Christian body to host women prayer camp meeting

By NewsDesk

A Christian body, Holy Spirit Mission, also known as Happy Family Chapel, would be hosting thousands of women to an extra-ordinary prayer conference slated between 16 and 19 of August, from  8.am to 12 noon at the Chapel in Akowonjo, Egbeda axis of Lagos.

Distinguished women from United States of America and Nigeria are to speak at the event tagged “When Mama Prays”.

The Chief Host of the prayer conference, Rev. Carol Ighele, said that the programme is a praying and teaching conference for females, under ages of 16 years and above, adding that, women are important member of  family and  homemaker and builder.

Through program features, the body stated that once  women have right focus, children would grow right, husband would be happy and society at large would benefit from it.

“Our focus is to train the woman and the girl child spiritually. It is our annual camp meeting. We expose the women on the challenges of womanhood and how they can become better persons in the society. After the conference, if you were a doctor, you would become a better doctor and if you were a teacher, you would become a better teacher.

“Ours is a kingdom agenda. We are working to ensure that the kingdom of God is experienced her on earth. The event would start on Thursday 16 August and end on Sunday.

“Our speakers are drawn from all over the world and in Nigeria. We empower women in every area. We teach them how to be entrepreneurs, ministers. It is a total package. We implore women to come with their children who are 16years and above,” he added.

Speakers for the even are: Pastor Angela Okotie-Eboh, Pastor Theresa Johnson and many others from USA.

Prayer: For trust in a special relationship

Prepared by Knowing Jesus

Oh God I come to You saddened in soul and with a heart that is breaking. You brought a special person into my life, for which I thank You Lord, and we were so happy together for a time – but for many reasons, including my jealous nature, things have gone sour between us and we have moved apart.

Lord I confess to You that I acted in a way that was not appropriate and did not permit trust between us to develop and to grow as it should. Look down on us in pity I pray – and ask that You would open up an opportunity for us to be properly reconciled so that we may build up our relationship together.

Lord I know that so often when we make foolish mistakes we have to take the responsibility for the outcome, which is not always the way that we would hope – but I do pray that our relationship is not finished and that in Your grace You would restore again the joy of being together and the special love we had for each other.

Change Me Lord – remove this jealous streak that has caused me so many problems in my life I pray,– for I know that this is not from You Lord – and make me more like the Lord Jesus, not only in my actions but in my attitudes and emotions. May Your will be done in our lives and even if we do not get back together – Lord, I pray that we may be reconciled, so that we may separate graciously and not in the current animosity. I ask this in Jesus name,

Amen
“The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.”
(Proverbs 31:11)

“Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God,”
(Romans 2:17)

“And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.”
(Isaiah 32:17)

“That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”
(1 Corinthians 2:5)

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”
(Proverbs 3:5)

“{A Prayer of David.} Bow down thine ear, O LORD, hear me: for I am poor and needy.”
(Psalm 86:1)“{Shiggaion of David, which he sang unto the LORD, concerning the words of Cush the Benjamite.} O LORD my God, in thee do I put my trust: save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me:”
(Psalm 7:1)

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
(Matthew 6:33)

“O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.”
(Psalm 84:12)

Pope John Paul’s ex-aide,Tettamanzi, passes on at 83

By Newsdesk

A former aide to late Pope John Paul II (Karol Wojtyła), Cardinal, Dionigi Tettamanzi, has passed on at age 83, barely 14 years after he contested for post of Pontiff with Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI).

Tettamanzi, a renowned Italian activist and writer, who helped Pope John Paul draft some of his encyclicals, died in Milan, Italy, the country he was made a cardinal 19 years ago.

The death of one upon a time possible contender to post of Pope was announced on Saturday by the Milan diocese, one of world’s largest dioceses with some 5 million faithful and 1,000 parishes.

Tettamanzi was made archbishop of the Italian port city of Genoa in 1995 and in 2002 moved to nearby Milan to continue his service to the church.

Few minutes after his death was announced, the Milan’s mayor, Giuseppe Sala, has reacted with a statement describing Tettamanzi’s death as disappearance of a key figure of Milan’s social and religious history has disappeared.

Also, Pope Francis wrote to Milan’s outgoing Archbishop, Angelo Scola, and his successor, Mario Delpini, to express his condolences over the departure of the late Cardinal which he described as one of most loveable and beloved prelates of the Milanese diocese.

Before his death,  the late prolific writer helped Pope John Paul draft some of his encyclicals and was seen by some Vatican watchers as a potential candidate to replace the Polish pontiff when he died in 2005. But he was little known outside his native Italy and fellow cardinals instead elected Josef Ratzinger as pope.

While as archbishop of Genoa, Tettamanzi defended anti-globalization protesters, who besieged a Group of Eight summit there in 2001. “A single African child sick with AIDS counts more than the entire universe,” he said at the time.

He stood out by deciding that pilgrims visiting Genoa for the 2000 Holy Year should stop not only at the city’s great churches but also an old people’s home to get a special indulgence for the jubilee millennium year.

Tettamanzi was born in Renate near Milan in 1934. He began studying as a priest at the age of 11 and was ordained at 23 by the then-archbishop of Milan, Giovanni Battista Montini, who went on to become Pope Paul VI.

Churches must join sexual health education campaign-Expert

By Newsdesk and agency report

The Eastern Regional Technical Coordinator of the Technical Support Unit of the Ghana Aids Commission (GAC), Golda Asante, has urged religious houses especially churches to give strong support to promotion of sexual health education.

Asante added that it should help provide the people, particularly the youth, with access to adequate information about their sexuality and sexual relationship.

The coordinator made the appeal to religious houses on sexual health at a meeting held with the Men’s Fellowship of the Ascension Presbyterian Church in Koforidua, Ghana, arguing that the platform to discuss ways of curbing rising prostitution, homosexuality and lesbianism in the area.

Asante said the church should double its effort to assist people to make the right decisions and choices, just as she indicated that this should be done through education and information, saying, people needed to take decisions on their sexual orientation and relationship from well informed position

According to her, enforcement of the law on sex alone was not enough to make people to change their sexual orientation and this was why the church’s involvement is important because of its tremendous influence on worshipers could help to make a difference.

She encouraged Christian parents to have confidence to talk and discuss sex with their children, that is, exposing them to sex health would enable their members to instill the family’s sexual values in the young ones.

Asante made reference to campaign to get people in the region to voluntarily go for HIV-AIDS test, and said, the response had been encouraging.

She announced that in excess of 8,000 people went for the voluntary test within a space of three days – during this year’s Kwahu Easter Festival.

Pope sacks Vatican doctrine leader, Cardinal Mueller,

By Newsdesk and agency report

Pope Francis has sacked leader of the Vatican doctrine watchdog, Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, following allegations that he was a critic of the pope.

The pope retrenchment of the cardinal came exactly five years after he was appointed as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).

It was learned that Pope Francis met with the 69-year-old Mueller, an arch-conservative, and informed him that his mandate had come to an end.

The German cardinal is seen as a leading critic of Francis’ landmark Amoris Laetitia document which in 2016 suggested that people who were divorced and remarried could, under special circumstances, be allowed to take the Holy Communion.

In March, Mueller’s congregation was accused by clergy sex abuse survivor, Marie Collins, of resisting the work of a papal commission on child protection.

Pope Francis stand in defence of the church has brought sanity into the Roman Catholic church in recent time.

Efforts to get the Vatican press office to react over the alleged sack has proved abortive.

Lagos to dethrone any traditional ruler harboring, aiding kidnappers

By Newsdesk

Any traditional ruler found harbouring and aiding kidnappers in Lagos State risk dethronement, the state government said on Friday.

It said intelligence revealed that some monarchs collude with hoodlums to kidnap people in the state.

The state’s Commissioner for Local Government and Community Affairs, Muslim Folami, gave the warning during a ministerial briefing in commemoration of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s second year in office.

“Intelligence reveals that some of these Baales, particularly from Ikorodu and Ishawo collaborate with the miscreants to kidnapp innocent souls.Yesterday, I told them to their faces this might lead to dethroning and we will do just that if investigations reveal that you are part of the criminality,” Folami said.

He said government had acquired five hectares of land for the permanent settlement of the security operatives in Igbodu community in Epe to check the incessant attack by kidnappers.

Folami, who disclosed that the land has been cleared and ready for development, urged residents to partner with  government in fighting kidnapping.

The commissioner  said that establishment of a virile and vibrant system of community associations had over the years enabled the government to partner with communities, sensitise them on its priorities and receive feedback on public policies.

He said that total number of Community Development Associations (CDAs) across the state as at March was 3,400, up from 3,292 recorded last year.

Folami said that many of CDAs held monthly meetings to address matters of security, conflict resolution and also tasked themselves to ensure protection of lives and property.

“Community development is one of the primary goals of this administration, it is an established fact that development cannot take place without peace and harmony,” Folami said.

Regret is not repentance

By Darren Waters 

The pain of sin pervades the church and lingers long after the sin itself.

There’s the pastor who is so consumed by building his church that he forgets that it’s Christ who builds his church. Another pastor grieves the dysfunctional church marriages that lead to adultery, abandonment or both. There’s grieving over the hatred of one brother towards another, and more sadness arising from judgemental attitudes to the sins of others combined with unrelenting blindness to personal sin. Life is messy. Church is messy. We wish it wasn’t so.

But what happens when regret replaces repentance?

In the book of Judges, one of Israel’s constant failures was a mere regretting of sin. In Judges 10:16 we read that the Israelites “put away the foreign gods from among them”. They didn’t destroy them, they just put them away for a rainy day. They regretted their idols for a time, but did not repent from them.

Now the problem with regret is its impotence. Regret lacks any power for lasting change. That’s one of the lessons we learn from Israel’s history throughout the period of the judges. Ultimately, regretting sin is all about me and how I feel bad about my dire situation. Regret is about my issues, my problems, my pain and, well, me. Regret arises from pain, sorrow and grief—but it never leads to life because regret looks backward.

Repentance, however—often but not always arising from pain, sorrow and grief—leads to salvation and freedom from regret, because repentance looks to God. Repentance reconciles me with those hurt by my sin and enables true joy in our Saviour because repentance is all about God.

King David knew both the seriousness of sin and the freedom of repentance, and wrote of both in Psalm 51. David realized that it was against God alone whom he sinned, and his godly grief produced a repentance that led to salvation without regret (2 Cor 7:10). That is real blessing.

Without repentance, the sorrow of regret will remain, and possibly be so overwhelming that life will be utterly miserable. ‘Max’, an elderly saint who has now passed on, for years could not share in the Lord’s Supper because of regret over a lifetime of sin. Max argued that God could never receive him, because Max had abandoned his family (among other reasons). It was only a month before he died that Max finally experienced the joy and freedom of repentance, and then entered glory with no regrets.

Of course, some people grow callused hearts and just ignore regret. Repeated cycles of sin and regret harden the heart, and sadly I’ve seen friends turn from the living God to serve idols, giving up feelings of shame produced by sin, and enthusiastically embrace the sin they once regretted. Regret is reduced to a non-issue and sorrow is temporarily abated (perhaps even for 70 years). Belief has been fatally replaced by ignorance.

The urgent need in our churches is heartfelt repentance and muscular belief in the good news. We need to recapture Mark 1:15—the “time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand”, so now is the time for us to repent, turn away from idolatry and self-worship, and believe the gospel. It is the message of Christ crucified that crushes sin’s power, leaving no room for regret. For the believer, there is no regret over past sin, because sin has been dealt with, paid for and obliterated by the cross of Christ. We need to believe this truth and, through that belief, repent from the empty way of regret and enter into the new and living way of Christian freedom. It is repentance and belief that restores our ruptured relationship with God and enables life to be lived with deep joy.

So the pastor can repent of empire building and joyfully serve the Lord’s body, the Lord’s church, knowing that Jesus is much more concerned with his people than any human shepherd could be. Husbands can repent of selfishness and joyfully love their wives in sacrificial love, reminiscent of Christ’s love for his church. And we can all repent of cultivating distrust and anger towards those with whom we disagree and rejoice that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

Of course, repentance of personal sin will also encompass a desire to reconcile with those aggrieved by that sin. This involves not just a cessation of war, but an active working for peace. But sometimes aggrieved people may prefer to ‘maintain the rage’ rather than forgive. In such a case, our conscience can be clear (no regrets!). We must continue praying for a change in the heart of the one we sinned against and for a restoration of the relationship. But it always takes two to tango!

Three Journeys

Prepared by stmatthews

One of the great metaphors of the Bible is “the journey.” The Bible is filled with journey upon journey. From Genesis to Revelation, Scripture is full of people on the move. In the beginning of the Old Testament, Abraham journeys from Ur of the Chaldees to the Promised Land.

Many generations later, Abraham’s descendants journey from slavery and oppression in Egypt into the land of Israel. Many generations after that, they journey back to their Promised Land after the tragic downfall of their civilization and their forced exile in Babylon.

In the New Testament, Jesus himself journeys through Palestine, preaching the Good News of the Kingdom of God. As he journeys, he shows people what that Kingdom looks like by his deeds of love and power. After the Resurrection, Paul and the apostles journey all over the Roman Empire, and their message reaches to the ends of the earth – and here we are, millennia later, with our journeys touching theirs.

It makes sense that the concept of “the journey” would be so central to Scripture, because we human beings are journeying people. We make sense of our lives by understanding them as journeys, as the unfolding story of who we
are and what we do in the world. We think and talk and worry about our career arcs, or our family histories, or our financial forecasts, or our estate plans. In our better moments we think and talk and pray about our spiritual journeys – all  ways of thinking about our lives, our stories, about the journey that has been, and the journey that will be. In some deep way, journeying is an elemental part of who we are as human beings.

This image, this metaphor of the journey has been very helpful to me over the past week or so, as I’ve tried to understand the deeper meaning of this morning’s reading from the twelfth chapter of John’s Gospel. John tells us in
this passage about the moment when several different journeys intersect, and he tells us something about what it means that those journeys come together.

]The first journeyer in John’s Gospel is, of course, Jesus himself. From its very first words, John’s Gospel makes it clear that Jesus is on a journey – a journey that is far more than just a walking tour of Palestine. The pre-eternal Word of God, who is with God and who is God, has journeyed into this world, has chosen to be with us, to become flesh, to reveal his divine being and nature and love to us by becoming a human person in the man Jesus of Nazareth.

For John’s Gospel, this is the first and greatest journey – the cosmic journey of Christ from the Father into this world, through suffering and death and then back to the glory of the Father. Every other journey in John’s Gospel, all of the lives and experiences of all the other people in John’s Gospel, only make sense in the light of that great journey of Christ. John’s Gospel wants to tell us that apart from the great journey of Christ, our lives don’t really get anywhere.

Apart from the grace and power and love of Christ, our lives are just a kind of going in circles. But, John wants to tell us, in the light of the great journey of Christ, our lives can be a journey into God. There are other journeyers in this morning’s Gospel. John doesn’t tell us their names – all we know about them is that they are “some Greeks.” They are the only Greeks – the only non-Jews, that is – in John’s Gospel who encounter Jesus during his ministry. They have somehow heard of Jesus, they have learned something about him, and what they’ve learned has given them a desire to be with him.

They have journeyed to be with Jesus, perhaps over a very long distance. That distance may be geographical, or spiritual, or both. They seek out the follower of Jesus who has the most Greek-sounding name – Philip – and they ask Philip to arrange a meeting with Jesus. And in this moment, their lives, their journeys, and the cosmic journey of Christ from God and to God, suddenly and dramatically intersect.

And that, Jesus says, is precisely the point. The journey of Jesus, the journey of destiny and salvation and healing that he is traveling, now starts to touch not just Jews but non-Jews. The Greeks have arrived. “The hour,” Jesus’ decisive moment of glory and revelation that will climax in the Cross, has come. This is the moment, in John’s Gospel, when the full meaning and power of Jesus’ journey begins to be revealed. This is the moment when the saving journey of  Christ begins to be revealed as the work of God that will heal and save and transform not just the covenant people of Israel, but the whole human race. “The hour has come,” Jesus says, “and when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself.”

These mysterious, unnamed Greeks become the sign that all human journeys, all human lives, find their meaning in Christ. These mysterious, unnamed Greeks are the people through whom Jesus demonstrates that he is drawing every person, bending every journey, toward himself. Christ, now that he is lifted up from the earth by his crucifixion and his resurrection, has become the pole star, the magnetic north, for every journey, for every person, for the meaning and destiny of every individual and of the whole human race. All our journeys are destined to find their meaning by intersecting his great journey.

Until our journeys are caught up in the journey of Christ from God and to God, we really are just going around in circles of our own making. Once we make Christ’s journey our own – or rather, once Christ makes our journey his
own – then and only then are we are safely on the road to God.

In their faith and their commitment and their willingness to let the journey of their lives be taken up into the cosmic journey of Christ, they are revealing to us just a little bit more of God’s glory. They are the fulfillment of Jesus’ words in this morning’s Gospel, before our very eyes. Christ our God has been lifted up from the earth. He is drawing all people to himself. You and I and these three candidates for Holy Baptism and all of us together have received the
unimaginable gift and privilege and joy of making the Godward journey of Christ our own. But there is one last detail about this Gospel passage that has puzzled me for years. What happened to the Greeks? Do they get to see Jesus? Doesn’t Jesus ever talk to them? Do they ever get what they came for? John’s Gospel doesn’t say. It just leaves them – and us – hanging. And for years, that loose end in the story drove me crazy.

But now I think I am starting to understand. I think the Greeks did see Jesus. I think John’s Gospel is suggesting to us that the Greeks did see everything they needed to see of Jesus – because they had come to Jerusalem, and they were going to see his suffering and his death and perhaps even be eyewitnesses of his Resurrection.

It’s as if they came seeking an interview, but what they got was to see the cataclysmic, earthshaking events that were going to unfold in Jerusalem over the next few days. If they showed up, they would see. If they saw, and let the cosmic journey of Christ fully intersect theirs – if they saw, and understood what they were seeing, and if they believed – they would find what they were seeking. They just needed to show up for the next few days.

They needed to show up – for Holy Week. They had to be brave enough to take it all in, and to believe what they heard and saw.

How does God use society to restrain evil?

Prepared by Jack Wellman

Societal structures of sin and the fallen-ness of humanity reveal the theological essence of the reasons that it exists. The restraining of evil by God in both human agents (Romans 13) and by His Spirit (2 Thess 2:7) is obvious even in those who do not possess the Holy Spirit as the Apostle Paul wrote that even “when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.

They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them” (Rom 2:14-15).

Dr. James Spencer of Moody Theological Seminary wrote, “The freedom of God affirms that God is not bound and can work within the boundaries set by organizational limitations but not constrained by those limitations.” Within the Scripture is the idea of the immutable hand of God and that He is never frustrated by human will, even on a global scale. A superb example is when the church in Jerusalem was persecuted in order to extinguish it, but only managed to spread Christianity into the outer reaches of the Roman Empire and beyond.

When the persecutors thought to have doused the flame of the church they unintentionally and unknowingly threw gasoline on it and helped to create a greater fire, so clearly, God’s will cannot be frustrated by human agencies and in fact, they play into His preordained purposes (John 3:16).

When Jesus informed Pilate that he had no power that was not first ordained by God, the Son of God gave this ruler the immutable fact that it was only because of God’s sovereignty that Jesus was delivered to him and that Pilate held such a position of power. Every good and every evil works in conformity with the eternally decreed will of God. When human governments carry out evil, they are, in reality, being used by God to move the affairs of mankind to do what is according to His will.

God was not favorably disposed to nations which took captive and destroyed the nation of Israel time, however even this was a loving act of discipline that He used to break the nation’s pride in order that they might humble themselves, and consequently, bring them to repentance and obedience. Clearly God has and will yet again humble the nations or the individual, but His use of mankind’s evil never diminishes this effectual work of His hand.

This too reveals that He is no respecter of persons or nations, and whatsoever He decrees must come to pass; even if evil is part of the process in which he achieves His good pleasure. He is not the author of this evil but uses it for His purposes and it’s always for our own good (Rom 8:28). Joseph’s brother’s wickedness was God’s intention for doing good, specifically in preserving many people, including Israel (Gen 50:20).

What about the structures of society today that seems to be out of control, even beyond human restraints? Almost 60 million human lives have been destroyed since Roe v Wade, but even more, school shootings, rampant sexual immorality, government corruption, and a national debt out of control can be used for His good purposes too. Today, the structures of human society themselves are unable to restrain what now is beyond their control. There are some places that even the police do not go.

The giving over of humanity to their sinfulness is abundantly evident by the callous effect that sin has on the human heart. Sin desensitizes and eventually anything and everything goes…just as long as they legalize it, however what is legal is not always moral or ethical. Just as Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, so too is a person who by continually sinning has less and less inhibitions to sin.

Reinhold Niebuhr, author of Moral Man and Immoral Society: A Study in Ethics and Politics rationalizes like most do about the positivisms of human nature that humanity has a good opinion of themselves, despite the objective evidence to the contrary. In my own personal experience from sharing the gospel, most people consider themselves to be good people. Like most that hear and reject the gospel they see no need for a Savior because they do not see the evil in themselves or see themselves as being sinners.

By considering themselves to be a good person they are ignorant of the offenses that reek as a stench in the nostrils of a holy God, so unless the Holy Spirit imparts to the sinner the understanding that they are miserable, wretched sinners who deserve the wrath of God, they cannot possible come

Good biblical interpretation about the depravity of mankind stands in stark contrast to the unsaved world which believes “I’m okay…you’re okay,” but knowing that God’s Word will not return to Him without effect, and that the Holy Spirit must be joined with that Word, they cannot hear it without the witness of the Spirit of God Who is the only hope for a world which has no moral compass.

This world cannot presently be objectively aligned with God’s truth because it has not the spirit and with no spirit, there can be no Teacher, therefore it holds to subjective moralism. Here is where the danger lies for the church. Many churches have been infected with the relativistic values of the society with which it is embedded in, thereby rationalizing doctrine. Churches become pragmatic; it must work for most of the people most of the time, and their approach changes with society and culture, so we cannot expect the world to operate in any other way other than that which it presently does, and without the Spirit of God, they have made a god made in their own image and after their own likeness and imagination.

The community and personal responsibility are interconnected in the sense that we can have a positive influence in reducing the community influence of sin. A few years ago, we had a casino built in our area, but only about 1 in 4 Christians voted against this. Some even voted for it due to the promise of helping the local school districts and reduce property taxes. One happened, but the latter didn’t (taxes). How deceptive! I saw this as “selling out to sin” for short term gain, but the long term is what I was more concerned with. My own failure to speak up, I must admit, was a sin of silence. The fact that the majority of the population supported the casino made me hesitant to speak out against it, including the great harm that gambling brought to the area. We are living in a small town and the small town values have been severely compromised as crime has increased, along with spikes in bankruptcies, divorces, spousal abuse, drug abuse, and other crimes related to Casino.

Sadly, the majority made me more hesitant to speak out about these ills and my ability to influence the community was dampened. My own sin of silence played into the hands of the vocal majority. A sin of omission is still a sin of commission in the sense that to do or say nothing is a vote for evil. Even though I did speak out against it, I rarely spoke with local leaders and citizens about the well documented facts that testify of the detrimental effects of a local casino. Now it is too late.

Since Christians must swim upstream and fight the tides of the ever changing culture that they live it, at least we know that God is ultimately not restricted by human activities, the culture, or mankind’s freedom to choose. Knowing this, it is critical for the Christian to continue to proclaim the need for repentance and faith, but realize that God is the evangelist. It is impossible for the human mind to wrap itself around the truth that God uses mankind to restrain evil (Rom 13:1-5), but also uses evil for His own purposes. He is God and our finite minds will never fully comprehend the Infinite.

Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas.

Marchers takes to streets against abortion law

Energized by US President Donald Trump defunding foreign abortions and his promise to appoint a conservative Supreme Court justice, pro-life marchers gathered at the Mall in Washington D.C. yesterday.

The 44th annual March for Life comes less than two weeks after the Guttmacher Institute, the former research arm of Planned Parenthood, reported that abortions fell to less than a million in 2014. The total was 12 percent fewer than in 2011, and the lowest rate since Roe v. Wade legalized the practice in 1973.

List president Marjorie Dannenfelser, Susan B. Anthony, recently said that there has never been a time, ever, when the muscle of the pro-life movement has been so strong,”

Guttmacher credited the rising rate of contraception use, which delivers fewer unintended pregnancies.

Wrote Guttmacher senior policy communications manager, Joerg Dreweke, births do not appear to have replaced most abortions in the most recent period: The number of abortions declined by a little over 132,000, whereas the number of births increased by only about 35,000 (some of which could represent more intended births, as happened between 2008 and 2011),”

Dreweke pointed to a study detailing the increased use of long-acting reversible contraceptives (such as IUDs and implants) among teens; although the study was only conducted among women who already used contraception, the efficacy of longer-acting contraceptives is higher than those of other birth control methods. In 2008, 27 percent of women who procured an abortion reported using condoms when they became pregnant; 17 percent were using a hormonal method.

The US Department of Health and Human Services credits the falling teen birth rate to both more teens choosing abstinence and the increased use of contraception.

Guttmacher also acknowledged the “flood of new restrictions” that pro-life advocates have encouraged state lawmakers to pass in recent few years. Since 2012, 47 legal restrictions went into place in 22 states; the declines in those states account for about 38 percent of the abortion decline from 2011 to 2014, according to Guttmatcher.
But that means 62 percent of the decline happened in states (and the District of Columbia) that didn’t have new restrictions.

The most effective laws “make it expensive or outright impossible for providers to come into compliance, often resulting in clinics being forced to close,” according to Guttmacher. Of the nine states that implemented these types of laws, eight had larger-than-average declines in abortion clinics.

Pro-life groups, many of whom are involved in legislation to restrict abortion, believe that those laws were critical. Another important factor, they said, is the use of ultrasounds.

“Such pictures are worth more than a thousand words when it comes to helping people understand whose lives are on the line,” stated Americans United for Life acting president Clarke Forsythe.

National Right to Life (NRLC) president Carol Tobias agreed. “When they see the child moving in the womb on an ultrasound, when they hear the heartbeat of the unborn child, when they know there are people and programs available to help them with a new baby and new circumstances, when they see what dismemberment abortion does to these precious children, the pain and agony that is involved in every chemical abortion, they look for life-preserving solutions that are better for everyone involved.”

(The ultrasound debate took off on social media recently after an article for The Atlantic blamed them for making a “heartbeat” and fetal reaction to stimuli seem more real than it is.)

None of the explanations is perfect, and others reached for different interpretations of the data.
NRLC director of education and research Randall O’Bannon said that “one element that may not be getting its due is the increasing sense among Americans that abortion is no real solution for mothers, for their babies, or for society in general.”