Editor’s Note: Interim reporter Pauline Kosalka interviewed David Bereit by email. Bereit is founder of 40 Days for Life and the keynote speaker at the Rose Dinner in Ottawa, May 12.
The Interim: How did you first become involved in the pro-life movement?
David Bereit: I first got involved in the pro-life movement after meeting, dating, and then marrying, my amazing wife Margaret who was raised in a Catholic, pro-life home. She helped me to understand the magnitude of the abortion crisis and that, as Christians, we had a moral obligation to be part of the solution by “rescuing those being led to the slaughter.”
TI: What inspired you to take such an active part after Planned Parenthood decided to build an abortion facility in the Texas town in 1998? How successful were your efforts?
DB: When Planned Parenthood announced in 1998 its plans to open an abortion facility in College Station, Texas, where I was living at the time, abortion became “real” for me. I recognized the problem was coming to my community and that I had call to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,” doing everything I possibly could to protect babies and women from abortion. I began to volunteer with a local group called the Coalition for Life, and in 2001, I felt led to resign my professional career in the pharmaceutical industry to devote my full-time energy to the pro-life movement. Our efforts had ups and downs over the next few years, but the biggest turning point – by far – was the launch of 40 Days for Life.
TI: How did 40 Days for Life first start? Did you play any further role in developing or leading 40 Days for Life?
DB: 40 Days for Life began with one hour of prayer, when four of us involved in local pro-life efforts became frustrated and turned to the direction of 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
During that hour of prayer, God gave us the vision of a 40-day effort that would focus on prayer and fasting, peaceful vigil outside the local abortion facility, and grassroots community outreach. Three weeks later, the first-ever 40 Days for Life kicked off, mobilizing over 1,000 local people, and reducing abortions in our town by 28 per cent.
In 2007, we felt led to begin organizing national – and then international – coordinate campaigns. Since that time, 40 Days for Life has spread to over 350 cities across all 50 American states, Canada, Australia, England, Ireland, Denmark, Spain, Belize, Georgia, and Armenia. More than 400,000 people have participated from more than 13,000 churches of virtually every Christian denomination. More than 3,600 lives have been spared from abortion as a result, 43 abortion workers have experienced conversions and left the abortion industry, and 9 abortion facilities have gone out of business following 40 Days for Life campaigns outside their doors.
As the director of this effort since it first began, I have been blessed to witness what God has accomplished through the prayers and actions of His people.
TI: What do you plan to talk about at the Rose Dinner during the National Marchfor Life?
DB: At the Rose Dinner, I will share many of the inspirational stories of how God is changing our world and saving lives through the efforts of faithful people willing to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.” Additionally, I will encourage attendees to find their place in the pro-life movement “for such a time as this.”
TI: Why should people come to the Rose Dinner and the National March for Life?
DB: The National March for Life and the Rose Dinner are wonderful opportunities to join together with like-minded people from every imaginable background and faith tradition. My family and I am thrilled to come and stand with the many dedicated people who are transforming Canada one heart, one mind, and one life at a time.