On the international scene, 42 locations in 13 countries registered and officially conducted a 40 Days for Life campaign.
There has never been so much interest in conducting a campaign. There are already enquiries from 15 different new countries about running a campaign. Colombia and Cameroon conducted their first-ever 40 Days for Life campaign this autumn.
There were reports of 20 babies saved from abortion from England, 14 from Croatia, 12 from Colombia, 2 from Australia and 3 from Nigeria. There are still many more stories emerging and it seems many women who were in a crisis pregnancy were tangibly helped by Christians worldwide.
I travelled to Slovenia, Cameroon, Portugal, Latvia and Romania during this last campaign. I was inspired to meet so many different Christians passionate for life and able to organise a local community effort. It is a great source of inspiration to know that there are so many Christians around the world who are praying for an end to abortion.
Here is just a snapshot of some of the stories from local 40 Days for Life campaigns.
In Adelaide, our local leader Mario Forte who is blind has led an excellent campaign and saw 2 babies saved from abortion. A woman confirmed that during her appointment at the abortion clinic, she decided not to take the RU486 tablet, and has chosen life for her baby. The woman felt that God protected her and her baby that day. She asked for prayers for herself, the baby and the baby?s father.
On 29 October in Adelaide, one of the women going into the abortion clinic was approached by one of the prayer volunteers and she began to change her mind about going through with the abortion. The volunteer brought the woman to the Genesis pregnancy support shop and bought some clothes for the baby. The baby clothes were warmly received by the pregnant woman and she said that she was going to come back to the shop to buy baby clothes for her baby.
During the campaign in Adelaide, a young woman was offered practical help and emotional support to keep her baby. Despite all efforts, she was pressured by her boyfriend and the abortion took place. She was not wanting the abortion, and now her grief is now very real. Her symptoms include nightmares, trouble with sleeping and re-visiting past trauma. She is being supported by the volunteers, who are offering her hope and friendship. Post abortion counselling is being offered through the local pregnancy centre.
In Croatia, 14 lives were spared from abortion: five in Pula, three in Slovonski Brod, one outside Zagreb, two in Vukovar, one in Osijek, one in Rijeka and one in Pozega.
In Rijeka, a woman was told by doctors that her child was sick and she was advised to have an abortion. She told the prayer volunteers she did not know what would have happened if she did not meet people who prayed outside the hospital and it was their prayers that gave her strength all the time.
She said the following, ?As I already said, God did not put you there without reason. Perhaps you were there only this time because of me and my baby. You were major support to me in those terrible moments, and my baby needs most of the prayers now. I do not know how to thank you for all you did. You are giving us the most you can ? prayer. I am grateful to God for having placed you in my life.?
There was another situation in Croatia where a mother was forcing her pregnant daughter for an abortion. Thankfully, the emotions were calmed and there was no need for the police to intervene. Unfortunately there are cases of hospitals performing forced abortions and also attempts at illegal abortion too.
A total of five hospitals have confirmed that the number of abortions have declined during the vigil and prayers (Zagreb, Osijek, Vukovar, Sibenik and Pula). There were 4,000 people who participated in prayers outside the hospitals. There is now a whole class full of children ? 27 that have been spared from abortion in Croatia in total in the last two years. It is an amazing and magnificent feeling to hold a baby in your arms who was supposed to be killed.
Bosnia and Herzegovina will join 40 Days for Life in 2016. The leaders have a vision in Croatia that they, through the help of God will achieve and accomplish the end of the injustice and evil of abortion in their country.
In Manchester, 11 babies were spared from abortion during the campaign. On 14 October, a 23 year old girl burst out crying when she saw the 40 Days for Life vigil. She explained that she already had an eight month old baby. A vigil volunteer said she was there to help and speak with her and gave her an envelope with information. The girl went into the clinic for a scan, and came out deciding that she would not have the abortion.
On 19 October, a mother saw the volunteers praying and the picture of a child. She came out tearfully, got into her car and wound down the window to speak to the volunteers. Having seen the volunteers praying made her realize that she couldn?t go through with killing her baby and said she didn?t know how people could do it.
On 20 October, a 24 year old girl, 10 weeks pregnant with her first child spoke to a volunteer and decided not to go ahead with the abortion. Another moth with a baby of 20 weeks came out of the clinic and paused for a while, looking at the 40 Days for Life placards. She asked one of the prayer volunteers for the ?client envelopes? saying she had been to the clinic before but now thought she would keep the baby. She went for a coffee with one of the volunteers and had a lengthy conversation about her present situation living alone with a child she already had.
At the beginning of the campaign, a senior member of the abortion staff on the way out of the clinic, told the volunteer to ?Remove that box ? it is offensive!? The box had a foetal model of a 5-month-old baby at 18 weeks gestation. An infant passing in a trolley pointed to it saying, ?Baby!?
Later, two 16 year old friends approached the clinic together. One girl was 6 weeks pregnant, the other 10 weeks. Coming out from their appointments, both declared that they were keeping their babies. The delighted pavement counsellor gave each mother a greeting and a gift for their babies. A man praying at the vigil site gave them a lift to the railway station.
On 26 October, a mother and friend approached the clinic. Her friend took the client envelope by the mother refused it. She was very angry. Coming out of the clinic, the mother said she was ?having the baby? and was upset and apologized to the prayer volunteers for her rudeness on the way to the appointment. The volunteers reassured her, hugging her with joy, and gave ?Mum? a gift for her baby after showing her an image the same age as hers. The man with her was not her partner but said that he would help her.
In London, two Americans stopped by one the Marie Stopes centre in London to participate in the 40 Days for Life vigil. Here is what they said,
?The highlight of our three-week trip was when we prayed with the 40 Days for Life campaign in London with a Holy Family sister and two other lay people, we witnessed a save! The woman who changed her mind about having an abortion was crying tears of joy as she embraced Sister Florence right outside the abortion mill in London. From across the street where we had prayed so hard for this woman, we rejoiced in the Lord who made it possible. This was our last full day in England. God saved the best for last?. Indeed. God is so good!?
Maureen in Jos said, ?It wasn?t an easy task but we were able to bring to many people?s attention the evils of abortion. Babies have been aborted due to lack of information and poverty. We were able to convince a couple of ladies who were contemplating abortion to keep their babies. Hopefully, in 2016 the babies will be delivered.?
Kelechi in Abuja Nigeria said, "21 babies have been saved so far through our pro-life efforts in Nigeria. 40 Days for Life has been a great tool that inspires us in Save the Unborn Babies Pro-life Intitiative (the local group) to achieve our goals. There were three babies spared from abortion in one group where the parishioners were becoming more and more pro-life."
According to their mothers, they were involved in relationships in which the men promised to marry them, but when they got pregnant, these men asked them to have abortions saying they were not financially ready for marriage. The ladies refused them because of what they had learnt from the pro-life group in the parish. These men left them to their fate. The mothers told the priest that they have chosen life for their babies because of the pro-life awareness in the church. These young ladies are struggling to support themselves and will need help.
A third mother is not a parishioner by stated that she was afraid that her family would be disappointed if they found out she was pregnant when not married. She ran away from her home in Enugu state after hiding the pregnancy for about eight months, and came to Abuja ? a 7-hour drive. According to her, she needed to stay far away from her family, so that they will not find her and know her situation. The group supported this woman with accommodation, ante-natal support, baby support and reconciliation with her family. Her baby was born safely and mother and son are very well.
In Cape Town, Colette Thomas reports that one of the volunteers came to pray at the 40 Days for Life vigil. She prayed that God would put would put the right person in front of the women who are pregnant, scared and confused, to speak life into their situation.
She went home where the cleaning girl asked if she could ask a question. She asked if she would help to take a pregnancy test of go to a doctor to find out if she is pregnant. Then the prayer earlier came back to mind and it dawned what God was doing. The volunteer had prayed that God would put the right person in front on anyone pregnant and confused, not realising that the woman in my own house was such a person.
She told her that it was scary because it was her first baby, she was scared to tell her mother would likely would freak out. The volunteer said, ?So I told her about when I told my mum, how scared I was because I wasn?t married when I was pregnant with my son. I thought she would freak out too, and although she was disappointed that I hadn?t accomplished as much as she?d wanted me to by that time, she as ok. I said our mothers just want the best for us, but a baby is a blessing, and her mother will come to love that baby like she won?t even believe. I told her we?d keep her in prayer and put a package together for the baby close to the due date.?