On a 40-day mission to save livesThey’ve been out there for more than a month in the fall chill, trying to get their message across, trying to save lives. They are the local participants in “40 Days for Life,” a pro-life prayerful vigil that went nationwide five years ago.
By: Al Edenloff, Alexandria Echo Press
They’ve been out there for more than a month in the fall chill, trying to get their message across, trying to save lives.
They are the local participants in “40 Days for Life,” a pro-life prayerful vigil that went nationwide five years ago.
Working in shifts, about 200 volunteers have been gathering outside of the Planned Parenthood office on Broadway in Alexandria from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. They’ve carried signs, prayed, fasted, read scripture and talked to passersby, trying to convince them that there are alternatives to abortion.
The group believes that God is working through them on their mission to save unborn babies. Nationwide, organizers of 40 Days for Life estimate that about 6,000 babies have been saved since the effort began in 2007.
“A year ago, I was hesitant to get involved in something like this,” said Gerry Hoelscher, one of the Alexandria participants. “But by doing this kind of testimony, I know I’m doing the right thing.”
Other participants, including Chris Wieberdink, Nevin Smith and Bernie Cullen, feel the same way.
“If you allow God to do what he does, good things happen,” Cullen said.
The group said that they talked to one woman in Alexandria who was considering getting an abortion and she changed her mind.
“And that was just one woman. There are many, many more stories like that. It’s remarkable,” said Wieberdink, who is also a board member of Birthright, a pregnancy resource center that she described as a positive alternative for expecting mothers.
The last day of “40 Days for Life” is today, Friday, before the group moves on to another way of delivering their message: A Walk for Life.
This year’s walk will take place Sunday, November 4 starting at 1 p.m. at Zion Lutheran Church, 300 Lake Street in Alexandria.
In the past, the walk has been held in conjunction with the date of the Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion.
Organizers changed the date in an effort to encourage voters to consider the pro-life stance of candidates before they head to the polls. A theme for the event is “Walk for life, vote with God.”
Sunday’s walk is by no means a political rally, however, Smith emphasized. He described it as prayerful and respectful.
Smith said that no political candidates will be speaking and added that the event includes many different denominations, nine different pastors and participants from around the area, including Alexandria, Brandon, Garfield, Osakis and Sauk Valley.
The walk event will begin with a 45-minute program. After that, participants will walk from Zion to the steps of the Douglas County Courthouse. Another short program will take place featuring remarks from Dr. Fred Townsend, Hilda Bettermann and Cullen, followed by music and a closing prayer from Pastor Pete Reishus.
An open house will follow at Birthright, 1114 Broadway, Alexandria, from 2 to 4 p.m. There will be hot apple cider, coffee, cookies and tours.