Leaders of two 40 Days for Life efforts in New Zealand have been comparing notes on the campaign that recently ended. While numbers alone don’t tell the whole story, they do suggest that this prayerful mission continues to flourish.
During the 40-day prayer vigil, some 300 volunteers offered more than 2,400 hours of prayer in front of Wellington Hospital in Wellington and the AMAC abortion facility in Auckland.
“40 Days for Life was a positive experience by everyone I have spoken to,” said Clare McClean, the local coordinator in Wellington. “The interactions on the street have been longer and, we hope, more fruitful.”
“As with any spiritual work,” added Michael Loretz, the coordinator in Auckland, “the results of the efforts and prayers of many people who prayed and fasted for an end to abortion and the seeds of faith sown into the hearts and minds of those who saw and engaged with us may never be fully known. We are confident, however, in the superabundant mercy of God, and are grateful for the outcomes we have seen in this vigil.
Each campaign has stories from the street that explain the impact of this peaceful, public witness to the sanctity of human life.
“One thing that has really become clear to me during these 40 Days for Life has been the extent to which this is really a spiritual battle,” said BK, an Auckland volunteer.
“While it is easy to find our attention drawn to the loud and vulgar taunts of the demons that very definitely reside around the vicinity,” BK said, “it has also been amazing to see the quiet, humble yet powerful work of the Holy Spirit going ahead of us in ways we would never have expected!
There was occasional opposition to the vigils — but often, that presented an opportunity to show the protesters what 40 Days for Life is all about.
Early on in the campaign, a girl arrived at the Wellington vigil with a sign reading “My body, my choice.”
She tried to block the 40 Days for Life signs with her own. She stayed for a long time in earshot and was able to hear (and hopefully soak in!) the prayers of the vigil participants.
Sister M explained that she felt great love for her. Passersby were congratulating the young woman on her bravery — and Sister M felt yes, she was brave to be doing what she was doing.
So when it was time for her to go, Sister M went up to her and said, “I just want to congratulate you on your courage. It takes a lot to come and sit here by yourself.”
She then said that God loves her … and she put her hand on the young woman’s shoulders and said, “and we love you too.”
Sister M said she felt the girl’s face instantly soften. One of the prayer volunteers even thought she saw a tear in the corner of her eye.
“On two consecutive days I met women who had had an abortion experience,” said CM, one of the Wellington volunteers. “One had passed us often and I wondered what was happening for her. She looked pensive and slightly pained. However on this particular day she stopped to tell us how she had been forced to have an abortion at the age of 14.”
She said, “It comes back to you in your twenties with nightmares.”
She looked at the sign “Pray to end abortion” and said, “I agree, it isn’t good.”
The next day, another woman saw the sign “Pregnant…come and talk to us.” She explained her story from twenty-five years ago and wanted to know what sort of help could have been given in her situation.
“We talked for a while about various scenarios and sometimes how they change as the pregnancy progresses,” CM said. “She is still in some denial about it all but it was a beginning and we can pray a step towards more fully acknowledging the abortion and humanity of her child.”
Often those who pray for during the 40 Days for Life vigil in Auckland do so in the scorching heat of the day, needing sunblock or shade to protect from sunburn.
However, a candlelight vigil offered the complete opposite, as an outpouring of heavens welcomed the event.
“When we began to pray the divine mercy the physical rain gave way to the grace of God, pouring out his blessings on us,” said MG, one of the volunteers.
“About one hundred people showed up for the vigil despite the rain and we all crowded onto a small section of footpath outside the abortion clinic,” MG recalled.
“It was humbling to arrive and see so many people dedicated to praying for the unborn child, their parents and those in the abortion industry,” MG added. “This display of candles was surely a witness to the prayers that were being offered, but hopefully even more Jesus who is the only light for our broken world.”
“The extent of the good that God chooses to draw out of our efforts may never be seen, but promises to be superabundant,” said BK, the Auckland volunteer. “This is our victory — not won by us but by Christ on the Cross and by the Holy Spirit acting in the hearts of all.”