Have you ever wondered if our presence outside PP actually makes a difference?
If you're like me, I'm sure every now and then you'll have doubts if standing and praying for hours on end is really doing any good. Or you might get discouraged by the anger and obscenities thrown in your direction from drivers passing by.
I'm sure each of you have had those days of weariness when you just want to 'throw in the towel' and go back to the comforts of life before 40 Days for Life. :-)
But, I've learned those times of human weakness are when our almighty and loving Father sure likes to show up and make His power perfect in us. (2 Corinthians 12:9) That's when He likes to strengthen us by His grace and do something so amazing and miraculous in and through us that we never thought or imagined could even occur!
Well, here are just two more amazing testimonies of God's faithfulness to transform lives. The past few days we've witnessed two hearts drastically change since the start of 40 Days for Life.
One of these precious people I met on the first week of 40 Days for Life. It happened to be a time when I was out by myself on the main sidewalk, and as I stood holding my umbrella and praying, I noticed an older lady heading my way on the crosswalk. I smiled at her and made room for her to pass by.
As she got near she immediately started to voice her opinion and her belief that pro-lifers really are "pro-death". In her own words she said that "pro-life people only care about babies before they are born and could simply care less about people outside the womb." I simply listened to her with the best that I could come up with for a smile, and although she didn't give me time to respond I gently said, "Ma'm that's not true. I love people of all ages."
She didn't stay for long. I had mixed emotions towards her. On the one hand I felt compassion for her, wondering what her life must have been like to produce so much anger. But, on the other hand I struggled to pray for her. Honestly, I was taken aback by the way she had confronted me and although I knew I needed to love her and pray for her - getting that logic from my head to my heart did not come easy!
With each new day I was out there I would see her walk by. It seemed every day she would take a walk down the sidewalk. But she would always be careful to cross the street or circle back behind PP and take the back alley to avoid walking by us.
Every time I saw her, at least for the first few days, I would have this inward struggle in my mind. I didn't want to love her or pray for her. I dreaded seeing her cross the street and head our way. I was happy to point her out to my mom identifying her as the "pro-death" lady. My heart was not right towards her in the slightest.
I finally had this thought come to mind - that I had once been in her shoes. That I had rejected One who loved me and that I was wholly unworthy of any His love and mercy. I was reminded that even when I have been unlovable, Jesus's love is never ending and is poured out on me unreservedly. I was convicted about my cynical heart, and asked the Lord to give me a heart of love and compassion for her - the same love He gives to me.
Eventually, I started to see her differently. I realized that she probably had a very difficult life especially without the hope of Christ. Every day I would smile and hope she would look in my direction or come back so I could talk to her. And every time I would pray for her; that she would have a change of heart and that she would see Christ's love in us on the street. I prayed He would draw her to Himself and ultimately save her soul.
Well, it had been about 29 days when my brother Kyle, myself and one other sweet lady were out praying on Thursday afternoon (3/30). I was a little tired so made myself comfortable sitting on the wooden planter box on the Yew. St. sidewalk. I looked up once and happened to see her across the street. I watched her as she crossed over and walked nearby me and down the alley behind PP. Nothing out of the ordinary.
A little while later she came back - this time walking right by my brother Kyle on Main st. She stopped and said a few words to him, turned the corner and said a few words to the other lady, and then came walking towards me. My first thought was, "Lord help me love her and give me the words to say!" As she came close I smiled and said a warm hello. She smiled right back and said, "hello sweetheart!" and continued to walk past me.
"Whoa!" I thought. " What in the world happened to her!??"
As she walked by I wished her a good rest of her day, and she did the same and even said, "Stay warm!"
I was totally surprised, and walked over to my brother and the other lady to ask what she had said to them.
Kyle said she had very nicely thanked him for being out there, saying that she was praying and that her daughter worked inside PP. And our other sweet prayer warrior said that as she passed, she almost ran into her (she had been looking down, praying and walking down the sidewalk) But, as the older lady passed she kindly said something like, "Oh you're fine sweetie, no problem!"
Wow! Either she's bipolar...or God is softening her heart! I can't help but think that as she's seen our commitment and our peacefulness every day she passes by us, it's changed her view of pro-life advocates. I KNOW our prayers for her have not been in vain, and I hope and pray she will come to know the Lord as her savior and experience the abundant life found in Him alone.
I was so encouraged by that! I had had a rough morning that day, and honestly had felt quite discouraged and weary. I had prayed that the Lord would encourage me in some small way as I sat there. And as He's so faithfully done in so many ways and to so many of ya'll, He answered my prayer right away. It's so amazing looking back now... thinking that He sent her of all people! The very lady who had been so hard for me to love and have compassion for. He sent her to encourage my heart that day. Wow, God is so good!
Please keep praying for her salvation. It sure would be neat if God allowed another divine appointment where one of us could share the good news and love of Christ with her!
Ok, testimony number two! This one started that same morning of Thursday (3/30). Valerie and Victoria had gone out to PP to cover several hours that morning. They were about an hour and a half into their time when a man walked across the street and headed their direction.
He stopped at them and immediately began shouting and cursing at them. This was by far the worst confrontation any of us had ever had since he probably used about every foul word there is in the English language (My sister Valerie said later that she didn't really know what most of what he said even meant, so I guess in one way that was good.)
Valerie tried to reply now and then but he didn't seem to want any discussion. So my sisters both just stood and took it. They demonstrated their kindness and Christ-likeness to him with gentleness. Just like Peter encourages us; when we are reviled, we do not revile in return. When we are persecuted we endure it with patience. We are to follow Jesus's example. They were living their faith that morning, as difficult as it was.
Afterwards, Victoria called home in tears to tell us about what happened. Poor thing was so shaken-up and bothered! Valerie was also shaken, but amazingly managed to hold herself together. They told me later that as soon as he left they prayed for Him. Wow.
Well, about an hour later he came back. This time Rich and Janet were there praying too. He stopped at them and behaved just like he had with my sisters. Rich handled himself SO well and eventually was able to ask the man to give him a few minutes to answer his questions and assumptions. The man listened - but only for a little while. Rich was able to share some truth with him and mentioned that our family had adopted several children. The man eventually left - still in a bit of a huff.
(Thanks so much Rich and Janet!)
Well, last Sunday (4/2) my whole family including the kids, plus two friends, went out to PP for a little while. After an hour or so, Valerie comes running around the corner announcing that the man was walking towards them on the opposite sidewalk.
Sure enough, the same man came up to us, walked right past Kyle, Abe and Dad... and stopped at Valerie.
He immediately said he came to apologize for his words and behavior and that he had been so wrong to speak to them like he had. He asked for forgiveness.
Oh my! I could see it in Valerie's body language that this came as quite a surprise. I was almost brought to tears as I saw her graciously forgive him and smile.
He went on to say that he was having a hard day, and that he also was saddened and upset by his daughter who was in an abusive relationship with her boyfriend.
He also said that he didn't fully agree with us, and that he thought abortion should be allowed for certain hard cases. My dad asked him to clarify what he meant, and listened to him as he mentioned incest for one. Dad then kindly offered him a card with more info, and briefly said that from the very words of women who have been sexually abused, abortion only makes it SO much worse.
As my dad was sharing this the man was actually listening and was open to discussing it. His mind even seemed to change as he agreed that adding the death of the baby to the emotional trauma of sexual abuse would be devastating and pile insult upon injury.
Dad eventually asked for the man's name and the name of his daughter. We all introduced ourselves, and he even asked about the kids we had adopted since he remembered Rich's words. We pointed the kids out to him since they were there with us that day.
Dad eventually asked if he could pray for his daughter right then, and the man said that would be great! So we gathered around him and prayed together.
As the man left we all thanked him so much for coming out and talking more with us. He thanked us too and gave side hugs and hand-shakes as he walked away.
Who would have thought that only a few short days after Valerie and Victoria's experience, that we would be praying with that same man and have a such a peaceful and kind interaction with him!? Praise the Lord!
Such a transformation seems almost too good to be true. But, taking these interactions from face value, it sure is amazing seeing such a change!
Thank you all SO much for your prayers - they are powerful!
"Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as LORD in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ, will be put to shame.. For Christ also died for sins, once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God..."
(1 Peter 3:13-18 NASB)