Sometimes when we stand praying on the Liberty Avenue sidewalk, we can think that we aren’t saving little lives, having an impact, or making a difference. We see passersby purposely stare straight ahead or look away as they pass the fetal models. They do not see the Truth. But, unless they have ear buds in their ears, they can hear parts of our prayers if we’re praying out loud. They might just catch a word, or a phrase: “Our father…”, Hail Mary…”, “Blessed art thou among women,” “The Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane,” or “The scourging at the pillar.”
I would encourage you, when there are a group of you praying together, to pray out loud so that, maybe, a spiritual seed falls on fertile ground. “For where two or three gather together in My name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20)
Maybe what they hear plants a seed, an invitation to think about what they heard. A seed that with some reflection and spiritual nourishment may grow and flower into faith. “Still other seed fell on good soil and produced a crop—a hundredfold, sixtyfold, or thirtyfold. He who has ears, let him hear.” (Mark 4: 8-9).
And that faith could grow into something mighty: “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20).
The seeds that we plant on the sidewalk are not just words or sung hymns. The seeds are also the Pregnancy Help Resource Cards and fetal development brochures that the Sidewalk Advocates, and others, diligently pass out, not only to women entering PP, but also to passersby. Who knows in whose hands (relatives, friends) those cards and brochures end up, what help is accepted, or what little lives are saved?
7:30-9:00am – Greg
A man stopped for a long time to argue / debate with us. He was a major distraction, and even told us that we were going about our advocacy in the wrong way. Several of us thought that, maybe, it was Satan sending him to distract us from our purpose on the sidewalk. After a while, Marilyn and I started praying the Rosary out loud, until finally, after 3 decades, the man got bored and said he was leaving.
A woman arrived at PP for an abortion, accompanied by her mother. I talked to the mom in the car for a good while, who said she’d tried to talk her daughter out of it on the drive downtown, but to no avail. We hoped, and prayed, that the daughter would come back out, but, sadly, she never did. I ended up giving a Rachel’s Vineyard brochure to the mom.
Another young couple came out of the doors of Planned Parenthood. They stopped to talk, and took all of our brochures, including a Birthright brochure, Sheila’s tri-fold, and the blue “See Me Grow” brochure. I told them how beautiful their son or daughter would be, and what great parents they would make.
9-11 – Katie, Carolyn, Mark
Early in the shift, a young lady stopped to ask what we were doing. When we told her, she smiled broadly. “Have you heard of the ‘Save the Storks’ program? We give to that!” She was visiting our city for a national conference of librarians! She said she is a Christian and a pretty small minority in a largely often militantly progressive organization. She thanked us for bearing witness. Throughout the day, we saw several groups walking past on their way for lunch or coffee. Most refused to look at us but we did offer literature and smiles.
A mother and daughter walked by and shouted how much they loved killing babies. Another shouted how happy she was to have aborted two of her children. Our hearts sank. Yet, we remember, these are souls who do NOT know their dignity in Christ, and how much they are loved by Him. More people to pray for!
Around 10 a.m., a mother dropped her daughter off at the clinic. The woman then sat in her car for hours waiting for her daughter to come out. I saw her clutching a wad of cash in her hand and looking anxious and sad. Initially, she declined to speak with us. Our prayer warriors faithfully stood on the sidewalk praying and offering literature to passersby. As time wore on, dear Elsie was able to speak with her, and give her information. I spoke with her, too. She sat in her car with tears streaming down her face, looking demoralized and distraught. I wondered if the hours of seeing people praying a few feet from her pierced her heart. We did promise to pray for her and had literature to offer her daughter when she came out of the clinic. I left at 1:20 and still the young woman hadn’t come out of the clinic. Elsie and Donna kept watch for her so they could offer her compassionate information.
Carolyn and her husband prayed and witnessed with great love. As Carolyn left, she hugged me, her eyes filled with tears. We had seen at least 4 couples go in for what seemed by their demeanor for abortions. “Those little babies,” she whispered, “those poor dear little babies.”
Later that evening, my husband and I attended the Stations of the Cross. As we read through the stations, and remembered the Lord’s unimaginable sufferings for each and every soul, my own tears flowed. Some of the hateful profanities spewed by people on the sidewalk, bragging about aborting their children had caused such disgust and anger at that moment. Looking at the Cross, I felt such sorrow and compassion for those prideful hate-spewing people and prayed God would give them the grace to actually hear the horror of their words and actions and weep themselves and that God would break their hardened hearts with his love. -Maggie
11-1 – Elsie
Arriving at 11, I was able to catch my first in-person glimpse of Katie’s handsome (and kindly-looking!) fiancé, as they rushed off to do more good deeds elsewhere. It was a delight to see Carolyn “wearing the green” in honor of St. Patrick and Pete still there after having started his shift at 7AM!!
Joining me on my shift were Sidewalk Advocate Maggie (who’s got everybody’s vote for Mother of the Year — she utterly exudes KINDNESS!!) and three dedicated life-defenders all the way from Cranberry Community Church in Venango County: Renee, Brian, and Kelly (whose face is so pleasantly Irish he didn’t need to wear green today.)
Alas, there was much sorrow there today, with so terribly many victims going through the death mill doors. An additional source of sadness were the numerous librarians who walked past us on their way to and from their national convention. With the exception of one sweet librarian, who spoke with Maggie and confided that she is pro-life and works at a Christian college, NO ONE among them would take our offered literature. Librarians, and yet they have no curiosity about anything they don’t already believe in. Their minds were not only closed, but NAILED SHUT. It was painfully clear that they function as stern gatekeepers, censoring any materials with which they disagree from public (taxpayer-funded) schools and libraries. Needless to say, I felt sad by the end of my shift. St. Patrick, please pray for us!!
1-3 – Donna
Elaine and I were joined by many faithful prayer warriors: Ed, Bernadette, Theresa, Frank, Mary Ann, Bill, and Bob. Ed handed out information to passersby and our friends from St. Matthew’s Parish prayed the Rosary. Elsie and Maggie, as they usually do, stayed past the end of their shift, worried about the women who would come out after being inside for hours. They had been conversing with a mom who was waiting in her car. I tried to talk to her daughter and hand her information before she got in the car, but all she did was yell at me. We didn’t understand what she was saying. We had a woman walk by saying “I love killing babies in abortion.” We prayed for her. It’s so sad. Father, forgive them for they know not what they do. We did hand out a lot of information and many were receptive and, of course, many were not. You all know the look we get from those who don’t get it and believe the many lies out there. God did as He always does– sends people to bless us and help us to persevere in the battle for Life and ending this culture of death in our city. He has everything under His sovereign control and will right every wrong. Woe to those who refuse to repent for the evil they do. God will be the final judge.
Lord, we pray for a Jesus encounter for all those who think it is OK to kill a baby in an abortion. We ask you to remove the blinders and veils and let them see your Truth. We are all made in your image, male and female, as you created us. Please change this culture from a culture of death to a culture of Life. We believe this will happen soon Lord and we know it will only be by your hand. We ask all this in Jesus’ precious name. Amen
3-5 – Pat