My Training Ground

I arrived 15 minutes early for my weekly shift at PP last Wednesday, so I had some quiet time to reflect and pray while waiting for my partner, Amy, to arrive. No employees had arrived yet and the sidewalks were quiet and peaceful. I took this picture to remind me of the insight that God gave me while I was there. As I stood on these bricks, the same bricks that were there the very first time I arrived to pray, back in 2010, it occurred to me that this ground was my training ground. It is the ground that God used to strengthen my faith in Him, and to burn away much of my selfishness. A certain gratitude for these bricks…even a love for them…filled my heart. I wanted to thank them for the hardships.

Thank you, precious bricks, for the disappointments. Because of you, I have learned what is really important, and what is not. Thank you, bricks, for the tears and for the anger. Before I met you, it was important for me to always get my own way, and to avoid suffering at all costs, but because of you, I have a more detached heart now. At least I think I have made progress. Throughout these past 11 years of standing on you, roughly 30,000 children have been lost behind the doors of Planned Parenthood. Even though that is a horrible fact, God has still used YOU to bring good out of evil. He has rescued at least 100 babies during these 11 years, (and probably many more that we will never know about). He has united our pro-life family here in Pittsburgh in Christian love and unity, and has strengthened the faith of many, and has drawn many souls back to Himself.

The sidewalk can be a sad place to be. It can be discouraging…but I want to encourage you to come anyway. You are needed. Your gentle smile is needed. Your prayers are needed. Just today, Katie reported the following heart-wrenching story from her shift this afternoon:

A grieving post-abortive woman arrived during Katie’s shift today and left these flowers in front of PP’s doors in memory of her child…a hurting heart seeking healing from the pain of abortion…

When Sharon and I were there today a woman approached us and told us her niece was coming there but not to talk with her because it was “part of her healing”. We didn’t understand what she meant and tried to talk to her about Rachel’s Vineyard and WCN’s post abortion healing program. She said she had gotten help at their church and said again that this was “part of her healing”. We asked why she would be coming to PP for healing if she had received help at church, still not understanding why she would go to PP for help when they were the ones who had hurt her in the first place, and she said to just not talk to her. Then a younger woman and an older couple came up the street. The younger woman was carrying a bouquet of flowers. She sat on the ground beside the door and cried for 5-10 minutes, while the others stood around her, then she left the flowers in front of the door and walked away. We told them we’d be praying for them, and the aunt said thank you. We have no way of knowing how long she’s been carrying this pain, or what the future holds for her, or what her baby’s name is (he/she may not have experienced love or had a name during his/her brief time on this earth, but I could see that that baby has both now). But maybe knowing this woman’s suffering can help us reach another mother. You don’t have to go back to any other type of “medical facility” to leave flowers and mourn after any other “medical procedure”. Perhaps her story can touch another mother’s heart the way she touched ours today.


I want to also make you aware of a recently released video by The Center for Medical Progress (CLICK HERE TO WATCH), which has made us aware of the dark truth that PP is supplying the bodies of tiny victims of abortion to the University of Pittsburgh…for medical research. They even sometimes are delivering the fetuses alive in order to procure the most fresh samples possible. The video shows them cutting into a tiny chest cavity in order to extract the poor baby’s liver. They are also scalping the babies, in order to stich them onto rats…to see if the baby’s hair will grow on the backs of rodents. Can we get any more depraved than this?

But we press on. God is with us. Sue Thayer, 40 Days for Life national Director of Outreach (and former abortion clinic manager), wrote to encourage me after hearing this terrible news. She wrote:

Oh Nikki, I am so sorry. It was horrible to watch. I know that in the face of such great evil, we feel helpless. We can’t stop it and the devil seems to have the upper hand. But when you stand out there, you are the only person standing with that tiny baby. There is someone in this world who cares. Just imagine how this pleases God, that we love those babies enough to stand and pray and cry.

Sue Thayer, 40 Days for Life, Director of Outreach

Sue closed her email with a verse from scripture to encourage us:

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Galatians 6:9

Here are some suggestions of what YOU can DO to help with this terrible situation:

  1. Consider joining the peaceful protest at Pitt on Friday at 11 am. Meet at the corner of Fifth Ave. & Bigelow.
  2. Sign the open letter to the University of Pittsburgh and watch the recorded hearing from yesterday at: Pennsylvania Family Institute Sign the Open Letter to Pitt: Stop Experimenting with Aborted Babies (
  3. Bishop Waltersheid has suggested that we all pray and fast on Friday. He writes:

I encourage the faithful to fast and pray on Friday, May 7, for an end to abortion, the end of unethical use of aborted fetal body parts,  and that the remains of aborted children be treated with the dignity and respect that is their due as human persons created in the image and likeness of God.  Fasting should be done as each one’s strength and health permits.  Praying the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet, participating in Mass and receiving Holy Communion  and making a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament are highly recommended. Let us ask God from our hearts that all human life be loved, cherished and respected.”

Bishop William Waltersheid, Auxiliary Bishop of Pittsburgh

I don’t want to end this blog post on a sad note…so, to encourage you, dear reader, I will now share some happy news from our 40 Days for Life 365 program, which is continuing every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday!


Sheila reported that a young mom, who had arrived at PP for an abortion…after talking with Sheila and receiving literature about pre-natal development…CHANGED HER MIND!!! I will not include any details about this encounter, to respect this woman’s privacy…but it was a confirmed save!

Last week, a new volunteer named Bonnie emailed me with her thoughts about the importance of going to the sidewalk to pray. She wrote:

I’ve been on the sidewalk enough in the few months I’ve been a part of this prayerful endeavor to have endured different  experiences.  We have been insulted, ignored, yelled at by the guard, shouted at from a car, given the finger,  laughed at, told we need a job, treated like we are poison, — And high-fived, prayed for, blessed, thanked, accepted our materials,  smiled at, and loved for what we are doing.  The only way to handle this all is with prayer and know that God is with us every step of the way.


I have been encouraged to see that for the past two weeks we have managed to keep at least two people on that sidewalk for most of the day on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays! I hope we can continue! This is difficult and discouraging work! There are a lot of brand new volunteers who have begun to help us…but I worry that they will get weary and quit if we don’t get more recruits to keep our numbers strong!

This Friday we have a gap from 1-3pm with NO ONE scheduled. If two people do not answer the call, the sidewalk will be empty as abortion-bound women and men walk through those terrible doors. If you are available to come during this time, please contact Jen McDevitt at in order to get on the schedule. We have decided to do away with the sign-up genius for now, and all on-line sign-ups…and have all sign-ups go directly through Jen.

Thank you for not abandoning the least of our brothers and sisters…even if they are abandoned by those who should love them the most.

Please keep our dear Sue M in prayer for God’s peace and comfort…as she lost her husband today. We have all been praying for Larry, but today he lost his fight for life. Sue is an instrumental part of our 40 Days for Life and Sidewalk Advocates in Pittsburgh, and our hearts and prayers go out to her and her family at this difficult time.

Larry, may you rest in peace, in the arms of our Lord Jesus Christ.

With love in Christ,


1 thought on “My Training Ground”

  1. Barbara Lewis

    Perhaps those of us witnessing with Pittsburgh 40 Days have been unaware of the comprehensive ferocity with which abortion grips our city. The video by The Center for Medical Progress gives horrible news.
    We are not stunned by evil.
    Good Friday features Jesus fiercely killed, his tormentors standing by, mocking him as he dies, publicly, naked and “helpless.”
    May our God be praised for the love He shares with Pittsburgh pro-life. God’s energy is our life!

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