By Sade Patterson, Correspondent for Students for Life of America
Most of us know the amazing story of how the 40 Days for Life campaign began, but do we know how to get involved without feeling pressure and intimidated as students? The beauty about 40 Days for Life is that it brings the entire pro-life movement together to pray and witness on the sidewalk outside abortion facilities. Generations, cultures, and individuals from different walks of life can unite for 40 days to pursue the same mission: to pray to end abortion. With these simple steps, we can all be involved in the 40 Days for Life Campaign and still manage our responsibilities as students.
Get on the Schedule
It isn’t too difficult to find out who is running 40 Days for Life in your area. A good way to do this would be to search for “40 Days for Life” and your city or state. If you are still having a hard time finding this information, contact your Regional Coordinator at Students for Life and see if they can help you.
Once you get in touch with your local 40 Days for Life team, ask to be put on the schedule! There is always a schedule made with local churches and parishes who have decided to commit to a few days to be on the sidewalk together. Find a couple days that your group or at least one member in your group can be on the sidewalk for just an hour.
If you are feeling like an overachiever, go further and commit one member each week to stand outside and pray. So communicate with your members which days work for them, and get on the schedule!
Consider a Training
If your group has already participated in sidewalk counseling, you may have already received training from Sidewalk Advocates for Life. If you have not received training or you have a lot of new members this semester, consider reaching out to your local Sidewalk Advocates for Life team and ask if they can host a training at your next meeting. If you cannot find a local Sidewalk Advocates for Life team, ask your RC if they can come and train your members.
40 Days for Life is all about praying to end abortion; members in your group are not required to speak to women and families going into the facility during this campaign, but if you want to be prepared to counsel someone during your set days, reach out to your local Sidewalk Advocates for Life chapter and request a training. If you’re worried about time constraints and you want to get on the sidewalk right away, consider hosting a training after the campaign has ended, and you have all come together to discuss your experiences.
If you look across the pro-life movement you can see many ways that we empower women and families to choose life. We are good at being active on the sidewalks, training, displays, volunteering at Pregnancy Resource Centers, and adoption agencies. But when it comes to removing ourselves from the action, being still, and praying to end abortion can get hard. Sometimes we forgot the true power of prayer because it means humbling ourselves to the reality that we cannot win this battle on our own. As you are on the sidewalk, challenge yourself to be present in the moment. Really observe the families going inside and the people passing by; allow yourself to embrace the emotions that overcome you when you stand before God in prayer to end abortion. Make an effort to say a special prayer for the workers inside, and save your photos for the end. Be present and be changed.
Share Your Experience
Never underestimate how your experience on the sidewalk can encourage other people to get involved. Whether you were instrumental in a save, witnessed a loss, referred someone to a local FQHC or PRC, or someone went out of their way to stop and thank you, your story matters. Take a picture, write down your experience and give it to your RC so the rest of the country can be encouraged!
It is important to protect the privacy of individuals going into the abortion facility so refrain from any photos that would reveal the identity of someone unless you have received verbal and/or written permission. This is not only to ensure their safety, but you will not be held liable should they take offense to this. If you are unsure of the boundaries while documenting your time on the sidewalk, stick to taking picture of the building and your group members.