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Journey in Faith
Pro-life leader in Manassas
Mike Baldwin spreads respect life message through 40 Days for Life
Every fall and spring, Mike Baldwin peppers the email inboxes of Manassas pro-lifers with repeated reminders to sign up, show up and, most of all, send prayers up for the biannual 40 Days for Life campaign.
On a mission to change hearts and save lives, Baldwin has coordinated the Manassas campaign since spring 2010. His desire to be involved in the pro-life movement can be traced to the faithful example of his mother, who, when Baldwin was 11, opened a crisis pregnancy center on Whidbey Island, in northwest Washington state.
“I think that was really important, just to have a foundation of being a pro-life family,” Baldwin said. “That influenced me. I think that’s one of the things that families need to be aware of. If they want their kids to be pro-life, they have to set the example.”
Baldwin was born on the island April 10, 1966, the youngest of five children. Maybe it was the fact that he was dependent on a ferry schedule to get on and off the island where he lived, but Baldwin said from the time he was 10 years old he knew he wanted to be a pilot.
He received a full ROTC scholarship to the University of Washington in Seattle where he studied engineering — in case the whole pilot thing didn’t work out — and graduated in March 1989.
While in college, Baldwin wasn’t actively involved in his faith, but he never lost it, he said.
“That’s one of the things that I kind of wish looking back now,” he said. “I wish I’d been more active in the Newman Center. I didn’t think I needed it then.”
From Seattle, Baldwin went to the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Fla., for a year-and-a-half, where he trained to become a naval aviator and he met his wife, Jan. The couple was married in Jacksonville, where Baldwin took a job flying the P-3 Orion, a naval aircraft. A few years later they moved to southern Maryland, where Baldwin continued flying for the Navy until he left the service and took a job with United Airlines.
In the late 1990s, the Baldwins moved to Seattle where they could be closer to family. But when the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks occurred, Baldwin found himself wondering if he was safe as a pilot.
“My whole foundation was kind of rocked,” he said. Baldwin’s deep concern about his career led to deep prayer — and that was the time he and his wife became pregnant with their youngest son. Baldwin saw the pregnancy as the answer to his prayers, as a confirmation that he was called to do “nothing radical” and continue being a family man.
He also realized he needed to get more involved in his faith. So Baldwin joined the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults program at his church, which he immediately loved.
“I’d had a real interest in my faith and learning more about my faith and sharing that with others,” he said.
Teaching at RCIA eventually led to his enrolling in a program for master catechists, from which he received a certification after two summers of studying. But he got more out of the program than just “head knowledge” about his faith.
He learned “it’s not about the head, it’s about the heart,” he said. “It’s about a relationship with Christ, who is the church. It was a big revelation for me.”
While growing deeper in understanding of his faith, Baldwin noticed the publicizing of the 40 Days for Life, a 40-day campaign that involves publicly praying for life.
“I really liked the idea of their message because it was all about prayer,” he said. “Prayer and peaceful witness. It’s not about arguing, it’s not about graphic signs, it’s not about screaming at other people.”
But with his irregular flight schedule out of Seattle, he could only help “very peripherally.”
Still, that small amount of time had an impact.
The first time he held vigil he said he was “so nervous.” He was worried people would yell at him, that he didn’t have the answers he needed to have.
“After about 10 minutes you realize no one’s coming up to you,” he said. “It’s just you and God. Then you settle in and start praying.”
In July 2009, the Baldwins and their three sons, Robert, Daniel and Matthew, moved to Manassas so Baldwin could easily fly out of Dulles Airport. They became parishioners of All Saints Church, where Daniel and Matthew attend school.
Slowly, Baldwin started becoming involved in the pro-life movement, praying with the 40 Days for Life when he could. In the spring of 2010, the campaign needed a leader so Baldwin and another man stepped up to the plate, joining efforts.
“It’s so funny how God works,” Baldwin said. “I didn’t know hardly anybody in the community. God put us together to run this thing, and we were able to combine our talents and … we stepped up the campaign to another level.”
Together, they worked out a schedule to cover all days and hours of the campaign. “And it’s been growing ever since,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin said he’d discovered that he needs to pray for himself — as much as others — that all people may gain a “better appreciation for life as a gift,” he said.
“This whole campaign, it’s definitely a work in progress,” he said. “It’s helped me appreciate life a little bit better and help me appreciate other people a little bit better. God is always blessing you way more than you expect. You put in a little bit, He’s going to give back in abundance.”