So many experiences happened today, and I feel that I want to write to you, my 40 Days for Life family, to express all that is in my heart and mind. I will give it a try, but I fear this may be a long post.
This morning began with our dear Sue M. managing the 7-9 shift. She had wonderful prayer support from Hosanna Church in Bellvue.
I covered the 7:00-9:00a shift today and was joined by Alex, Wayne, Joe, and Nora from Hosanna Church. Bill H., Pat M., and Marian C. stopped by as well, and Bob N. was there. Lots of employees going in to Planned Parenthood today, as well as a few non-employee-looking young women. Unfortunately we were unable to reach any of them with literature or conversation. Lots of foot traffic as well, as is normal for an early Wednesday morning. The shift was uneventful yet prayerful. I am always so blessed by the company of my fellow 40 Days participants, and today was no exception.
May God bless you all! Sue M.
I (Nikki) took over for Sue and managed the vigil from 9-11am. I had the honor to pray with Nora, from Hosanna Church. I took a “selfie of the two of us:
We soon were joined by Kevin…also from Hosanna. They were wonderful prayer partners!
While we were praying and witnessing, I was also on the lookout for abortion-bound couples, to try to offer alternatives. One such couple walked by, and when the young woman refused the information, I asked the man to take it. Instead of taking the information, he intentionally shoved me by putting his elbow into my chest, while sarcastically saying, “Excuse me!”. He was a large, burly man with reddish hair and beard. I am surprised that it didn’t shake me up…I am also surprised that after doing sidewalk witnessing for six years…that this is the first time that I have ever encountered physical aggression…although it was very mild and I was not hurt in the least.
After Nora left, it was just Kevin and I for a while, so I walked over to the other side of the circle. A very young (early 20’s) girl with bright pink hair walked past me, into the theater next door. I complimented her on her hair color. She thanked me rather curtly, with a skeptical expression on her face. I told her that, as a hairdresser, I appreciate the even-ness of the pink color on her hair. I told her that in the past (many years ago), I had tried those bright colors on customers, but they always ended up un-even…brighter on the roots and faded on the ends. She explained to me that there are new colors out now that are really good. I joked that I am too old….and so is most of my clientele, and so won’t be getting the opportunity to try those new colors. She seemed to warm up a little, smiled, and walked into the theater. Almost immediately however, she walked back out. I could see she was nervous about speaking to me. I could see her heart beating fast as she said to me, “Thank you for being nice.” She said, “I am pro-life but I have to say that most of the people that stand here are very judgmental and they shout and yell. I would never want to be associated with them.”
Although I didn’t agree with her opinion of the people who come to Planned Parenthood, I didn’t want to start an argument. Instead I told her my thoughts on the whole matter. I said,
“You know, I used to feel the same way. When God first broke my heart over abortion in 2009, and I first began to come here to witness, the people seemed different from what I was used to. If God hadn’t made it so painful for me to do nothing, I probably wouldn’t have stuck with it either. I wondered where all the ‘normal‘ people were! But now, after doing this for a while, I have a theory. I see very ‘nice’ people come here, and it is just too hard for them. The spiritual warfare is fierce and they come once or twice and then we never see them again. The only kind of people who can stick it out are those who are tough! And those types of people can come off as being gruff…although they are mostly kind-hearted deep down.”
“The devil LOVES this! It works perfectly for him! ‘Nice‘ people stay away because they have the comfortable excuse that they can’t be associated with ‘those radical pro-lifers!’. Pro-lifers are stereotyped as being judgmental religious nuts and so are not taken seriously…and abortion continues.
I told her,
“That is what is so great about 40 Days for Life! ‘Nice‘ people can come, just twice a year, with a support network around them through 40 Days for Life. And when we all coordinate and organize together into one big 40 Days for Life family…with almost 90 churches participating in this fall campaign…it has a HUGE IMPACT! The faith of those ‘nice‘ Christians is strengthened…they are emboldened and learn to trust God to help them to step outside of their comfort zones! And as those newcomers become seasoned veterans of the movement, they come to respect, appreciate, be inspired by…and even love those who may have appeared at first to be a little gruff…but who have dedicated their lives to standing up for the unborn human.”
After this exchange…which has stuck in my mind and heart all this day…I was joined by many more prayer witnesses.
Erin from Hosanna Church and Sue from Our Lady of Grace in Greensburg joined me, so we decided to sing. We sang many songs from the song book in the bin. I thought we sounded pretty good, but Sue and Erin didn’t think we should take our trio on the road just yet.
As we were singing (How Great Thou Art)…a group of young people in pink shirts stopped to talk. They worked for a company (I think it is called 4-Babies). They make baby equipment…I think. Anyway, they were on a company scavenger hunt…I am not sure what that means. But I think they were just having fun with us, but when I asked them if they would pose for a photo with us, they good-naturedly agreed, saying, “I guess it’s only fair…”
Soon, two more ladies from Hosanna arrived:
As my very eventful two hours was coming to a close, the wonderful Guardians for Life, led by Fr. Tim, began to arrive…along with a group of Knights of Columbus, who had brought a large banner.
At 11am my replacement shift manager, Cathy, arrived. A young African American man (he looked to be only about 18), stopped in front of our vigil with a very serious look on his face. I thought something was wrong…it looked like he was ready to cry. He asked us for prayer, so we gathered around him to pray. But before we could begin, he began…speaking. But it was strange. It seemed like he was prophesying. At first I wondered if it was demonic…but everything he was saying seemed good. I don’t remember exactly what it was that he was saying, but it all was true to scripture. We eventually ended up praying for him, and then he left. I don’t think there was anything wrong with him…he looked completely normal. I just think that the spiritual warfare is fierce….like it is at the beginning of every 40 day campaign….and strange things happen. Throughout the entire morning, however, I felt totally at peace and lifted up. God is covering us. We are protected.
Those are my thoughts for today…for whatever it is worth.
Cathy sent in her report from her shift from 11am-1pm:
This is the group from Holy Angels in Hays. Not in order: Gerard and Deana, Mary Ellen, Joan, Jean, Patricia, Jack, and Deacon Dan. They were there till 3. The sidewalk was full of praying and singing with The Guardians for Life and parishioners, with their Deacon, from Holy Angels in Hays. There was a lot of activity at PP, not sure if it was an abortion day. People seemed really set on going inside. Cathy
Also…shift manager Beth had an encounter with an abortion bound couple yesterday. Here is her request for prayers:
Report from the far side of the sidewalk: Pray for “Lottery” (he said that he won’t abort his child if he won the lottery by next week) and “Camo” (she was wearing a camo-colored dress and was “excited” about her abortion). But, after a little while, they came out, said they couldn’t do it now and showed me their appointment card for 10/6. They said they were homeless and couldn’t get any help because they wanted to stay together. I’ve named their four-month old preborn baby” Chance” because I hope they give us a Chance. They accepted fetal models from Marilyn and some literature. Keep praying, everyone. Thanks for all your good work and God bless, beth
Barbara and Richard were the shift managers from 3-5pm and wrote:
Wednesday, late afternoon, we stood in prayerful presence with members of Hosanna Church, Bellevue, on the sidewalk downtown in front of Planned Parenthood. Fifty three souls signed up as shift managers this fall. Clouds of witnesses, God loving people from Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio join us regularly.
As we stand, more often when we seem to be standing alone, passersby stop to talk. The ingredients of of these conversations boil down to the common human “deepest yearnings” for love, happiness and peace. As God’s people, we are grateful to be there. We feel grateful for the riches we can share due to the overflowing coffers of generosity the clouds of witnesses generate: faithful Church communities; prolife organizations; comprehensive poverty assistance; AA groups.
“On (the day of the Boston marathon in 2013), an explosion awakened us from the…complacency of everyday life. Once again, like on September 11…we were silenced by the presence of evil in our midst, and once again before evil every one of us refused to surrender to it….
Although stymied by our own fragility, we broke open our usual cynicism with a common thirst for love, happiness, and peace. In the face of senseless violence, we chose compassion not because of previous training, but naturally, almost by instinct. We didn’t need to be told to be human. We rediscovered an urgency to answer evil with love. A powerful event reawakened our “heart.” …
By nature we have heroic hearts but they are buried by the complacency of daily distraction. …
We did not face these events alone. Instantly, we recognized in one another a brother and a sister, a traveling companion. No longer separated by allegiances or differences, but united around a common experience, we chose a common creed: in the face of cruelty and meaninglessness, yesterday and today, we chose life.
True resilience springs from belonging to a lived companionship that bears witness to the goodness and love for which we all thirst….From it, we can begin to build a society that reflects our deepest yearnings….We derive resilience, this ceaseless and sanguine response, through a companionship that perceives daily life as the heroic striving for the Good.”
Father Jose Medina. From a letter to the Boston Globe. Reprinted in Magnificat, October 2014.
Barbara L., Shift Manager
Audrey and Jim managed the vigil from 5-7pm and wrote:
The weather was breezy and warm at the 5 to 7 shift. It felt good to be outside in the nice weather. It felt even better to be outside Planned Parenthood with our prayerful vigil. Hosanna Church was well represented with Joel, Leanne and Doug, James, Bernadette and Neil praying at the vigil this evening.
We had two young people stop by with lots of questions asking what we were all about. They were aware of Planned Parenthood’s horrific videos. The young man asked what if a woman was raped by an ex-boyfriend, and we responded that it is still a life, but a very difficult situation. They were very curious and inquisitive. They weren’t aware that Planned Parenthood was downtown and provided abortions there. We had a man approach us sharing his views on how you sometimes just don’t know about someone’s situation and we shouldn’t judge. We gently told him that there is no judgement – only support and prayers. A woman walking past loudly shared her views also regarding judgement and a woman’s right to choose. Then there was the mysterious photographer who ran up to our faces and snapped a picture of each of us. Who knows – we may show up in a mural someday. Our prayers were strong and true. Our discussion among our group was thought provoking and inspirational. It was a blessing to share our love for life. Having just returned from Philadelphia to see Pope Francis, I felt the spirit of the Holy Father with us. During his historic visit to the United States, his words and actions were an encouragement for all who support life.
Stay tuned for more photos and reports as they come in….