Christian Action League
By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
RALEIGH — “If not us, then who? If not now, then when?” These are simple questions from pro-life advocate Madonna Farrell who is challenging fellow North Carolinians to rise up, get equipped and speak out to defend life.
“There is no more time for apathy or indifference. The stakes are way too high,” she said this week urging attendance at the Second Annual Life Conference coming to North Raleigh Christian Academy on Saturday, Oct. 23.
Among nearly a dozen speakers at the daylong event will be David Bereit, national campaign director of 40 Days for Life, and singer/songwriter and author Deanna Jones. Addressing end-of-life issues will be Dr. Paul Byrne, director of neonatology and pediatrics at St. Charles Mercy Hospital; Ron Panzer, founder of Hospice Patients Alliance; and Betty Wickham, executive director of LifeTree.
“40 Days for Life is exploding not only in our country but internationally as well. It is generating a lot of support … drawing in folks who have never prayed at an abortuary before,” Farrell said. “People are seeing how their prayers and witness for life truly do make a difference.”
The community based campaign, now under way in 238 locations, has led thousands of Christians to fast and pray for an end to abortion. Over the past three years, 40 Days for Life has documented 2,811 lives spared, 38 abortion workers who have left their jobs and seven clinics shut down following the campaigns. Held during October — Respect Life Month — 40 Days for Life is going on outside abortion clinics across North Carolina including A Woman’s Choice in Raleigh.
Bereit became an outspoken pro-life advocate some 12 years ago when Planned Parenthood announced plans to build an abortion clinic in his Texas town.
“His talks are highly motivational and inspiring,” said Farrell.
Jones, author of “To Be a Mother,” will share from her heart the deep grief and remorse she experienced over an abortion when she was only 19 and how she ultimately found healing through Christ. The singer/songwriter and New York City orchestra band leader is now a mother of six.
Farrell said conference attendees will be moved and motivated by Jones’ talk and beautiful songs. She expects that Jones and other speakers, including Andy George, student ministry pastor at Crossroads Church, and Carrie Faur, president of Carolina Students for Life at UNC-CH, will be of special interest to young people at the conference, which is open to children as young as 10.
“They are the future of the pro-life movement! They need to learn what is happening in their country in regard to Life issues,” said Farrell, who was taken to rallies by her parents when she was a child. “Also, they have an energy and enthusiasm that only the youth can offer.”
“Young people want to get involved and help. They know that a huge percentage of their peers are missing due to abortion,” she added. “They understand they are survivors of an American holocaust.”
Other speakers at the event, which will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and include both a light breakfast and lunch, will be Dorothy Yeung, vice president of North Carolina Right to Life and Chair of Triangle Right to Life; Mary Rider, former director of Consistent Life and Tracy Winsor, outreach coordinator for Be Not Afraid.
Winsor will talk about adverse prenatal diagnoses and how parents can be supported and encouraged to carry their babies to term.
“When a couple receives an adverse prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome, there is an 80 to 90 percent termination rate,” said Farrell, who learned of this statistic after her daughter Laura was born with Down Syndrome.
“She is a treasure, a joy. We can’t imagine our lives without her,” Farrell said. “But we have become a ‘disposable’ nation. If the baby is not ‘perfect’… just get rid of it. What an offense to our Creator, the Author of all Life.”
End-of-Life issues to be addressed will include organ donation, palliative care and how the euthanasia movement is infiltrating Hospice.
“Many of us are having to face hard decisions with elderly parents and grandparents. End-of-life issues are so complex,” Farrell said. “The Life Conference recognizes this by having not one, not two, but three experts on end-of-life issues.”
In addition to the speakers, the event will include ministry tables to browse. It is the second such conference in Raleigh, with the first being held in March 2009 in the aftermath of the 2008 elections, when America had chosen the most pro-choice President in its history.
“We saw the need to provide knowledgeable speakers to provide education on the issues and a panel of folks from various ministries and organizations so those attending would see the various opportunities available to them to help the cause of Life,” Farrell explained. She said the conference brings likeminded pro-life folks together no matter their denomination, provides education on a whole spectrum of Life issues and helps send more soldiers of Christ to the front lines.
Doors to the Annual Life Conference will open at 8 a.m. with a light breakfast and ministry tables for browsing. Crossroads Worship Team will provide music from 8:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. and the conference will continue until 5 p.m. with a light lunch included. Cost is $20 for adults; $10 for students ages 10 and up.
Pre-registration is encouraged at www.prolifeeventsnc.org but not required. The Web site also includes more details about the speakers and their assigned times on the agenda.