Thursday, March 12, 2015

From 40 Days For Life: DAY 23: Faith and hope in Mexico

40 Days for Life
Dear Deacon John,
It was just last year that Mexico held its first-ever 40 Days for Life campaign. Now that one campaign has turned into four!

There are many challenges to running a 40 Days for Life campaign in Mexico. But that hasn’t slowed down their expansion ... or dampened their faith.
Abortion is legal only in the Mexico City area … but other parts of the country are joining in prayer, concerned that their states may be next.
Here’s a quick look at some of the Mexican campaigns.
Iztapalapa, Mexico
The 40 Days for Life vigil in Iztapalapa takes place in front of a Marie Stopes abortion center. “Between testimonies, prayers and songs,” said one of the volunteers, “we keep on praising God and asking for an end to this deplorable crime.”
The scene on the sidewalk is something to behold, with people on their knees in prayer. There’s often someone with a guitar to lead singing. Priests have offered Mass at the vigil site as well.
The Marie Stopes facility looks like a fortress. An imposing iron fence covers the front of the building and the doorway. Above the fence … three strands of barbed wire and security cameras. Yet the sign on the door says “bienvenidos” – “welcome.”
A banner on the sidewalk roughly translates to “children by choice, not by chance.” The Spanish version of this message from the London-based Marie Stopes organization lacks the alliteration of the English slogan. But the words still obscure the truth about what goes on behind the barbed wire and bars.
Coyoacan, Mexico
The 40 Days for Life vigil site in Coyoacan is quite an active place. Diana, the local leader, described a schedule that included praise and worship one night … prayer with a group of seminarians another day … and plans for a youth vigil with between 200 and 300 teens.
The volunteers already know of lives spared from abortion. They spoke to a young woman in her 20s who walked out of the building, stressed out because she had missed her appointment. Diana asked her if she was OK. She answered, “I’m alone.”
Diana responded, “Look at all these people here praying for you! The last thing you are, right this moment, is alone. We’re here for you.”
Diana said that 40 Days for Life helps awaken consciences … “and Mexico’s conscience needs to be awakened!" 
Mexico City, Mexico
In Mexico City’s Roma section, the Marie Stopes staff has set up a booth – complete with valet parking – in an attempt to put a barrier between the vigil and the abortion center. It really isn’t working out so well.
Lourdes, the local leader, said volunteers talked to a girl who had an appointment for an abortion. But when she saw the people praying, she felt her heart beating rapidly. And she knew why.
Other volunteers were chatting with the parking attendant … who accepted some of their information. Later, he came back and shared his faith with them. A Marie Stopes employee heard all of this … and went rushing inside. Almost immediately, two men came out and started yelling at the parking guy.
“They fired me!” he said. As he was leaving, he said, “I will come back to pray with you guys.

Today’s devotional is from Rev. J. Kirk van der Swaagh of the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference.

Day 23 intention

For the medical community, that the truth they know about the human body may become awe and wonder at the God who made it.


Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.

—Psalm 139:16

Reflection by Rev. J. Kirk van der Swaagh

Human beings — God's tapestries.

Psalm 139 is a psalm that reveals the enormity and otherness of God. His divine attributes are on display: omniscience (2-4), omnipresence (7-12), loving-kindness (17-18), justice (19-20), righteousness (23-24), and omnipotence.

Yet, when it came to express this last attribute, what example did the psalmist use — God’s creation of mountains, seas, or far-flung galaxies? No, he used none of these.

To express the wonder of God’s unparalleled creative power the writer mentions the fashioning of the human in the womb (14-16).

The Hebrew word used to express God's forming of us in the womb, raqam, is the same term for needlework or embroidery.

In other words, we are a tapestry that displays God's artistic mastery.

And, like the artist who knows his creation down to the last detail, God intimately knows us. This reality provokes the writer to awe and wonder. He proclaims, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

What is true for this psalmist is true for each human being.

Each is fashioned by God and known by him and we can proclaim on behalf of each, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”


Gracious God, help us to appreciate the wonder and beauty of Your creation.

Help us proclaim on behalf of every one of our fellow human beings, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

May the knowledge that we are intimately known by You shape our lives and actions. Amen.

Printable devotional

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For life,
 Shawn Carney
Campaign Director
40 Days for Life