Day 10: Thanks to St. Matthew Parish, Christ the Divine Shepherd Parish, and all who prayed with us today!

Love for Others

A new commandment I give you: Love one another as I have loved you.” (John 13:34) That is the charge that Jesus gave to his disciples.  A simple, but challenging, message.  Later, Jesus says, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)  A much greater challenge.

Many of us have enjoyed deep, spiritual, conversations with our fellow pray-ers while on the sidewalk.  I have not met better people, ever, than those I’ve met praying on Liberty Avenue.  It is pretty easy to love them, as they share the commitment to defend the lives of the pre-born and pray that the mothers-to-be choose Life.  Even praying for the abortion doctors, nurses, and staff, a good thing, is relatively easy.

However, when someone curses us, spits on or near us, knocks over the fetal models table, or steals our signs — those people are hard to pray for.  Yet, over and over, after an incident like one of those mentioned, I have heard an earnest request from a prayer warrior to pray for that person.  To forgive them and to love them is what Jesus wants us to do.  Unconditionally.  During this campaign, let’s make a concerted effort to love ALL whom we meet/encounter on the sidewalk.

And let’s not forget to pray for the fathers of the pre-born, that they will stand up and take responsibility for the new life they helped create.  To tell her that this pregnancy is “theirs,” not just “hers,” and that he wants their child to be born.  That he will love and support her before and after the birth of their child. Sometimes, the father’s commitment to love and support her is all it takes for her to choose Life for their child.


Stories from the Sidewalk

Before we get into today’s stories, here are a few quick notes about our sidewalk setup:

  • There’s a little pop-up table for the literature case to sit on. Look in the blue sign bag for a small blue disc with a strap on it. Twist it open and then pull to expand. That way you won’t have to set the literature case on the chair. If you set up the first shift, or if you arrive later in the day and see the literature case sitting on the chair, please grab the table out of the big blue bag and set it up.  
  • Please keep the literature case closed on a rainy day to protect the literature from getting ruined. 
  • Please don’t leave things like candy and other items because we don’t have any place to keep them and they will just get ruined or have to be thrown out at the end of the day.


Here’s the little table for the lit case and a picture of our full set-up.

Ethan made a powerful witness, praying on his knees for the entire shift in the rain (photo and caption from Nikki.)

Karen and Ethan

Not too much to report from this morning. We set everything up. No hopeful stories of women changing their mind, sadly, but it did seem a bit less busy than last Friday, so there’s at least some small progress in that. Lots of rain, though honestly if it keeps women away from there then God can pour down as much rain on us as he wants while we’re out there. Those babies’ lives are worth a bajillion times more than putting slightly more detergent into the laundry machine.


Michelle, Chris, and Kathy

When I arrived, Karen was there from the earlier shift.  A man came by asking for 38 cents and giving his opinion on Jesus, Mary, and the Catholic Church.  He left after that. 
The next interaction involved two young men dressed in white dress shirts and blue pants stopping briefly to ask what we were about.  When I told him we were here to pray for an end to abortion and offer help to abortion bound women, they said they would definitely pray.
Women and couples were entering PP and a few accepted literature upon entering and exiting.
A crack-free, homeless lesbian named Chris stopped by to chat and tell me that she was raped and is against abortion.   She also was very aware of those individuals downtown who are addicted to crack.  She was very happy to accept my box of handwipes. 
My last interaction involved 40 Days for Life’s old nemesis, Joann.  Joann was known for walking up to our faces and speaking intimidating words as well as kicking over our signs and displays.  Joann interrupted my conversation with a client as I offered a brochure to her as she exited PP.  Joann then came over to cast her intimidating shadow over me.  Once I recognized her, I said “Where’ve you been? I haven’t seen you for awhile.”  She responded by saying,”I didn’t miss YOU!!!”‘ At that point, she stormed off and went into the theater.  Our security guard came over to me and asked what happened.  He stayed near me the rest of my shift.  Joann passed by once more and I  stated that Jesus heals and forgives.  She replied something that wasn’t audible.
Thanks to Chris and Michelle for accompanying me today….and also to our security guard.


Fr. Jeremy, Bev, and Fran

It was discouraging that no one entering Planned Parenthood during our shift wanted to take any information. However, the Holy Spirit was VERY encouraging! Several people passing by offered, “God Bless You!” One gentleman stopped to ask why were were there. We explained to him about 40 Days for Life and our presence outside the abortion clinic. He was surprised to learn that Planned Parenthood did abortions at that location! When I invited him to join us, he said that he lived in Altoona, but heard about a 40 Days for Life campaign in Johnstown, and said he would look them up.


The rain ended pretty soon after our shift started. Several from the prior shift stayed a little longer into our shift; Beverly, Fr. Jeremy, and Maggie, who stayed almost our entire shift.  When Glenn, Bernadette (St. Matthew Parish) and I arrived, shift buddy Greg was there as well as our faithful friends from St. Matthew Parish: Bob, Frank, Mary Anne and Teresa.

We had a lot of passersby and handed out several cards and resources. Quite a few positive and some not so positive comments. One gentleman was in the gyro place and saw us and came to talk to me about what we were doing. He was pro-life too. He left and went to get his food. After eating he came back and wanted to donate money for us to get food and drinks. We said we were fine but would donate that money to our 40 Days For Life campaign. I gave him a flyer and he said he may bring two of his kids this weekend. Our presence is making a difference in our city. Thank you, Lord, for the blessings on the sidewalk. Many conversations were had. Greg had several in depth conversations which are detailed below. 


I had several encounters with folks today, although in general I would not call it overly busy.  Several stood out to me: 

 I had commented to Bernadette, a 40 Days partner,  as three straight people walked by with their face in a cell phone, that people today were all too occupied with their phones.  Right as I said that, a young woman named Mandy came by, talking on the phone.  She overheard me and mistakenly thought I was talking about her, and turned around and gave me the forked horns sign, or maybe devil sign?  About 15-20 minutes later, she returned to cross the street and I was able to say that I wasn’t even talking about her.  Mandy and I then started talking about what we were doing there. She said in the past, when she had gone in to Planned Parenthood, that people were angry and shouting at her, and that we weren’t anything like they were ten years ago.  She had had two abortions, and didn’t regret them in the least.  She said her hormones were actually driving her over the edge, and she’d been to committed to Western Psych before she was diagnosed as being pregnant. She said at the time, “All she wanted was to get that ‘thing’ out of her body.”  We continued to talk, and by the end of the conversation, I told her I thought she was going to get pregnant again, and told her she couldn’t do that again to her baby.  She seemed to agree, and almost had tears in her eyes as she hugged me several times.   She left with our Tri-fold resources brochure in hand, with Women’s Choice Network and Birthright’s numbers highlighted.

Encounter #2 was with a young woman named Jen. She had come to Planned Parenthood and stopped to talk a bit. She said she wasn’t in there for an abortion, and didn’t take birth control pills.  She said she believed in condoms, and said she was in a relationship with a guy for the last four years.  It turns out she was there as a “designated driver” or a “ride,” and she eventually went back in and picked up another couple who came out with the “little brown bag.”  I hastily said to them, you can reverse the pill, “just go to”   The young man angrily told me to “f— off.”  Our security guard responded saying they couldn’t talk to me like that, but by then they were already walking down the sidewalk.  At least young Jen took our brochure from us and seemed to listen when I said maybe she and her boyfriend should think about making it permanent. 

The third encounter was with a young woman, AJ, who promised to read the brochure even though she was strongly “pro-choice.” She thanked me for the conversation.


Left to right are my shift buddies Val and Mike, and sitting down is Bill who is from first Evangelical Free Church in McKeesport. Val and Mike are from Saint Joachim and Ann in Liberty Borough.


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