In 2014, God has blessed 40 Days for Life in many ways ... in response to your prayers! We wanted to do a "top ten" list ... but there were just too many great stories! So we settled on twelve.
While you're here, please leave a comment below describing your hopes about what we'll see in 2015 in the ongoing effort to end abortion.
From all of us at 40 Days for Life, here's wishing you a happy and blessed new year!
12 ? Abortion numbers continue to decrease
Here?s what can happen when 40 Days for Life comes to a community. The first 40 Days for Life vigil in Madison, Wisconsin took place the year this coordinated outreach began ? 2007. Here are the area's abortion numbers for each year since 2006:
For 2007 and 2008, the abortion numbers were exactly the same ? that?s not a mistake! As the chart above shows ... in each year since, the total number of abortions in Dane County, Wisconsin ? where Madison is located ? has come down.
Starting in 2011, an expanded prayer presence on the sidewalk began year-round, with people peacefully holding vigil every hour the Planned Parenthood abortion center was open. Abortion numbers declined again.
In 2012, Women?s Care Center, offering positive pregnancy help, opened up right across the street from Planned Parenthood. And again, abortion numbers went down.
The bottom line is that abortions in Madison have decreased by 37% since 2006, which just so happens to have been the last year before 40 Days for Life began.
11 ? Lives saved in Mexico
?We have witnessed the transformation of more and more people,? said Lourdes, the local leader of Mexico City?s first-ever 40 Days for Life campaign. ?They frequently send us messages about how 40 Days for Life has impacted their lives.?
In one case, a seminarian walked up to speak a woman who was arriving at the Marie Stopes facility for an abortion. He was dressed in clerical attire. She took one look at the Roman collar and left ? he didn?t have to say a word.
Lourdes said another girl arrived in a taxi. ?When she saw us praying, she started to cry and stayed in the taxi. Employees from the facility went to her to talk to her and convince her to enter ? but she refused and left.?
The Marie Stopes staff gave flyers to their security guard to hand out ? with typical ?your body, your right to decide? talking points. But the officer gave all of the flyers to the vigil participants ? and asked if he and his partner could get 40 Days for Life t-shirts.
10 ? Drive-by egging misses the mark
Sometimes, standing in prayer can be a challenge. There are people who drive by who?d really like you to go home. Jim Ball, the 40 Days for Life leader in Green Bay, Wisconsin, reported on one of those situations ? one he described as a ?drive-by egging.?
Vigil participants had just wrapped up their prayer on the sidewalk when several dozen eggs were hurled at them from a passing car. ?We?d just all hugged,? said Don, one of the volunteers, ?when eggs came flying past us. It happened so fast, we didn?t see who did it, or get a description of the car.?
The eggs hit the sidewalk.
The eggs hit the lawn.
But the eggs did not hit the people praying.
9 ? Watching the Holy Spirit at work
?The image of a young man at the Tempe Planned Parenthood is one that I will never forget,? said Lisa, the local 40 Days for Life leader in Tempe, Arizona. In his grief, he bent down and prayed.
He then stopped to talk to the prayer volunteers. ?How fitting that you are out here,? he said. ?I?ve been through this. My girlfriend had an abortion last week. She was 15 weeks pregnant ? and this was not what I wanted.?
He was looking for someone to console and encourage him. ?When asked if we can keep him in prayer,? Lisa said, ?he said yes. We will also continue to pray for the young women who have made their ?choice? without knowing the full impact.?
This young man wanted his child, but that child was taken by the violence of abortion. However, he is trying to bear this with patience and sorrow ? wanting to learn how he can make sure this won't happen again.
?We never know,? said Lisa, ?how the Holy Spirit will work during our time on the sidewalk.?
8 ? "Are you the parking attendant?"
John, a 40 Days for Life volunteer in Charleston, South Carolina, was praying outside the abortion center when a client stopped to ask him if he was the valet parking attendant. "No,? he said, ?but I?d like to talk to you before you go in there!?
The woman took him up on his offer and explained that she had two children and she wasn?t sure she could handle a third. John reassured her ? and told her about the nearby pregnancy center that could help her with all of her concerns.
The woman went into the abortion center and returned 30 or 40 minutes later, proudly showing John her ultrasound and telling him that she had decided to keep her baby.
?We are excited to see how the Lord uses the smallest opportunities to start conversations and open the hearts of these women to choose life,? said one of the local leaders. ?Valet parking, anyone??
7 ? Remaining calm in the face of challenges
The Cardiff, Wales campaign has faced more than its share of opposition, both on the pavement and in the media. A couple of stories from their local press showed what the volunteers must contend with.
One article featured the headline, ?Pro-life campaign accused of harassing women as they visit Cardiff abortion clinic.? But the photo accompanying the story showed a more accurate picture of the vigil, as about a half dozen volunteers stood in a peaceful circle of prayer.
The same newspaper featured a commentary called ?Those who stand in judgement should take a look at themselves.? The writer actually put these words into print: ?Each lunchtime I find myself resisting the urge to lob my sandwiches at them, or simply shout in their self-righteous faces, ?WHY???
?This is a sign the prayer volunteers are doing excellent work, when you have silly articles in the secular press,? said Robert Colquhoun, 40 Days for Life?s international outreach director.
6 ? Free ultrasounds!
An abortion worker came out to tell the prayer volunteers they had to remove their signs from the sidewalk. Heather, the 40 Days for Life leader in Austin, Texas, thinks it?s one sign in particular they don?t like: ?Ask me about free pregnancy tests and free ultrasounds."
The volunteers were ready for such a ridiculous claim, so they produced a letter signed by the police chief, stating that signs could legally be used at the vigil. The abortion worker said that didn?t matter, because ?the state is overriding the city on this one.? That, of course, wasn?t accurate.
?This tells me two things,? Heather said. ?One, the abortion facility is obviously behind this; how would the worker know about this supposed new sign ordinance otherwise? And two, our signs must be turning away a ton of business at the abortion facility for them to go this far!?
She added that their attorney friends are keeping on top of this so the volunteers? rights are protected.
5 ? "I hate this place!"
While people prayed in the rain at the 40 Days for Life vigil in Sacramento, California, Wynette ? the local coordinator ? watched a scene unfold outside the abortion center.
?Several abortion business employees huddled together, holding their umbrellas, as they took turns hugging one abortion worker in particular,? she said ? wondering what was going on.
A few minutes later, that worker exited the driveway right in front of Wynette and rolled down the car window, ignoring the falling rain.
"I've had enough!? the distraught worker called out. ?I hate this place! I quit!?
?I cannot say much more,? Wynette said ... but she added that the worker asked for prayer.
She encouraged prayer ?for all abortion industry employees, in hopes that they would discontinue their involvement in destroying lives and hurting women.
4 ? "I can't do it"
40 Days for Life can reach even the most hard-hearted people. Volunteers outside Planned Parenthood in Roanoke pleaded with a teenager who was going in for an abortion. ?Please don?t go in there,? they told her. The only ?option? they offer would end the life of her child.
She laughed. ?I know,? the young woman said. ?That?s what I?m going to do.?
?It brought tears to my eyes,? said Shirley, the local 40 Days for Life coordinator in Roanoke. ?I sat down and cried for her seeming callousness.?
But less than an hour later, tears turned to joy. The teen walked out of Planned Parenthood and spoke to the people praying outside. ?I can?t do it,? she said. ?I saw the ultrasound.?
She explained she was 6 weeks pregnant, her boyfriend didn?t want the baby ? and she?s afraid of what her parents will say. The volunteers prayed with her ? and helped set up an appointment for her at the pregnancy care center in her home town.
?I can?t tell you how much we rejoiced that she chose life for her baby,? Shirley said.
3 ? "Come and ask me about it"
You may have seen women who are part of the Silent No More awareness campaign? if not at a 40 Days for Life vigil, then perhaps at the March for Life. They courageously carry simple signs that read, ?I regret my abortion.?
They speak out ? in an effort to spare other women the things they?ve experienced with abortion.
One 40 Days for Life volunteer in Savannah, Georgia decided she would be silent no more ... and got an unexpected opportunity to tell her story.
?I felt that God was urging me to be bold,? she said. With that in mind, she put together a homemade sign, which she taped to the side of her car ? and parked with that side of the car facing the abortion center.
The sign said: ?I had an abortion here. Come and ask me about it!?
?Because I actually had an abortion in that clinic in January of 2012,? she said, ?I am able to tell women and men about what actually goes on inside.?
While she was praying one morning, two abortion workers went outside and approached her. They had to admit they were curious about the sign, and wanted to know if she?d really had an abortion at their place of business. They also wanted to know what happened.
So she told them!
She described the environment as ?cold, quiet and unfeeling.? The staff was not unkind to her, ?but you could tell they were very much about the job and any kind of opposition to actually having an abortion was immediately discredited.?
She spoke with a counselor who told her that there are many women who feel like abortion is the natural and right option for them. ?Right then and there I knew something was wrong. But I ignored my gut feeling on the matter and went through with the procedure.?
When the employees who had approached her on the sidewalk heard this story, they seemed upset and claimed that her experience was through personal choice ? that it was not the abortion business itself that had caused something bad to happen.
?It was a personal choice that I regret,? she told them, ?but your clinic provides a service under the false pretense that it is the right choice.?
All because of the sign on her car!
?The sign did exactly what I wanted it to do,? she said, ?and that was give people the option to ask me about what happened when you had an abortion ? I was using my ?personal experience? to potentially help save lives through the power of God.?
Business at the facility has been slowing down, she observed. ?I fully believe that God is answering our prayers and Savannah Medical Clinic will in the near future be no longer offering abortions!?
2 ? "I need to talk to a priest"
There have been 107 abortion workers who have had a change of heart and left their jobs during 40 Days for Life campaigns. Many of these workers leave during the last two weeks of the campaign ? and today, we ask for prayers for one abortionist who is struggling with his conscience.
A prayer volunteer spoke to one of the abortionists at a facility where the 40 Days for Life vigil was in progress. They?ve had several conversations, and the volunteer says the man has told him, ?I can?t do this anymore. I need to talk to a priest.?
The physician did indeed talk to a priest ? and ended up leaving the abortion business.
1 ? Abortionist out ... church in
Five 40 Days for Life vigils had taken place outside the WomanCare abortion center in Lansing, Michigan. But local leaders in Lansing decided there would not be a sixth ? because they knew the facility?s lease was expiring ? and the new tenant would be a local church!
This is the 59th abortion facility ? where a 40 Days for Life vigil has been held on the sidewalk outside ? that has closed its doors permanently.
About a year ago, a procession from the Church of the Resurrection brought hundreds of people together. They walked the short distance from the church to WomanCare ?to claim it for Christ,? as Cecilia Tombelli, the local 40 Days for Life leader, put it. ?The community placed its trust in the merciful heart of Jesus.?
It was also about this time that the Church of the Resurrection was making expansion plans. ?The Lord made clear that our need for temporary office space and our parish commitment to pray and fast to end abortion might come together providentially,? said Fr. Steve Mattson, the church?s pastor.
So talks began with the owner of the building that housed the abortion center. It started with a simple question: Would the owner be willing to lease the space to the church instead of the abortionist?
?The abortionist never signed a lease,? Fr. Mattson explained. ?He was going month to month.? The church offered a 33-month lease ? and the building?s owner accepted. Bishop Earl Boyea then signed the lease.
As of October 1, the 4,100 square feet of space at 1601 East Grand River in Lansing was no longer the home of an abortion business. It will now house parish offices, a chapel and a new pro-life center.
?Thanks be to God!? Cecilia said. ?We have been given the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ ? and death has been swallowed up! There is no longer an abortion clinic anywhere in Lansing.?
What a year! Can?t wait to see what God comes up with in 2015!