40 Days Revive Hope for Life (Part 2). Interview With National Campaign Director David Bereit
FREDERICKSBURG, Virginia, SEPT. 24, 2008 (Zenit.org).- It's time the American people begin to put their trust less in politics and more in God, says pro-life activist David Bereit.
Bereit is the national campaign director of 40 Days for Life, a campaign he says has inspired hope that a culture of life is possible in the United States and all over the world.
The campaign begins today, and will unite pro-life advocates all over the country, and three cities in Canada, to pray, fast and work together through Nov. 2, the Sunday that precedes the U.S. election day.
In Part 2 of this interview with ZENIT, Bereit talks about the campaign's success stories from past years and his hope that this year will be a turning point for building a culture of life.
Q: What explanation do you give for why 40 Days for Life is growing and spreading so quickly to so many new cities?
Bereit: Number one it is because of prayer. It is because of the Holy Spirit. That is my strongest of convictions.
In second place it is because of the amazing people that God has called to be a part of this effort. I have heard some of the most incredible stories of people who have never been involved in pro-life work before they heard about this campaign. They got involved, launched local campaigns, mobilized hundreds of people, saved dozens of lives, and really turned the tide in their communities.
We have seen two abortion facilities go out of business following 40 Days for Life campaigns. We know of five abortion-clinic workers who have left the abortion industry, telling the 40 Days for Life volunteers that it was because of them and their prayers.
Q: Why did you decide to make this next program, beginning today and ending Nov. 2, coincide with the national elections? How important do you think the abortion issue is in these elections?
Bereit: Well, the campaign dates were the same that we used last year, because they worked very well, but we also felt that there was certainly no coincidence that the 40 days lead up to the Sunday immediately preceding the national election in America.
We believe this is a crucial time here in our nation. This is the year, 2008, when the death toll from abortion has crossed the 50 million mark. This is the year when the abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, crossed the billion dollar mark in revenues, over $336 million of that coming from American taxpayers.
After 35 years, if abortion was a good thing, it would be settled in the minds of people. But we have recognized that abortion has not been a good thing. It has not done any good for women, and it has certainly been destructive to the lives of the 50 million children that have been lost.
There is no more important time in our nation's history than right now for people to pray, to fast, and to put their faith into action. We will be able to do big, big things, because we have a big, big God who can do all things.
We took a tour of the capital recently. We got the opportunity to get down on the floor of the House of Representatives chamber. There, up on the wall, above where the Speaker of the House sits, it says in big letters "In God We Trust."
And I thought, one of the problems we have had these last 35 years of legalized abortion in America, is that we have put our trust in everything else but that.
We have put our trust in who resides in the White House. We have put our trust in who is walking the halls of Congress. We have put our trust in who are the black-robed judges sitting on the United States Supreme Court. We have put our trust in the state legislatures. We put our trust in politics.
This year we must recognize the importance of that statement "In God We Trust," and we must return our faith there. He is the only one who will never let us down.
I really believe from the bottom of my heart that this year is going to mark the beginning of the end of abortion, and I think we are already starting to see that play out all across the nation.
I see it in the eyes of the people. I see them putting their work into action. I see them in position now all across the country. I am amazed. I have never seen it like this before.
Last year we had some really good things happening. Reports around the country showed that people were going to planning meetings, and they had 15 or 20 people getting involved. By comparison, this year I went to three different planning meetings in Nebraska, and at these three meetings there were 500 people.
These people were on fire and they were ready to do things. I am seeing planning, intensity, and work like I have never seen. It gives me enormous hope.
Q: Are you expecting any specific results from this campaign?
Bereit: The most important result we hope for is that each of us who are involved grow in holiness during the campaign. That is more important than any immediate result.
Yes, we hope and pray that we will see many children's lives saved. Nationally, thus far in the previous two campaigns we have reports of 514 children saved, and we want to see many more children saved.
Yes, we want to see many people spared from making a decision for abortion. Yes, we want to see a lot of post-abortion healing happen.
But most importantly we want our nation to turn back to God, and that is going to start through each one of us. It will begin through our faithfulness, through our personal growth in holiness. Personally, I have never had the degree of spiritual growth like I experienced during my first 40 Days for Life.
Q: What are some ways that people can join in the 40 Days for Life effort?
Bereit: The first thing I would tell anybody would be to get down on their knees and begin to pray. Pray about what role God has for you in this effort.
Certainly for many people it will be to join in the prayer and fasting from today to Nov. 2. For many people it will be to participate in the vigil campaign in 179 cities throughout the country.
On our Web site we have a list of all the locations where the vigils will be held, and people can go there, they can find the location nearest to them, they can get the information, and they can come out to the vigil.
Maybe it will be one hour a day for the 40 days, the equivalent of a workweek, and they can have the opportunity to save lives. Maybe it will be once a week. Maybe it will be just once during the 40 days.
They can go and be there in prayer in the place where there is so little hope, at an abortion facility or Planned Parenthood office, to be a beacon of light in the darkness there.
Another thing is that people can discern if God is calling them to be a part of spreading the pro-life message through personal outreach. Maybe it will start with talking with their friends, or family members, people at their parish, people throughout their diocese, people they work with, people they go to school with or that their children go to school with, and inviting people to join together in this effort during these 40 days.
On our Web site we have a section where people can sign up for the daily e-mail updates and devotionals during the 40 days.
We have national leaders such as Father Frank Pavone and other clergy, other national pro-life leaders, who will be sending out a daily devotional with a Scripture reflection and a call to action for people during the 40 days. We have heard so many great reports from people that tell us it is such an inspiration to know that their intentions are being united with others around the country.
For those people who are in a city that does not have an organized campaign this fall, they may discern that God is leading them to lead a campaign down the road. We are very likely to do another campaign again next Lenten season, and one again next fall.
Q: What message would you like to give to people who are interested in participating in this campaign?
Bereit: The main thought that keeps coming back to me as I work with people during this campaign, is that years from now in the history books, there is going to be a chapter about abortion, and about how this great injustice ultimately ended. As with every great injustice, such as segregation or slavery, or any other injustice in America and throughout the world, all of them eventually fell or will fall.
Abortion will eventually fall. When it does, and when the history books are written, our children and our grandchildren are going to be reading about how abortion ended.
I believe that they are going to be reading about the year 2008 and how this year was the beginning of the end of abortion. And we will have to answer to them what we did or did not do during this crucial time in American history.
I believe that the faithful, God's people, who are willing to pray and fast, who are willing to hold peaceful vigil, who are willing to spread the pro-life message, and do anything they can to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, I believe that we will be able to tell our children and grandchildren, "I did everything that I could possibly do. I was willing to do the things that needed to be done in order to end abortion."
It is the legacy that we are going to be known for. People will look back at us and will measure us by how we met this great evil, this great injustice. Abortion will be in the history books. The question is what role will we have played in bringing it down? That's the message I really want to get across to people.
Ultimately of course, we live with the desire that when we each arrive in our heavenly home, we want to eventually hear those words, "Well done, good and faithful servant."