“I’m here because of Isabelle.”
Kathy Forck’s voice resonated off century-old granite etched with passages from Sacred Scripture.
“I think of the hole that would have been left in her legacy if things had gone differently,” said Mrs. Forck, a member of St. Andrew Parish in Holts Summit, who coordinates the Columbia 40 Days for Life Campaign with her husband, Michael.
She joined representatives of congregations and faith-based organizations and ministries from all over the state in giving witness and leading prayer Oct. 3 during the inaugural Missouri Prayerfest in the State Capitol.
The interdenominational event included an outdoor prayer walk and a two-hour outpouring of Christian testimony, song and worship inside the Capitol Rotunda.
People involved in Christian ministries throughout the state gave witness and led the assembly in prayer.
Their intercessions included: marriage and family, religious liberty, right to life, education, fostering and adoption of children, law enforcement, prevention of sexual exploitation, government leaders, racial tensions, and business and farming.
“Prepare to be amazed at what the Lord is going to do today!” Jerry Angelo of Vaguard Marriage and Family Advocates told the audience.
Shouts of “amen” and “hosanna” filled the Rotunda throughout the event.
There were also tears.
“Some of joy, some of sadness,” said Mrs. Forck.
She told the story of Isabelle, who was raped at age 16 and was forced by her parents to get an abortion.
“The doctor examined her and said that he was just going to remove some tissue,” said Mrs. Forck.
Years later, when Isabelle suspected she was pregnant for the third time she was told by another doctor that she “wasn’t really pregnant” and he was going to just “remove some tissue” from her womb.
“Isabelle remembered the guilt she suffered from not being able to protect her child,” Mrs. Forck stated. “She said ‘no’ and that she would be finding another doctor.”
Isabelle risked her own life carrying the baby to term. She was born seven months later, and the mother named her Kathleen, which means, “dear to my heart.”
Mrs. Forck didn’t learn of any of this until after her mother died in 1989.
Only after her father told her the story did Mrs. Forck realize what a hero her mother was.
“She chose life seven more times — the last at age 42,” she said. “This is why I do what I do — my mother’s example that all babies are precious blessings and that life is worth giving even at the risk of your own.”
God’s great work
Mrs. Forck then told of the signs and wonders God had performed through 40 Days for Life since she and Mr. Forck began organizing a local campaign in 2009.
40 Days for Life is an internationally coordinated 40-day campaign that aims to end abortion locally through prayer and fasting, community outreach, and a peaceful all-day vigil on the public right-of-way outside abortion businesses.
Eleven years ago, 800 abortions per year were being performed at Planned Parenthood in Columbia.
“They stopped abortions after losing seven abortion doctors in less than three and a half years,” Mrs. Forck told the audience.
“What happened? The 40 Days for Life Prayer Vigils!” she stated. “Columbia Planned Parenthood stopped performing abortions when it lost its license, and its abortion doctor 10 times during these past 11 years. The Jefferson City Diocese has been abortion free again for the past two years!”
The 40 Days for Life Fall Campaign (40daysforlife.com/columbiamo) continues through Nov. 1 in Columbia, St. Louis and 586 other international locations.
She told about how a concerted effort of prayerful work and advocacy had reduced the number of abortions in Missouri from 10,000 per year to between four and 18 per month.
“Never forget, as long as a Planned Parenthood is open, they will refer women for abortions out of state,” she continued. “It is so important to support your local pregnancy centers who are serving these many women who are choosing life.”
She then led the assembly in prayer, asking God for strength to continue the effort to finish making Missouri completely abortion-free.
She pleaded for mercy for a nation and society that has allowed 61 million abortions to take place since 1973.
“We deserve Your wrath, but we implore Your mercy on us and to save the children who are in danger of being aborted this very day and every day,” she prayed.
She asked God to convert the hearts of all abortionists and the people who work with them.
“Give moms who are tempted with the thought of abortion to instead embrace life for that child,” she prayed. “Send loving kind people into their paths who will give them all the consolation, support and financial help needed to keep their children safe in their wombs.”
She prayed for inspiration for lawmakers to pass life-affirming legislation to protect babies and their mothers from the abortion industry.
“Please give pastors and priests the courage to speak from the pulpit about abortion and to offer consolation to the many women and men sitting in the pews suffering silently,” she prayed.
She thanked God for everyone who works to uphold the sanctity of human life, in particular those who take part in 40 Days for Life sidewalk vigils in all weather.
“Give them protection from those who would do them harm,” she prayed. “We ask a blessing on every woman and man who has suffered from the effects of abortion. Give them peace and prompt them to seek forgiveness which You are so ready to give.”
All at once, she was overcome with the thought of a world without her children and her grandchildren.
She praised God for all the people who have been born and will be born in the future “because of the wonderful gift of Isabelle, my mother.”
“Seeds were planted”
Joining Mrs. Forck in prayer for life were Rachel Blackmore, outreach and development director, and Dr. Carol Fouse, executive director of Churches for Life.
Dr. Faust prayed for churches to be lights in the darkness, and for abortion not only to become unavailable but unbelievable.
“Put Your hedge of protection around us as we seek to do Your will,” she prayed.
Afterward, participants eagerly snatched up the information materials Mrs. Forck had brought to give away about 40 Days for Life.
“This group was hungry for life-affirming information,” Mrs. Forck noted. “Many had never heard of the 40 Days, but let me tell you, they were very interested. Seeds were planted in a very new field.”
In ages past
Howard Boyd, Missouri representative to the Family Research Council, reminded the audience that while this may have been the first event known as a Prayerfest to take place in the Capitol, “we’re not the first ones to pray here!”
“And today, all we’re here to do is join with our forefathers in celebrating the goodness of God,” he said.
Organizers hope to make the Missouri Prayerfest an annual event.