40 Days for Life: Discover What God Has Done…Imagine What You Can Do (Capella Books 2013, 269 pages) is a book which chronicles the trials and tribulations for the 40 Days for Life campaign as prayer vigil against abortion from its genesis around a wooden table in College Station Texas in 2004 to its spread world-wide. The book is co-authored by David Bereit, a pharmaceutical rep who left comfortable career to follow the call of the Holy Spirit to do His will in uncertain circumstances. The other narrative voice is Shawn Carney, a young Texan who inherits the College Station leadership after Bereit answered the call to work for other Pro-Life organizations in Washington, DC. Carney became the Campaign Director for 40 Days for Life, while Bereit later returned to lead the National 40 Days for Life campaign.
|[L] David Bereit [R] Shawn Carney of 40 Days for Life|
The 40 Days for Life idea was modeled after several key scriptural moments, like the flood which necessitated Noah’s Ark and Jesus’ Prayers in the Desert before beginning His Earthly public ministry. Similarly, the book followed a structured course. Each chapter is one of forty vignettes, followed by concurrent scriptural passage concluded with a prayer. Presumably, this book was intended to be read over forty days. Perhaps it had a different impact in short, reflective increments rather than reading the contents in several sittings.
The power of the faith of Bereit, Carney and of many prayer warriors who participated in the 40 Days for Life is palpable. The book does not sugar coat the hardship and anxiety of starting up the campaign. But their testimony shows how the Lord provides. 40 Days for Life also recounts some of the acerbic resistence which Pro-Lifer’s were met with in witnessing the call of their conscience by publicly praying against abortion.
Several of the stories are quite striking and seemed pulled from current headlines.
The details of the unhygenic conditions, the crusted blood on the linoleum floor and rusted abortion instruments at 72 Ransom Street called to mind the horrific details from the recent trial and conviction of late term abortionist Kermit Gosnell in Philadelphia. The appalling conditions are not isolated incidents in abortion mills, but pro abortion advocates get apoplectic if anything id deemed to impede the so called “right to choose” or more clinically “womens’ reproductive health”.
The years of globe-trotting by Bereit and Carney to prayerfully support unborn children allowed for some serendipitious experiences. Shawn seemed to have quite a knack for unexpectedly rubbing elbows with his opponents.
The book was mostly conversational in tone, reading almost like an oral history that was culled by their collaborative writer Cindy Lambert. However, a couple of entries started with ambitious introductions but the transitions to their stories seemed forced and rough.
40 Days for Life would be a welcomed bedside daily devotional for prayer warriors committed to the Pro-Life cause. It gives great examples of the power of prayer to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to defend life. The book gives many perspectives on how abortion affects the unborn child, the often grieving abortive mother, the father, the extended family and the community. If only people spouting pro-choice propaganda would choose to the time to read 40 Days for Life, one wonders how many hearts of stone would turn to flesh.