We are very grateful to our God during a pandemic that brought much uncertainty and affliction to our country. But we also had the opportunity to show our love to those people, who needed to be comforted by the fact that God's love has not changed. He has not abandoned us. God is still generous. He wants to be with us in these moments of our life. He has poured out many blessings and has arranged them all for our good (Romans 8). Although things have been difficult, we know that these challenges and sufferings have a purpose for our lives and have helped us to grow more.
There were many things to pray for: asking our God to take control of all our actions; motivating the group to pray but also to act in the midst of so many difficulties. We prayed with the people who were affected by anxiety and fear over the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to our Lord, who up to now has taken care of us, protected us to be able to comfort and continue loving and praying always.
The celebration gave us a call for reflection in terms of making decisions and facing challenges (Matthew 7:24-27). The words of Jesus challenge us so that our life goes well and does not end in disaster. The call is to build on the rock who is Jesus and to listen; listen carefully to his words and put them into practice. The message invites us to decide to live by what the Lord says in his word, to love, forgive, cry with those who mourn, be simple and clean of heart, work for peace and justice. This way we will have a safe and welcoming home for everyone. A house built on the rock, which is Jesus Christ.
Our role in the community
We have a high percentage of unemployed youth who have not been able to enter the labor market due to the economic crisis in our country. This problem has increased due to the pandemic.
Like the voices of Vanuatu women, the women of our country are also affected by the same problems, perhaps more or less. There are women who, due to their poverty conditions, cannot and have not been able to acquire basic education. They leave their homes in rural areas and travel to the big cities, seeking solutions and many times the situation becomes worse. Many end up working in degrading manners to support themselves and the family they left in their hometowns.
Our help to women in these unfavorable conditions would be to collaborate with them, guide them and connect them with organizations that protect women and provide alternatives so that they can train and acquire the necessary tools to be able to perform an honest job that dignifies them.
As in Vanuatu, malnutrition is an alarming health problem in Panama. A large number of children under the age of five suffer the physical consequences of poor diet, they suffer from stunting and frequent infections. In other words, children are hungry and often get sick. They don't eat foods that can keep their bodies and brains growing strong. Poverty makes the most disadvantaged children face the greatest risk of all forms of malnutrition.
To the children in these situations, the help that the women of the WDP would give is to pray for our God to take control of this situation and to support with financial resources the foundations that protect and help these children. Pray and take action.
Communication is key
We were in total quarantine throughout 2020 and it was difficult for us to meet but thank God we maintained communication through calls to coordinate everything related to the program. The Worship Service was carried out and the attendance of 35 people was achieved in accordance with what was established with the restrictions of the health authorities allowed in the temples and parishes with the required capacity. It was possible to simultaneously transmit the worship in a virtual way for those sisters and invited people who could not participate personally. The service was a great blessing specifically because of its theme.
It was a different year in every way. Less face-to-face participation, but today we want to get up and build our houses, our nations and the entire world on the word of Jesus, who is our firm foundation. That must be the fundamental principle of our message today and forever. May the Lord make us wise builders for eternity.
Mayor Inez Proverbs, WDP Panama
El Comité del Día Mundial de Oración (DMO) en Cuba agradece los cuidados de Dios en medio de este tiempo de crisis sanitaria mundial, y los aprendizajes que de ello hemos podido extraer; volver a lo esencial de la vida, nuevas formas de relacionarnos, valorar la convivencia en familia, autocuidarnos para poder cuidar, alimentar nuestra espiritualidad y ser más solidarias, entre otras muchas enseñanzas. Agradecemos la vida de las personas que coordinan y apoyan el movimiento del DMO a nivel internacional y en cada país, y que con su labor nos ayudan a mantenernos unidas, informadas, orando y actuando. Especialmente agradecidas por la solidaridad de nuestras hermanas, el afecto expresado en mensajes, oraciones y espacios virtuales compartidos. En este sentido, damos gracias a Dios porque los avances tecnológicos nos permiten comunicarnos con mayor inmediatez, celebrar juntas desde la distancia, ver nuestros rostros, intercambiar información y palabras de ánimo. Y porque a pesar de la distancia física, nos sentimos más unidas. Nuestro corazón se encuentra agradecido porque en medio de un contexto global de enfermedad, crisis e incertidumbres, la gracia de Dios y su Palabra, nos dan continuas señales de vida y amor fraternal, para vivir confiadas en nuestro día a día, y mirar con esperanza el futuro.
Preparar las actividades del DMO en contexto de pandemia fue muy desafiante. Las iglesias no se estaban reuniendo por causa del Covid 19, y sólo en algunos lugares podían hacerse, con sumo cuidado y cumplimiento de protocolos sanitarios, pequeñas reuniones. Hicimos la distribución habitual de los materiales con la esperanza de que grupos pequeños pudieran usarlos, pero mayormente nos proyectamos hacia lo virtual específicamente para WhatsApp y Facebook que son las redes sociales más asequibles para nuestro contexto, donde el acceso a Internet es relativamente costoso y la conexión inestable. No obstante, la participación en la celebración virtual del grupo de WhatsApp, tuvo muy buena acogida y superó las expectativas del equipo. De modo que las actividades fueron preparadas en medio de la incertidumbre de no saber qué acontecería al día siguiente, pero con la certeza del Dios que escucharía nuestras oraciones en tiempo presente y con visión de futuro. Damos gracias a Dios también porque pequeños grupos de hermanos y hermanas en otras provincias de Cuba donde la Covid19 aún no se había propagado con fuerza, pudieron hacer pequeñas celebraciones presenciales. Varias denominaciones y organizaciones ecuménicas tomaron parte en las actividades.
El entorno de la pandemia afectó la participación de los niños/as, quienes se encontraban en aislamiento en sus casas durante la cuarentena, ya que fue limitada la presencia de menores de edad en espacios públicos. En el caso concreto de Cuba, la tendencia es que los niños/as no poseen dispositivos móviles para conectarse a Internet, de modo que, aunque compartimos los materiales del culto infantil con las iglesias, y seguramente fueron empleados en las casas, no tenemos ninguna constancia de cultos infantiles propiamente.
El grupo de WhatsApp creado permanece activo para compartir oraciones diarias, con unos 100 miembros habituales y nuevas personas que se suman paulatinamente. Consideramos como un aporte/logro el que podamos compartir oraciones diarias, las cuales son un canal de acompañamiento, ánimo y esperanza para personas enfermas y sus familiares.
Poder convocar a mujeres de todas las generaciones y de todas las provincias del país, para el culto virtual, nos dio una bonita perspectiva del diálogo intergeneracional, de la diversidad de dones y afinidades que poseen, y sobre la manera en que podemos construir juntas, intercambiando saberes, habilidades y motivos de oración.
Acciones de apoyo a las mujeres y comunidades
Agradecemos a Dios que en Cuba podemos contar con acceso igualitario a la educación, en todos los niveles, y que, en el caso de las mujeres, son mayoría en las estadísticas de los estudios universitarios. Podemos notar que existe un especial interés en la atención a la infancia y existen proyectos para apoyar a este sector de la población. Por ejemplo, actualmente la FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) se encuentra desarrollando un programa para apoyar la desnutrición infantil, beneficiando a embarazadas e infantes.
No obstante, surgen nuevos desafíos. En la pandemia, muchas mujeres han quedado desempleadas (sector turismo, sector privado, artistas, etc.). Incluso para aquellas que se mantienen laborando, el teletrabajo supone un reto tecnológico y de distribución de los tiempos en casa. En Cuba existe una tendencia de que las mujeres sean las principales cuidadoras de enfermos y ancianos en el hogar. Por otro lado, la crisis económica ha provocado un notable desabastecimiento de alimentos, medicamentos y otros productos básicos, por lo que se generan largas filas en los establecimientos, donde se percibe una mayor presencia de mujeres, quienes tienen un rol importante en la gestión de trámites relativos al hogar y en la tarea de buscar los alimentos.
Coincidentemente, en el reporte diario de casos positivos al Covid 19, el mayor número de casos positivos es de mujeres. Cabe mencionar, que la presencia de los menores en casa también supone para la mujer la responsabilidad de acompañar el proceso educativo de los hijos/as, quienes asisten a clases televisadas durante la cuarentena. Estos factores, unidos al contexto de crisis económica y sanitaria, colocan en riesgo la salud física y mental de las mujeres. Para este caso, nuestro Comité desarrolla un proyecto de incidencia en la salud mental de las comunidades, desde el abordaje de la No Violencia, y la creación de recursos de resiliencia a través de las artes expresivas. El DMO Cuba mantiene una estrecha colaboración con el Programa de Mujer y Género del Consejo de Iglesias de Cuba, en sus acciones formativas de empoderamiento de las líderes eclesiales.
Para el acompañamiento diario, diseñamos recursos litúrgicos como oraciones, cantos, y otras herramientas formativas que sirvan a implementar una estrategia de autocuidado, redes de apoyo, y solidaridad femenina. Apoyamos en redes mediante las cuales intercambiamos motivos de oración y peticiones de medicamentos para intentar localizarlos y movilizar la solidaridad. También, en nuestras actividades y talleres, priorizamos emplear como facilitadoras a mujeres necesitadas, mujeres jóvenes o profesionales desempleadas, de modo que puedan percibir alguna bonificación temporal por su colaboración. Son pequeñas acciones, a veces de carácter temporal, pero mediante las cuales hemos podido acompañarnos mutuamente.
El mensaje hoy
Desde finales del año pasado y especialmente en este 2021 han acontecido muchos procesos (económicos, sociales, políticos, eclesiales, etc.) que, acompañados de la pandemia, han venido a agudizar la crisis mundial de la que no estamos exentos, y así a desplazarnos de nuestros habituales cimientos, zonas de confort o seguridades. Desde esta visión, el programa de Vanuatu desafía fuertemente a la Iglesia Cubana a fortalecer sus cimientos en la base firme, que es Dios y a buscar nuevas formas de apoyarnos mutuamente, aportando nuestros dones al servicio del reino, y en favor de los más necesitados.
Ser sabio, en el contexto de nuestro país implica, sobre todo, ser creativos y resilientes. La creatividad ante un panorama de crisis económica, sedimentado por el bloqueo y ahora agravado por la pandemia, ha supuesto para cubanos y cubanas, la búsqueda de soluciones concretas, prácticas y cotidianas. La resiliencia ha permitido adaptarse a situaciones de carencia, desde una economía de la solidaridad, un crecerse ante las dificultades, y mayormente, confiar en que Dios nos sostendrá sobre una base firme. La sabiduría debe ir acompañada de la formación, pensando en las nuevas generaciones, que son el presente de la sociedad, y en este caso, también de la Iglesia, los cuales muchas veces carecen de herramientas necesarias para emprender sus sueños y, sobre todo, de valores sólidos.
Ser sabios, en esta hora de nuestra realidad, implicará también apoyar a personas vulnerables, con pocos recursos espirituales y materiales, y especialmente a los adultos mayores, que son mayoría en nuestra población. La sabiduría para este tiempo implica enarbolar un discurso de no violencia, de diálogo intergeneracional, de acompañamiento pastoral y de inclusión.
Cuba es una isla donde también los ciclones afectan la vida cotidiana durante una época del año. Desde esa perspectiva insular, conectamos muy bien con los sentimientos expresados por la obra de arte de la artista de Vanuatu, y la inspiración del tema. Construir sobre una base firme, en tiempos de profunda inestabilidad, fue un aliciente emocional y espiritual para las mujeres cristianas vinculadas al movimiento. Ha generado, entre otras cosas, el desafío de seguirnos uniendo, animarnos mutuamente en la fe, y obrar juntas creando alianzas de trabajo y saberes compartidos.
La metáfora de la base firme, como contenido principal de la celebración, nos ha inspirado a estar más unidas como equipo DMO nacional, reconociendo la solidez de nuestro movimiento, en Cuba, gracias a la misericordia de Dios y la labor de muchas cristianas de nuestro país.
- Ruth Mariet Trueba Castro, DMO Cuba
On July 16th, 2021, the World Day of Prayer International Committee hosted an online Global Conversation with Ruth Mariet Trueba Castro, President of WDP Cuba, on how the relationship between art and prayer can be a source of healing during the pandemic. Being united in prayer is what links us together, which has been very crucial during this time.
Over 50 WDP leaders from all over the world came together to listen to Ruth as she discussed the important connection between art and religion while showcasing the WDP artwork over the last 10 years. She focused on colors and common symbols that can be seen within the artworks and how it relates to faith and prayer. Ruth explained that “there are two main ways in which we can approach prayer through art: meditating on works of art as starting point for prayer or creating art as the expression of a prayer.” Ruth also demonstrated, by drawing an image live during the meeting, how some of the prayers under the #WDPUnitedInPrayer campaign sustained her during this time of pandemic. While she drew, selected participants read aloud the prayers.
The participants were invited to create their own artwork as Ruth guided them through a meditation inspired by the Vanuatu theme "Build on a Strong Foundation." In small groups, participants were able to share their creations with each other and pray together. Catherine MacKeil, WDP Canada, commented on how appropriate the topic of art was during this breakout session because although her partner spoke a different language, they could communicate through the art they both created.
The conversation ended with a closing prayer song performed by Susana Renner, WDP Brazil. The colors of a pandemic were made into a collage of artwork and prayers from the participants presented to us by Ruth Trueba. Art comes in many different forms and so does prayer and we are thankful to Ruth for guiding us through this conversation.
Watch the full video below:
One year after the first Global Conversation, organized by World Day of Prayer International Committee, we are back again to share our experiences and learnings with the 2021 WDP Vanuatu program. We want to nurture global relationships, practical learning about WDP and strengthen our journey in the way of peace and justice.
Almost 60 WDP leaders representing the seven regions of the world attended the online conversation on May 28, 2021. In more than 10 small groups, we talked about how it felt to celebrate during the pandemic and the reasons for our prayers.
For Maral Haidostian, Lebanon, the conversation was a time of friendship and encouragement, while Sylvia Marowa, Zimbabwe, was thankful to God for preserving us all during the pandemic. Margarita Casco, Paraguay, reflected on the painting from Juliette Pita, where she sees God as the mother caring for the child during the turmoil caused by the pandemic. Pauline Bryan, Jamaica, shared about the prayers for the sisters of Vanuatu, as their experiences resonated with the women in her home country.
The Conversation ended with an intercessory prayer led by Nora Carmi, Palestine. In the spirit of WDP's practice of informed prayer and prayerful action, she contextualized the continuous oppression of the Palestinian people. As a person who knows suffering but does not lose hope, Nora concluded the invitation to prayer affirming the hope that is built on the strong foundation of our faith. To which, Áine Pedersen, Slovenia, responded with gratitude for the witness and support with prayers.
The video below is a brief insight into the conversation on May 28th and what we hope to achieve with this series. WDPIC will continue to host Global Conversations throughout the year to keep the WDP network connected, engaged and informed. Watch our video and share it with your network!
- Rosângela Oliveira
Executive Director, WDPIC
“May the peoples praise you, O God;
may all the peoples praise you.
May the nations be glad and sing for joy.” (Psalm 67:3,4)
World Day of Prayer Croatia’s preparation for the celebration on the First Friday of March took place under special circumstances due to the Coronavirus pandemic. As mentioned by Kata Lenđel, “Having faced the challenges of isolation and recent earthquakes which severely hit parts of Croatia, experiencing isolation and the impossibility of meeting one another, as well as constant fear of new quakes, the National Committee of WDP Croatia initiated online gatherings.”
Given the unusual situation, WDP Croatia sensed a genuine need for mutual prayer and used the benefits of virtual meetings and social media to come together. At the beginning of 2021 they started a cycle of online prayers which they called “Together in Prayer”. Brigita Hengl says “we focused our prayers on gratitude, repentance, faith, supplication, and trust. Together we meditated, sang, and recited the Lord's Prayer. We tried to find comfort and peace, strength, and inspiration for continued action, daily challenges, and successful preparation for the prayer with women in Vanuatu. We felt especially close to them as we are also exposed to natural disasters, like the earthquake that-ravaged parts of Croatia in December 2020. In addition to the spiritual message, we recognized the importance of developing social and geo-political strategies to build a healthy and just world for all.”
On February 24, they held an online Bible study on the theme Build on a Strong Foundation, Matthew 7: 23-27, led by theologian and philosopher Juliana Mladenovska Tesija. This online event was attended by participants from Croatia and neighboring countries like Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia and Serbia. Finally in March, their worship service was held virtually over Zoom. Despite the special situation experienced this year, they felt enriched with new experiences and opportunities provided by the digital world, including the use of the hashtag #vanuatuwdp2021 on WDP Croatia’s Facebook page to promote prayers.
Sanja Sabljak highlighted a moment during preparatory meetings where one WDP sister shared her thoughts: “I was consumed by true fright and excitement facing the task of preparing a prayer that will be pronounced and supported by my fellow sisters from WDP. It looked like a good opportunity to share with them my most intimate beliefs and contemplations about God, my favourite Bible passages and hymns. This experience enabled me to test what can be shared about God's greatness, thanksgiving, penitence, faith, requests and confidence among sisters. I liked what I learned, and it encouraged me profoundly. It meant that I have matured in my faith. In my church, women don't often have an opportunity to lead common prayer which is the reason why this event was even more intense and beautiful. Sharing one's faith in common prayer was for me a moment of immense joy and intimacy in spirit with sisters. I am thankful for being given the opportunity to not only participate, but also organize and create the prayer meeting.”
One great component of getting women to pray together within the World Day of Prayer celebration is to unite them in the spirit of Jesus Christ. Encouraged by such joy and peace given to us by the Lord through these online prayer meetings, WDP Croatia commits to continuing “Together in Prayer” into the next year.
Text adapted from reflections by WDP Croatia members: Kata Lenđel, Brigita Hengl and Sanja Sabljak
It amazes me how the 2021 theme “Build on a Strong Foundation,’’ is so beautifully interwoven with the WDP motto ‘Informed prayer, prayerful action.’ The theme has been foremost on my mind, and I began to question what my ‘foundation’ was like. Whilst preparing to speak at a fasting and prayer morning, I also realized how all-encompassing the WDPIC motto is - it is only as one prays that God opens our eyes (informed) and then…. action is the natural outcome! Keeping this in mind, I was led to examine the lives of two women in the Old Testament. Their lives helped me to be ‘informed’ and to realize what a powerful tool prayer is. They are Rebekah (Isaac’s wife) and Hannah. Their prayerful or prayerless attitudes reflect the impact not only in their lives, but also in the lives of their family and even an entire nation.
When we first meet Rebekah in Genesis 24, she is a vibrant, adventurous, helpful, happy person who was willing to take risks. If you observe our young girls, it will not be difficult to identify a young Rebekah – so happy, content, and full of life. Rebekah was not only blessed with a loving, caring family (Genesis 24:49-50), she also married into a family that loved her and welcomed her with open arms (Genesis 24:67).
On the other hand, our first encounter with Hannah in 1 Samuel 1 is quite the opposite and we meet a ‘deeply troubled,’ barren woman whose rival was constantly provoking her (1 Samuel 1:6). When comparing them, one would expect Hannah to be the ‘loser.’ However, this was not so.
Rebekah turned her blessings into a curse. To me the saddest verse in the Bible is found in Genesis 27:13 when Rebekah encouraged her favourite son Jacob to deceive his father and brother. Even when Jacob voiced his reservations (Genesis 27:11-12), she arrogantly told him ‘Let the curse fall on me!’ The greatest blessing for any mother is to see her children not only living righteous lives, but also to be united. Rebekah unfortunately traded these blessings for curses. Her deceit led to disastrous results: Jacob fled from home; and when he returned from Mesopotamia twenty years later, his mother lay buried in the cave of Machpelah, (Genesis 49:31) and Rebekah did not even have the joy of seeing Jacob’s children! Is this not a sad ending to a family that was greatly blessed by God?
In contrast, Hannah chose to seek the Lord in her time of distress and transformed her life into a blessing. Her agonizing prayer to her God (1 Samuel 1:13-16) and her faithfulness (1 Samuel 1:20) transformed her from being deeply troubled to a woman greatly blessed (1 Samuel 2:21). She kept her promise and dedicated her first born to God (1 Samuel 1:27-28). A difficult decision, as she knew she could see Samuel only once a year. Hannah was able to experience the blessing of watching her son become a great prophet who went on to influence an entire nation. An amazing woman. Is it surprising that the Lord blessed her?
Do you want to act like Hannah or a Rebekah? Are you going to pray intelligently and take prayerful action just like Hannah did? Or will you choose to act like Rebekah? The Lord has left the choice to you! May you make life’s choices prayerfully and thereafter take prayerful action!
- Vino Schubert, WDPIC Regional Representative Asia
Sisters! What a great celebration we had with the Ni-Vanuatu sisters on the World Day of Prayer!
Each one of us, from our corner of the world, proclaimed out loud that we 'Build on a Strong Foundation.' On the first Friday of March, many WDP committees and churches prepared a celebration that could be experienced online, while others organized in-person services under the restricted health guidelines. Like a balm of hope in a world tired of loneliness and losses, the celebrations were filled with enthusiasm and creativity, resilience and dedication.
There was so much joy in connecting with familiar friends or new friends from another city or country during the celebrations. New partnerships were created with young people and local churches who provided the technological assistance needed for WDP worship services online. There were new opportunities created as people unfamiliar with WDP attended the services or watched a video. The movement has learned how to use the new technologies of communication to organize their meetings, plan activities, and to hold the celebrations. We thank God for giving us the tools to come together as #WDPUnitedInPrayer!
You may watch a WDP worship service video by visiting the WDPIC YouTube channel playlist. We also want to remind you to email us the Annual Report of your National/Regional Committee. Your country's experience will be published in the 2021 WDP Journal. Click here to download the Annual Report Form.
Looking forward to the 2022 program, we are connecting two special moments for the movement. Firstly, the worship service program prepared by WDP England, Wales and Northern Ireland with the theme 'I Know the Plans I have for You' (Jeremiah 29:1-14) will be celebrated on the first Friday in March. The materials are ready and have been distributed to all WDP National Committees. Please, contact WDPIC if your National/Regional Committee does not have the worship service materials.
Secondly, the WDP International Committee Meeting is to be hosted by WDP Scotland, under the theme 'New Heart, New Mind. Called to Hope' (Ephesians 1,18) in June. There is a common thread within these two themes. Both Bible texts speak about hope during troubled times, trust to overcome uncertainties, and openness to accept the new.
In March of 2020, we were caught by surprise with the World Health Organization's declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic while we were praying with our Zimbabwe sisters, and in 2021 we adapted to our new situation and prepared alternatives to in-person services to pray with our Vanuatu' sisters. We want to bring this spirit of preparedness and resourcefulness to the International Meeting in 2022.
Therefore, considering the current COVID-19 pandemic across the world, the uncertainties of 2022, the new complexities and requirements for international travels, the wellbeing of WDP leadership, the economic impact of the crisis, and financial responsibility with the future of WDPIC and WDP National/Regional Committees, the WDPIC Executive Committee has decided to hold the International Meeting using an online format in 2022 in lieu of an in-person gathering.
This means that the International Meeting will be held with delegates and guests around the world, regardless of their location. We will use video, audio, and text to connect and collaborate via an internet connection. We will build on the technology we already use like emails, mobile chat (WhatsApp, etc.) and web conferencing (Zoom, etc.) to accomplish the purpose of the International Meeting (WDPIC Constitution). We will share, decide, vote, network, listen, talk, report, learn, sing, pray, plan and more without being physically together. It will be a unique experience full of blessings.
From May to November of 2020, WDPIC sent to the National/Regional Committees Newsletters with the information about the International Meeting and the ways that the Committee can participate. From May to July 2021, we are expecting to receive the response forms from each National/Regional Committee. Visit the Meeting 2022 tab to download the forms (English, French, Spanish). Here are the deadlines for the committee's responses:
1. May 3, 2021 - Delegate registration
2. June 1, 2021 - Nominations for Chairperson and Regional Representatives
3. July 1, 2021 - Nominations for themes and writer countries for WDP worship service
We ask the National Committees and the delegates to continue reserving in your calendar the week of June 12-19, 2022 for the International Meeting while we adjust the program and procedures to an online format. We count on the participation and support of your National/Regional Committee to sustain in prayer the international sisterhood of WDP.
We are greatly thankful to the WDP Scotland committee for all that they have already done to welcome us in person in Edinburg, and their understanding of the implications of the global situation on the original plan. We will continue our conversation with them on alternative ways to host the International Meeting. The 2022 WDP themes set the tone for an action-oriented and future-forwarding meeting. Thus, we hold onto our strong foundation trusting that God's plan is to call us to live and act in hope.
- Rosângela Oliveira
Executive Director, WDPIC
The angel said to Mary Magdalene, Mary and Salome: "Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you. They went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid” (Mark 16:6-8).
The Gospel of Mark (chapter 16) shows a group of courageous women go to the tomb in the early hours of the morning with the intention of anointing Jesus' body. The announcement of Jesus' resurrection made by the angel surprised them, even terrified them, and left them speechless. This is quite expected, for who could understand resurrection? Perhaps, the witnesses of Lazarus’ resurrection would (John 11). But for those women, they were just silent: "because of their fear".
I like to think that they did their part anyway, since we will soon be able to proclaim the liturgical formula "Jesus is risen - He is risen indeed - Alleluia! ".
But what does it mean to proclaim that Jesus is risen during a pandemic which has spread so much suffering, death, fear, and insecurity? What changes can we bring about so that our fears can be transformed into a song of trust and praise? The gospel invites each of us to search faithfully for an answer. Knowing that Mary Magdalene, Mary and Salome have found their voice - have found Jesus - it gives me hope for better days.
To all of us who are involved in the World Day of Prayer, I dare to say that prayer is one of the ways that allows us to rise up and proclaim with confidence that "Jesus is risen!" Another way is the WDP motto: “Informed prayer. Prayerful action” which guides our commitment to concretely live out our faith.
I love the refrain of the French hymn “Tu nous appelles à t’aimer” (You call us to love you) by the composer R. Fau:
“You call us to love you
by loving the world where you send us to,
O faithful God, give us,
by loving the world, to love only you! "
May we smile at life on this Easter morning of 2021!
Dear Friend, feel blessed!
Laurence Gangloff, WDPIC Chairperson
Holy, Holy, Holy, God creator of the heavens and the earth and all that is them. God is present in the history of his people from yesterday to today. Loving God, on whom Vanuatu stands, we adore you (2021 Worship Service prepared by WDP Vanuatu).
“As the day is drawing closer, we can feel the tender love of the Master around us. Vanuatu Christian Women are so excited to celebrate World Day of Prayer this year because God, through his grace, has appointed this tiny nation on the face of the earth to be the WDP Writer Country for 2021. We cannot thank God enough for this privilege and opportunity given to us. We believe that all celebrations will bring Honour and Praise to God’s Name alone,” states Ruth Dovo, the liaison of WDP Vanuatu, with great enthusiasm.
“In Vanuatu, we planned two events for this week: a parade and entertainments on Thursday, March 4th and the Worship Service on Friday March 5th. We already participated in a Talk-Back-Show program on our National TV station. The General Secretary of the Vanuatu Christian Churches spoke on the importance of Women's Programs in the Church, Cindy Vanuaroro spoke on the history of the WDP in Vanuatu and I gave an update on how Vanuatu became a Writer Country and our celebration programs. Our Message to the WDP Sisters around the world is - COVID-19 may hinder our gatherings but it cannot take away the Love of God in our hearts that binds us together. Thank you for all the prayers of our sisters around the world. God Bless you,” she continued.
This is the time when what has been prepared locally becomes visible from Vanuatu to around the globe. WDP is about building relationships which stand on prayer and action. This is the strong foundation of WDP. We focus on what is essential, which is #WDPUnitedInPrayer.
“The women of Vanuatu prepared the service that is holding the world together. We are ready. You are invited,” says Laurence Gangloff, WDP International Committee Chairperson. As one with the whole community she lifts up a prayer: “Oh God of love, bless this day; bless the communities; bless the offerings that will be given in response to your call. Yes, loving God, bless our prayers and actions so that they become a sign of your Kingdom! Amen.”
On this very day of unity, we join in prayer with Cindy Vanuaroro, the secretary of WDP Vanuatu:
Lord, help us to be good listeners of your Word.
Loving God, sharpen our ears to be keen listeners to your Word, as we used to do in our oral culture of listening well to each other around the fire in order to help each other out.
Help us listen well to your Word, which is the light to our daily path. Help us to have reverence for you in all we do in our families, communities, society and nation. Especially at these uncertain times when we have gone through disasters, sickness, domestic violence, and many other societal issues that are affecting the nation.
Loving God, as we strife to plant in our gardens to help sustain our livelihood, please help us to remember to put you first in all we do, think and say.
Loving God, as we acknowledge that we have not lived up to your Word, we are reminded of our Motto "In God We Stand". It is our prayer that you will help the people of Vanuatu to build their lives wisely. Help them to love and serve God and God only.
Loving Father, as we struggle with these confusing times, give us wisdom, courage and faith to run the race, to fight the good fight, and to keep the faith. Thank you for helping us to build each other up in love for eternity.
- Rosângela Oliveira, WDPIC Executive Director
Watch and share the additional resource videos created by WDPIC for the 2021 WDP program. They are now available on our Youtube channel. Like & Subscribe!
Let us celebrate the World Day of Prayer in 2021 prepared by the women of the Vanuatu islands!
The 2021 theme “Build on a Strong Foundation” is an invitation to return to the foundations of our faith, which can also be expressed as the foundations of the World Day of Prayer--“Informed Prayer– Prayerful Action.”
The health situation in each country, each region, each town, and village is still under the impact of the pandemic and the restrictions to slow the transmission of COVID-19. We cannot ignore it, but rather be responsible in our celebrations.
We are United in Prayer, Even in the Midst of a Pandemic
What have we learned over the year of 2020 that can be used for the 2021 WDP celebrations?
Final invitation - tell us your story! Email it! Tag @WDPIC on Facebook! Tag @worlddayofprayerinternational on Instagram! Fill out the annual report form! Share your experience so the world may discover the commitment of WDP women in the healing of our communities.
May the celebration with our sisters in Vanuatu be anchored in the memories that move us to “Build on the Strong Foundation.”
- Laurence Gangloff, WDPIC Chairperson