(Photo from Father Lawrence Lew, O.P. - God’s Excessive Love - Used With Permission)
" “The trouble with the world is me.” - St Catherine of Siena

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Revisiting "Your Presence Makes A Difference"

My wife, I and four strangers spent an hour outside the local Planned Parenthood (PP) center one fall morning in 2010, witnessing to and praying for all those entering that building - staff and client alike. That had been only the fourth time over the past two years that we had participated in the Forty Days for Life prayer vigil in front of this place of deception and death.

The majority of the cars entering the facility’s driveway while we were there sped up immediately when they saw the signs and leaflets we carried and the rosaries in our hands.   Most avoided having any eye contact with us, perhaps in a last ditch effort to prevent their consciences from awakening them to the horror of what they were about to do. It was like we were lepers.

We continued to pray. We sang softly and sometimes off key.  We listened to God’s Word.  We encouraged each other and prayed that these women, their escorts and the facility’s staff would know that we were there out of love for them and as instruments of a loving and merciful Lord.  We trusted God would use our presence to make a difference in someone’s life that day.

We also watched as cars pulled out, driver and passengers again refusing for the most part to glance at us, anxious to get away from this place – that is with the exception of an obviously distraught young woman in the front passenger seat of a jeep. She used a crumpled tissue to capture the slow trickle of tears flowing from her eyes, receiving no apparent comfort or solace from her male companion.

She turned and looked right at me.  I was drawn to her watery eyes and immediately saw in them the anguish and pain I suspect I would have seen in the eyes of my crucified and suffering Lord had I been at the foot of His cross.  Silently and earnestly I starred deeply into her eyes, hoping that God would allow her to see in us, even now, the image of her forgiving, healing, loving and merciful Lord and His desire to give her new life.
We have been back on a number of occasions since that fall day in 2010. We’ve stood outside in rain and snow as well as in the bright sunshine - always praying to be conduits of God’s hope and love. We have had the joy of seeing women respond to the sidewalk counselors and choose life. We have cried as one of our leaders in tearful prayerful anguish gave a name to the baby one woman had just chosen to abort. Oh, how painfully close she came to saving that life!

We’ve been called morons, idiots, women haters and less publishable things. We have been thanked by those passing by for being there and cursed by others. We’ve watched in utter disbelief and pain as Dads or boyfriends brought their young children with them as their mother entered to abort a sibling they will never see or know. We have watched correctional officers escort a handcuffed pregnant inmate from the County jail for an abortion – our tax dollars at work.

We’ve been blessed to have a woman with young children pass by our prayerful line, thank us for being there, and tell us how the people in that building had twice tried to convince her to abort the two children by her side. It’s amazing how many individuals simply walking past this facility would either thank us for being there or stop and share words of encouragement and support. Their supportive gesture is in stark contrast to those shouting vile words at us from passing vehicles as they prominently thrust their middle fingers into the air.

Things have changed since our first visit to this place. For one thing, this facility formerly displayed a banner that pictured a female toddler covering her face with two open hands next to these insane words: “If you do not defend her freedom, she’ll never know she lost it". Talk about “fuzzy” thinking – killing those whose freedom you claim to be defending!

The sidewalk counselors are more numerous and increasingly more effective in their work of love. This PP facility has recognized their success and now employs “escorts” in an attempt to thwart the counselors’ effectiveness.

For the first time since Forty Days for Life has had a prayerful presence at this abortion clinic, PP has resorted to calling the police in an unconstitutional attempt to limit these same counselors from talking to women as they arrive. How surprised they must have been when we sought legal counsel and had our right to do so upheld.

But one thing has not changed – not enough of God’s people are coming to pray and give witness to His love. Where are you?

God is using us. We are having a positive impact. Women are choosing life and this particular facility may be losing money.  Other clinics have actually closed. Come. Pray. Your presence makes a difference.   

Be the eyes of Christ.

(This a revised and updated version of a previous post.)

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