passersby were 99% friendly. There is a young person conversation style I have noticed where the person initiates eye contact with me, rolls their eyes in apparent disapproval and looks away. They speed up and decline when invited, “Let’s talk about it.” Score 1 for them on the pavement today. I’d love to be around when they are my age and we could again discuss the eye rolling as a useful conversation tool. Life is good. Barbara Lewis
Audrey managed the vigil from 5-7pm and wrote:
The 5 to 7 p.m. shift started off warm and friendly. Maggie was a first time witness and her friend Audrey is a first time shift manager. We joined Amy who is a true witness to the pro-life cause. Her spirits and shining green hair were uplifting and motivating. As the sun set, the weather got significantly colder and Liberty Avenue became an unwelcoming place. Unfortunately, a young white man with a backpack purposely rammed into Maggie and almost knocked her over. Maggie’s strength and conviction for the cause gave her the courage to continue our vigil. So a balmy 20 degree afternoon turned into a cold and threatening evening. But God willing, we will be back at our post next week with prayers on our lips and the Spirit burning in our souls.
Thank you to Audrey, Maggie and Amy for their courage in the face of persecution tonight! The enemy definitely doesn’t like what we are doing, and he is giving it his best, trying to discourage us.