The WDP Australian National Meeting is held every other year. This is a time when leaders from across the regions of Australia come together, some traveling as far as 3,500 km to attend.
As we meet this year in the beautiful foothills of the Dandenong Ranges, we are reminded of the beautiful but diverse land in which we live. We are often described as a sun burnt country and in many of our local areas, we are experiencing drought and bush fires. But in others, such as our meeting place, the land is lush green and fertile.
It is a time to share ideas, connect with friends, and hear of our ecumenical WDP movement across the nation. The meeting always begins with a thanksgiving and remembrance of those women who have served WDP faithfully. This brings to the forefront the responsibility we have as the current gate keepers to continue the good work that has been done.
We started a conversation imagining the future of WDP in 5 years’ time. This future is one that crosses ecumenical and cultural barriers. Australia is a diverse nation in geography as well as ethnically. Engaging with the modern women in Australia is a challenge, our role in the home and workplace has dramatically changed over the past 20 years. We need to develop new platforms for communication, to engage with the women of today and their communities, to remain relevant.
Investing in the development of our website and social media platforms is a way of promoting, communicating and connecting with women who may not be able to attend a service. Current reports from local regions across Australia highlight how World Day of Prayer is celebrated and the feedback is encouraging. As for the future, we know that we need to be open to new ideas and initiatives. We pray and trust in God!
We have learned many things from our WDP sisters as we celebrate their services. For example, how to care for our environment and be faithful stewards with the resources God has given. Our Zimbabwean sisters have given us a challenge to rise, to not be afraid of the future and take our mat and walk.
Let’s walk together in the same direction. God is offering us the steps for personal and social transformation. How will we live this out in the context of our WDP communities?
- Vicki Marney, WDPIC Regional Representative Pacific
Coming from the land and city where the miracle in John 5 took place, gives me a special responsibility to share my reflection on the Zimbabwe theme “Rise! Take Your Mat and Walk” and what prayerful action really means. How will we walk?
The site of the Bethesda pool still exists today as proof of the belief of people who were healed or hoped to be healed when and if the angel stirred the water. The site is part of the buildings where the church of St. Anne, traditionally the home of the Virgin Mary’s parents, stands. To reach the building, you still have to pass through the Sheep Gate, also known as the gate of the twelve tribes and that of St. Stephen, who was stoned in Jerusalem. This is one of the seven gates that lead into the Old City, the Via Dolorosa, the 14 Stations of the Cross and the Noble Sanctuary, the Dome of the Rock, holy to Muslims. After all Jerusalem is where the three monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam meet.
Since 1967, this gate is guarded by heavily armed Israeli soldiers who allow or deny entry to both local and pilgrims depending on circumstances or the soldiers’ whims. In Jerusalem where crowds of sick people, blind, lame and paralyzed gathered around the pool awaiting to be healed, people today push and shove trying to flock in to visit holy sites and to praise God.
As women followed Jesus on the same path to the cross, mothers, wives, sisters and daughters walk without losing hope. We, the World Day of Prayer Palestine Committee wrote about this in the 1994 service “Go, See and Act” and invited our sisters around the world to walk with us in prayerful action. Like the lame man afflicted for 38 years, the Palestinian people have been waiting for almost a century for an angel to remove the yoke of oppression imposed upon them, and women are still striving for their equal rights.
In answer to the question posed by Jesus: “Do you want to be well again?” We cry out: “Of course! But how can we when there is injustice, oppression, hatred and killing in your land? The land of Jesus has not known the peace he announced nor lived the message of love and equality among brothers and sisters! Please, Jesus, heal us and walk with us so that humanity can be restored.”
When Jesus tells us: “Get up, pick up your sleeping mat and walk around” we respond: "Even if individually we do try to stand up and bring harmony within our own circles, the work of your peacemakers is not yielding fruits. We need the massive efforts of good people who believe in human beings, who do the will of God and are supported by global moral values and international law."
So, I offer this prayer:
With your help, O Lord, shake off the injustice, remove the occupation, liberate us, as you announced in the synagogue in Nazareth, so that we can walk as your children created in your divine image. We feel that under the oppressive system, we are not allowed to carry our sleeping mat, to walk freely and to have a state of our own.
Dear God, who created us in your divine image and gave us our dignity, help us to resist, nonviolently, against all forms of humiliation and dehumanization imposed upon us. Help us to respect others and to follow the commandment of do not kill, morals which have disappeared in the hearts of leaders in your country and the world.
Heal us, O lord, teach us humility and grant us the gift of reconciliation, so that we can all walk together with love.
We, women of the World Day of Prayer have our differences, but we all care for God’s beautiful creation and want to preserve it. Let us learn from each other, and spread love among all, for we women can be more powerful with compassion.
- Nora Carmi, WDPIC Regional Rep. of the Middle East
When we were chosen to write the WDP worship service for 2018, we did not anticipate the powerful impact that being a writer country represents. We were honored and humbled by that realization. We were enthusiastic about having the whole world pray for our country; a country hardly known. We had the great responsibility of lifting up the care for creation, for the sustainability of our planet and the future of the next generations. The offerings we received were shared with projects and organizations we partnered with to make a difference in our communities.
For the Wildlife Protection all animals have their own value and are worthy of being treated with respect as independent beings. They aim to save and protect animals by treating them well, respecting their freedom and raising awareness about their integrity. They advocate proper care for domesticated animals, conservation of natural wildlife habitats and proper living conditions for animals held in captivity. The Unu Pikin Foundation has been committed to improving children’s education since 2003. Assistance and extra care is given to those with disabilities. Their book department sells and offers free books for schools and other institutions.
Stop Violence Against Women Foundation actively contributes to the prevention and combat of domestic violence against women. Together with the government they take a prominent role in developing and influencing national policy for gender equality.
The Wi Oso Foundation teaches those who are disabled to grow and sell their plants and vegetables. Care for Moms is a project dedicated to offering support and guidance to women with breast cancer. Huize Albertine is a home for the elderly and Hope for Children is a shelter home for abused and abandoned children.
There were many lessons to be learned. The first one was that we, as women, do have a powerful contribution to make to the world. With God as our guide, we came together to bring the necessary changes to our communities. We came out of that WDP experience with a vision for the future of our committee. It felt wonderful to be in prayer with our people and the people around the world!
- WDP Suriname Committee