I heard David Bereit (appropriately pronounced “Be Right”) speak at the NH Right to Life Banquet in 2012. He riveted the audience’s attention as he told how he and three others launched the first 40 Days for Life campaign in Bryan/College Station, Texas in 2004. The idea for the campaign came after acknowledging the futility of their efforts to fight against abortion and deciding to set aside an hour to intensely pray and ask the Lord for direction. It was during that hour that the idea came to spend 40 days in prayer and fasting with a nonstop peaceful vigil outside the abortion clinic that would include educational outreach to the local community. Although more than 100 babies’ lives were spared during that first Texas campaign, David and his friends had no idea what a mighty tree was about to sprout from the small seed they had planted!
At first a few nearby towns began to use the 40 Days for Life model. As the success of these campaigns became more widely known, more and more cities became involved. Now ten years later there are 559 cities in all 50 states of the United States participating at 3,336 vigil sites in the September 24- November 2, 2014 campaign. Pro-life people in 26 other countries have likewise begun 40 Days for Life campaigns.
During the ten years since 40 Days for Life began there have been 9,012 babies saved from abortion, 101 abortion workers have been converted, 57 abortion facilities have closed, and more than 625,000 people of all denominations have joined together to pray for an end to the very worst form of child abuse—abortion!
In the Book of Exodus we read how God saved a whole nation from slavery because one infant boy sentenced to be killed by the Pharaoh’s evil law was rescued from death through the wisdom of his mother. It may be that our whole nation will be saved from the slavery to sin to which abortion has reduced us by the decision of another mother who not so long ago decided to rescue her son from death.
You see, David Bereit told us about another David, a friend of his, who came to his house for dinner one night several months before the first 40 Days for Life campaign. This David said to David Bereit, “If we really believed that babies were being killed in that abortion clinic we would be there praying day and night.”
This thought was on David Bereit’s mind on the night they prayed for the Lord’s guidance. After their plans were made, David Bereit called his friend David and said, “Well, we decided to have a prayer vigil outside the abortion clinic for 40 days and nights nonstop. What is going to be your prayer commitment?” The other David replied, “Put me down for every night from 11:00 pm to 7:00 am.” This David, despite being a family man and working full time, faithfully kept this prayer commitment.
Later on David Bereit asked his friend why he had prayed so many hours. He said that when his father was dying he used to go to visit him every day. The father would always begin their visit by saying, “Let’s pray a Rosary for an end to abortion.” Finally one day the son said, “Why do we always have to pray a Rosary for this intention?” The father said, “When I was a teenager I got a girl pregnant and I told her that she would have to abort the baby. I set up an appointment for her at the abortion clinic and I waited for her to come. She never came. I was very angry that she had stood me up. Now I am dying and you are the only one who comes to visit me. What would I have done if your mother had kept that appointment and aborted you?”
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