I’m happy to pass to you this message from Sheila of the Manchester, New Hampshire 40 Days for Life campaign. While this particular observance is addressed to Catholic participants, all 40DFL activities are as always open to all who share the 40DFL mission: bringing together the body of Christ in a spirit of unity during a focused 40-day campaign of prayer, fasting, and peaceful activism, with the purpose of repentance, to seek God’s favor to turn hearts and minds from a culture of death to a culture of life, thus bringing an end to abortion.
As you know, this is the 100 year anniversary of Our Lady’s apparitions at Fatima. The 13th of each month is a special day to honor her under her title “Our Lady of Fatima.”
If you are familiar with the messages of Fatima, you know they are especially relevant today and most significant in terms of the evil of abortion and bringing the most effective spiritual weapons to bear against the onslaught of Satan.
There are still vigil slots open for October 13th at Planned Parenthood in Manchester. I’d like to make this a day that we have total coverage, and I’d like to hold a special rosary and have the Our Lady of Fatima statue present.
Please let me know as soon as possible if you can come on the 13th, and if so, at what time.
Matt Mayberry is a familiar face to anyone who’s been active in New Hampshire Republican politics in recent years. What you might not know is that Matt is a military veteran. Like too many vets, he has faced depression and the temptation to suicide. He is calling on his fellow Granite Staters to join him on May 7 for a statewide prayer effort dedicated to suicide prevention.
He’s looking for 100 churches and 20,000 people to participate. I think we can get there. Having lost my sister to suicide, I understand the need for what Matt proposes, which is just another way of calling on God to help us value and respect life.
Matt visited the recent Culture of Life conference in Rochester to share some information about the project. He handed out a letter describing his goal. It was written for pastors, but it really speaks to all of us. Here is his letter in full. Thank you for reading and sharing it.
Dear Friends in Faith:
Recently I have been trying to find a way to help others like myself: a veteran who suffered from depression and considered suicide. I spoke about my personal struggles with mental illness in a few very public forums (a political convention and an interview with the Union Leader). I fundamentally believe that if we talk about mental illness, even a little bit, it may help one person who is suffering feel a little relief.
I rely daily on God helping me through my struggles and challenges in life. I, like you, understand and value the power of prayer. From my days of working for the White House to organizing large scale events here in NH, I wanted to create an event that would galvanize the religious community for a one day, one moment event and I hope to solicit your help. I don’t want your money. I do, however, ask to be included on your prayer list.
On Sunday May 7th I am organizing a state wide Prayers for Suicide Prevention-NH. I am respectfully asking that on this day you ask your congregation to say a prayer for those suffering from depression and contemplating suicide. We want our brothers and sisters to know that they are loved. The 2nd leading cause of death amongst NH children 10 to 14 years old is suicide. Every 70 minutes in America a veteran has committed suicide. I’m asking your congregation to pray that this trend will stop.
A little known fact: Spring time has the highest rate of suicide deaths in America, not the holidays….spring time, thus the timing of this prayer outreach.
This is a grassroots effort primarily through social media and a statewide network of friends. Myself or one of my friend will be calling you and asking for you to participate. We will continue through a media push to hopefully have 100 churches and 20,000 people praying to end suicide.
Please join us as a prayer partner. There is no guideline about howyou address this issue with your congregation. You can develop a whole sermon or simply when taking prayer requests talk about the statewide moment of prayer and add it to list of prayer recipients that day. We will be posting updates through Twitter (@prevsuicideNH), Facebook (Prayers for Suicide Prevention NH) and email. I am also very open to suggestions! Although not required, Prayer Partners are asked to sign up through Eventbrite (eventbrite.com/e/32056399554) for immediate updates and to keep track of our partners.
Manchester, New Hampshire has had 40 Days for Life campaigns since 2009. There’s a leadership team behind each campaign, handling administrative and organizational details. Without a team, there’s no campaign.
Now’s the time for leadership to assemble for next spring’s campaign. Veterans from the current team are stepping down. They’re appealing for replacements who are willing to make a commitment by December 20. In the words of Stephen and Beth Scaer of the Manchester 40DFL team, “Shepherds Wanted.” They recently sent out this message.
Dear friends in Christ:
Thank you for another successful 40 Days for Life campaign. 80 people participated in the vigil, covering 156 hours. Approximately 45 came to the opening rally, 40 Days United bus rally, and Jericho march and 35 attended our closing candlelight vigil. And most important of all, during the campaign two abortion-minded mothers changed their minds and chose life for their babies!
After years of yeoman’s work on 40 Days for Life, Joan is stepping down from the leadership team to focus on her other ministries. Although we are willing to continue organizing events, coordinating the vigil calendar, and preparing the newsletter, we need fresh leadership in order to launch a successful Lent campaign.
If the Holy Spirit is calling you to this life-saving work, or you have any questions, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Beth at (978) 226-3240.
This is not an appeal for people to cover vigil hours in the next campaign – that will come later. Today’s appeal is for people to join leadership. The Scaers would love to hear from potential volunteers by December 20.
(This post is adapted from my remarks at the Winter 2016 midpoint rally at 40 Days for Life in Greenland, New Hampshire, where I was treated to hope and faith in action. Photos are by Don Mudge and are used with his permission.)
40 Days for Life campaigns ebb and flow from one year to the next. Since New Hampshire groups first brought 40 Days for Life home, we’ve seen campaigns with action in three cities and other campaigns with action in only one. We’ve been at events with plenty of other people, and we’ve also seen days when the vigil calendar has more blanks than signups. Perhaps your vigil hours are spent on the sidewalk alone, as I spend many of mine.
Then I read the daily email updates from the national 40 Days for Life team. Each update features two or three cities where 40DFL campaigns are taking place. I see photos of large groups and stories of abortion facilities that have closed down. Big stories, big accomplishments.
I get caught up in that. I wish I were doing big things, too. At that point, I need to remember two things: first, 40 Days for Life is about “we,” not “I;” second, that being pro-life is primarily about little things, not big ones.
Joining you today releases me from the trap of thinking I’m doing pro-life work alone. You draw my attention away from myself and toward the people we seek to serve.
We’re here for each worker, each client, each baby that comes to the abortion facility.
We’re here for our fellow 40DFL campaigners in Tempe, Arizona, who reported this week that a 21-weeks-gestation baby had been born alive at the abortion facility outside which they were praying. They, and we, are witnesses to the dignity of that child. We are witnesses to the distress of the mother who thought abortion was her best choice, and to the father who may not have known about his child or may have even wanted the abortion to happen. To the workers at the facility, we are witnesses of steadfast faith.
So we’re not alone. How do we build on that? By doing little things.
There’s a time for big things. As someone who spends a lot of time in a political environment, I know the value of big, splashy public displays. I see what happens, though, when I neglect the smaller things.
The videos released by the Center for Medical Progress made a splash, for awhile. And then the unthinkable happened: the splash receded into “so what?” from abortion providers and their political protectors. Those videos should have put an end to any talk of sending tax money to abortion providers. Instead, the providers went on the offensive and made a virtue out of trafficking in baby parts.
That was an unmistakable message about our culture. Restoring a life-affirming culture means going back to the little things, one at a time.
You’re doing one today, simply by participating in 40 Days for Life. Here’s another one: invite someone to join you. Offer to go with people who are signed up for their first vigil hours. The sidewalk can be an intimidating place. Your encouragement and fellowship may be exactly what your neighbor needs to join you in peaceful pro-life witness.
This reminds me of something I recently learned about Dr. Mildred Jefferson. She could have been content with her place in history as the first African-American woman to graduate from Harvard Medical School. Instead, her greatest legacy is her leadership in the pro-life movement. Her activism began with a simple step: a fellow physician asked her to sign a pro-life petition. The rest is history.
Another small step has to do with our elected officials. In New Hampshire, with 400 state representatives and 24 state senators, there’s probably a legislator or two living around the corner from you. You see them at the grocery store or the post office or the park or at church. Get to know them as neighbors, one smile and one conversation at a time. Conversations about votes take a much different tone between neighbors than they do between strangers.
Speaking of neighbors, think of abortion facility workers in those terms. Abby Johnson has been particularly sharp in challenging people about that. She was led out of the abortion industry by the relationship that gradually developed between her and the 40 Days for Life team that prayed outside her facility. That relationship was built painstakingly over a period of many months, one smile at a time, a few words at a time.
Gratitude may be the most significant “little” thing. Thank the co-workers and fellow volunteers with whom you serve your community. Thank your elected officials when they get their votes right. We are surrounded by people who quietly lead lives of service to their families by caring for children and grandchildren and spouses. Be sure to thank these people, particularly those closest to you.
A culture built on little life-affirming things will be a culture in which big things will follow. It could seem like an overwhelming job, until we remember that we are not alone, and each of us has the power to do those little things.
Some people think 40 Days for Life is just a fad. I disagree. Whatever the name of the movement, this is a time for peaceful, prayerful witness. We are all called to this. We are witnessing not only to the people behind the abortion center’s fence, but to every driver passing by and to the women in residence at the shelter across the street. Quietly, with love, one little thing at a time, we are a sign of contradiction in a culture that needs to be contradicted.
“See how they love one another.” That’s what people in apostolic times said about those strange early Christians. It was a marvel to all those who looked upon them. Each day, let’s rededicate ourselves to showing that love once again.
40 Days for Life returns to the New Hampshire Seacoast for the winter 2016 campaign beginning on Ash Wednesday, February 10. Two dozen participants gathered on the sidewalk outside the Lovering Center abortion facility in Greenland for a kickoff rally on February 7.
A separate campaign is planned for Manchester, NH. To learn more about 40 Days for Life, its commitment to peaceful action, and the local campaigns, go to 40daysforlife.com.
40DFL teams can be found in more than 270 cities worldwide this year. As the campaign begins in New Hampshire, pro-life witnesses as far away as New Zealand are preparing for campaigns in their own areas. Michelle Kaufman of Family Life International NZ writes on the group’s blog A Culture of Life: “This week is historic for New Zealand. For the first time, there will be simultaneous prayer vigils outside abortion facilities in three major cities in New Zealand for a full 40 days!”
Here is a five-minute promotional video from Family Life International NZ about 40DFL. Inspired to sign up? Instead of using the web address at the end of the video (which would be fine if only you lived in New Zealand), go to 40daysforlife.com.