The nationwide impact of the pro-life outreach has given its national director, David Bereit, and many other participants "great hope - hope that this truly could mark the beginning of the end of abortion," he told Baptist Press.
Forty Days for Life, which began its first non-local campaign in 2007, will kick off its eighth and largest effort March 9. The now-international, twice-yearly campaign focuses on peaceful prayer outside of abortion facilities, where its volunteers also seek to counsel women considering abortion, as well as clinic workers. This spring's campaign will conclude April 17.
Since it began, 40 Days for Life has grown from 89 participating locations to 247 this spring not only in the United States but Canada, Australia, England, Denmark, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Belize, Armenia, Georgia and Spain. The campaign will take place in 53 new locations, including 10 sites in Spain, which has never participated before.
Its round-the-clock vigils have resulted in reports of 3,599 unborn babies saved from abortion, nine clinic closures and 43 clinic workers leaving the abortion industry. It is anticipated this spring more than 100,000 people will pray, fast and reach out to communities with a pro-life message.
That kind of growth has filled Bereit and other 40 Days participants with confidence in God's ability to answer their prayers, as well as in additional kinds of hope -- "hope that lives have been saved, and for every one that we know of that has been saved we have confidence that there are many others we're not aware of," he said, also noting "hope for those who are on the other side of the fence at these abortion facilities."
The rapid growth has even surprised Bereit, who sees "a number of factors that are in play" regarding the success of 40 Days for Life.
"Overall, the public sentiment has shifted in our country," Bereit said. "We have seen the polling data showing that people are now more and more, by a larger majority, self-identifying as pro-life. We have youth that are becoming more actively pro-life. We have the clarity of the personhood of the child in the womb becoming visible through ultrasound technology more so than ever before. We have the videos that expose the horrific reality of the bad things that go on inside the abortion industry."
Another significant factor has been Abby Johnson's book, "Unplanned." Johnson volunteered and worked for eight years at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan, Texas, where the first local 40 Days for Life campaign occurred. In fall 2009, Johnson resigned and began to pray and counsel alongside pro-lifers outside her former clinic. She wrote the book to describe her pro-life journey. Unplanned reached top 10 national seller lists within 24 hours on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
"any of our new campaigns have said that the reason they decided to do it was after reading that book. So, I think all of those things together are creating a perfect storm. I believe it's a tipping point, and I really believe we are witnessing the beginning of the end of abortion," Bereit said.
The sites of 40 Days for Life local campaigns may be accessed online at http://40daysforlife.com/location.cfm.
Amanda Kate Winkelman, a junior at George Fox University in Newberg, Ore., is attending the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities' Washington Journalism Center this semester and serving as an intern with Baptist Press' Washington bureau.
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