Hope and Change
With the most virulent abortion proponent ever to take presidential office leading our country, Planned Parenthood opening new abortion mega-centers in anticipation of increased tax funding, and news of increasing encroachments of assisted suicides, and euthanasia, and other evils in one state after another, it could seem a very depressing and discouraging time in history to be pro-life. But it’s always darkest just before dawn.
In the last weeks of October 2009, something completely unexpected happened in Texas—the director of an entire Planned Parenthood affiliate had a spiritual conversion and walked out. In Pensacola, on October 30, police shut down the notorious local abortion facility entirely. On October 12, news broke of a Planned Parenthood closing in Kalispell, Montana. In Indiana, six closings this fall. Seven more industry workers in various states have quit their jobs. And that isn’t the half of it! It seems the Lord Himself is moving to end abortion in our nation.
If my people, who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, the will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Starting on September 23, 2009 and continuing through November 1, pro-lifers from 212 cities in three nations joined a simple program of 40 days of prayer and fasting, peaceful vigil, and community outreach to end abortion—the largest and longest coordinated pro-life mobilization in history.
Relying not on big funding, not on political success, but on the power of God to change hearts and transform nations, these dedicated leaders once again mobilized tens of thousands of participants to pray and fast and take their faith to the streets in the fall of 2009. Fully 35% of these participants were completely new to pro-life activism!
In a world where known saves are rare, and sidewalk counselors and sign holders primarily “scatter seed to be harvested by another,” more than 600 documented lives were saved in just a little over a one-month period from September through October.
In a world where women live with hearts broken by the lie that an abortion will better their lives, where men’s fatherhood is torn from them sometimes without their consent, where families disintegrate in the aftermath of an abortion, countless post-abortive individuals have found God’s forgiveness, peace and healing through the outreach of 40 Days for Life volunteers.
This incredible 40 Days for Life campaign started with humble beginnings in Bryan/College-station Texas in 2004, where three young pro-life leaders prayed for an answer on how to reduce abortions in their community. God’s answer was 40 days of prayer and fasting, modeled on Biblical periods of transformation that changed history. The original campaign started with three people and a prayer. With a scant three weeks’ preparation before the 40 days itself, the original campaign ended with 1000 volunteers mobilized and led to a 28% decline in local abortions.
The first nationally coordinated campaign burst onto the scene three years later, in fall of 2007. Since then, the 40 Days program has brought unity, prayerful focus, and a turning to God with renewed sense of hope. More than 5000 local churches of dozens of different denominations have come together in unity before the Lord to pray and fast for an end to abortion. More than 90% of participants report profound personal and spiritual growth from their experience.
God’s grace is poured out in wonderful and unexpected ways in response to His people’s faithfulness. Abby Johnson, director of that Planned Parenthood in Texas had seen pro-lifers praying outside her clinic for six years. What she may not have been as aware of was the intensity of their prayers for her personally, or how God would respond.
But He showed her gradually many things, including the beauty of her own children, the money motivator of abortion, and finally, mysteriously, caused her to be asked to enter the operating room to hold the ultrasound steady during an actual abortion. This moment changed her heart completely. Seeing the child on the ultrasound screen “crumple” and disappear, Abby knew. Two weeks later, she was out, standing on the sidewalk alongside pro-lifers, praying for the closing of the facility she once led.
In Pensacola, Florida, the abortion center had been the scene of much pro-life activism, (and even deadly anti-abortion—but clearly not “pro-life”—violence) in its 25 year history, but it continued to stand, a dark, seemingly unassailable bastion of evil in the city. Pro-lifers grew discouraged. Then came three peaceful 40 Days for Life campaigns.
Pensacola pro-lifers prayed and fasted, and more and more people came out to the streets to peacefully beg God’s help and intervention. On day 38 of this fall’s campaign the miracle happened. Pro-life volunteers saw the police arrive, but didn’t immediately realize what was going on. A few days later, legal notice appeared in the paper, “As of October 30th, 2009 the Community Health Center of Pensacola will be terminating its practice.”
Praise the Lord, who is mighty indeed! He holds hearts in His hand and turns them like water in a channel. No matter how dark it gets, no matter how long we must pray, God’s grace will triumph in this battle. Let us put our trust in Him, who forgives sin and transforms nations. Let us pray without ceasing, let us seek His face, let us humble ourselves in repentance, let us put forth our best efforts in outreach to others, and always praise His mercy. His love never ends!