A note from our Executive Director....
Update: On Sunday, March 22, 2020, Governor DeWine announced that ODH Director Acton had signed a "stay at home" order that applies to many non-essential activities. It is not a "lock down," and includes many exceptions such as to go to the grocery store, pharmacy, or to pick up or drop off food, to obtain medicine, to enjoy the outdoors, or to attend weddings, funerals, or first-amendment protected activities; to help neighbors; or to maintain essential business activities (this is not an all-inclusive list, please refer to the order), we are continuing to encourage people to stay home. In addition, the National 40 Days for Life campaign has officially suspended all in-person vigils. In keeping with this, we doubly implore you to join us for our online campaign. - BV
(March 17, 2020) Prayer - in our homes, our businesses, our churches, and in public - is the foundation of many of our most effective programs at GCRTL. We are committed to prayer as the most powerful and important thing that our volunteers are called to, as it effectuates change in our hearts, our families, and our world.
That said, many people have asked what they should do when it comes to programs like 40 Days for Life and our regular sidewalk ministry. On one hand, we are taking the recommendations that are coming from our most trusted pro-life physician partners and those in positions of authority in public health very seriously. On the other hand, we know that in times of crisis, the last thing we should do is abandon those who most need our prayers and our help. With that in mind, when it comes to our regular sidewalk ministry as well as 40 Days for Life, here is our current response. This may change as things change, and we strongly encourage you to follow public directives - one of the things each of our volunteers affirms is that he or she will obey the law.
We are currently suspending any expectation that our volunteers participate in their regular shifts for both our sidewalk counseling program and 40 Days for Life campaign. We do not want any person to think that their decision to stay home is in any way letting down our program or their fellow volunteers, or that it suggests a lack of faith. That said, sidewalk prayer is a protected activity under the First Amendment and neither the abortion clinic nor GCRTL owns or can control who goes out to the sidewalk to pray.
If your best and most humble discernment is calling you to pray outside an abortion clinic, we ask you to keep in mind all current guidelines regarding any public activity. If you or someone you are in contact with is ill or in a medically vulnerable population, please stay home. If you decide to go to the clinic, please do not go alone, but maintain an appropriate "social distance" between you, any other volunteers, any abortion clinic staff, and any clients. Pregnant women are a medically vulnerable class, and there is at least one case of a newborn that seems to have been born with it. While many people will be tempted to chime in that it is better for a baby to be sick than aborted - we are not painfully aware of that reality. Still: take reasonable precautions and humbly consider that it is through God's work, and not our own, that we see women choose life. We are, at best, missionaries and witnesses to those works.
With that in mind, we are not backing away from our commitment to prayer. In fact, effective today we are expanding that effort by inviting members of central Ohio who cannot pray at the clinic to join us in our Virtual Vigil, which is now open for 24 hours a day from now until Easter. If need be, we will extend our virtual vigil. Our goal? Bring 3,706 hours of prayer between now and Easter - one for each abortion performed in central Ohio last year. With just six volunteers every hour, we can make that goal. Please go to our page and sign up for an hour, whether you do that from your home, from inside your car at the clinic, from the sidewalk, or from any other location you may be at is up to you. Also, if you will be joined by any members of your family, sign them up too - we want to bring 3706 hours of prayer before Easter. That is one for every abortion in Central Ohio last year.
We are inviting you to join us in prayer for the following intentions:
- The unborn and their mothers, especially those who in these uncertain times have become convinced that they cannot continue their pregnancy... That they realize the gift of life and have access to the support needed.
- Those who are sick with COVID-19 and any other condition, the medically vulnerable, and all who care for them... That they find physical and spiritual healing.
- Our elected and appointed officials at every level of government, first responders, and leaders of all sorts... That they are prudent, judicious, and make decisions that protect the dignity of the human person.
- Those who are isolated, adrift, or fearful... That they realize they are never alone and find communities of support.
- The medical profession... That they are kept safe, not overwhelmed, and faithful to their oath to protect all life, and
- Those who approach death ... That they will find God's peace in their last hours and that their souls find eternal rest.
Next: we are not making this the end of our work. We've been a little quiet the past few days; some of that has been to watch to see what happens and some of that has been to make contingency plans. On the matter of abortion, we are very aware that the number one reason women choose abortion is financial insecurity and lack of support. The current environment most certainly has the opportunity to exacerbate both of those circumstances. We will be working within the central Ohio pro-life leadership to identify additional needs and resources and make those more available and easily understood. Compiling these resources is ongoing, and with our small team it is a little tricky to meet a constantly moving target. Stay tuned, and look for additional resources under this page.
Also, we also are gravely concerned with caring for people at the end of life. For the past few months we have been working to deploy end of life resources and had a dozen programs lined up over the next few weeks. We are working to make some of that available in a comprehensive online format.
These are concerning times for many people. Not everyone agrees with the Governor and Director of Health's orders. Some think they have gone "too far" and others worry that it has not been far enough. Some will criticize GCRTL for our position above. Trust me, they (and I) are used to it. That said...
There are a lot of people who are feeling a void right now. Routines, social supports, income, and even religious services have been altered or suspended. That opens up a lot of voids in our lives. How we fill those voids in the days and weeks to come is going to be very important. There is an emptying of self that can allow us to grow in faith and courage and hope, but there is also a very real risk that isolation and fear invade that void - very real weapons of evil that can invade our lives and our souls. So now, I implore you to really think about how you are filling the void - what you consume (especially in terms of media) and what you put out there (especially in social media). Always keep in mind the Hope of the Gospel and God's promise that He will not abandon us in our hours of greatest need.
Lastly, I recently saw someone remark, "I was not planning on giving up so much for Lent this year." To that, Amen. Me either. But maybe this is actually an opportunity to get back to the basics and really yearn for a closer relationship to God. Every day, I pray a prayer that begins in "Create in me a clean heart, oh Lord...," with the hopes that I am better prepared to do the work I'm called to do. Perhaps this is our opportunity to get back to some of those basics and use this time of social distancing to grow closer to God.
Praying for Life Always,
Note: Indications are that all pregnancy centers are currently open and maintaining regularly scheduled hours
Additional Resources will be located here as they are finalized. Our regular prayer invitation page will return after things get back to normal.