Candlelight Vigil marks half-way point of 40 Days for Life

by Michael Loretz

Despite the wet weather, more than 150 people gathered on the street outside Auckland’s AMAC abortion facility to pray and bear witness on Sunday evening (28th February). “Be my Light”, a special vigil hour for the unborn, was organised by Family Life International NZ to mark the halfway point for the annual 40 Days for Life prayer vigils being held in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch throughout Lent and up to Palm Sunday.

People from different walks of life, priests, seminarians, mothers, fathers, children, people of different ethnicities and ages, gathered together for an hour on one of Auckland’s busiest streets, praying, singing and standing in moments of silence to ask God for Mercy and healing in the hope that a new culture of respect for life will grow and thrive in New Zealand.

In Wellington, a similar special vigil, “Be a Sign of Hope” was held outside Wellington Hospital in the mid-afternoon and around the country throughout the day many others, including the Carmelite Sisters in Auckland, prayed in solidarity for the success of 40 Days for Life.

Michelle Kaufman, the Communications Director of Family Life International NZ addressed the Auckland gathering saying, “This is a spiritual battle and we already know the victor, it is Christ – he won the victory on the Cross. But we need to do our part too and be for others his hands and his feet.” She encouraged the gathering to continue to support practical initiatives that offer hope to the vulnerable and help build a culture of respect for all human life from conception to natural death.

Family Life International NZ run Crisis Pregnancy Centres in Auckland and Wellington and offer women throughout the country practical help and support including pregnancy counselling, post abortion healing and recovery, and education.

The 40 Days for Life vigils in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch will continue until the 20th March. Please visit www.fli.org.nz/40daysforlife to find out more and sign up.

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Help save lives: praying for an end to abortion

A great prayer for life JPIIThis 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!  Not only that, various other cities are holding vigils in solidarity, and thousands more will pray in their homes and in their places of worship to bring about the end of abortion in our land!  Our dream is that all believers will sense the urgency to petition God in all humility, to bring about the end of abortion in New Zealand.

We will join thousands of people throughout the world doing exactly the same thing.  This Lent there will be 273 cities holding an official 40 Days for Life vigil in 23 countries!  That is awesome!

In 2014, there were 13,137 reported abortions performed throughout the country.  This number has been steadily going down for seven consecutive years.  Our worst year was 2003 when 18,511 innocent children lost their lives before they were born through surgical or medical abortion.

But while we have cause to celebrate, we cannot be complacent.  Any life lost through abortion is one too many.  We cannot rest until abortion becomes unthinkable!

We must also be aware that while the reported surgical and medical abortions decline, very early abortions caused by abortifacients:  the Pill, the Morning After Pill, Jadelle and Implanon implants, NuvaRing, Depo Provera, Copper IUDs and the Mirena hormonal IUD are on the rise.  The push by Family Planning and other agencies for women to be fitted with so-called Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives has been underway for a few years now.  IUDs are routinely fitted as a form of emergency contraception, and women who have had abortions are encouraged to have either an IUD or implant inserted.  We will never really know how many lives are lost through these drugs and devices.

There are many ways we can fight against abortion.  All of them are important.  However, the fight is fundamentally spiritual before anything else.  Satan loves nothing more than to see tiny human lives, made in the image and likeness of God, destroyed.  He enjoys watching the aftermath as women and families are broken by abortion.  He revels in the blindness of those who work in abortion facilities.  And he delights in the silence of Christians.

Be strong and courageous!  This Lent your prayers and your presence outside abortion facilities throughout the country is absolutely vital!

Today a woman will discover that she is a mother.  Because of her circumstances she is going to be tempted to have an abortion.  She may feel pressure from the father of the child or her family.  She will think she has no other option.  She will make an appointment to have her child killed.  She will turn up for that appointment – but you will be there.  Your prayers and your presence may save her and her baby’s life from abortion – just from being there.  And if not, your presence has been a sign of hope to her.  Your love the only love that her pre-born child will know on this earth.

40 Days for Life is an opportunity to pray, to fast, to repent, to witness to Christ and his great love and mercy.  It is an opportunity to reach out to abortion-minded women and let them know that we do care, that there is another way, that there is HOPE.  It is an opportunity to really love those who work in the abortion facilities and to offer them encouragement to use their skills to promote and preserve life.  It is an opportunity to speak with the public – many of whom have been touched in some way by abortion – about the reality of abortion and the humanity of the preborn child.  It is visiting Calvary.

Please sign up now to pray outside AMAC (Auckland), Wellington Hospital or Christchurch Hospital this week.

 

Graces are received when you pray outside an abortion facility

Praying HandsWho on earth would want to spend an hour or so standing outside across the road from an abortion facility praying for the mothers the fathers and the babies and also the people who perform this dreadful act?

Well I did today, and I must say it was a sheer act of the will.   I did not want to be there – I have many things to do and places to go, but the graces abound for those who somehow find an hour to pray at this place of Calvary.

I was standing with friends praying, and a lady came up to me and bent her head and said hello and started to say my name.  I looked up and she said “Thank you Colleen.  My son Harry is 14-years-old now and he is amazing and has grown up very well.  He has a younger brother and we are all very happy.”

She spent some time telling me about her life since our last encounter and wants to come and visit us at our John Paul II Centre for Life.   I was awestruck that she would recognise me after all these years.  I had been praying outside that same abortion facility well over fourteen years ago when I met Yuki.  Our Centre supported her throughout the pregnancy and beyond.   Today she could not thank me enough for saving her son’s life.

So I plead with you, if you are able, please join Mark and his team in Auckland, or Clare and her team in Wellington, between now and Palm Sunday which is the close of this 40 Days for Life vigil.  I promise you that your presence does make a difference.  Lives are saved.  People are given hope.  The light of Christ shines in the darkness.

Please know that each one of you is always in our prayers and on our hearts.

Sign up for the Auckland vigil.
Sign up for the Wellington vigil.

Praying for an end to abortion in NZ

40 Days for Life WellingtonAll around the world people are attending 40 Days for Life prayer vigils outside their local abortion facilities.  They know that their presence is vital to help save lives and to bring about the end of abortion through a deep trust in God.

Today is day 9 of the vigil, which lasts for 40 days in succession.  This is the second time New Zealand has officially participated in the world-wide prayer effort.  The vigils are taking place outside Wellington Hospital and the Auckland Medical Aid Centre (AMAC).

These of course, are not the first time vigils have been held outside abortion facilities here in New Zealand.  There is a long history, of over 40 years, of the faithful standing and praying outside of these facilities right throughout the country.

The variety of efforts by pro-life people is astounding.  There are those that are working on laws, and in the political sphere.  Still again, there are a great number who promote life through their work in the medical profession and scientific avenues.  Others still, work to educate, or use the media or the internet.  Then, there are those who serve abortion vulnerable women; and still others who help bring healing to those who suffer after their abortion.

These are all very necessary efforts.  Efforts which will bring about their own fruits.

Some of our churches make pro-life efforts an important priority – prayers are offered and practical help and support given.  Others choose to ignore, or even worse, participate in the promotion of abortion.

But there is something incredibly necessary about standing outside of abortion facilities in prayer.  When we do, we bring light where there is only darkness.  We bring hope.  And most importantly, we bring Christ.

We bring this to every mother who walks through the doors of the facility.  To every father.  To every worker.  To every person who passes by.

And our love may be the only love that preborn child may ever know on this earth.

Lives can be saved at the very last moment.

It is humbling.

What’s been happening at the Wellington vigil?

ClareMcClean (Vigil Coordinator)
After initial nerves about starting up again on Ash Wednesday, there was an excitement about being back on the street with friends made from last year’s 40 Days.

Just in the first week it has been amazing to see how new people are being drawn to the prayer vigil:  over one third of the participants are new!

It is also enriching and encouraging to have such a diverse range of Christians:  Pentecostal; Catholic; Salvation Army; Anglican and Reformed Church – all united, both in our thirst for justice for the unborn child, and our hope in God.

Already we have had a few encounters with the public, who are keen to share their views on abortion.  We have had the opportunity to explain the truth about the dignity of the human person by illustrating that the unborn child is not a “nothing” and that human life is not mere animal matter.

There have been many favourable remarks, including from one woman who was keen to see us move to a more visible spot.  On Friday, another woman stopped to tell us not only about two abortions she regrets from her youth, but also the healing and forgiveness she has discovered in Jesus Christ.  She encouraged us to keep working at making the truth known because in the counselling prior to the abortions she was deceived with the lie that “it is only a bit of mucus and nothing to worry about.”

After Abby Johnson’s visit in December, we want the abortion workers to know we care about them, and now have a sign reading “Abortion Worker?  Go to attwn.org“.

It has been a good start to our vigil and we look forward to even more people joining us to pray for an end to abortion!

What’s been happening in Auckland?

Mark Mitchelson (Vigil Coordinator)
Our Auckland vigil has gotten off to a quiet start with many people just turning up to pray.  At times there have been one or two people in prayer, others six or seven, and on Sunday afternoon, we had twelve people – including four children!

While the Auckland vigil has so far predominantly been attended by Catholics, and in particular, the Legion of Mary, there have been a few other attendees.

We have had an overwhelming number of complimentary comments from varied quarters and the verbal attacks have so far, seemed to be much less than last year’s vigil.

On the whole, the weather has been incredible, although for a few days, we had much needed rain, making it tricky for vigil go-ers.

We are encouraging people to sign up on-line prior to attending the vigil as this helps us to plan, but if this is not possible, please do turn up and help save lives!

 

 

Abby Johnson to visit New Zealand

Abby JohnsonIn just five weeks, Abby Johnson will be hitting New Zealand shores to tell her inspiring and powerful story.

It was on October 5, 2009 that Abby walked out of the Planned Parenthood facility where she was clinic director and into the doors of the local pro-life organisation Coalition for Life.

Coalition for Life are the founders of 40 Days for Life – that incredible prayer vigil that has now spread throughout the world, saving the lives of thousands of babies and their mums and other family members from the devastation that abortion brings.  Numerous abortion facility workers have also left because of the prayers of the faithful vigil goers.  Abortion facilities have closed.  Countless people have had their eyes opened to what is happening in their own backyard.

Abby and the Bryan, Texas Planned Parenthood facility are part of those inspiring 40 Days for Life statistics.

Abby’s Planned Parenthood clinic was the very first site of 40 Days for Life.  Not only has Abby left and become a powerful and inspiring pro-life advocate, but that clinic closed in 2013.

So, who better to tell you just what Abby Johnson is like than those people who have prayed for her since she first walked through the gate of the Planned Parenthood facility in Bryan, Texas all those years ago?

Shawn Carney is the Campaign Director for 40 Days for Life and a good friend of Abby Johnson.  Earlier this month he wrote a post “The top 5 things I know about Abby Johnson… 5 years later” to celebrate Abby’s five year anniversary of leaving Planned Parenthood.   It is a great read and good introduction to the inspirational woman that is Abby Johnson.

Abby’s visit to New Zealand is one of those rare opportunities to personally hear the testimony of someone who has been immersed in the abortion industry.

Not only is she inspirational, Abby can show you how to effectively reach those who work in abortion facilities and abortion vulnerable women.  You will hear the inside story of what is REALLY driving the abortion industry and organisations like Planned Parenthood and New Zealand Family Planning.

Find out more about Abby’s visit on our web page  fli.org.nz/abbyjohnsonvisitingnewzealand

Abby Johnson visiting New Zealand

Wellington: Reflection on 40 Days for Life

Wellington 40 Days for Lifeby Clare McClean
Co-ordinator of Family Life International NZ’s John Paul II Centre for Life in Wellington and leader of 40 Days for Life in Wellington

With just four days remaining of 40 Days for Life it is time to reflect on some of our experiences at the vigil site.

Fore mostly, the footpath outside Wellington Hospital has been a place of consistent prayer, but it has also been a place of encounter with the public.

We have had some amazing opportunities to pray with, and for, the sick and to also witness to the sanctity of human life. What have been particularly exciting are the few dialogues where an initially angry person has come to understand and accept the need to stand up for our defenceless and innocent unborn brothers and sisters. “You’ve got me,” said one professional hospital staff member who later admitted after a long discussion, “You are right.”

Then there are the public who have stopped to encourage us with statements like:

“Thank you for what you are doing.”
“Keep it up.”
“Hope you are going to have another 40 days after this one.”
“Seeing you here every day has made me consider our duty as Christians to stand up for the defenceless today”
“I am an atheist but what you are doing is right, it’s a matter of logic, and I don’t understand why all Christians aren’t here with you.”
“Can I pray with you?”

We’ve also been made acutely aware of the pain in society inflicted by the culture of death.

People have wanted to come and share their heart wrenching stories with us. Amongst these encounters are someone whose sister committed suicide after two forced abortions; a grandparent who felt helpless to save a grandchild from abortion; and someone who agonises for flatmates who have been changed by abortion and are no longer able to function “normally.”

In these encounters people are able to appreciate what 40 Days for Life is about. They understand the need to stand peacefully and prayerfully keeping watch, waiting for the day when unborn children will be treasured and women will no longer be exploited in our hospital. They ‘get it’.  They know we are there to be a loving presence, support for the dying ; a hand of hope and help for the families of the unborn children and a witness to the truth.  They know that in a just society the right to life is upheld for all.

However, there are still those who wrongly perceive both us and the reality of abortion. Some of the slogans uttered by passers-by are so ironic. Ponder a moment on these two slogans, particularly in relation to the reality of the abortion procedures,

“no unwanted babies” and “no forced labour”.

Are not both slogans in reality a good description of what abortion truly is: a premature forced labour and the abandonment and rejection of children?

Why is there such a disconnect with logic and reality on our streets?

Why is it that despite our efforts to explain that 40 Days for Life’s visual presence is a prayer vigil, the media and some of the public insist we are “protestors” holding a “protest.”

Why are there rumours spread about (by people who admit they have not yet seen 40 Days for Life) that we are there arguing with people.

Why is it that the feminist blogger referred to our presence as creating an ideological clash!

After all our signs have positive and life-affirming messages eg. “Saving lives, offering hope” ; “We can help 0800 367 5433” ; “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” and even the one that reads “Pray for an end to abortion” simply informs the public of our mission while inviting them to join in. Most of the time we are praying but if we are asked questions we answer them. We have been on the other end of all sorts of loud, rude and annoying retorts. Yet we come to be called the ones described as harassing, argumentative and ideological. What we are doing is being deliberately distorted and misrepresented.

We can though look to Pope Francis for some light on the matter. In Evangelii Gaudium he says “Frequently as a way of ridiculing the Church’s effort to defend their (= the unborn) lives, attempts are made to present her position as ideological, obscurantist and conservative.”

We have no ideology to push; no political agenda up our sleeve. We are concerned about a life and death issue affecting the very core of our society: individuals within families. We are standing for what is good, what is true and what is beautiful – the right for everyone to be given a chance at life. The right to life is the most fundamental of all human rights and in fact from the right to life all other human rights spring, including authentic women’s rights.

The difficulty for those who label us as protestors lies in the fact that the truth we speak and the goodness we pray for is at variance with the current ideology of New Zealand’s political parties and those accusing us falsely, that is, secular democracy. Having done away with absolute truth and fallen upon the way of relativism, New Zealand politics fails to recognise absolute truths like the right to life. They fail to look outside of their own wishes and thoughts to seek what is true. Truth changes in a secular democracy according to the current whim of the sitting parliament. If we vigil prayers put our trust in politics alone then we would be protesting!

However, a lie cannot last forever! The humanity of the unborn child will again one day be recognised; the dignity of women will again be upheld and abortion will no longer be classified as healthcare. In this we hope and pray during all 40 Days and beyond.