Have you prayed at the vigil yet? Were you with a large group of people, or were there just a few of you? Maybe you were even alone. As we huddle in prayer…usually few in number…a multitude of people walk past us. Many of them encourage us with positive comments, thanking us for being there. A few hurl insults and obscenities…but that seems to be getting to be less and less. Workers walk by us as they enter the clinic and young women and men who are seeking a “solution” to their “problem” hurry past us on their way into Planned Parenthood.
Do you ever feel like we are too small to make a difference in something as huge as abortion? It’s true that we occasionally hear about a life saved (as we did last Wednesday…thanks be to God!). But usually, we do not see the fruits of our work. It is easy to think that our presence is too insignificant to make much impact. But that is the devil’s lie. It only seems that way from our lowly perspective. As we stand there…small in number…we don’t get to see the larger picture! I like to think of it from Planned Parenthood’s perspective. Imagine what it must be like to work at a place where EVERY DAY for FORTY DAYS…every time you walk into work in the morning…every time you leave to get lunch and return afterwards…when you leave at the end of the day…even when you run into the office to do some work on a Sunday…THERE ARE PEOPLE PRAYING FOR AN END TO WHAT YOU DO FOR A LIVING. Not a huge number of people…but always people. Old people, young people, priests and pastors, professional people, hard-working people…new people all the time. They are always there…smiling at you in love…praying for you. Imagine the impact that must have over the long term. Remember that we don’t need large numbers to be successful. We only need a few committed people who will never give up and who love God more than they love their own lives. God will make miracles happen through us!
Now onto the reports from today…
Bob managed the vigil from 7-9am and wrote:
The 7 a.m. shift was fairly quiet this morning, but not lonely. Even though the temperature took another dip today, people showed up with enough sunshine in their smiles to keep us all warm and motivated.
Waiting for my arrival was Peter, from St. Ferdinand’s. He is a frequent visitor and a stalwart prayer warrior obviously dedicated to the cause. It was not long before we were joined Dana and her daughter (adult daughter) Megan from the Christian Assembly of God. They were driven in by their pastor, who joined us after parking the car, Paul Peternel. They brought some hymnals with them and we sang God’s praises together and shared the warmth of God’s Love.
Many came by who were supportive and thanked us for the visible presence of God’s Warriors. Very, very few made any negative comments, and they hadn’t the courage to stop to discuss their worrisome and negative perspectives. We all just continued to smile and to greet passersby with our biggest smiles and tried to give them to those poor souls who couldn’t seem to afford a smile even for themselves.
As proof that strangers are simply friends we have not yet met, it turns out that Peter and Paul (yes, I got that right — how could we not be blessed when we are witnessing with Peter and Paul) have connections, even though they had not heard of each other until today! It is obvious that God considers us all to be His family. I am so blessed to have been among such good people this morning. Thank you for the blessing of being with such good people.
Cathy was the shift manager from 9-11. Her report will be posted here later.
I (Nikki) arrived for my 11-1 shift to find Cathy sharing the sidewalk with the pastor and two members of Christian Assembly in Bentleyville. Pastor Paul, Dana and her daughter had been there for the entire, very cold morning! It was such a privilege to meet this wonderful brother and sisters in Christ!
It seemed a coincidence that Pastor Paul told me that his family is from Meadowlands, PA….and his family had previously been members of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal…which just happened to be the next church coming to witness! With God there are no coincidences! Sure enough, not long after Pastor Paul’s group left, Fr. Carmen D’Amico and Rosemary from OLMM came to do a four hour shift on the cold sidewalk.
Soon after this, we had a welcomed surprise as Paulene and Jim from Grace Community Church in Bridgeville joined us.
Paulene had printed off many copies of scripture and prayers from Fr. Frank Pavone Priests for Life, which we all took turns praying in a “leader-response” style. It was a great way to all pray together. Afterwards we sang some hymns.
The clinic was fairly busy today. I handed out quite a few pregnancy resource option sheets and brochures. I spoke to one young girl who was entering. She couldn’t have been more than 14. She was clueless…innocent as a dove. I never thought she was going in for an abortion…I just asked her if I could give her some information to direct her to a free woman’s clinic in the northside, Women’s Choice Network. She answered that she already knew of it and goes there sometimes. I said that was good, and I asked her if she knew that Planned Parenthood’s main business was to provide abortions. She said very matter-of-factly, “That’s why I am going here, to get an abortion.” I don’t think I showed my emotion as I asked her how far along she is in her pregnancy. She said that she is three months along. I handed her a three month fetal model and explained to her that her baby was now completely developed with all his systems functioning…little hands and fingers, that he was moving and maybe even sucking his thumb. She explained that she had no one to help her and that the father is in jail. I told her that the baby is HER baby, and that there are people who can help her. At this point, she said she had to go in to sign some papers but would talk to me when she came out. She didn’t come out while I was there, but I described her to Chris, my replacement shift manager. I hope I planted some seeds. She did take the brochure and information.
Chris reports from his 1-3 shift:
There wasn’t much activity at PP during my shift, mostly workers going in and out. I was joined by a Catholic priest, one of his parishioners, Mimi, and Jim. After 45 minutes in the cold, breezy shade the sun made its appearance and warmed the prayer warriors. We pray that God will warm and change the hearts and souls of the PP workers and help them realize that His light will lead them out of the darkness of where they work.
Barbara’s report from 3-5pm:
Happy Johnny came to pray with Richard and me and the time just flew by. We were visited by Mark from St. Elizabeth parish who brought a cup of coffee for us. He thanked us for standing downtown and said that he prays and fasts concerning abortion. Adding the cream turned the coffee to a warm creamy brew that just hit the spot. Bill, a retired shift manager, stopped by to update us with his good news about his son. Karen stopped for a few minutes as we prayed the Rosary. Audrey and Jim showed up and we surrendered our spot on the sidewalk.
I charge youin the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and thedead, and by his appearing and his kingly power: proclaim the word; bepersistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand,encourage through all patience and teaching.
2 Timothy 4:1-2 Barbara Lewis, Shift Manager
Audrey’s report from 5-7:
We started the shift with Johnny, who is always such a blessing to be with. Bus stop Jim, who catches his bus a few feet from Planned Parenthood, stopped by for a few minutes to give us his support. What a blessed thing it is for him to stop by on a regular basis after work for prayer and with encouraging words. Wouldn’t it be great if more downtown Pittsburgh workers joined us for a few moments? Shift manager Jim and I were praying the rosary and I was thinking how most Wednesday evenings we were alone in our vigil, when suddenly a van pulls up and out jumps Pastor Adam with a few youth group members- Annabelle, her brother Dennis, and a friend Cory. It was incredibly awesome to be with such a lively group of young people. Pastor Adam offered a prayer that would knock your socks off. The Holy Spirit was so present with us. I had gone to a campus ministry lunch at Duquesne the day before and the talk was so inspirational for me, I shared it with Pastor Adam and he and I discussed it. The point of the talk (which was given by one of our deans at Duquesne) was about the gospel where Jesus cures the blind man by making a mud mixture and putting it on the man’s eyes. The point from the talk that resonated with me was that many of the people that Jesus cured did not recognize Jesus as who He is – the Son of God. Jesus reached out to them and healed them. Jesus wasn’t this rock star traveling from city to city with his adoring fans. He appeared to be a regular guy going about his business. Can you imagine Jesus just wandering the streets of a small town and healing a sick person? My Mom had a stroke about 18 months ago and I like to picture Jesus curing her – how absolutely incredible that would be! Pastor Adam said that Jesus came to the world to save the sinners and those who didn’t recognize him. Do we recognize Jesus within each other? As we stand outside Planned Parenthood and pray, let’s remember to see Jesus in the faces of the young mothers and fathers who are going in to Planned Parenthood, as well as those who work in the abortion clinic. Jesus is in each of them – whether they recognize him or not.