While reflecting on the story of Jesus’ healing in John 5 in anticipation of the World Day of Prayer 2020 celebrations, I am reminded of the value of intention. When we read the story of the man by the well, Jesus’s command to action can be read as a directive to follow Jesus and listen to his instruction. What about the intention of the sick man at the well? For 38 years, this man had been unable to walk and was unable to move himself to the pool to be healed. He had been waiting and hoping for years until Jesus found him. When Jesus told him to stand, he had faith and he stood up – healed! Can you imagine how strange this must have been for the sick man? For 38 years he was paralyzed, when suddenly a man arrived with the answer to his problems – just stand up! Can you imagine how ridiculous that would have sounded to the sick man? He easily could have brushed Jesus off and continued to wait for someone to help him into the pool. Instead, the man chose to rise, pick up his mat, and walk away from his place by the pool.
This story of healing reminds me of the World Day of Prayer movement. In the past, I have attended meetings locally, nationally, and internationally. One of the biggest topics of conversation is “how can we keep the movement growing?” While many ideas are shared, we often remain comfortable in our traditional, and oftentimes shrinking, first Friday in March service and do not seek to go beyond the confines of the calendar and the walls of our churches. We host our service, enjoy the celebrations, then sit by the well and wait for someone else to come up with a new idea. World Day of Prayer is about turning informed prayer into prayerful action, a practice that goes beyond a single day of service.
Why not host a WDP community breakfast or dinner, turn the service into a local play, or even organize a sports day?
One creative WDP group in Bolsover, Ontario, Canada organized a paint night inspired by the WDP Slovenia program! Participants gathered and followed an artist’s instructions to paint a honeybee hovering over a pincushion flower to celebrate World Bee Day, which was sponsored by the Slovenian government to the UN in 2017. There are many creative ways that we can spread the message, love, and prayers to new folk and to strengthen lasting WDP relationships.
Take a look at your WDP team - are you laying by the well waiting for someone to change things for you? Or are you willing to take ownership and rise, take your mat and walk!
- Lauren Wilks, WDPIC Regional Rep. of Caribbean and North America
John 5:2-9 New International Version (NIV)
Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lay — the blind, the lame, and the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. Amen
Rice is the staple food in India, and women are the carriers of this cultural practice. About 70% of rural women, especially indigenous women, are farmers - though their labor is not always recognized. Traditionally rural and indigenous women, who are the custodians of native seeds, tend the paddy, harvest the crop that sustain the family and small-scale farming economy of the country.
In the North Eastern region of India, surrounded by lush green mountains, there are indigenous Christian women who also found in that labor a way to contribute to the communities through their participation in the church ministry.
Since the missionary movement in the early 1910, when people in the North Eastern part of India did not know much about the Gospel, Mizo women in Mizoram state and Kashi tribe women in Meghalaya, were very aware of how they could participate in God’s mission.
They placed a pot near the fireplace where they cook and labeled it ‘God’s Pot’. No matter how little they have for themselves, they set aside one handful of rice from every meal they prepared. After a month, they would sell the collected rice and use the money to support missionaries and their outreach mission activities to take care of orphans, the destitute and those in need in their own communities.
The participation of women during the missionary years is the same mission context that originated World Day of Prayer in North America. When women are aware of the needs of their communities, they want to do something. In the giving of their labor, women in the North Eastern part of India reflected their prayer and faith.
Within the Presbyterian Church of India, this practice is known as ‘Handful of Rice’. In the World Day of Prayer, we call it “informed prayer and prayerful action”.
Both perspectives meet during the common day of prayer on the first Friday of March. The rice put aside is a gesture of prayer for the church – who still does not ordain women in India, for the home – where domestic violence is high, and for the country – where rural and indigenous communities’ struggle not only with poverty but with various forms of gender based violence.
On this past celebration, motivated by the program written by WDP Slovenia, women from India came together in prayer and were thankful for God’s call – Come – everything is ready!
- Rev. Moumita Biswas, WDPIC Asia Regionl Representative
Being chosen to write the 2015 service for World Day of Prayer, under the theme “Do you know what I have done to you?” based on John 13:1-17, was an inspiration for every island of the Bahamas. It brought attention, understanding and change to our people, to the local committees, and to the work of the National Committee.
A beautiful set of collectible postage stamps with the 2015 artwork and the World Day of Prayer name were created for the occasion. It was a means of educating people about WDP, especially for those who had never heard of the movement.
Gifts and donations from countries in every region were shared with children’s homes, women’s shelters, breast cancer research groups, the AIDS Foundation, teen mothers, children’s literary groups, and feeding programs. The P.A.C.E. (Providing Access for Continuing Education) for teen mothers and the AIDS foundation were able to provide sleeping spaces for those who have had to leave their homes. The 'Sister, Sister' Breast Cancer group have been able to assist more than one hundred women to purchase ports.
Since 2015, we have made recurring donations to the Children’s Emergency Hostel, the ‘Sister, Sister’ Breast Cancer Group, and teen mothers, the Women’s Crisis Center and Children’s Literary Programs. We enjoy the relationship built with these organizations, whom keep in touch with us and also attend WDP annual services.
World Day of Prayer gives us an opportunity to learn each year about another country, and we have developed monthly meetings where we share something about the service and the country. We study the Bible text, we learn the music, we prepare the foods, we pray, and we collect offerings designated to the writer country.
- WDP Bahamas Committee
“I am Merlyn, from Mindanao. When I was 15 years old, I was forced to seek employment after my parents died. I said I was 18 years old and boarded a ship with a recruiter to the big city of Manila. The agency assigned me to work for a family and I worked almost 24/7 without a day-off. After 3 months, I did not receive any salary, so I resigned. My employer filed a complaint against me for qualified theft. She accused me of stealing. I was put in a detention cell for 3 days. With the help of a Christian lawyer, I won my case against my employer on unfair labor practices and received compensation.
My story is that of many young girls who come from rural areas, and the ones that leave our country as overseas workers. Forced by economic circumstances, we migrate to the urban centers and abroad. We are often abused, and experience economic injustice…”
This excerpt was taken from the World Day of Prayer 2017 worship service program written by the WDP Philippines committee. Given the theme “Am I Being Unfair to You?” based on the bible story Matthew 20:1-16, the committee decided to focus on the unjust labor practices in their country and bring awareness to the struggles the women, men, and sometimes children, face. The men face high unemployment rates and the women are overworked, underpaid, and taken advantage of.
Due to increasing costs of living, many men and women decide to work abroad in order to find better paying jobs. This often impacts the family negatively. Families break up and children begin to do poorly in school. The country has passed laws to protect workers but implementation is lacking.
With the support and offering received from the World Day of Prayer, the WDP Philippines committee took its first steps in tackling these issues. They supported two Mangyan (indigenous people) lay missionary empowerment projects. The first entails Bible study sessions for the women participating. They are mentored by women leaders to attend conferences, WDP events, seminars, and training sessions. The second project involved teaching the Mangyans of Mindoro, to weave baskets and trays so they can promote their culture and simultaneously make a living. Their products were marketed at conferences and community events to support their progress.
Through the WDP service the question presented is - What can be done to create a better world? Every day, women and men in the Philippines bear the responsibilities of providing for their families in the face of unfair labor practices. Through these offerings the WDP Philippines committee was able to make a small change in the lives of some.
“We will not lose hope. We will continue to be resourceful and mentor our children until even just a glimmer of light shines through to guide us.” – Prima Formilleza, WDP Philippines Chairperson
- Based on reports received from WDP Philippines
En 2016, el comité del Día Mundial de Oración de Cuba escribió el programa bajo el tema “Al recibir a las niñas y los niños, me reciben a mí” basado en Marcos 10: 13-16. El tema nos llevó a crear nuevas iniciativas, que con gratitud en nuestro corazón hemos dado seguimiento a la atención a los niños y las niñas, los protagonistas de la celebración en 2016. Les compartimos un poco de lo que hemos hecho.
Al coro creado de niños y niñas provenientes de zonas vulnerables, les impartimos clases de música y de formación de valores. Hemos trabajado también con niños y niñas con síndrome de Down usando las artes visuales como instrumento para su inclusión social. En Holguín, hemos dado acompañamiento material y pastoral a niños y niñas cuyas madres están presas. Y hemos propiciado el compartir celebrativo de niños y familias en situaciones vulnerables, tanto en los barrios como en las iglesias.
Gracias a una ofrenda para apoyo psicológico, pudimos apoyar y acompañar a algunas familias de las víctimas del accidente aéreo de Mayo de 2018, donde 17 niños provenientes de las familias pastorales se quedaron huérfanos.
Muchas mujeres se han capacitado y hemos podido desplegar un trabajo de prevención con mujeres y adolescentes que estaban viviendo en situación de violencia. En algunas escuelas secundarias en Cuba se introdujo la temática del “anti-bullying” (acoso escolar).
En la zona oriental del país, organizamos un evento formativo con 300 mujeres de diferentes denominaciones donde promovemos el movimiento del Día Mundial de Oración. En el marco de este evento apoyamos a mujeres jóvenes que perdieron sus casas a raíz del paso de un terrible huracán. Muchas personas e iglesias que no conocían el DMO se animaran a celébralo por primera vez.
Uno de nuestros encuentros más transformadores ha sido la colaboración con el Proyecto Cuidándonos entre Hermanas. Este es un espacio de convivencia formativa y terapéutica para que las mujeres desarrollen la sanación personal y se capaciten con herramientas para el cuidado pastoral.
A partir de la celebración del DMO 2016, el movimiento del Día Mundial de Oración en Cuba se ha fortalecido con numerosas alianzas ecuménicas y la inclusión de mujeres jóvenes. Durante todo el año nos involucramos con las actividades formativas del Programa Mujer y Género, que movilizan a mujeres de diferentes denominaciones, incluyendo a la Iglesia Católica. Dentro de estas actividades se cuentan la Jornada de la No Violencia hacia las mujeres y las niñas, los cursos de promotoras, la Semana de Oración por la Unidad, los encuentros de comunión y retiros de la red de mujeres Débora.
Al mismo tiempo, dimos continuidad a proyectos apoyados por la Sociedad Bíblica de Australia y la Comisión Bíblica de Cuba. Esta alianza de colaboración nos provee de literatura para el trabajo de prevención de la No Violencia entre las nuevas generaciones, así como la disponibilidad de la Biblia ISHA para el trabajo con mujeres.
En Cuba hoy hay una serie de actividades y programas que resultaron de las ofrendas recibidas de la red internacional del DMO. El impacto es sentido desde nuevas iniciativas en conjunto con el Consejo de Iglesias de Cuba hasta el fortalecimiento del DMO en las comunidades reportado aquí por Midiam Lobaina, Reverenda María Yi Reyna y Ruth Trueba. Con el apoyo de los coordinadores territoriales del Consejo de Iglesias de Cuba en la difusión de los materiales del DMO (vía impresa y digital) y la coordinación de las celebraciones en las varias de las provincias de Cuba, hemos logrado fortalecer la presencia de un comité provincial del DMO. Hemos estado presentes en cada región del país, como por ejemplo, Matanzas, Pinar del Río, Cienfuegos, Camagüey, y Guantánamo. Esto hay permitido que nuevas iglesias se han sumado a las celebraciones.
El Día Mundial de Oración en Cuba, no sólo se activa durante el primer viernes de marzo sino que permanece tejiendo acciones concretas orientadas hacia el empoderamiento de la mujer cristiana, promoviendo espacios de espiritualidad, formación y oración.
- Ruth Mariet Trueba Castro (Coordinadora del DMO en Cuba), Midiam Lobaina (Miembro del Comité Escritor del DMO Cuba 2016), y Reverenda María Yi Reyna (Iglesia Los Amigos Cuáqueros en Holguín, Coordinadora del Consejo de Iglesias de Cuba en la provincia de Holguín)
Par la guérison du paralytique (Jean 5:2-9a), Jésus révèle le don du Père. Le paralytique dans son état d’isolation a besoin d’une présence pour le jeter dans l’eau au moment de l’agitation afin qu’il recouvre la santé. Mais le Seigneur se présente à lui dans ses moments de découragement et d’angoisse, non pas pour le jeter à l’eau, mais pour lui dire une parole forte et d’engagement : « veux-tu être guéri ? » La réponse du malade montre sa volonté et la reconnaissance de la puissance de Jésus, qui lui dit : « lève-toi, prends ton grabat et marche.» Trois expressions d’action : se lever, prendre son lit et marcher.
La foi du paralytique lui permet non plus de se faire jeter dans l’eau, mais de guérir par la parole prononcée par Jésus. Passer de l’ignorance à l’écoute de la parole, de la séparation à la communion, de l’isolement à la rencontre, de l’incrédulité à la foi sont les transformations du paralytique qui vient d’accueillir le Seigneur avec foi accédant ainsi à une nouvelle vie.
Le monde traverse aujourd’hui des crises de tout genre, les sinistres causés par les inondations, les incendies, les guerres etc…
Le thème « Lève-toi, prends ton grabat et marche » est un thème d’encouragement qui nous fait comprendre que tout n’est pas fini, et qu’il y a encore de l’espoir car le Dieu d’amour et de miséricorde est présent pour nous sortir de nos prisons de résignation.
A travers le thème du Zimbabwe, les femmes de la JMP en particulier et les femmes du monde au lieu de sombrer dans les maux qui minent les pays, doivent se lever pour dénoncer toutes les formes de violences qui au lieu de promouvoir l’être humain l’anéanti plutôt. Nos voix doivent s’entendre à travers nos prières, et nos actions en faveur des nécessiteux.
Accueillons la parole du Seigneur qui nous donne la force et le courage de nous lever et de promouvoir le mouvement de la Journée mondiale de prière dans nos communautés et dans le monde entier!
- Henriette Mbatchou, WDPIC Regional Rep. Africa
Within the Africa Region there have been several initiatives taken for the capacity building of women leadership and the promotion of campaigns geared towards ending sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).
The World Day of Prayer national activities in Ghana are a part of the Gender and Women’s Programme of the Christian Council of Ghana. Apart from the WDP celebration every first Friday of March, the Council is also involved in organizing capacity building events for women leaders. In 2018, various leadership seminars were held with special attention given to SGBV topics and issues. During a training session in Abokobi, Ghana, participants signed on to join the Thursdays in Black campaign.
In Zambia, the WDP committee hosted the 2nd Sub-Regional conference for Southern Africa under the theme “Pray without Ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:12 -17). It was attended by 73 participants including WDP members from committees in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Angola, Malawi, Botswana and Zambia.
At the meeting it was decided that each country present would commit to and observe the Thursdays in Black Campaign.
The WDPIC regional representative from Africa – Joyce Larko Steiner, was present to facilitate and share materials and news from the WDPIC office.
Learn more about the Thursdays in Black campaign here.
- Joyce Larko Steiner, WDPIC Africa Regional Rep.
In 2012, the women of WDP Malaysia wrote the World Day of Prayer worship service under the theme “Let Justice Prevail” based on Luke 18:1-8. The WDP offering is a sign of our worldwide prayers, as we can learn with our sisters in Malaysia, who dedicated the offerings to support the following projects that involve women and children - Elshaddi Learning Center, Project Hope, Malaysian Care, Single’s Mothers Home, Sengoi Educational Development Program, and Indigenous women’s training.
There are more than 19,000 refugee children in Malaysia and the numbers are increasing. These children are denied entry into government schools and private schools are very expensive. Education is the basic right of children and without an education these children face a bleak future. The Elshaddai Learning Center caters to refugee children and offers both primary and secondary education. Currently the school has 550 students from Myanmar (Rohingya and Chin tribe), Indonesia, Pakistan and Cambodia. This education gives the students a basic foundation while their families await relocation to other countries. Similarly, Project Hope aims to provide indigenous children with housing closer to schools so they may have easier access to their education and prevent drop outs. Donations are used to buy books and provide tutors to help the children meet the proficiencies required by the Ministry of Education.
Malaysian Care is a Christian organization that provides diversified services for rural and urban communities. The WDP offering was used towards a project dedicated to helping women and children affected by substance abuse and living with HIV/AIDS. These people are often abandoned and need urgent assistance for basic necessities like medication.
The Single Mother’s Home is a local community based project which was started in 2011. It currently houses eight single mothers, who are either widows or victims of domestic abuse, and their children. The home is rented and relies on donations to continue operating. Without this home the women and children could potentially face a hard life on the streets and be exposed to dangerous situations.
The Sengoi Educational Development Program was initiated by a Methodist Church as part of their mission work among the indigenous Sengoi tribe. The program aims to educate the Sengoi and empower the new generation to raise their standard of living and economic welfare. Their action plan is to train secondary school students to become pre-school teachers and earn a degree in Early Childhood Education. Other programs in development with the Council of Churches of Malaysia and Indigenous churches involve leadership training for rural women. Regular seminars and workshops are held where indigenous women are encouraged to become more active in their church and community life. They are taught how to identify the issues faced in their community and consider solutions.
The Women’s Work Committee of the Council of Churches of Malaysia, who organizes the WDP services, is grateful to all of the countries who donated their offerings to support these projects. The opportunity to put into practice the WDP motto of ‘Informed Prayer. Prayerful Action’ and make a difference in someone’s life is something the committee is incredibly thankful for.
- Based on reports by Mary Thomas Mathew
Moderator, Council of Churches of Malaysia, Women’s Work Committee
Last year, the German World Day of Prayer Committee collected more than 30 tons of used pens for Syrian girls in Lebanon. The revenue of this campaign made school education and psychological support for many girls possible.
Since the beginning of the war in Syria, more than one million people have fled to the neighbouring Lebanon. Among them were around 400,000 children between the ages of 5 and 17. Two thirds of them have not seen the inside of a classroom for years.
This is why the partner organisation of WDP Germany, Beit el-Nour ("House of Light and Hope"), has set up an educational programme that serves around 200 girls. The girls go to school and have a chance to learn in a quiet environment away from the refugee camp, where they face so many hardships. War and terror have severely traumatized most of the girls who were forced to flee their home. At Beit el-Nour they receive psycho-social and pedagogical support too.
True to the theme of World Day of Prayer 2018 from Suriname "God’s Creation is Very Good!", the German World Day of Prayer Committee has launched the recycling campaign "Pens Make Girls Strong". For more than a year, people all over Germany have collected used pens at over 2,000 collection points: in parishes, schools and kindergarten classes, offices, stores, supermarkets, medical clinics, universities, libraries and even at police stations.
The pens all ended up at a recycling company and were converted into watering cans or pen holders. For each pen, the company donated one cent to the World Day of Prayer. The money collected was used to support the educational project of Beit el-Nour. For 450 pens, the equivalent of 4.50 euros, a girl can be provided with school materials. So far, more than 30 tons of pens have been received, which corresponds to the possibility of supporting the education of more Syrian refugee girls.
- Corinna Russow, WDP Germany