…Believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me and I in the Father.”John 10:38
Day after day. Year after year. For 12 years now. 24 campaigns. We have stood in front of Planned Parenthood for 12 hours, for 40 days at a time. That means we have now prayed for almost 1,000 days in total. Where are the results? Isn’t it easy to get discouraged and give up? Planned Parenthood in Pittsburgh is busier than ever. They continue to end the lives of well over 3,000 pre-born babies every year. Why should we continue?
If you are tempted to think these thoughts…I have a book that you simply MUST read! Abby Johnson’s new book, “Fierce Mercy,” is to her former book, “UnPlanned,” what the above masterpiece is to a simple sketch. I stayed up until 1am this morning reading it, and would have stayed up all night to finish it if my eyelids had allowed it. It is that good. In “UnPlanned“, Abby provides the “initial sketch” of her conversion from Planned Parenthood manager to pro-life leader. In “Fierce Mercy“…the paint is radiantly and luminously brushed on and the final Masterpiece is revealed in all its glory! Just as in the painting pictured above, we can see how every single brush stroke of the Master Artist has come together to produce such amazing results…or “works”... that I was in tears many times as I read into the wee hours of the night.
In chapter 2, she wrote about being convicted of the gravity of the sin that she had committed, and felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to go out in the middle of the night to her former workplace (the Planned Parenthood in College Station, TX.) As she was praying and crying at the fence…realizing how truly wretched she was…she suddenly realized that she was not alone. Two pro-lifers were there praying as well! (College Station actually did 24-hour-round the clock 40 Days for Life campaigns!) As she was completely falling apart in remorse and repentance…those two pro-lifers (once they realized who she was)…began to rejoice and to praise God. I thought of how God was working below the surface. Amazing, earth-shattering events were unfolding during the hidden, quiet dark night with only two people there to witness it. God was beginning to take pencil to canvas…to sketch out the beautiful masterpiece that He was going to paint in Abby’s life.
The most shocking chapter that I have read so far is chapter 6. This is where Abby compares herself to Kermit Gosnell, and the abortion workers that worked in his now infamous clinic in Philadelphia. I couldn’t believe her raw courage and brutal honesty when she compared herself to him! She graphically describes the filth of his clinic and the cruel way in which they murdered almost full-term babies after they were born alive…breathing and crying. She comes to the realization that she was no better than Gosnell. She writes:
As horrible as it sounds, looking at Kermit Gosnell and what he did was like looking in a mirror. I looked at him, but I saw my own reflection, my sins as black and repugnant as his.Abby Johnson, Fierce Mercy
Abby empathized with the workers of Gosnell’s “house of horrors,” and with Gosnell himself. She wrote:
…I had a heart for those people who went to prison because of this case—even Gosnell himself. I believe he started out with good intentions–helping people. But somewhere along the course of his life, sin snuck in. Did it tiptoe in as greed? Ambition? Who but God knows? But however he was tempted, he gave in, and that sin changed his heart. I knew how easily that could happen because it happened to me.Abby Johnson, Fierce Mercy
Abby began to write to Gosnell and the other imprisoned workers, and she prayed (and continues to this day) to pray for each of them by name…every day. One of those workers contacted her and has repented and began a relationship with the Lord. (Read about that in chapter 8!)
I think that the reason this book is having such a profound effect on me is that, amid the seeming hopelessness of our battle to end abortion in Pittsburgh…Abby’s book shines a bright light on the WORK THAT GOD IS DOING UNDER THE SURFACE!!! He is converting hearts and lives! If we are tempted to give up…or to not believe that we are making a difference…we can look at Abby and say, “I believe in the WORKS!“
An old saying (that I really have no idea of what it means)…”The proof is in the pudding.” Abby’s former Planned Parenthood clinic is now the headquarters of 40 Days for Life. Hundreds of abortion workers are rescued from darkness and beginning a relationship with Jesus Christ because of God’s mercy through her. God is sketching His plans for Pittsburgh with every single prayer we pray…through every sacrifice of suffering offered. It is only a matter of time before He puts that first brushstroke to the canvas, and before we know it, we will have a brilliant, glorious masterpiece before us!
Praise be to God! He is Good!!!
Wait for the Lord with courage; be stouthearted, and wait for the Lord. The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear? Wait for the Lord.Introit from yesterday’s Mass readings, Psalm 26, 14
We praise God for one little family who went to Planned Parenthood for an abortion, but who changed their mind and chose life during these 40 days because of our selfless 40 Days for Life volunteers who were there! Please continue to pray for this un-named couple that they will stay strong in their decision for life! If you come to our closing event this Sunday, during the social time in the church hall (below Epiphany Church at 7pm), we will take a collection for this family, as they face difficult circumstances and we wish to encourage them with our love and support. We are no longer posting any details (including the day or week) in which “saves” happen because we know that Planned Parenthood is reading our blog, and we do not want to take the chance of them knowing the identity of these vulnerable women who are struggling with their decision to choose life for their babies.
Before we go to today’s shift reports…A reminder to BRING YOUR BLESSED PALMS TO THE SIDEWALK THIS SUNDAY AT 5:30pm! We will gather to pray with His Excellency, Bishop Waltersheid, who will bring Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament! At 5:45 we will carry our palms in procession to Epiphany Church for a 6pm Closing Mass, and then gather in the hall under the church at 7pm for a time of celebration and Christian unity. Thank you to Fr. Chris Donley for allowing us to use the hall! (A collection will also be taken to help cover the cost of using the church and the hall). If you are not able to donate, no worries! Come anyway! This is a free event!
Now…on to today’s reports…
7-9 Charlene, Peggy and Beth
Today was our last shift for the campaign. But it was certainly a shift of firsts!!
-It is Wednesday and we had almost NO rain!
-Beth was with us!
-John from Focus and Louisiana was with us and we certainly made use of his talents.
-We had an escort. I think it was his first time. He did not say one word to anyone.
9-11 Elsie and Terri
What a wonderful turnout of prayer warriors we had for this last shift of our 40 Days campaign! We had 30 prayerful individuals lining the street outside of Planned Parenthood. The group from Saint Bernard of Clairvaux in Indiana joined with The Guardians for Life, the Knights of Columbus from Uniontown and other individuals. Fr. Tim Kruthaupt, a faithful participant in the 40 Days campaigns, led the group in many decades of the rosary, a pro-life Stations of the Cross, a Divine Mercy rosary, Litanies and lovely songs. It was so nice to have the sidewalk alive with prayers and songs again. I had switched my regular shift with Katie, so I had the opportunity to work with Sharon today. We gave out literature to those passing by on the street. I had one moving encounter. A woman came out and when I started a conversation, she stopped and talked. Usually, the women don’t want to stop and talk. She had just had an abortion. After a brief discussion, I gave her literature, and she took it. I love that our ministry includes compassion for the mothers who will have many difficult days ahead. We remember to pray for them. We parted with a heartfelt hug.
11-1 Katie and Sharon
We had a large group from St. James in Sewickley who prayed a few rosaries and a Divine Mercy chaplet.
Today, I was joined in prayer by Bob from St. Mary’s in Kittaning and Neal from Corpus Christi parish in Bridgeville. We prayed the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, one after the other, during our time together and received more than a few positive comments and thumbs-up from passersby. We said hi to several little ones in strollers– one woman was pushing her fraternal-twin grandchildren and stopped to talk.
3-5 Eileen and Jeannie
Well today confirmed that the best people in the world are praying at Planned Parenthood. Despite missing our regular wonderful Marilyn (get better soon, ) Eileen and Joe and I were joined by three delightful young people from the Culture Project. Kathryn, Dani and Alex provided a second prayer group on the other side of the circle–which we had not been able to manage all vigil long! It was wonderful. The weather held–no rain & temperate. Received a few smirks from the passers by but mostly good support–overall a really satisfying, prayerful conclusion to this spring vigil.
Many, many thanks to everyone who has been a part of this effort. I am humbled to be in this group!
5-7 Joe and Bill
Another warm-ish / quiet-ish night. Lots of foot traffic. Lots of “workers” exiting 933 Liberty.
Thankful for my Shift Buddy Bill as well as Wednesday Shift Buddy Emeritus “Sandal Charlie” and Amy – Thanks & Blessings!!!
We had one passerby, “D,” who needed some help / prayers. Please pray for “D.” A couple of other positive remarks from inside and outside the car. No known negative comments and the night and Wednesday Vigils faded away…