Paul Hanrahan looks back in amazement at the first 40 Days for Life campaign he helped coordinate in Sydney, Australia several years ago. ?It seemed that year that anything that could go wrong DID go wrong,? he said.

There had been a 40 Days for Life vigil in Sydney before, but the team that had run that event was not available the following year. So Paul jumped in with a skeleton crew, and he estimates he alone spent 240 hours on the street during that campaign ? all the while trying to maintain his job as director of Family Life International in Australia.

So he did the only logical thing he could think of when faced with that big a challenge. He prayed ? telling God that if He wanted Paul to run 40 Days for Life, then the Lord would have to provide a way for him to handle his other responsibilities.

?When I look back to that campaign, I recognize many blessings, including several turnarounds, and many positive contacts with people who were just going past,? he said. ?It was amazing what we were able to achieve that year.?

The campaign also helped identify quite a number of new volunteers ? ?people who didn?t know about any pro-life activities until they heard about 40 Days for Life.?

Many of the others who?ve led 40 Days for Life vigils tell of similar ?Holy Spirit moments? ? the realization that running a 40-day campaign of prayer and fasting, constant vigil and community outreach is a God-sized job that a regular human being cannot handle without His help.

spring2015columbia-mo1?We started out just like many did,? said Kathy Forck, who?s helped lead a dozen 40 Days for Life campaigns in Columbia, Missouri. ?All we knew was ? we had to pray. There was no need to worry, because God does it all.?

Prior to that first campaign in Columbia, Kathy spoke to about one thousand people at churches every weekend. Only five to ten people at each church signed up at first, but those volunteers helped build a foundation that continued to grow over the years.

Kathy is quick to note the intense spiritual warfare that sweeps over the sidewalks outside the abortion center ? but she has also seen God overcome it. ?Planned Parenthood doesn?t want you there. The evil one doesn?t want you there,? she said. ?But God wants you there ? make Planned Parenthood?s sidewalk GOD?S sidewalk!?

In Columbia, the prayerful approach made a difference. Kathy said it got to the point where one-third of Planned Parenthood?s abortion appointments were canceled as more and more mothers chose life for their babies. ?We have actually held babies who were scheduled for abortions at Planned Parenthood,? she said.

The business also could not keep an abortionist. Seven were hired as contract employees ? and all seven quit ? including one who stayed on the job for just one day. Planned Parenthood went for months at a time with no abortions at all.

In the summer of 2012, all abortions ceased. ?They lost their license,? Kathy said. ?There were no abortions!? Abortions later resumed, so the Columbia vigils continued.

fall2014philadelphia1Just as it was with Paul in Sydney and Kathy in Columbia, taking on 40 Days for Life leadership was quite a leap of faith for Monique Ruberu of Philadelphia. ?Never in a million years did I expect that I would be co-chairing a 40 Days for Life vigil!?

Monique?s interest in babies is both personal and professional. She is the mother of three small children ? and a physician ? an ob/gyn, in fact. A 40 Days for Life campaign may seem like the last thing someone with an already full life would want to jump into ? but here, too, the answer was found in prayer. ?My advice to you is leave it in God?s hands,? she said.

The Philadelphia vigil takes place outside a Planned Parenthood center that once did 5,800 abortions annually. Following the second 40 Days for Life vigil there, the yearly count has dropped to around 5,100. ?And I really attribute it to the prayerful presence of 40 Days for Life,? Monique said.

She ? and most local leaders, quite honestly ? constantly worried about being able to fill a non-stop, 40-day prayer vigil. But, she said, ?if God wants your vigil to be filled, I guarantee you He will fill it.?

Blizzards, unrelated street demonstrations and other happenings created concerns about maintaining the vigil through winter weather. But prayer overcame all the distractions. ?God moved people?s hearts and our hours were filled,? she said. ?It really did change hearts.? And the volunteers all want to come back and do it again.

For people who are seriously discerning whether they could be the ones to bring 40 Days for Life to their communities, ?I would really like to encourage all of you to take that step,? Monique advised. ?It will change your life for the best.?

cleveland1epJohn Noall of Cleveland would agree with that. John has been part of the local 40 Days for Life leadership for several years. Cleveland volunteers pray outside an abortion center called Preterm, which advertises that ?we want women to leave here feeling empowered and affirmed ? it?s your body, your choice.?

But John and the other volunteers on the sidewalk outside see the reality instead of the rhetoric.

This single location performs 25 percent of all the abortions in Ohio. ?We understood the importance of publicly praying and witnessing to the sanctity of life at the very facility where life is destroyed,? he said.

Putting together a vigil is a process of overcoming challenges ? and that includes the small but important requirements that most people don?t think about, such as securing parking places and restroom facilities for volunteers.

But John has found that ?every challenge is an opportunity to pray and allow God to direct you, open doors for you, and work through you to overcome them.?

All that prayer and persistence has enabled the Cleveland volunteers to see God at work. Some 89 mothers have chosen life for their children ? and another local abortion center shut down after 40 Days for Life vigils were held outside its doors.

?If you are considering leading a 40 Days for Life campaign in your community,? John said, ?this will be one of the most rewarding and blessed decisions you will make. If you are willing to work, God will bless your efforts. The Lord leads 40 Days for Life. Trust in Him. He is faithful. And then you will see the marvelous works that He will accomplish through you.?

Or as Paul Hanrahan succinctly put it while reflecting on the many blessings he?s seen while leading 40 Days for Life vigils in Sydney, ?Don?t doubt God!?



With 40 Days for Life, David wears many hats. Prior to joining the 40 Days for Life team, he was an award-winning radio and TV journalist. He has also served as a board member for a pregnancy help center and as publications director for a major national pro-life organization.