If my 39 year-old self had a preview of the things my 49 year-old self is doing now, that 39 year-old self would probably pray for a swift end to all things. Seriously, who in their right mind would stand for hours on a very public sidewalk in downtown Pittsburgh with a sign around their neck that just begs for trouble, pray out loud with virtual strangers, and then attempt to pass out pro-life literature to all who walk by (and occasionally curse at you)? And if that wasn’t enough, to do these things in the cold and rain and snow to boot? “That’s just nuts!,” my younger self would surely say.
By nature I’m neither bold nor timid, just, you know, normal. But what the heck has happened to me these last several years? My goodness, I’m even doing sidewalk counseling now – the one thing I explicitly remember swearing that I would never do. And just recently I’ve even started putting pro-life bumper-stickers on my filing cabinet at work in an place where my coworkers can’t miss them. Who is this guy?
How all of this happened to me is still a mystery. But the source of this boldness isn’t. It all comes from God. He called me and I, in “semi-trust,” began taking baby-steps in the direction he was leading. And what I found was that, as I would give Him an inch, He would eventually show me a clear and manageable path to go another inch.
That “showing” was done almost exclusively through the bold witness of others. God knew I needed that. I absolutely needed to first see the kind of boldness He wanted from me on display by others. I saw it through Nikki first. And since then, through so many others I began to meet through these campaigns. Eventually I read the story of how 40 Days for Life got started. I was blown away by the boldness of founders David Bereit and Shawn Carney. And it was their boldness that inspired enough boldness in Abby Johnson that she was able to leave the abortion industry. And her boldness has now inspired many abortion workers to follow her lead.
THE MOMENT ONE DEFINITELY COMMITS ONESELF, THEN PROVIDENCE MOVES, TOO. ALL SORTS OF THINGS OCCUR TO HELP ONE THAT NEVER OTHERWISE WOULD HAVE OCCURRED…WHATEVER YOU CAN DO OR DREAM YOU CAN DO, BEGIN IT. BOLDNESS HAS GENIUS, POWER AND MAGIC IN IT. BEGIN IT NOW.
– Johann Wolfgan von Goethe
This campaign is coming to a close. Ask the Lord what bold thing he would have you do next.
AND NOW FOR OUR REPORTS…
The first shift of the day was somewhat quiet. The Saturday regulars were in attendance, and a fella named Chris from Jeannette. Chris actually approached a few of the escorts with an outstretched hand, but they refused the offer of a handshake, saying they were not permitted. A few couples entered the building, some refused the literature. There were lots of prayers said on this shift.
Virginia (subbing for Tim), 7-9
Marian wrote about her shift from 9-11
Charles Stanley says “Obey God and leave all the consequences to Him.” That advice is good and plenty full of wisdom. When standing on the sidewalk in front of PP as prayerful, peaceful witnesses for life… we should remind ourselves constantly of the wisdom of God. The struggle is sometimes within ourselves when witnessing. We are responsible for delivering the message through prayerful peaceful witness…and turning the other cheek when someone yells at us, ignores us, knocks over a sign (happened today), or doesn’t seem to be on the same page of life. We are not failing when these things happen. I know I didn’t get the message the first time it was proclaimed to me– or even the tenth time! St. Paul had to be blinded first!
My witness (without me knowing it) actually began at the bus stop in Oakland this morning. Those who know me, know that I talk to strangers! A young man ran to catch the bus where I was standing. We shared pleasantries and I found out that today is his 22rd birthday. We chatted. He was going to celebrate in town and I told him I was going to a prayer vigil. We got off at the same stop downtown but walked in different directions. Not long after my arrival in front of PP, he passed by. I saw him a few times this morning going in and out of a local pub. I had told him I would say prayers for his birthday. Happy Birthday!
Today’s sidewalk was well represented on both sides of the street by PP escorts. None of them would pray with me when I asked them to pray for the people in Wilkinsburg. No praying aloud? I suggested a silent prayer then. (The death toll was 6… including an 8 month old baby in utero.)
Our representation for 40 Days for LIfe was sparse. Meredith (SA), Bill H., Virginia (Shift Manager), Dave (SA) and his friend Dave were praying in separate areas when I arrived. Shortly thereafter, Sue and Joe arrived for the Sidewalk Advocates shift. Judy arrived before 10 am for her scheduled Sidewalk Advocates shift.
Another Dave came to witness. Dave is a regular 40 Days for Life prayer warrior. He brought great pamphlets from Amy (SA) which pictures a pregnant wonder woman who needs a hero herself. Dave really cares about the people and drove in from Weirton then heading to work after he left the sidewalk.
Danielle and Vaughn stopped to chat with us. Both were doing Christian outreach on the real meaning of St. Patrick (former slave). They took information from us and we took their information. Terry, a retired police officer, stopped to chat and had a reminder to let those who say curse words to us move on (and not to respond) His arrival time was perfectly timed by God. Judy spoke with one woman who told her that 2 years ago Catholic Charities helped her when she was pregnant. Her baby is now 2 years old!!!
Jim and Donna arrived from Culture Impact Ministries. Donna, a social worker, talked to Sue about becoming a Sidewalk Advocate. Katie and her husband, Chris, came by with a huge basket of candy (attached to pro-life messages) to hand out to the crowds of people walking to and from the parade. Margie and her two young sons, Joey and Anthony, came to pray and witness. Margie was enthusiastic in handing out the life pins. When I left, she was fully engaged in a great conversation with a young man passing out information for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. The boys were praying the Rosary. Youth witness is powerful.
Lindsey ended up being a “slave to the traffic light” today so she arrived late. God had a plan. During that time, I saw a former neighbor to whom I did not get to say good bye when he moved. We had a chance to catch up. It was during this time that Margie came over to me to tell me that a woman and her friend who came out of PP told her that “she didn’t do it.” That statement is a hopeful one!
When it was time to catch my bus, I did not have to wait long. Our God is in the details. Please continue to pray for hearts to be softened. But remember, God hardened the Pharaoh’s heart. Moses did not have an easy job leading the slaves to freedom. He had an even harder time after they were free. Trust!
Here are some pictures from Julie’s 1-3 shift:
A group from Erie, PA
Regular Katie and a friend passed out little cards with baby in the womb development information.
Off-duty SM Jeff B. (who was there in the late afternoon and evening) wrote:
There was a lot of foot traffic this afternoon for the 3 5 shift. Ben from St Bernard’s stopped for an hour or so on his way to other things. I am always surprised at how many people just stop for a little while going about their daily business.
Kathy was the shift manager from 3-5 and wrote:
There were many blessings during my shift today…
- Four people from Erie, praying diligently
- Jeff and Joe came for stability on both sides of circle
- Rita ,who chose adoption came with 13 year old daughter. Lord is drawing her into 40 days
- Lonny stopped to Show support. He attends Church in Pgh, near Wilkensburg. Led prayer
- Jess,from gay bar, talked about sisters aborting his neice or nephew. He comes every St Patricks day, talks to us
- Joe engaged in an intellectual challenging discussion with Bobby. I went over and lwas encouraged by his passion
- “H”, friend of Bobby, apologized for friends behavior. Told of her sister’s RAPE and that she kept her niece!! Precious Niece!
- “H” then told me she was RAPED 3 weeks ago and needs help. Pray she will call number on green sheet What a day!
Joe finished out the vigil until 7pm and wrote:
I’m used to being by myself on my shifts, but don’t recall feeling
lonely (Jesus, Mary and the 40 Days team are always with me).
Tonight not only did I feel alone but a bit combative. I didn’t
succumb to my desires, but I must admit on a few (maybe more)
occasions I felt like engaging in the verbal assaults and even wanting
to bodyslam a couple drunks into the pavement.
It troubles me to say that I was constantly giving into this self pity
party, and losing my focus on our mission, my shift was dragging on
and on. But then Jesus (who always wins) sent Lisa K. down to talk and pray
with me, and I realized but again my cowardice, my selfishness, my
I guess that’s why I feel so blessed to be part of this amazing
group(40 days) of Jesus lovers, who insist on bringing out all that is
good about me while diminishing my patheticness. (what a mountain for
them to overcome). Were it not for the profound heartfelt respect and
admiration I have for all of you…….I don’t know what to put here.
So with tears in my eyes and on my cheeks, from the bottom of my heart
I say THANK YOU, ALL OF YOU BROTHERS AND SISTERS for letting me tag