Thank you so much, Alan, for your very kind introduction. It’s a real privilege and honour to be with you in Adelaide here today. We’ve had a phenomenal morning. Alan’s took me to the beach straightaway as I arrived here. We went to mass at the Cathedral and by chance had a real privilege to meet the archbishop very briefly after mass. We managed to quickly catch his attention after mass, and afterwards, going to the vigil site afterwards.
As Alan said, I live in London with my new wife and our five-month-old baby Hannah, who now has a new tooth and has just started to eat solids this week. I’m very much looking forward to being back with them in just over a week’s time.
It’s amazing to be with you here this evening and to know that we are united in prayer on the other side of the world. Of course my ancestors in England would have thought otherwise, having known how good the Australians are at sport, maybe they wouldn’t have sent so many convicts over. Perhaps they had such good genes from running from the cops. Perhaps had they known how good you’d be at sport in the 21st century, perhaps they would’ve reconsidered which people they sent over to Australia.
It’s been an incredible year for me. It’s been amazing to see so many 40 Days for Life campaigns in different parts of the world. There’s really three things I’d love to do during this talk this evening. The first of which to just cast the vision of really what 40 Days for Life is and what it is all about, some of the graces and blessings I have seen through this movement.
The second is to give a sense of hope, a sense of vision and mission of what is possible in trusting in God and what he can achieve in and through his faithful volunteers. Margaret Mead, the famous anthropologist, said, “All that is needed to change the world is a small number of committed individuals. Nothing else has ever changed the world, nothing else ever will.” It’s not about quantity of numbers, but the number of committed and passionate people. Clearly Alan, through your wonderful leadership here, and Mario before you, you’ve galvanized many people together. You care passionately about life in Adelaide. I hope to convey a sense of hope of what you might achieve here in Adelaide.
Thirdly, I’d like to tell you about some of the great ways in which God has worked through our campaign in England where we’ve seen the whole journey, the whole journey of pro-life campaigning from beginning starting four years ago, to this very year where we saw the abortion center close. Gandhi, the famous social reformer from India, said, “At first they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. Then they persecute you. Then you win.” I’ve really seen the whole spectrum of that throughout my small pro-life career how God has worked in and through faithful people. That he can do more than you can possibly imagine if you trust in him.
So what is the essence of 40 Days for Life? 40 Days for Life started in Texas. Going back right to ten years ago – it’s a very new movement. In 2004 a group of frustrated individuals got around a wooden table, just four people. They had tried everything in their local community to try to end abortion. Planned Parenthood had started a new abortion center in Bryan/College Station, Texas. They tried everything they could in their local community to see an end to the abortion business and nothing had worked. They came together in one frustrated meeting. What they did, they said why not spend one hour in prayer asking God what we should do, rather than trying to rely on our own efforts, turning to God to see what he could do in and through us.
From that very meeting, the idea of 40 Days came to them, because throughout salvation history God has used that 40 day time period as a sacred amount of time to see amazing transformation throughout history. Noah spent 40 days on the ark. Jesus spent 40 days in the desert fasting from what has now become Lent. He spent 40 days with the disciples after the resurrection. Elijah galvanized strength from one meal over 40 days. Even Moses has the history of 40 days, being around in the desert. God has used that timeframe of 40 days to bring powerful spiritual transformation throughout history.
From that one meeting gained a local movement. They saw abortion figures decline 28% in their local community during that first ever 40 Days for Life campaign, organizing a 24-hour vigil outside Planned Parenthood in Bryan/College Station. That was so successful that people around the United States saw that model as something that really worked. So people began to copy them and say, “Hey, this is something that really works.” So we saw other centers in Wisconsin, Florida, all around the country begin to copy what was happening in Texas.
By 2007 they thought, right, this is clearly something that is working. So David Bereit left his job and took five weeks without any pay whatsoever, feeding a family as well, to launch a national campaign – 40 Days for Life on the national level. The very first campaign they launched, 89 cities signed up for that very first campaign – a real record. They thought maybe if they were lucky 10 or 20 cities would sign up and join them in prayer and fasting.
The three central components. Prayer and Fasting. Recognizing that with prayer we can move mountains. A famous Christian leader once said that the most powerful force in human history is prayer and fasting. That fasting from anything that separates us from God, usually from food, but anything – whether it be television, fasting from anything that can take us away from God. Recognize that through humbling ourselves and looking through what God wants to do in and through us that we can achieve amazing results. In the Gospel it says only some demons can be got rid of by prayer and fasting as well. So that is the central essence of our campaign.
The second part of it is to have a peaceful vigil outside of the abortion center. I can’t think of many more places in society where there is a lack of hope than outside an abortion center. I’ve spent thousands of hours outside of abortion centers praying, offering alternatives to abortion. It’s a place where there is very little hope. The whole point of having a vigil is to show there is a love in the community that can help somebody choose life for that unborn child. St. John of the Cross said, “Where there is no love, place love and you will draw love out.” You can be the hands and feed of Christ in that very place where abortions are happening in the local community. Abortions don’t happen in the Adelaide Parliament. They don’t happen in the schools. They don’t happen in the Law Courts. They happen in the local community. The 40 Days model is to say abortion ends when the local community says that it will end. We’ve seen from the results of 40 Days for Life, that is clearly the case. When local people get together, well-organized, well-committed and passionate, that is when real changes can happen – hearts and minds changes.
This is a movement on the local community level. What I love about this campaign is the local community organizing, getting people on the local level who can bring change. There are many parts of the pro-life movement. The pastoral, the political and the prophetic. This is very much on the grounds of the pastoral angle of abortion.
Some of the fruits and benefits to see of the people who either experienced abortion being led into proven healing programs, women in a crisis pregnancy reaching out to them at a time of need and offering an alternative. I’ve heard beautiful stories in the café today of women who have chosen life at a moment of crisis here in Adelaide who have been tangibly helped in the local community here.
The third part of the campaign is community outreach. Taking a positive and upbeat pro-life message to all parts of the community. We’ve had great fun doing community outreach in London going door-to-door, working with the media. Some of the secular media are not so supportive of our campaign. But reaching out to churches and getting churches involved, realizing there are many people who feel passionately about abortion and yet do not have the means to express it. 40 Days for Life can be that means by which you can galvanize people to get involved with pro-life activities for the first time. Many Christians are against abortion, but they have no way of expressing that in their day-to-day life. Through reaching out to the public with a positive pro-life message, getting people who feel strongly about pro-life issues, enter into the pro-life movement to inaugurate change in society.
So those three campaign components. It’s very simple campaign. Don’t need a rocket science degree to qualify to be the campaign director. It’s a simple campaign. It’s a lot of hard work and it’s a very hard ministry as well. You’ve got a lot of passersby who keep on telling us we’re number one. I’ve never quite worked out what they’re trying to communicate with one finger, but I think that it’s they’re trying to tell us that we’re number one. We’re the best. It’s very kind of them, thank you very much. A lot of people tell you what they think bluntly. It’s either they love you or they hate you, and there’s not much in between. We’ve experienced a great deal of that in London as well.
I’d like to tell you the story of how 40 Days for Life started in London, in the United Kingdom. I spent a year in Canada at a youth ministry when I was 26 years old. I spent a year with National Evangelization Teams putting on retreats for young people around the country. I was a team leader of ten people. We had a minibus and traveled all over Canada. We came to Ottawa, the capital of Canada. Very close outside of the Canadian Parliament is the Mergenthaler Center, an abortion center. I saw about 10-15 mostly elderly people praying outside the abortion center. I was very struck by that vigil. We went there twice. I didn’t think too much of it at that point. When I went back to England, I saw a talk by David Bereit. I was convinced that God wanted me to start the 40 Days for Life campaign in the U.K. Without much money to my name, I chose to go back to London. The very first day back to London I found a job and that gave me the means to be able to conduct the campaign to the best of my ability.
When we were outside the Marie Stopes center in Central London, Marie Stopes is a famous eugenicist who the abortion centers are named after. I believe you might have some Marie Stopes in Australia as well. I’ve certainly seen them all over Africa too. Marie Stopes literally wrote love letters to Adolph Hitler, the famous eugenicist. You couldn’t make that story up. The very first time going there I was really struck, there’s a blue plaque, which it’s mainly noted for famous people to have a blue plaque of where they lived in London. We started our first campaign. I thought it would be a real non-successful. I thought, who’s going to come and pray publicly in this secular city of London? I certainly didn’t think people would get involved.
I also needed to find ingenious ways of getting young people involved. So at our inaugural meeting, I said to the young people there, “Who knows? You might find your future husband or wife praying outside local abortion facility. I know it’s not the most romantic place in the world, but with God, all things are possible.” Sure enough, a few marriages later, God has worked and sure enough on the first day, there were a lot of eager men looking eagerly around the vigil. It was a superb recruiting tool to get lots of young, eligible girls involved in our campaign. It got the youth there in the flock as well. Sure enough, I was to meet my wife through the closing event of our first campaign, where I was encouraged to meet her. I was busy, but still it was nice to meet her for the first time there. Here we are today married for over 15 months with a five-month-old daughter as well.
It was on the second day of our first campaign. A young couple came to Marie Stopes. The boyfriend had two born children with him. Marie Stopes don’t allow born children into their center in Central London. So the boyfriend was left outside with the kids. He went over to talk to the prayer volunteers. Sure enough, after about ten minutes of talking to the volunteers, he rushed into Marie Stopes, got his girlfriend and left, never to come back again. That second day I knew that all the hard work, all the effort was worth it, because one person had chosen life for their unborn child.
Whatever happened from that moment onwards, even if nobody else came and we didn’t have any successes, all the hard work was worth it because that young child’s life that day, something profound happened. That baby’s life was saved. Not only was that baby’s life saved, but that mother’s life was transformed forever. No doubt it might be a difficult decision, but I’ve never met a mother who’s given birth and said actually it wasn’t worth giving birth after all. No doubt that boyfriend’s life will be transformed forever. The larger family will be transformed, as well as other people they meet and generations to come from the decision that young mother made that day.
As that campaign went on, we saw six women choose life for their unborn babies. One of the counselors received a note from somebody she had spoken to that said, “Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am so lucky to have a friend like you.” Another man had gone out of his car, came up to the volunteers who were lined up in a row outside of Marie Stopes, shook each one of them by the hand and said, “Thank you so much for being here. If you weren’t here, my child would not have been born.” So we were already placing hope into a place where there was no hope.
Sure enough, there was a student block opposite of Marie Stopes. Some of the students were very happy to tell us where to go, but the penultimate day of that campaign we had a counter-protest. A total of 55 people came to pray outside of Marie Stopes that day. We’ve received a little bit of intimidation from the students. Some of them had impersonated – pretended to be God, and said, “This is God. Please go away.” All as a result of our presence there.
I heard some students praying inside of the student block that day. Even students had started to pray inside of that building. Our prayer campaign had been contagious. We had galvanized the community. We had presented a sense of hope into central London for pro-lifers of what could be achieved.
Sure enough, as time went by, we organized a second campaign. That was really successful. Let’s keep the momentum going and organize a second campaign in Lent. So we moved to the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, a euphemistically named abortion provider in central London in a large Victorian square called Bedford Square. During that time we got more and more people involved in our campaign. We regularly saw 6-10 women choose life for their unborn babies.
People all around the country started following what we were doing. I never had any intention that would happen. First Cheltenham, then Birmingham, then Manchester, then Brighton, then Milton Keynes, Oxford, Southampton all began to follow us, follow the same model of 40 Days of prayer, recognizing this is a model in which communities can be transformed through prayer and through local activism as well. We heard stories of lives that had been saved in other cities as well.
One young lady was leaving the Brighton BPAS. She was homeless and saw the volunteers there. At first she was so angry she attacked them. After that she started hugging them. She was homeless. She was scheduled for an abortion. One of the volunteers there offered her house for her to live in. The social services wouldn’t provide anything for her because she was pregnant. This woman had eight children already, but she offered a place in her own home for that young woman to live in. She had mental problems, she was homeless, but she gave birth to her baby because of the offer of help that was provided that day.
Likewise in Birmingham we heard other stories of babies’ lives that had been saved. They came to the kickoff rally of future campaigns. The turnarounds came back around to future campaigns and were presented and gave their story of hope.
The real fruit has been seeing three full-time vigils develop in the greater London area as a result of these campaigns. A local pro-life counseling center has started those campaigns. We’ve seen hundreds of women choose life for their babies.
Many people in England say this is such a secular city, should we be organizing a religious campaign? Lots of people don’t believe in God here. Still, God is God in London. It might feel like Nineveh at times, being present praying publically in a secular city.
As our prayer went on in Bedford Square, we began to see more and more opposition towards our campaign. We began to see what was known as kamikaze cyclists. We were on a cycle route. Sure enough, the cyclists would deliberately come along and ram their bicycles. The game was to see if you could hit the 40 Days for Life sign, boxes, or even steal them. The ridicule began to increase to more and more levels. We managed to get the local bishop, Bishop Alan Hopes, to come along to the vigil and pray publicly with us during one of the later campaigns. This, combined with a national media campaign against 40 Days for Life across the national media, we saw 300 pro-abortionists come out that day in protest against 40 Days for Life. I’d never seen anything like it in my life.
A lot of people were really inspired to be there. The ridicule really helped them to grow spiritually in their own personal lives as well. I thought they would all run for the hills, but actually, that was the one way to get more people involved. More than 300 pro-lifers turned up at that vigil to support the Bishop. Actually, we found that the controversy helped to increase not only our presence at the vigil, but it helped to galvanize people to get involved for the first time as well.
One of the abortionists from BPAS, the abortion provider, came out to the vigil. She said, “Your prayers are obviously working, because the girls aren’t keeping their appointments.” Now, when one of the abortionists comes to tell you as an atheist that what you’re doing is working, that to me is the ultimate compliment. Not only that, but the pro-abortion groups started calling themselves “40 Days of Choice.” Imitation is the most sincerest form of flattery. They’re copying what we’re doing. Obviously it is working well. Not only that, one of the webcasts in America, they called it the “40 Days of Choice Webcast.” Their guest was none other than President Obama, who appeared on their webcast. Now, when the President of the United States is copying your campaign and copying what you are doing, that is the ultimate compliment in my view. Originality in the abortion camp is that thin, then that is a sign that you are on to an absolute winner.
After 3,000 hours of prayer outside the BPAS in Bedford Square, BPAS announced that they were no longer going to do abortions in that center. Having seen ridicule from the national media for pro-lifers, from the public, from every angle, to know that we had really touched a nerve, really touched a nerve. This year BPAS announced that they were closing the central London abortion center for no rational reason has been presented ever for their decision for that.
I wrote to the Duke of Bedford, who is the owner of the building, and on the 25th of April of this year, the day after the lease of the abortionist ended, we celebrated mass and a prayer service inside BPAS for the very first time. That, for me, was an incredible moment. We didn’t make a hullabaloo about it deliberately to have a quiet, solemn recognizing those who lost their lives. As I walked around the seven counseling rooms inside BPAS, I really saw a labyrinth of lies. The number of women who had been lied to in that center, it’s just a blob of tissue, they had been lied to. They lost a child of their own through the lies that had been presented to them. We know that evil is finite in the world, that it must have an end. Through the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, the war has already been won. These are merely skirmishes and battles that the bigger picture is that God has already won the battle.
A campaign is a wonderful way to see the spiritual transfer of ownership from a culture of death to a culture of life. We had one volunteer, Yan, a young Polish man. He was a counselor outside of Bedford Square. He would come for 40 hours a week and stand there and reach every single person who went for an abortion there with a leaflet if they would take it to tell them they have hope, there’s an alternative. His witness, his strength, was outstanding. It was snowing some days during the Lenten campaign.
We had another volunteer, Martin. We had a 24 hour vigil outside of the original Marie Stopes. We were doing 12 hours at Bedford Square. Martin never had a mobile phone. We always discern, was he an angel? Was he human? We weren’t really sure. But he would do the all-night vigil outside of Marie Stopes, and then in the morning he would come to Bedford Square and help us fill the hours in the morning for Bedford Square as well before going back home to bed in the afternoon. His witness was way beyond any time of commitment that I gave. We had volunteers like that. This is exactly what this campaign is about. It’s not only about saving lives and inspiring hearts and minds. It’s also about bringing spiritual change to ourselves.
I’ve heard a story about some of the circus trainers. What they do with the elephants. With the elephants, they bring the elephants up from birth. Of course elephants are very strong, and they want them to perform in the circus. So they tie down the elephants with a very strong metal poles into the ground. They help the elephants to believe they don’t have much strength. Of course the elephants could knock over the whole circus tent in one small move if they wanted to. Because the trainers have created that belief in the elephants that the elephant is not strong enough to change, then the elephant will not try to use its full strength. It has been trained from birth to not use its full strength.
For me, this story represented how we as the Church, as pro-lifers, for many years we’ve seen 40 years of legalized abortion in the United Kingdom. We’ve forgotten about the spiritual powers that God has given us. Through prayer we can move mountains. Through fasting we can root out demons. If we have that confidence and belief that the elephant could have in its own strength, then we would be able to achieve the same strength that the elephant is fully capable of. That as pro-lifers, we can totally transform society. But at first, we must have the belief that we are able to do that. If we didn’t believe – I never though personally that we’d ever get a campaign running in the United Kingdom, let alone what is happening with the closure of an abortion center in a highly secularized city. That’s not the only one. We’ve seen over 60 abortion centers close in the United States, including Bryan/College Station where the campaign began in the very beginning, after 15 years of prayer outside.
We’ve seen Sue Thayer, who worked for Planned Parenthood in Storm Lake, Iowa. She was a former manager of the Planned Parenthood clinic there. She had an argument about the tele-med abortions, doing abortions over video conference. She thought that was unprofessional. She quit Planned Parenthood, they sacked her. She organized a 40 Days for Life campaign in her local community. The abortion center closed.
If we believe that we can transform society, we will. But at first, we need to believe that we can do incredible things. That God can work miracles in and through us. That he really can change lives. One life saved, for me personally, that is the miracle. For somebody scheduled for an abortion, seconds away to choose life for their unborn child, that to me is certainly a miracle. I believe that’s a miracle. It’s a change of heart and mind at the last moment.
We heard one story of a girl in London. She jumped over the wall of the abortion center at the last moment – first of all to escape her family who were coercing her into the abortion, but at the last moment she decided to choose life for her baby. Another woman in America, she ran out of the abortion center without her shoes. Shoeless she ran out of the place. She was probably almost putting her feet in the stirrups in the abortion center, she was that close to having the abortion. But God can change hearts and minds at the very last moment.
The whole essence of having a prayer vigil first of all is to show there is a hope in the community that you can choose life for your unborn child. Secondly, to be the first sign of mercy for anybody who has just had an abortion as well. The love and prayers that you give at the vigil, that might be the only sign of love that unborn child who was aborted will ever have in their life.
The Archbishop Chaput from Philadelphia says, “Never underestimate any pro-life act, no matter how small. Never underestimate the importance or impact that you are able to give.” Often as pro-lifers we feel at the vigil nothing is happening. We’re not seeing any turnarounds. We’re not seeing anything tangible happening at this time. It’s easy to feel a sense of frustration or hopelessness in that context. But to know you are united with over 300 cities around the world praying continuously for the 40 days during this time, that your prayers are united with others, you never know how God might use your prayers to bring transformation. Bringing transformation to pro-lifers I think is essential to our movement. Often it’s the pro-lifers that need to change first before we see changes in society as well.
Some of the other blessings we’ve seen in London. Just the other day in West London, in Ealing, there is a Marie Stopes center. We saw 25 women choose life for their babies during the Lenten campaign there for a 24 hour vigil. Almost every single day a woman went to the pro-life counseling center and chose life for her baby. They have, it was a former Christian House of Healing. The building was sold to an abortionist. There is a plaque to St. Michael the Archangel on the side of the building. It was his feast day the other day and the abortion center was closed for that whole day. You never know how God is using the prayers of the people that come to the vigil. He can achieve miracles in and through your witness. Even if you are persecuted, abused, or ridiculed, that’s an opportunity for spiritual growth and a chance to deepen in one’s faith. Pope Francis said, “Even if they ridicule you, if you experience persecution you must always give a witness to life regardless of the circumstances.”
I’m excited to see what’s going to happen next for 40 Days for Life. I’ve only been working in this job two years. From the United Kingdom we’ve seen people inspired in other parts of the world. First of all, we had an internship for somebody from South Africa. She came to the U.K. She’s taken the campaign back to Cape Town. I visited last week. There is now somebody in Johannesburg who wants to start a 40 Days for Life in South Africa at a different venue. She wants to have a national conference to promote the campaign across the country there. We’ve seen somebody from Russia as well take the campaign back to Moscow. I’m really excited to see what God can do in and through those people. We’ve seen four turnarounds from the campaign in Cape Town. I know that with God, all things are possible. As a new movement, there is such potential for the future.
I mentioned in Texas earlier. They’ve introduced many pro-life laws in Texas recently saying that the abortion center must be close to a hospital. They must have admitting privileges at the local hospital. They must be within 40 minutes. The proposed legislation meant that there would be just 7 abortion centers left in Texas. Just two or three years ago there was about 40-50. They’ll be falling like flies in Texas. That for me gives a huge sense of hope. Many pro-lifers in the United States are looking to Texas as the leading state of where we’re seeing a change for the pro-life movement. Although some judges have revoked some of the legislation recently, I am full of hope with what can be achieved.
One day it is going to go down in history as ending abortion, just as Martin Luther King with ending the injustice to the Blacks in North America. Somebody in history is going to go down with being remembered as ending abortion. Is it going to be me? Is it going to be Alan? Is it going to be Mario? Is it going to be one of you here? Somebody will go down in history as being remembered as that person who helped to end abortion. It can be as trivial as refusing to sit down in a bus, or holding a sit-in in a cafeteria, just like the black civil rights movement. Something as trivial can be the catalyst, the spark that gets things going.
Often it’s so easy to feel despondent and frustrated in the pro-life movement when you don’t experience profound change. But if you asked me in 1982, the year I was born, if I – I would be a baby, but if I would ever thing the end of communism was coming, 1989, 1990 saw the end of communism out of nowhere. I remember the day at school when the Berlin Wall came down. That really came from Gorbachev and the reforms that he had and the solidarity movement led by Lech Walesa in Poland. That profound change is possible suddenly and quickly. God can bring amazing changes very quickly, just looking at the story of Guadalupe in Mexico, knowing a whole nation can be converted through the witness of a few individuals, that God can bring profound change. That for me brings a huge sense of hope, knowing that God can change the situation of abortion very, very quickly.
Just to give the context, this is the problem of abortion, as I see it in the United Kingdom. I believe Australia is very, very similar. The abortion is the leading cause of death worldwide. 42 million abortions a year. Young people are being told a lie about sexual freedom, not being warned about the long-term consequences of promiscuity and sin. As a result we have teenage pregnancies at the highest rate in Europe and the U.K. and sexually transmitted diseases at record levels as well. Politicians have taken abortion to be a controversial topic, many failing to speak up on the topic are afraid of what voters might do. Every single political party in favor of abortion in the United Kingdom, maybe a similar situation here in Australia in many states. The churches have remained silent apathetic about abortion, failing to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. In the book of Proverbs we read, “Rescue those being led to the slaughter, and to be a voice for the voiceless.” The unborn are the first group in history that cannot speak, cannot represent themselves. We are to be their advocates. We are there to be the hope. We are there to help communicate for their cause, that they cannot defend themselves. We’ve also seen church leaders fail to speak up for abortion. This is the problem of abortion as it stands.
But the whole essence of 40 Days for Life can really be tracked back to 2 Chronicles 7:14 in the Old Testament. “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, turn from their wicked ways, and seek my face, then I will hear from heaven and heal their land.” God says to us, “If you will humble yourselves, turn from your wicked ways and seek my face, my people, then I will hear from heaven. I will answer their prayers and heal their land as well.” I believe that passage in the Old Testament is very much alive today. We’ve seen that happen in the United Kingdom. Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more. So where bad things are happening, all the more opportunity to do good. Abortions are record numbers in a particular state – even greater opportunity to do good.
Just yesterday I was in Melbourne, outside of the local abortion center. Christians have been campaigning there for 22 years outside that center. I saw a young Asian couple, the mother was walking outside the abortion center. She could barely walk. I’ve never seen anything like it in four years in being involved in the local level. She had blood covering her trousers from the abortion. I’ve never seen that ever before in my life. She was perfectly pleasant. She spoke to one of the vigil participants, was very pleasant and nice. But as she walked wounded away, know every time somebody is going for an abortion that we are able to be that hope – either that sign of mercy or that sign of hope. God can work in and through us.
If those are the problems of abortion, here we have the solution. The solution to pray to God, to ask the way that He wants to end abortion. Not to come up with our own plans of, ‘Hey, I know, let’s try this.’ But here are some of the ways I have seen God act in the last four years of how He wants to end abortion. First of all, to see post-abortive men and women into proven healing programs – Rachel’s Vineyard, a number of church programs – to receive the healing mercy and reconciliation with God following an abortion. That they come to a full sense of forgiveness not only for themselves for what has happened, but a sense of returning to community with God following an abortion. A deacon in London says that the graces he has seen through being involved in post-abortion ministry are greater than any other area of Christian ministry he has personally witnessed. That the transformation of women and men who have been through healing programs it has transformed their lives, that they have come from condemning themselves to forgiving themselves and experiencing the grace and healing of God.
Spiritual growth of the vigil participants and of anyone getting involved in pro-life work. If we all grow spiritually over this 40 days, how much more accomplish will we be able to achieve what God wants to do in and through us if we are much closer to him we can be more attentive to what He wants us to do with our lives.
We have seen lives saved from abortion. Now 9,000 lives saved from abortion. We are only starting this movement. It’s less than 10 years old. We’ve seen nearly a small town of children saved from abortion from the simple witness of Christians. There will be many more as time goes on.
We’ve seen the abortion centers close from abortion. People say, ‘That’s never going to happen in London.’ It already did. It’s something that can happen here in Adelaide as well.
We’ve also seen 101 abortion workers leave their jobs and have conversions as well, the most famous of which was Abby Johnson, whom I believe has spoken here. She wrote the book UnPlanned. She was Planned Parenthood Employee of the Year. She witnessed abortion, and she knew there was one place in the community where she could turn to – the loving faithful witness of Christians in her local community, because she knew that they would accept her and love her for who she was. That is why she turned to them. As a result, she has now started her own ministry And Then There Were None. She’s reached out to 130 people in her circumstances of being in the abortion industry and wanting to leave. God can work through the hearts and minds of individuals.
Somebody once asked Mother Theresa, “What are you going to do, end poverty? How on earth are you going to do?” She was critically asked by journalists one day. Her response was, “One by one.” She knew that her work was a little drop in the ocean, but it was still a drop and it was still a profound difference to ending it. She started over 828 religious houses all over the world. Our passion can be contagious around the world if we really care and believe in what we are doing.
We’ve also seen dynamic leaders develop. Building up dynamic leaders to help the future of pro-life efforts. I think the pro-life movement can be seen similar to the Old Testament with Moses in the desert for 40 years we’ve looked for alternatives in the U.S.A. and the U.K. We’ve been on the wilderness. We’ve been on the periphery of society. At some point we’re going to come back to the Promised Land, but we must trust in God, receive the manna that God wants to feed us first before coming back into mainstream society and influencing society.
I don’t know when abortion will end. But I still believe that there’s so much good that it’s possible to be done. With so many abortions happening, it’s easy to hold up our hands in despair and wonder what good can possibly be done. But I see it as an opportunity in which we can do amazing work. I see today through the café nearby and plans to start a Genesis center there is a hope building in this local community that God can work powerfully in and through. That can be the seed, the beginning and start of profound change in society. There’s amazing work that you can do in Adelaide. I’m so excited to be here and to be right across the other side of the world, but knowing there are so many similarities between Adelaide, America and the U.K. and the rest of the world. It’s such a similar society too.
Here are some other signs of hope in the pro-life movement as well. A movement called Online for Life has started in the United States, helping to reach out to women who look to the internet before considering abortion. Helps to reach out to them. They’ve seen over 2,000 lives saved as a result of their apostolate on the web. Many people search abortion in the local area and they’ve worked out how to reach people, offering powerful alternatives. They have an app with prayers. It seems to be working out success at the moment as well.
We’ve also seen the Sidewalk Advocates for Life which has essentially grown out of 40 Days for Life. Lauren Muzyka, former employee of 40 Days for Life, felt the call to start a national movement in the States of having pavement counselors. We’ve seen great success through having pavement counselors in London, reaching out to hundreds of women. It’s a prime opportunity. Hundreds of women going for abortion to each center, to offer that hope and alternative to abortion. They started just last year and are seeing great successes at the moment as well.
We’ve also seen Abby Johnson’s And Then There Were None start. In other states in America we’re beginning to see a change that some states will begin to be abortion-free, that there won’t be an abortion provider in many local states in America. We saw an overturning in the Supreme Court of the decision in Boston, getting rid of the Bubble Zone imposed in the local states in Boston.
There are signs of hope that I believe profound change is possible. Through building up the hope of pro-lifers, that change, if we believe we can build miracles and change society, then those things will happen as well.
So what’s my vision for ending abortion in society? For me, it’s the local community. Galvanizing the local community with the talents and abilities I believe God has given the church the resources, the talent and the ability to end abortion. If we can combine forces, build up coalitions with other churches, work together as Christians, if we used all the talent and ability that God gave us to use in ministry to bring change, I believe that we can end abortion in the local community. That we can build up a society and a culture where no more children die from abortion, and no more women will cry from the wounds of abortion. It seems like a far throw from where we are today, but I believe that is truly possible through organizing on the local level.
If you look at the history of social reform, William Wilberforce, it took him 40 years to end slavery in the United Kingdom. If you’ve seen the film Saving Grace, he used to take people to go and see the slavery ships for themselves. He toured the country with Thomas Clarkson, went all around the country telling people about the horrors of slavery showing them diagrams and pictures of what slavery was like. Last week I was in Africa. I saw the very place in Ghana where some of my predecessors had taken African slaves to import them into other parts of the world. Through the work of Wilberforce, he was able to transform society. It took him 40 years to do it. But through his hard work and activism and mission, he managed to end slavery in his lifetime.
I’ve mentioned Martin Luther King and Gandhi, even Sophie Scholl during the Nazi era as well, her witness, even though it led to her own martyrdom, through our own witness that we can give life to others.
I want to congratulate Alan, Mario, and all the faithful volunteers for what you have done for the local community. I know that you have seen lives saved here in the local community. You have seen hearts and minds impacted.
My final request to you is to pray to God and ask Him how he wants to change your local community. Through your prayers, ask Him, rather than relying on our own efforts, the whole point is to pray to Him that He will reveal to you your unique call and mission and what you can do. A local teacher came to our campaign in London. He prayed at the vigil. After that time he realized, I can take this pro-life message back to my school. He told all the people in his school his very strong pro-life message. That is what God wanted Him to do to help end abortion. Each of us has our own vocation. Pray to God and ask Him to show you what you can do to end abortion, and He will answer your prayer and reveal to you what you can do.
Thank you very, very much indeed for having me. It’s been a real privilege and honour to be here.