“I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service,though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”–1 Timothy 1:12-17
When confronted with the horrible evil of abortion, it’s easy to look at the act of murdering babies and focus on judgment and condemnation. We sometimes ask ourselves, “How can a doctor perform such an act, when they take an oath to do not harm?” and we can easily fall into the mindset that such people are beyond God’s grace. Without having a theological dissertation on sin and its various forms, it is important for us to remember that when Jesus died on the cross, all people were sinners, enslaved to a life of sin and deserving of eternal condemnation. However, the whole point of Jesus’ coming and dying for us was to save us from that condemnation and give us new life.
The prime example of the redemption offered by God is seen in Saint Paul, who was “the foremost sinner,” but became one of the greatest missionary evangelists of all time. This was not because he was great or a good person, but because his heart was radically changed by God. He had been so blind to the truth that he actually thought that he was pleasing God by killing Christians. It was only when God blinded him, physically, that he was able to see how blind he was spiritually.
There are many people just like St. Paul today. One of the most blatant examples is the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, who believe that they are doing God’s work by supporting abortion. They believe that abortion is a godly and right choice for a person to make. It’s hard for us to relate to people who are so blind to the truth, but we must never, ever become so discouraged as to think that even these people, and the doctors who perform abortions, are beyond God’s grace. Paul had blessed the murdering of Christians, but because of God’s grace, he became the most famous Christian in history. His radical transformation from “the foremost sinner” to “the foremost Christian” is still possible today. However, it takes more than just a halfhearted commitment. It takes a lifestyle change on the part of Christians to faithfully pray and fast for those who defend and perform abortions.
I believe that we are seeing a cultural tide change in America, where people are viewing abortion for what it is: murder. However, it will take more than a physical eye opening to change the culture of abortion. It will take the power of the Holy Spirit to spiritually open the eyes of America. The question for us, today, is this: are we prepared to commit the time, energy, and effort to faithfully and continuously praying for those who support abortion. This involves more than just praying for a shift downtown or praying during the campaign. It means praying daily that those who commit these acts will be spiritually awakened and changed. I believe that if we pray in such a way, the hearts of those running Planned Parenthood will be changed. I also believe that when those people’s hearts are changed, they will become “the foremost pro-Lifers” in our midst. Let us continually pray for this change of heart in these people, that they might cease to be our enemies and become our friends.
Continue reading to see how God has worked today, so that we might pray more effectively for the mission.
For a shift that had no church signed up before 11 a.m. we had a lot
of people witnessing for life. Rose & Bill H. and Sidewalk Advocates,
Kim and Seamus, were with Al. Tom came to pray about the time that I
arrived, and spent most of the morning with us, as did Advocates
Pastor Bryan and Madelyn. A married couple from N. American Martyrs
arrived more than a half hour before their church was to be there.
Faithful Lillian and two ladies from St. Thomas More also came to pray
the rosary. And a large group from N. American Martyrs was signing in
as I was crossing the street to my bus stop.
This must have been a school holiday. Without students there were far
less people on the sidewalk during the first hour. People seemed a
bit friendlier than usual. Seamus was watching the alley and reported
that some women were using that way to enter PP.
He could not tell if they were workers or customers. The abortionist,
“B”, went in alone at the usual time. It is unusual for her to have no
students with her.
A homeless man stopped, thanked us for being there, and ask if we had
any more of the coupons for the pizza place across the street. I gave
him the one that had been put with the shift manager badge and could
find no more.
Some time after 10 a.m. a very LONG and WIDE tractor trailer parked in
front of the bar, PP,and the dance place next to PP. They proceeded
to move things into the dance place for at least an hour. They were
still there when my bus arrived at 11:20. Because that truck was so
large we could not walk in the street to go from one side of PP to the
other. So I simply walked on the sidewalk with my signs, something I
ordinarily never do. It was also a hazard for any one trying to
cross Liberty at the crosswalk because the truck stuck out into the
street so far.
No rain or wind, but gloves were necessary for the entire morning. PP
business seemed to be very slow until 10:45 when several couples went
in. I spoke to them. One couple came out a couple minutes later, went
up Liberty and did not come back before I left. There was no way to
speak to them as they left, so I don’t know if they changed their mind
or had taken someone else in.
A joyful spirit of prayer and hope filled the sidewalk today as North American Martyrs (NAM) Parishioners came out in record numbers to stand for life! New Shift Managers, Donna and Mr. Roney, generously joined their parish for an additional shift, and prayed a rosary with Pastoral Associate, Elizabeth Trexler. Though New to the sidewalk, Jessica handed out life saving alternative literature to individuals entering and exiting the clinic like a pro! Sidewalk advocate and NAM 40 Days Co-Coordinator, Vicky Pernik invited and drove a car-full of enthusiastic witnesses for life including: Jenny, whose cheerful smile and greeting rang out to each passerby; Patty, who’s loving spirit of prayer warmed the chill;, Angelina, insightful 8th grade granddaughter of Patty; and prayer warrior, Kim. What a blessing for me to be surrounded by my loving parish family during my shift today! The sight of our supportive, pro-life pastor, Fr. Joe Luisi, walking towards us with a big smile, and two signs was the icing on the cake at change of shift! Praise God and thank you NAM for a special day!
Thanks to West Hills Baptist for standing the whole 3-5 shift with me, along with Adam from Monroeville. Sidewalk was busy with lots of people going by. Vicky, a sidewalk counselor, was busy working her phone trying to find shelter for R. who is 9 weeks pregnant and homeless (she spent last night in the bus terminal). Kathy L. came down and took the woman in for the night while Vicky continues to find her a place to stay. Pro-choice people would never believe this happens on the sidewalk when they accuse us of just standing around doing nothing. Non-believers may never understand these women doing God’s work here on earth. I am in awe of the wonderful signs He sends down on this sidewalk!