How to move mountains

By Sam Lucero | The Compass | October 5, 2016

Change starts at grassroots level

It all starts at the ground level, the local level, by changing hearts and changing lives.

In a nutshell, this was one of the messages Shawn Carney, national president of 40 Days for Life, delivered during an appearance in Green Bay Sept. 28. (See story on page 3.) Carney was here to help kick off the local 40 Days for Life prayer vigil and to celebrate the movement’s 10th anniversary in Green Bay.

“We live in a great country where we don’t have to wait on Washington, D.C., to correct a moral crisis that’s going on,” he said in reference to legalized abortion. “We can do something about it.”

Carney knows from personal experience that grassroots action works. While in College Station, Texas, in 2004, he helped organize the first peaceful prayer vigil at an abortion facility. Two years later, Green Bay became the first city outside of Texas to hold a sidewalk prayer vigil. The 40-day vigil on May 9, 2006, took place outside of the Medical Arts Building. Until three years ago, abortions were performed inside the building on Webster Avenue.

“Praise God, as we are here today kicking off the largest 40 Days for Life campaign ever in 367 cities,” Carney told nearly 100 people attending the rally and candlelight vigil. “We have all 50 states participating in the campaign.”

In each city, it is the dedication of local pro-life people, many who have never taken part in a public protest, according to Carney, who have helped sway opinions and save lives of unborn children.

He said an estimated 12,000 babies were saved from abortions at clinics where 40 Days for Life vigils were held. At the same time, more than 100 abortion facility workers “have had a change of heart and left their jobs.”

All of this has happened without the support of state or federal lawmakers.

Although abortion has been legal for more than 40 years, Carney said public support for it is dwindling. Pregnancy resource centers outnumber abortion providers in America by a 5 to 1 ratio, he said. “There have been 750,000 people who have participated in 40 Days for Life and 30 percent of those people say this is their first pro-life activity.”

The image of Planned Parenthood, the country’s largest abortion provider, “is at an all-time low right now,” said Carney, “and that’s not because of Washington, D.C., that’s because so many people who have gone to work at the local level and have prayed to end abortion … and have been that faithful witness out on those sidewalks … when someone is walking in to have an abortion.”

As Election Day looms closer and the sense of hopelessness lingers due to candidate platforms that oppose important life issues, let us find hope for a culture of life at the grassroots level. Change can happen and 40 Days for Life is one living example that local communities can make a difference.

Prayer and peaceful acts of protest have long been the faith community’s tools of transformation. The 40 Days for Life movement is showing the world that love can indeed conquer all.

To learn more about 40 Days for Life, visit their website, To participate in the Green Bay sidewalk vigils, which continue through Nov. 6, contact Jim Ball, (920) 436-9882; [email protected]

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