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
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
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
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)
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.
The Pacific Region is just as diverse in its culture as well as its geographical terrain. The beautiful islands of the pacific are a vast contrast to the inland deserts and plains of Central Australia.
WDP Committees across the Pacific are preparing to celebrate World Day of Prayer, Slovenia 2019 - “Come -Everything is Ready!”
The preparations in my region of Australia are well under way. The last Monday of October each year, brings dedicated women, mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters together to pack and distribute the materials for over 200 planned World Day of Prayer services. Programs are printed with the order of service, youth and children’s programs, advertising posters and music sheets and CD’s are packed for distribution.
Many of these services are held in communities in remote areas, where WDP is welcomed on the first Friday of March as a chance for the community to come together for fellowship. Many services are followed by a feast. This gives the community an opportunity to share and feast on God’s word in an ecumenical setting.
The invitation has been sent, for WDP 2019, just like in Jesus’s parable, Luke 14:15-24. In Jesus’ story many people turned down the invitation to the banquet, because the timing was inconvenient. We too can resist or delay responding to God’s invitation, and our excuses may sound reasonable – work duties, family responsibilities, financial needs, the list could go on. Nevertheless, God’s invitation is the most important event in our lives.
Let’s join in prayer that the invitation for World Day of Prayer, Slovenia 2019, is accepted across our nations, that the banquet table is full, so all can feast on God’s word.
- Vicki Marney, WDPIC Pacific Regional Rep
"The Story of the International Committee for World Day of Prayer" by Eileen King and Helga Hiller is much more than a few pages of history about what led to the creation of an International Committee 50 years ago.
This text was not written by our sisters as an introduction to a future history book on WDP. It is an invitation to participants and leaders of the WDP movement to discover, with gratitude and recognition, the paths taken by our mothers and then to open a space for personal questioning.
I quote: “From the very beginning, women understood that their faith in Jesus Christ motivated and empowered them to find ways for local communities to pray and act together.” Is it still true today in our local groups or communities?
We know how to use Internet, Facebook, and Instagram -- this modern technology that links us to one another. However, isn’t one of our challenges today to overcome indifference, hatred and fear in order to preserve a peace that is becoming increasingly fragile?
My conviction: our mothers were courageous when fighting in a racist, unequal, sexist society. Let us draw from their experience and dare to take up these new challenges that are opening to us today with joy, conviction, tenacity and creativity.
We encourage you to share the article with your local connections and have a conversation about it.
Download and share the PDF file below.
You may want to order the poster with WDP themes and countries from 1927 to 2026 to complement the article information for discussions.
Enjoy reading and then chose one action!
- Laurence Gangloff, WDPIC Chairperson
World Day of Prayer Lebanon committee members joined the campaign “Thursdays in Black" during our October meeting. We wore black and discussed how violence against women and children goes undetected as there are no laws to protect them in our country. Around the table, we shared some stories. One of the members, who represents the National Young Women Christian Association (YWCA), on our WDP committee shared the following stories.
A 25 year old Lebanese woman who had left her house after a lot of suffering brought about by her husband. She did not have anyone to help her as her parents were very poor and her father was very sick. She resorted to a counseling center that transferred her case to the National YWCA shelter. There, she was helped to file a case of marital separation and gain custody of her daughter. She was assisted by psychologists to reestablish her self-esteem, after which she followed the “Nurse Aid training” program which helped her find a job and become independent.
She also shared the story of a 26 year old Lebanese woman, divorced and a mother of two. She lived in a very close-minded society, where a divorced woman is not accepted. She suffered from all kinds of psychological pressures, deprivations, and repressions. At one point her own brother tried to kill her. She fled from home and resorted to a Christian organization that assists women in crisis, providing shelter for up to two years. Later, with the help of the National YWCA social worker, she was able to get custody of her daughter who was freed from the abusive father. She got training and was able to find a job and take care of her daughter.
Still today, as we all know, there are women in different parts of the world living in situations of violence but are afraid to talk about their suffering. Sometimes these women simply do not know that there could be better alternatives for their difficult conditions. The stories mentioned above have showed that women can overcome violence when they find community support. However, many stories have very tragic and sad endings. The WDP Committee of Lebanon has supported organizations that help women who suffer violence and abuse through prayer by donating the offerings from WDP services on the first Friday of March, to them.
“Thursdays in Black” can be a good reminder to all of us to take part in helping women and children. Let us pray and act for a world without violence, especially against women and children!
- Maral Barzekian Haidostian, WDPIC Regional Rep of the Middle East
The World Day of Prayer Committee of Palestine is grateful to God for so many blessings among which is the challenging responsibility of living and witnessing in and from the land of Jesus’ resurrection which announced the message of liberation, salvation and peace. No less important is the privilege of belonging to the WDP movement for over half a century, learning from and sharing with sisters around the world creative ways of becoming more involved in prayerful actions to do the Will of God. “Showing forbearance to one another in love preserves the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2-3), enforcing respect and equality among all of God’s creatures.
Praying from the Middle East with our sisters from Suriname in 2018 and with the Slovenians in 2019, we realize that the grievances of female human beings, though not identical, are basically similar. Though many people believe that man and woman were created to be equal (Genesis), they ignore or deny women’s rights to live in dignity despite religious teachings, all universal laws and human rights conventions. “All God’s Creation is very good” reminded us our sisters from Suriname, yet we have depleted and destroyed the earth, and we neither protect nor respect the environment.
In Palestine, we can still hear Jesus crying over Jerusalem “If you had known on this day the things which make for peace” (Luke 19:41). The injustice that is prevailing in Jesus’ Land has been so outrageous that back in 1994 the WDP of Palestine invited sisters from around the world to “Come, See and Act” hoping that together, we could reestablish unity, reconciliation and a just peace. Today, the suffering of the oppressed, mostly children and women, is even more acute but the world refuses to learn “the things that make for peace.”
Slovenia’s theme “Come to the table: everything is ready” is inviting us to accept the challenge of actively sharing and joining all those who are willing to be part of the Kingdom of God.
- Nora Carmi, WDPIC Regional Rep. of the Middle East