By Marcus Ashlock
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) statistics, by January’s 48th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, more than 62.5 million abortions have taken place in the U.S. or roughly 1.3 million per year. In a study published in July 2020 in one of the world’s oldest medical journals, The Lancet, the average number of abortions worldwide was 73.3 million each year during 2015-2019—73.3 million each year.
How many innocent lives will be ended before the world realizes the value of life? What can the devout Catholic do to help save these innocent lives? We can simply start with prayer.
“It started when I wanted to be more courageous with my faith, to live my faith and put it on the ground and not just keep it wrapped around my rosary,” Paul Heiberger, parishioner at St. George Parish in Hartford, said.
Like many Catholic men who want to be more active disciples, at the beginning Paul felt like he needed to do more and did not know where to start. After strengthening his walk of faith with other men looking to do the same, a question was asked about what to do now as they had built this strong faith. He describes having a certain understanding in his heart to do something with the sanctity of life.
“It had been on my heart about what I was to do, and it was just like a light bulb,” Paul said. “It’s something to do with the pro-life movement. I didn’t know what is was, but I felt like God was calling me.”
From his youth, Paul knew the pro-life movement was important and he supported it but never felt a part of it. While attending a 40 Days for Life event, Paul met Mark Hierholzer, parishioner at St. John Paul II in Harrisburg, when they both showed up to pray in front of the Planned Parenthood location in Sioux Falls.
Mark was heeding a call from the Holy Spirit to go down to the offices and pray. Paul talks about having been doing the same from time to time, but meeting Mark one day in the spring of 2019 gave them the strength to make this a permanent act of prayer.
After a few false starts to pray together at Planned Parenthood, it worked out they could both meet on Tuesdays. Planned Parenthood counsels the women on Monday and Tuesday, waits 48 hours to give them time to think about the procedure, and then performs abortions on Thursdays. Each week, seven to 10 abortions are performed in Sioux Falls.
“We decided to go pray for those women, for the children, for the fathers, for the families or for anyone who is getting hurt by abortion,” Paul said. “We made a commitment to be there every Tuesday night.”
The Jericho Wall men’s prayer group is named after the story in the Old Testament book, Joshua 6:1-27, where the Israelites marched around the walls of Jericho for seven days carrying the Ark of the Covenant. After marching around the walls seven times on the seventh day, they blew their horns and shouted, and the walls fell.
“God put it on my heart to name it The Jericho Wall,” Paul said. “Out in front of the priests and Ark of the Covenant were the picked troops of God. We men are the picked troops today, our Blessed Mother is our ark, and her rosary is our shout. We don’t know what seven days time is to God, we’re just trying to be committed warriors.”
Men, young to old, meet at the Planned Parenthood office on 41st Street in Sioux Falls each Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. Some kneel, others stand. Some days there are few and other days there can be 30 or more. Paul invites any man looking to enrich his faith in God to come and pray for the safety of innocent lives.
Paul also understands not every person can commit to coming each week and maybe someone can only make it once a month or three times a year. His invitation is for people to commit to praying the rosary each Tuesday evening for the women contemplating abortion. Pray from your home, with your family, in your car or wherever you may be, but pray.
“In prayer, I had a vision of the prayers being sent to heaven, rays of light through prayer from this area,” Paul said. “We want all these rays of light, all these prayers going up at the same time, we want to bombard heaven for Planned Parenthood in Sioux Falls, and for those seven or 10 girls who are contemplating tonight about getting an abortion this week. If we could save one life, the value is incalculable.”
Is God calling you to pray for life? Maybe your journey of missionary discipleship begins with a commitment to pray the rosary each Tuesday to tear down the walls of Planned Parenthood in Sioux Falls. What better way to strengthen your walk of faith than to pray for life.