Some pastors say Operation Rescue’s long-running protests have sparked revival in the city’s evangelical churches.

A sign greets travelers heading south through America’s heartland into Wichita, Kansas: “Visit Wichita, a beautiful surprise.” But when Operation Rescue (OR) accepted the city’s invitation this summer, its citizens and churches experienced a real shock. They may never be the same.

Wichita provided an ideal target for OR’S “Summer of Mercy” campaign, an effort to close down the city’s three abortion clinics, including one run by Dr. George Tiller. One of the largest providers of abortions in the country, Tiller advertises his clinic nationally, offering what many doctors refuse to perform: third-trimester abortions. During more than six weeks of protest, some 2,500 were arrested, as the campaign gained national media coverage.

But what started on July 14 as a campaign against abortion in the city has become much bigger than that, say local church leaders.

Signs Of Revival

“There is a sense of revival in this town like I have never seen before,” says Joe Wright, senior pastor of Central Christian Church, an evangelical congregation of about 1,600.

Wright chooses his words carefully. But he and others point to a crucial meeting as evidence of renewal among many of Wichita’s 500 churches: the gathering of more than 80 evangelical pastors—prompted in part by a sense of shame and repentance for not opposing abortion more actively prior to OR’S arrival—for two days and a night of prayer and fasting.

Many of the pastors had never before talked, much less prayed, together. In fact, the pastors say, Kansas is the only U.S. state never to host a Billy Graham crusade, mainly because of an inability to get churches to work together. ...

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