“What is urgently called for is a general mobilization of consciences and a united ethical effort to activate a great campaign in support of life.”
─ Pope St. John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, no. 95
If you’re looking for good news in the midst of the turmoil of our time, look no further than to the current 40 Days for Life campaign. A few days ago, the organization launched its fall 2021 campaign, during which tens of thousands of participants worldwide will stand and pray outside their local abortion facility.
Almost immediately, the positive stories of lives saved, and hearts changed, began flooding in. On the very first day of the campaign, a pro-life participant in Uganda helped convince a mother not to go through with a late-term abortion. Another participant in Zambia also reported a child and mother saved.
A day or two later, a truly amazing story unfolded in Cleveland. According to the 40 Days for Life blog, a pro-life man named Fred was standing out in front of the local abortion clinic, silently praying. Then a car pulled up in front of him. A voice spoke from the back seat, saying, “She wants an abortion, but she is having second thoughts. We want you to tell her not to have the abortion.”
Fred asked why the expectant mother wanted to get an abortion and was told that she was expecting triplets. After Fred congratulated her, the mother asked him if he didn’t think that three children were too many to have at once.
The account on the 40 Days for Life blog continues:
“Not at all,” Fred answered, assuring her the triplets are a “wonderful…beautiful gift from God” and a blessing.
The encouragement made a difference!
“Well, Fred,” the mother responded. “I am going to name one of my children after you.”
Fred praised God and offered the mom pregnancy help resource information, which she enthusiastically accepted.
“I hope she stops and shows me her three children after they are born,” Fred said. “Especially the one she promised to name Fred.”
20,000 Children Saved from Abortion
Think about that story for a moment. Fred isn’t anybody special, except in the same sense that all of us are special. He isn’t (to the best of my knowledge) a trained pro-life counselor. He doesn’t have a huge social media presence, with hundreds of thousands of followers. He’s not a celebrity, or a powerful politician, or the head of a large non-profit.
And yet, simply by being where he was, holding a sign and praying, he has radically changed the life of a mother who obviously wanted to love her children, but was understandably frightened by the enormity of the task ahead of her. Just by being there, Fred gave her courage. And by giving her courage, he saved the lives of three, beautiful children, who will go on to live the lives they were so perilously close to losing.
This is the great power of the 40 Days for Life campaign, and this is why I regularly urge my readers to get involved. Joining the bi-annual 40 Days for Life campaigns is one of the easiest, but also most powerful, means of getting involved in the pro-life movement in a meaningful way and making a real impact.
Since 40 Days for Life began in 2007, nearly 20,000 children have been saved from abortion. And these are only the children that vigil participants know about. How many other mothers have turned away, or changed their minds, simply by seeing the prayerful pro-life vigil participants in front of the abortion facility?
In addition, over 200 abortion workers have left their jobs thanks to the vigils, and an incredible 114 abortion facilities where 40 Days campaigns have taken place have closed their doors. This includes the abortion facility in Texas where the very first 40 Days for Life campaign took place in 2007.
And of course, we will never know what has been accomplished behind the scenes, through the power of grace, thanks to the prayer and fasting of the vigil participants.
Don’t Wait. Get Involved Today.
There is a beautifully simple, but powerful, quotation attributed to Mother Teresa – “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”
Indeed, let us begin!
When faced with the great, global evil of legal abortion and its mindset, it is easy to despair. What can any one of us do to end something so vast as legalized abortion, which claims the lives of countless millions of children every year?
The answer, of course, is that we can’t do anything…except for what we can do. We can’t single-handedly end abortion. We can’t single-handedly change the laws. Most of us have to work at our jobs and take care of our families. We are weighed down with our daily responsibilities.
But what we can do, is put one foot in front of the other. Every journey begins with a single step. But take step after step, and the miles quickly add up.
This is the great beauty of the 40 Days for Life campaign. For many of us, it’s right there. The cost of entry is low. All we have to do is find the nearest location where a vigil is taking place (you can find the list here). Then, put one foot in front of the other, and show up! Spend even just a single hour standing peacefully in front of your local abortion facility, praying for our nation, the world, and their conversion and renewal.
Who knows what might happen? Maybe nothing. Or at least nothing that you can see. But your prayers will not go to waste. Neither will your public witness. The hundreds, or thousands, of people driving by will see you standing there, and will be forced to think about the legalized slaughter that is happening in our midst.
Or perhaps, like Fred, you will be given the blessing of an opportunity to be a direct instrument in the saving of the life of an unborn child and protecting the child’s mother from the trauma and regret of abortion.
And perhaps, even most importantly, your own heart will be changed. Your own heart will be opened to the suffering of our silent brothers and sisters, who are being legally killed just around the corner from your home. Perhaps you will be inspired to take another step, and then another step.
Perhaps you will even be inspired to take a leap: to organize a vigil in front of another facility where there is no vigil; or to volunteer at your local pregnancy help center; or to donate your talents or treasure to your local pro-life charity.
There are people who are working full-time in the pro-life movement today, who only ever thought of doing so because their hearts were moved by the experience of standing outside the doors where the killing was taking place.
This fall, 40 Days for Life vigils are taking place in over 600 cities worldwide! This includes vigils in far-flung locations like South Korea, Nigeria, Taiwan, and all across the American, European, and African continents. 40 Days for Life truly is a one-of-a-kind, global movement, uniting hundreds of thousands of pro-life individuals in a campaign of prayer, fasting, and physical presence. For many of us, there is no reason that we can’t donate an hour of our time to standing up for the most defenseless and for their mothers.
40 Days for Life truly is an answer to Pope St. John Paul II’s call to launch a “great campaign in support of life.” Let us do whatever is in our power to grow that great campaign, saving lives and changing our culture one step at a time.