It had been a very long time since we’d experienced a confirmed abortion save. Too long. So long, that I was beginning to wonder if God had taken a long vacation in Belize and maybe just forgotten about us here in the Red River Valley.
Of course, he hadn’t. God doesn’t lift his gaze from our lives for a second. But sometimes, he grows very silent, and it can feel lonely. It can seem like he’s disappeared for a time. Or just isn’t paying attention.
And then, often in an unexpected moment, God makes it very clear that he is very much alive, and very much a part of our world, and that he loves us very much.
That’s how I felt the day I got the news from Cassie Johnson, who helped lead the 2022 Moorhead 40 Days for Life campaign; a campaign that started this fall after North Dakota’s only abortion facility jumped ship following the overturning of Roe vs. Wade, and pitched its tent just over the state line.
“I have two miracles to share with you!” Cassie announced in a 40 Days for Life email. “Two babies are alive today because of your prayers and fasting!”
She shared that one woman had gone inside the facility, but eventually came out and began visiting with a sidewalk advocate. “Today we learned the woman decided against abortion and chose life! Praise God!”
Another woman had planned on scheduling an appointment for an abortion, she said, but instead got the number for a crisis pregnancy center. “The woman asked for a sign from God, and right then a post-abortive woman called her back,” Cassie reported, adding that by the end of the conversation, that mother also decided to choose life.
I just sat with that news for a while. I thought of the joy of these two little lives, and the promise of each of them. I thought of my friend Nellie Edwards’ recent Facebook post, which showed two elderly women holding a beautiful new baby, and the words, “Babies are God’s opinion that the world should go on.”
Years ago, a homeless man I met near the former abortion facility in downtown Fargo told me that each new life shows us that “God hasn’t given up on us yet.” It still gives me chills to think of what this man, who did not seem to live a very extraordinary life, reminded me. What a profound utterance by someone most would pass by.
At the 40 Days for Life closing, on a very cold and windy night, 60 of us advocates lined up along the sidewalk in front of the place where babies’ lives end every week now in Moorhead, thanking God for a successful first campaign there, singing some songs while Tim Moser played his keyboard from the back of a pickup. We held flowers representing someone in need of prayer.
In the middle of our gathering, a man riding a bike came barreling down the sidewalk with little warning, cursing at us to get the **** out of his way. That startling interruption to our prayerful gathering reminded me that the Evil One is still present, no matter how beautiful the songs or the flowers we held. And when a gust of wind blew so hard, kicking up some leaves and knocking over the speaker on the back of the pickup, we all had to catch our breath.
Yes, Old Scratch will do his darndest to interrupt our peace, and it made sense that he would show up somehow to the 40 Days for Life closing. As we are often reminded, this battle is not one of flesh and blood. It is a spiritual fight through and through. But nothing—not even an angry man tearing through our prayer line on a bike—could rob us of our joy.
Why? Because two little souls whom God designed, and whom he had placed in our world as a sign of hope—a sign that he has not given up on us yet—have been given a chance to live. The heavens rejoice!
As she offered her final thoughts and prayers, Cassie said, “God, you are a God who saves, and we want to join you in that.” Amen.
[Note: I write about my experiences praying for the end to abortion at the sidewalk abutting the Red River Valley’s lone abortion facility for New Earth magazine — the official news publication of the Fargo Diocese. I hope you find “Sidewalk Stories” helpful in understanding the truth about abortion and how it plays out tragically in our corner of the world. The preceding ran in New Earth’s December 2022 issue.]