Thursday, 29 September 2011

Changing Hearts and Minds and Saving Lives through Prayer, Fasting and Public Witness


The 40 Days for Life Campaign was launched in London on 22nd September,outside the 'Marie Stopes' Clinic in Whitfield St. The mission of the campaign is to bring together the body of Christ in a spirit of unity during 40 days of prayer,fasting, and peaceful witness, with the purpose of repentance. To seek God's favour to turn hearts and minds from a culture of death to a culture of life, thus bringing the end of abortion.
The campaign has three components
Prayer and Fasting: To join together to access God's power through fervent prayer and fasting.
Peaceful Vigil: Standing for life through 40 Days peaceful, public witness at the abortion site, with street counsellors.
Community outreach: Taking The Pro-Life Message from London to the UK through the media, church and school outreach, petition drives and public witness
'40 Days' began in America in 2004 when David Bereit with his wife and another couple were fervently praying, seeking God's Will for how they could best impact their local abortion clinic. They were led to a '24 hour' peaceful prayer vigil over 40 days at the abortion site, and the results were amazing. A 28% reduction in abortions in that local area. The campaign generated intense interest, and the numbers increased at the site daily, many came for the first time.
Why 40 Days?
God has used the period of 40 Days throughout history to bring about major transformation.
Noah experienced transformation during 40 days of rain.
Moses was transformed by 40 days on Mount Sinai.
David was transformed from Goliath's 40 Day Challange.
Elijah transformed when God gave him 40 days strength after one meal.
Nineveh transformed when the city remained faithful for 40 days.
Jesus transformed the world following 40 days in the dessert.
Disciples transformed after 40 days with Jesus after the resurrection.
In 2007 the 40 days campaign was launched Nationwide in America, and in September 2010 it launched here and in Europe.
The track record results since 2004 are very encouraging
13,000 Church Congregations have become involved with 40 days for Life Campaign
400,000 individuals have committed to pray and fast to end abortion
4,313 babies lives reported saved (actual unconfirmed figure probably much higher).
53 abortion workers have left their jobs
Many individuals with an abortion experience in their past have found healing.
14 abortion clinics where 40 days for life campaigned outside their doors have closed down and gone out of business.
Dozens of abortion clinics have experinced sharp setbacks, cutting down on hours and closing down for days at a time.
Through the media 1,500 news stories have been given prominant coverage about the 40 Days for Life Effort.
92% of 40 Days for Life participants reported that they grew spiritually and personally through their involvement in the campaign.
Many people have turned back to God with renewed HOPE.
My own experience during the last 40 Days has been remarkable. For the last three years I have been closely involved with The Helpers of Gods Precious Infants and Our Lady's Good Counsel Network, regularly participating in vigils outside abortion clinics. The numbers on a weekly basis have always been very small. However, whilst I have seen God work marvels with small numbers, the power of this campaign has demonstrated to me how much more God can work with the increasing number of generous souls who joined this campaign at the site for 40 Days.
The foundation of this Campaign is built on prayer and fasting. It is through the intercession that we have seen the fruit. Whilst it is important to pray at home and in Church, especially before The Blessed Sacrament, it is also vital to pray and witness at the abortion site. It is not only the babies and their mothers and fathers entering the clinic who need our prayers, but all those who work in the clinic, who mistakenly think they are serving women. We pray for them with God's Love and Compassion, for the 'Light of Christ' to touch them and begin working in their souls. It is also important to 'evangelize' the passing public with the truth of when 'Life' begins. So many are misguided in their thinking and understanding. By informing the public, especially the youth, with good literature and well researched articles exposing the truth we can begin to change our current secular culture of death to one of life!

In recent years the number of abortions world wide has reached unprecedented levels. The statistics are shocking, more than 50 million babies per year. One quarter of a million in this country alone, and 94% of those abortions are funded by the NHS. Our silence will not arrest this holocaust but fasting, prayer and peaceful witness will! 
Over recent years, on a weekly basis, there have been just a few of us at the sites. However, the difference I encountered over the 40 Days Campaign as a street counsellor, when our numbers were significantly increased was remarkable.
Two ladies with whom I engaged in conversation turned around in their thinking and made the decision to keep their babies. One had booked her abortion for the following week. Many of the mothers and fathers entering the clinic are totally unware of the development of their baby in the womb. The workers in the clinic make it a policy not to show the mother the scan of her baby. Many are unware of the dangers involved, especially with the abortion pill (RU 486), which is rapidly on the increase. Most mothers are blinded to the fact that by eliminating one 'perceived' problem by abortion, they can ulimately create many more in the long term. More than 65% of women feel coerced into abortion as they see no other alternative. Many of the women and men entering the clinic brush you aside, sometimes in an aggresive manner, but a surprising number of women and sometimes men will engage in conversation. Some feel relieved to speak to a stranger about their plight. It is so encouraging to be able to offer them leaflets, telling them of the 'truths' they will not hear in the clinic. Also offering them support with organisations such as Our Lady of Good Counsel, and reassuring them of continued prayer. There was one lady who marched straight from the clinic over the road to where the intercessors were praying and said "How can you help me?" She kept her baby!
With all the encounters over the 40 Days Campaign, there were many unconfirmed reports of women changing their minds and keeping their babies. These reports are unconfirmed because the mother has not felt comfortable giving her telephone number to us, which is totally understood and respected. 
One lady worker connected to the clinic, left her job during the 40 Days after being counselled outside the clinic.
In our public witness it is important to 'evangelize' the passing public, with leaftlets and magazines telling the truth about when 'life' begins, the scientic facts and testimonies from women and men who regret their abortion, and all the numbers of support groups available. 
We heard about one women, in a dillema about her pregnacy who had made the decision to have an abortion. She picked up a discarded leaflet on the pavement with the words 'Are You Pregnant?' She called The Good Counsel Network for help. She kept her baby. 
Many of the passing public who engaged in conversations were very difficult and painful encounters.  Some were complete 'open heavens', with the Grace of God. One young man said he and his girlfriend had an abortion a year ago, and he deeply regretted it. He thinks about it everyday. He said he was no longer with his girlfriend, often the case when a couple make the decision to have an abortion. His pain was very evident and though he did not fully believe in the existance of  God, he allowed me to share about our belief in a loving God who offers forgiveness and longs to heal his pain. It was humbling when he allowed me to pray for him. He said he felt comforted, and I gave him a rosary and prayer cards explaining how to pray Our Lady's Rosary for healing. He then asked for one for his girlfriend, as he is still in touch with her. I was then stunned when he said 'I wish you guys had been outside the clinic when I came with my girlfriend, I could be a Dad now!' It felt like God had spoken directly through him! I assurred him of our continued prayers for him and his girlfriend.  
Another lady, who wanted to pass by on her bicycle stopped and looked at all those on the opposite side of the street praying with their heads bowed. She asked me 'Is this a funeral, can I pass?' It was difficult to know quite how to answer her question honestly. When I explained what we were doing, her eyes filled with tears and she said she had an abortion 18 years ago. Her honesty and her vulnerabilty were humbling. I was able to tell her about Rachael's Vineyard and Our Lady's Good Counsel Network for healing. She thanked me and said she had never really spoken about it. I gave her the prayer cards, a rosary and beautiful words of comfort from Pope JP II to women suffering the wounds of abortion.
These and other amazing and humbling encounters were the result of God working through all the fasting and prayer to reach a confused, wounded and broken society. 
Many seeds were sown, for God to begin working with, even in the most difficult and painful of encounters.
There were more than 316 cities all taking part around the world at the same time. Many more cities have expressed an interest in joining the next Campaign. 
The First UK Campaign began with 350 volunteers and grew to a thousand by the end of the 40 Days. Many came for the first time, from as far as Scotland and Cornwall. All ages from teens to those in their eighties. Some came as groups from different churches, some came as husband and wife teams. Some came for one hour to several hours. Quite a few young people came in the evenings to pray and sing hymns. 
Many of those who came for the first time were very nervous, but so encouraged by seeing God at work during the vigil, that they came back again and again, bringing their friends.
May we encourage you to consider joining us for the next 40 Days Campaign, details are below. There is a great need for this work to grow, and we need more people to join us. Just recently The Society for The Protection of the Unborn Child (SPUC) asked us to join them in an awareness campaign outside Stratford Station, as a new abortion clinic has just opened it's doors a few minutes walk from the station.
Sadly, East London, and our county of Essex in particular, has the highest number of abortions in the UK.
We will be showing a documentary on 'Being Human' in September at St. Augustines Parish, date to be announced shortly in the news letter. Please do join us to learn more about this wonderful work, and please bring someone with you.
"Let us not grow weary of doing good for in due time, we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up"  Gal 6 vrs9
"They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagles wings. They will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint."Isaiah 40 vrs 31
Finally may I quote Father Frank Pavone Head of 'Priests For Life' World wide, who recently said:
" My dear brothers and sisters we must not grow weary in this difficult battle, we must 'Fight the good Fight' and remember we are going FROM VICTORY TO VICTORY!
The Next 40 days for life will begin September 28th in Central London, Bedford Square and/or Whitfield St.
The 40 Days for Life Team
Local Contact
Siobhan Mattimoe
            01245 233567      
            07788 106691      
Do you know someone who has had an abortion? 
Please Tell them   "Do not despair, God in his mercy and love Reaches out to you, offering you His forgiveness"
The Good Counsel Network:  Offers one to one counseling             020 7724 6465      
Rachel's Vineyard: Offer's weekend retreats
Contact Marene             07505 904 656        
 Pope John Paul II's Compassionate Words to those who have had an abortion..........
I would like now to say a special word to women who have had an abortion. The Church is aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision, and she does not doubt that in many cases it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourself over in humility and trust to repentance. The Father of Mercies is ready to give you His forgiveness and His peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. You will come to understand that nothing is definitely lost and you will also be able to ask forgiveness from your child, who is now living in the Lord. With the friendly and expert help and advice of other people, and as a result of your own painful experience, you can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone's right to life. Through your commitment to life, whether by accepting the birth of other children or by welcoming and caring for those most in need of someone to be close to them, you will become promoters of a new way of looking at human life.

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