WASHINGTON – Beginning today, the pro-life outreach known as
40 Days for Life will hold its latest prayer campaign in the United States and
across the world in an effort to end abortion.
The first campaign began with a pro-life group trying to prevent an abortion
clinic from opening in Texas in 2004. Over the span of three years, 40 Days for
Life changed to a national campaign and spread to other countries.
Since its inception, 40 Days has received reports of 4,313 unborn lives saved
from abortion as a result of its campaigns, which focus on peaceful prayer
vigils outside clinics. In addition, 53 abortion clinic workers reportedly have
quit and 14 abortion centers have closed down following outreaches at clinics. Participants
from more than 13,000 church congregations have been involved, with more than
400,000 volunteers taking part in the campaigns.
In the new campaign, there will be participants at 301 locations, an increase
of about four dozen over last spring’s outreach, according to the 40 Days for
Life website. These include sites in Canada, England, Spain, Australia,
Argentina and Germany.
The growth of 40 Days as a biannual campaign has presented a challenge for
national director David Bereit. In the past, he would go to many of the vigils
and interact with those praying outside clinics.
“There has been unbelievable growth … we can’t be with as many people. It is
beautiful to see the Holy Spirit where we cannot go,” Bereit told Baptist
As a community effort, 40 Days for Life uses three components in its campaigns,
Bereit said. Participants 1) pray and fast to end abortion, 2) participate in
vigils and 3) have grassroots community outreach.
“We provide daily devotionals for prayer,” he said. “For fasting, we leave it
up to them, because it is a very personal thing.”
The effort follows a pattern of biblical history in which God used 40-day
periods to teach His people to recognize His power and trust in Him, 40 Days
for Life officials say.
Bereit connected the campaign with the wandering of the Israelites in the
desert for 40 years before being led into the Promised Land.
The 40th anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion
is less than 18 months away. Bereit hopes “abortion will be nearing its end.”
Despite the deeply ingrained nature of abortion in American society, he
believes God can bring change soon.
“My ultimate hope is to see abortion ended through the faithfulness of God’s
people,” Bereit said.
This fall’s campaign will conclude Nov. 6.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Jennifer Hatcher, a senior at California Baptist University
in Riverside, Calif., is attending the Council for Christian Colleges and
Universities’ Washington Journalism Center this semester and serving as an
intern with Baptist Press.)