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