By Mary Ellen McElfresh, Parishioner at Christ the Saviour Anglican Church
I first heard of 40 Days for Life a few years ago, after I began attending Christ the Saviour Anglican Church. There were announcements describing the campaign in several of their newsletters, and I sensed the Holy Spirit’s nudging to not only join in the prayers and fasting for an end to abortion, but to actually go to the vigil site to pray. I had never done anything like that before, and the thought was rather intimidating, but with God’s help I finally gathered the courage to go. It turned out to be a blessing, and not difficult at all.
The prayer vigil at the site of the abortion clinic is such an important aspect of God’s guidance for 40 Days for Life, because it not only combines prayer with getting the word out to the community, but it also gives a message to the women who arrive at the clinic thinking of getting an abortion. When they see people standing there peacefully praying, and perhaps holding a sign with an important message for them, it causes them to think twice before entering the clinic, and they may change their minds about getting an abortion.
We don’t often know the results of our efforts, but we do know that even one person at a vigil site can make an impression, and lives have been saved as a result. A woman will occasionally stop at a vigil and thank the people for being there, because her child is now alive as a result of people who were praying when she previously came for an abortion. When she saw them praying, and read their signs, she changed her mind. Other women have said that they wished people had been there praying when they arrived for their abortion, because if someone had been there praying, they would not have gone through with the abortion, and their child would be alive. Some have grieved for years over their wrong decision. So our presence at the clinic is extremely important.
Our vigils are meant to be peaceful and prayerful, and everyone who participates is expected to agree to pursue peaceful solutions, to show compassion, and reflect Christ’s love to all – including those who work at the abortion clinic – the doctors, nurses, and other staff members. We pray for them, as well as for the mothers, their babies, other family members who would be affected by the abortion, women who have previously had an abortion, and those in the community who need to recognize the truth about abortion and realize that it is the wrong choice for them to make.
If you have never participated in a vigil before, it may seem a bit daunting. I thought that I could never do something like that myself, and many of the other participants in 40 Days for Life have never done anything like that before, but they often discover, like I did, that once they have taken part in the vigil, it is something that they want to do, again and again.
I encourage everyone to pray about their participation in this cause and to consider signing up for at least one hour during the forty days.
40 Days for Life begins March 9 and continues through April 17 this year. We invite you to find a local group to participate in the campaign, which includes prayer and fasting; a peaceful vigil; and community outreach on Saturdays during the 40 days. Visit www.40daysforlife.com. For information about the Alexandria campaign, visit: www.40daysforlife.com/alexandria or contact Jacinta Whittaker at 540-692-0480 or Jacinta.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional participating cities and links to their Web sites include: