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
Dear friends of World Day of Prayer,
With our sisters from Slovenia, we sang joyfully "Come along, the feast is ready". The song introduced us to the theme based on the Gospel of Luke, chapter 14 - "Come - Everything is ready". The celebration was great. The first feedback about the program I heard was about it being positive and heart-warming. All participants are grateful.
But after the feast, we return to the liturgical time of Lent. In France, the churches invite believers to refocus their lives on God, to become aware of God's place in their lives, family, society, and in the world. There are a lot of conferences and concerts. All of them urge us to move towards the Holy Week - the passing from pain of death to the joy of Resurrection.
Suffering is present in all its forms in our world. Violence is omnipresent. But our conviction as Christians today is to strongly affirm that death, violence and suffering will not have the last word. We proclaim it every time we prayerfully repeat the Confession of our faith that “Jesus died, went down into hell and rose again on the third day”.
We firmly know that death will never have the last word again. That is why we can tirelessly say NO to violence and NO to rape. The Thursdays in Black campaign spearheaded by the World Council of Churches and supported by World Day of Prayer may be a sign of our hope.
Sisters and brothers, I sincerely encourage you to join the movement of spreading hope and say NO to all forms of violence. Together we can bring the changes that our world so desperately needs.
On Easter morning, I wish your heart to be filled with joy as the tomb is found empty in Jerusalem: "Jesus the crucified, is risen, He is risen indeed".
Receive the peace that only God gives!
- Laurence Gangloff, WDPIC Chairperson
“Come, everything is ready” – with the invitation from Luke 14, 15-24, the Word Day of Prayer (WDP) services were celebrated all over the world united by the prayers written by women of Slovenia. On Friday March 1st 2019, the Slovenian women celebrated the 2019 service and the 20th anniversary of the very first WDP service held in Slovenia simultaneously.
In 1999, Ljudmila Smid, a Slovenian migrant worker in Switzerland, first encountered the WDP movement while working there. When visiting with a group of Slovenian migrant workers back home, around the first Friday in March, she took the initiative to organize a local WDP celebration. She encouraged Greta Rothmeier Klancnik to invite some friends in Rogaska Slatina to the first worship. They were inspired by the movement and continued to organize services every year.
In 2001, the first WDP service organized by a German speaking parish was held in the capital, Ljubljana. The two groups connected and expanded their community by inviting women from different parts of Slovenia to a preparatory workshop. By 2002, the service was celebrated in four places and the movement started to grow.
The impact of this new movement was marvelous. For most of the women, it was the first time they could meet other women on an ecumenical level. Together they read the bible and shared their experiences of wisdom, joy and sorrow which lead them to prayer. To have women preparing a worship service, and more than that - an ecumenical service, was innovative in Slovenia. For many women WDP has had an immense impact on their growth in faith and self-confidence.
Learning annually about a different country from another region of the world has helped to open up their hearts and minds, to widen their horizons and to share their own lives with others. “Informed prayer – prayerful action” moved the groups to identify people in their surrounding areas living in difficult situations and organize help for them.
Being the writer country for 2019 was at the same time a challenge and a gift for the young WDP movement in Slovenia. After three years of hard work, the invitation has spread all over Slovenia - “Come, everything is ready.” The committee raised support for people and groups in need. The movement was officially acknowledged by church authorities. It is growing and celebrations were held in 8 places. They are on the way to being registered as a non-profit organization.
I have been a part of the process since 2001, and at this moment, I am overwhelmed and grateful for the gift of WDP and its impact on the Slovenian women. The little seed planted twenty years ago has grown into a wonderful tree with branches of ecumenical sisterhood, encouragement, and awareness of the responsibility for God’s creation.
- Corinna Harbig, former WDPIC chairperson and member of WDP Slovenia
The 2019 WDP theme “Come, everything is ready!” reminds me that we have to answer the invitation each day. The invited had said "Yes" and then, when the time came and their host had gone to great trouble and expense, they turned their backs on him.
Our decision to be faithful to Christian values, build ecumenical relationships, and promote World Day of Prayer is not to be taken for granted. Sometimes it is easy, but sometimes it is hard to keep promises. The theme motivates me, as Chairperson of the committee, to use my talents, time and energy for what God has planned.
People all around the world were praying with and for Slovenia. Armenian women in Aleppo, Syria and 3,000 women in South Africa – just overwhelming! I get goose bumps when I imagine that. God was already working and many miracles have happened since the start of the preparations in 2016 in Slovenia.
Being the focus of the WDP program, challenged us to expand our circle, which meant involving people who could help with the writing of the worship service materials and songs, to take pictures that represented Slovenian life, to organize activities, and to promote the celebrations.
As a result, two new WDP local groups were formed and two new children services were celebrated. We hope that more blessings are still to come. Also, we feel ready now to take a new organizational step. We want to grow from an informal WDP committee to a registered legal organization in Slovenia. We feel we can reach out to regions that we are not yet present in and increase participation of young women and new moms.
Our prayers are turning into action through partnerships with different organizations and groups that impact the lives of women and children. A nice relationship grew especially with Home for Mothers and ASPI centre for people with Asperger syndrome. We also are involved with the Trauma Healing project in partnership with Bible Society of Slovenia.
One can see the impact of being a writer country just by realizing how WDP Slovenia is evolving, growing, consolidating, and building communities… like a red carnation flower blossoming from a small bud.
- Tanja Povšnar Vrečar, WDP Slovenia Chairperson
The WDP women of Slovenia invite us to pray with them. Many communities got together to learn and listen with women from Slovenia. Now, the table is set and the invitations were sent. Who would come?
We pray that we will have the wisdom to live in the moment of the feast and rejoice in it. We pray that our hearts will be ready to receive the invitation of Jesus, an invitation to love each other, and to be welcoming. Here is the challenge that Jesus presents us this year: open the heart to those whom you know nothing about. Will we dare to open the door and welcome whoever in our context is like "the lame, the blind, the crippled and the poor"? (Luke 14:15-24)
The WDP Slovenia committee has been engaged in preparations for the celebration since April 2016. Members of the committee, including current president Tanja Povšnar Vrečar, share with us in excitement:
“We want to show Slovenia in all its beauty and needs. We will be present around the world in the prayers, minds and hearts of so many. United in the same prayer, though different languages, we will worship the same God and build this international sisterhood. What a joy to do this all together!
Slovenia is a small country in Europe with a relatively well established economy, with unemployment rates down since the beginning of our WDP worship service material preparation. We have access to education and health services. But still in need to be with God, with our families and with ourselves. We get busy with our lives, forgetting to accept Jesus’ invitation to the feast. Thank you for the reminders. Please, keep us on your list of invitees and let us be the hosts for those who are vulnerable. We wish you a great celebration on the 1st of March!”
Jesus’s message of love is radical and it is expected that we – Jesus’ disciples - will put the teaching into practice. We join you in prayers that the Holy Spirit will be at work at the heart of our services and that we will be able to leave our places of celebration feeling blessed for having taken up such a challenge!
We wish you a blessed and happy feast!
- Laurence Gangloff (Chairperson) & Rosângela Oliveira (Executive Director)
As we welcome a new year, we pray that it is filled with joy and peace. We share with you a poem by Rinko Sagara, a 15 year old girl from Okinawa, Japan. The poem was read during an Okinawa Memorial Day ceremony to remember the victims of the Battle of Okinawa. We thank the NCC WDP Committee of Japan for sharing this poem with all of us.
Happy New Year!
(Translated by Rosan Yoshida revised by Erin Davis)
Does Christmas have a special color in your country? In the region where I live, the colors used are mostly red and green, while elsewhere I have seen white or purple. What memories do they bring to you?
We reach the end of the year making plans for the celebration on March 1st 2019 written by women of Slovenia. We set the table, and go out to the streets to invite “Come, everything is ready.” Some will come with their hearts heavy of suffering, others, anxious for a break from their daily struggles. Together, we will realize that change begins with the recognition of God’s love.
Christmas is the time in which we make room to welcome Jesus, Emmanuel, the Prince of Peace. As Jesus’ witnesses in this frightening world, I hope that we hold the Prince of Peace in our hearts a little longer than the Christmas celebration. I wish the Holy Spirit gives us courage to confess without fear the love of Jesus for all.
Friends of the World Day of Prayer, thank you for your commitment, support and dedication to “Informed Prayer. Prayerful Action”. We had an enthusiastic response to this year’s theme, developed by women of Suriname, who left us, more than before, conscious of our responsibility as caretakers of God’s creation.
"May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace in faith" (Romans 15:13)
Merry Christmas and happy, blessed New Year!
- Laurence Gangloff
Today on the last day of the 16 Days of Activism we recognize Human Rights Day!
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the day the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to ensure every human being - regardless of race, color, religion, or sex - is protected through inalienable rights.
We celebrate the anniversary by highlighting a story shared by our Caribbean & North America regional representative, Ruth V. E. Phillips:
“I am a 51 year old pastor who grew up in a Caribbean family which was punctuated with fights and beatings between my grandparents, my aunts and their husbands or boyfriends, my mother and my father, and my mother and my sister’s father. All on my mother’s side of the family. I made up my mind that that would not be me!
"I worked my prayers, and my faith in believing that I must have a life different to the life my grandmother, mother and aunties had, have brought me to where I am today. Praise the Lord. No longer does the abuse happen in my family because I teach my son that love does not strike to cause pain. I teach him by example of the way I live about abuse. I talk it out. I pack the hurt with love. I forgive."
Read the full story on the WCC Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace blog, click here.