Sisters! What a great celebration we had with the Ni-Vanuatu sisters on the World Day of Prayer!
Each one of us, from our corner of the world, proclaimed out loud that we 'Build on a Strong Foundation.' On the first Friday of March, many WDP committees and churches prepared a celebration that could be experienced online, while others organized in-person services under the restricted health guidelines. Like a balm of hope in a world tired of loneliness and losses, the celebrations were filled with enthusiasm and creativity, resilience and dedication.
There was so much joy in connecting with familiar friends or new friends from another city or country during the celebrations. New partnerships were created with young people and local churches who provided the technological assistance needed for WDP worship services online. There were new opportunities created as people unfamiliar with WDP attended the services or watched a video. The movement has learned how to use the new technologies of communication to organize their meetings, plan activities, and to hold the celebrations. We thank God for giving us the tools to come together as #WDPUnitedInPrayer!
You may watch a WDP worship service video by visiting the WDPIC YouTube channel playlist. We also want to remind you to email us the Annual Report of your National/Regional Committee. Your country's experience will be published in the 2021 WDP Journal. Click here to download the Annual Report Form.
Looking forward to the 2022 program, we are connecting two special moments for the movement. Firstly, the worship service program prepared by WDP England, Wales and Northern Ireland with the theme 'I Know the Plans I have for You' (Jeremiah 29:1-14) will be celebrated on the first Friday in March. The materials are ready and have been distributed to all WDP National Committees. Please, contact WDPIC if your National/Regional Committee does not have the worship service materials.
Secondly, the WDP International Committee Meeting is to be hosted by WDP Scotland, under the theme 'New Heart, New Mind. Called to Hope' (Ephesians 1,18) in June. There is a common thread within these two themes. Both Bible texts speak about hope during troubled times, trust to overcome uncertainties, and openness to accept the new.
In March of 2020, we were caught by surprise with the World Health Organization's declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic while we were praying with our Zimbabwe sisters, and in 2021 we adapted to our new situation and prepared alternatives to in-person services to pray with our Vanuatu' sisters. We want to bring this spirit of preparedness and resourcefulness to the International Meeting in 2022.
Therefore, considering the current COVID-19 pandemic across the world, the uncertainties of 2022, the new complexities and requirements for international travels, the wellbeing of WDP leadership, the economic impact of the crisis, and financial responsibility with the future of WDPIC and WDP National/Regional Committees, the WDPIC Executive Committee has decided to hold the International Meeting using an online format in 2022 in lieu of an in-person gathering.
This means that the International Meeting will be held with delegates and guests around the world, regardless of their location. We will use video, audio, and text to connect and collaborate via an internet connection. We will build on the technology we already use like emails, mobile chat (WhatsApp, etc.) and web conferencing (Zoom, etc.) to accomplish the purpose of the International Meeting (WDPIC Constitution). We will share, decide, vote, network, listen, talk, report, learn, sing, pray, plan and more without being physically together. It will be a unique experience full of blessings.
From May to November of 2020, WDPIC sent to the National/Regional Committees Newsletters with the information about the International Meeting and the ways that the Committee can participate. From May to July 2021, we are expecting to receive the response forms from each National/Regional Committee. Visit the Meeting 2022 tab to download the forms (English, French, Spanish). Here are the deadlines for the committee's responses:
1. May 3, 2021 - Delegate registration
2. June 1, 2021 - Nominations for Chairperson and Regional Representatives
3. July 1, 2021 - Nominations for themes and writer countries for WDP worship service
We ask the National Committees and the delegates to continue reserving in your calendar the week of June 12-19, 2022 for the International Meeting while we adjust the program and procedures to an online format. We count on the participation and support of your National/Regional Committee to sustain in prayer the international sisterhood of WDP.
We are greatly thankful to the WDP Scotland committee for all that they have already done to welcome us in person in Edinburg, and their understanding of the implications of the global situation on the original plan. We will continue our conversation with them on alternative ways to host the International Meeting. The 2022 WDP themes set the tone for an action-oriented and future-forwarding meeting. Thus, we hold onto our strong foundation trusting that God's plan is to call us to live and act in hope.
- Rosângela Oliveira
Executive Director, WDPIC
The angel said to Mary Magdalene, Mary and Salome: "Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you. They went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid” (Mark 16:6-8).
The Gospel of Mark (chapter 16) shows a group of courageous women go to the tomb in the early hours of the morning with the intention of anointing Jesus' body. The announcement of Jesus' resurrection made by the angel surprised them, even terrified them, and left them speechless. This is quite expected, for who could understand resurrection? Perhaps, the witnesses of Lazarus’ resurrection would (John 11). But for those women, they were just silent: "because of their fear".
I like to think that they did their part anyway, since we will soon be able to proclaim the liturgical formula "Jesus is risen - He is risen indeed - Alleluia! ".
But what does it mean to proclaim that Jesus is risen during a pandemic which has spread so much suffering, death, fear, and insecurity? What changes can we bring about so that our fears can be transformed into a song of trust and praise? The gospel invites each of us to search faithfully for an answer. Knowing that Mary Magdalene, Mary and Salome have found their voice - have found Jesus - it gives me hope for better days.
To all of us who are involved in the World Day of Prayer, I dare to say that prayer is one of the ways that allows us to rise up and proclaim with confidence that "Jesus is risen!" Another way is the WDP motto: “Informed prayer. Prayerful action” which guides our commitment to concretely live out our faith.
I love the refrain of the French hymn “Tu nous appelles à t’aimer” (You call us to love you) by the composer R. Fau:
“You call us to love you
by loving the world where you send us to,
O faithful God, give us,
by loving the world, to love only you! "
May we smile at life on this Easter morning of 2021!
Dear Friend, feel blessed!
Laurence Gangloff, WDPIC Chairperson
Holy, Holy, Holy, God creator of the heavens and the earth and all that is them. God is present in the history of his people from yesterday to today. Loving God, on whom Vanuatu stands, we adore you (2021 Worship Service prepared by WDP Vanuatu).
“As the day is drawing closer, we can feel the tender love of the Master around us. Vanuatu Christian Women are so excited to celebrate World Day of Prayer this year because God, through his grace, has appointed this tiny nation on the face of the earth to be the WDP Writer Country for 2021. We cannot thank God enough for this privilege and opportunity given to us. We believe that all celebrations will bring Honour and Praise to God’s Name alone,” states Ruth Dovo, the liaison of WDP Vanuatu, with great enthusiasm.
“In Vanuatu, we planned two events for this week: a parade and entertainments on Thursday, March 4th and the Worship Service on Friday March 5th. We already participated in a Talk-Back-Show program on our National TV station. The General Secretary of the Vanuatu Christian Churches spoke on the importance of Women's Programs in the Church, Cindy Vanuaroro spoke on the history of the WDP in Vanuatu and I gave an update on how Vanuatu became a Writer Country and our celebration programs. Our Message to the WDP Sisters around the world is - COVID-19 may hinder our gatherings but it cannot take away the Love of God in our hearts that binds us together. Thank you for all the prayers of our sisters around the world. God Bless you,” she continued.
This is the time when what has been prepared locally becomes visible from Vanuatu to around the globe. WDP is about building relationships which stand on prayer and action. This is the strong foundation of WDP. We focus on what is essential, which is #WDPUnitedInPrayer.
“The women of Vanuatu prepared the service that is holding the world together. We are ready. You are invited,” says Laurence Gangloff, WDP International Committee Chairperson. As one with the whole community she lifts up a prayer: “Oh God of love, bless this day; bless the communities; bless the offerings that will be given in response to your call. Yes, loving God, bless our prayers and actions so that they become a sign of your Kingdom! Amen.”
On this very day of unity, we join in prayer with Cindy Vanuaroro, the secretary of WDP Vanuatu:
Lord, help us to be good listeners of your Word.
Loving God, sharpen our ears to be keen listeners to your Word, as we used to do in our oral culture of listening well to each other around the fire in order to help each other out.
Help us listen well to your Word, which is the light to our daily path. Help us to have reverence for you in all we do in our families, communities, society and nation. Especially at these uncertain times when we have gone through disasters, sickness, domestic violence, and many other societal issues that are affecting the nation.
Loving God, as we strife to plant in our gardens to help sustain our livelihood, please help us to remember to put you first in all we do, think and say.
Loving God, as we acknowledge that we have not lived up to your Word, we are reminded of our Motto "In God We Stand". It is our prayer that you will help the people of Vanuatu to build their lives wisely. Help them to love and serve God and God only.
Loving Father, as we struggle with these confusing times, give us wisdom, courage and faith to run the race, to fight the good fight, and to keep the faith. Thank you for helping us to build each other up in love for eternity.
- Rosângela Oliveira, WDPIC Executive Director
Watch and share the additional resource videos created by WDPIC for the 2021 WDP program. They are now available on our Youtube channel. Like & Subscribe!
Let us celebrate the World Day of Prayer in 2021 prepared by the women of the Vanuatu islands!
The 2021 theme “Build on a Strong Foundation” is an invitation to return to the foundations of our faith, which can also be expressed as the foundations of the World Day of Prayer--“Informed Prayer– Prayerful Action.”
The health situation in each country, each region, each town, and village is still under the impact of the pandemic and the restrictions to slow the transmission of COVID-19. We cannot ignore it, but rather be responsible in our celebrations.
We are United in Prayer, Even in the Midst of a Pandemic
What have we learned over the year of 2020 that can be used for the 2021 WDP celebrations?
Final invitation - tell us your story! Email it! Tag @WDPIC on Facebook! Tag @worlddayofprayerinternational on Instagram! Fill out the annual report form! Share your experience so the world may discover the commitment of WDP women in the healing of our communities.
May the celebration with our sisters in Vanuatu be anchored in the memories that move us to “Build on the Strong Foundation.”
- Laurence Gangloff, WDPIC Chairperson
Greetings to you, greetings to you, greetings to everyone.
God will bless us in our worship. He will guide us. He will bless us.
We are here in His presence, we are one in God’s love
Greetings to you, greetings to you, greetings to everyone.
This is one of the songs composed by the women of the World Day of Prayer Committee of Vanuatu for the worship service program in 2021. This is how we started the virtual “Singing WDP Vanuatu Songs” event. Edith Toth and her music team, from WDP Romania, led all four songs composed by the Vanuatu committee.
The virtual event was held to create a space for WDP leaders to come together in global sisterhood to fill the spirit with joy, faith and love in preparations for the annual day of prayer on the first Friday of March. We are all living under the restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and this is the context in which the national committees and the WDPIC office find themselves, busy creating virtual resources for the celebrations at home or for small groups. A WDPIC video of the worship service was being produced and led by the WDP Vanuatu Committee and the WDPIC Executive Committee, with greetings from several committees and would be made available soon, informed the executive director.
The total number of registrations for the virtual event held on January 28, 2021, reached 107, and around 80 participants joined the event. There were participants from the seven regions of the world, from the earliest hours of the day to late at night depending on their time zone. It already captured what March 5th represents: being united in prayer around the world from dawn to dusk.
It is time to get together as a nation and family.
Let’s forget our differences and let us work in unity
Let’s build Vanuatu with love and unity
We are family, we are one
We are Ni-Vanuatu
“It is time to get together” was the song that introduced small group conversations. In more than 20 small groups, the participants reflected on what time this is for them and in what ways they build it with love and unity. Sharing the conversation in the chat, a group with participants from Germany, Lebanon, and the Philippines wrote “We are united through God's love and spreading hope and love through serving each other, and that is renovating our souls.” While the group with participants from Romania, Lebanon and Australia felt blessed for sharing in prayer, singing and reaching out to one another, as well as the group with women from Barbados, Albania and Taiwan who felt good for the chance to share with each other.
The group with participants from France and Scotland wrote about the ways they will celebrate this year and how the virtual communication make them feel like one family, and that they will continually pray for Vanuatu and sisters and brothers from everywhere. WDP members from Germany, Palestine and New Zealand commented on how happy they were to share their different ways of spending time, but especially about how the unity of WDP has made them come together and not feel alone.
Sharing WDP practices and preparedness for this year's celebration were also commented on in the chat. The representative from Canada wrote about the new things they are learning almost daily: “We are promoting virtual services in the light of COVID restrictions. We have produced a video which will be available mid-February for the local coordinators to order it on a USB or DVD, while the print services are available for download through the website. Every second Friday, one of our members holds a short prayer service on Facebook.”
A group with members from Cameroon and Denmark shared their WDP practices and also the group with participants from France, Japan and Scotland. They reflected on the new ways to celebrate WDP, the need to get better at technology, but also how the time of the pandemic has created opportunities for more connectedness to each other and to God. The expressions of joy, excitement, fellowship, creativity, unity, hope and accompaniment were present all over the chats and smiling faces on screen.
Be good listeners to God’s Word. Be obedient to His ways.
Put God first in all you do. Build wisely for eternity.
With that song, we rejoined from the small groups to a common prayer. The song then was turned into a litany, with prayer responses prepared from the participants. Let us pray.
Edith Toth (Romania) - Be good listeners to God’s word. Be obedient to his ways
Vino Schubert (Sri Lanka) - As James instructed us not to “merely listen to the word, and so deceive ourselves, but do what it says (James 1:22); dear Lord, we ask you to make us conscious of the fact that obedience involves more than just listening to Your word – but taking action to fulfil Your instructions.
All – God, we are ready to listen to you
Edith Toth (Romania) - Put God first in all you do. Build wisely for eternity
Inge-Lise Lollike (Denmark) - Keep me daily building on the rock
All – Help us to follow the way of Jesus
Edith Toth (Romania) - Be good listeners to God’s word. Be obedient to his ways
Merita Meko (Albania) - When Jesus came to die in order that we may live, You put us first; and because of Jesus’ blood shared for us, we were reborn by grace! Help us live in Your grace. Help us surrender to Your Holy Name, Lead us into Your right path and may we all live according to Your promises!
All – Give us strength to follow You, oh God.
Edith Toth (Romania) - Put God first in all you do. Build wisely for eternity
Cindy Vanuaroro (Vanuatu) - As we struggle with these confusing times, it is possible to think only of now, give us the wisdom, courage and faith to run the race in fighting the good fight, finishing the race and keeping the faith for eternity. Thank you for helping us to build each other up in love for eternity.
All – Hear our prayer, loving God
With creativity, Edith and her team, introduced some gestures to the song Children Arise and Build.
Children arise and build on the strong foundation now. Jesus, the strong foundation.
Vanuatu arise and build on the strong foundation now. Jesus, the strong foundation.
We are very thankful for the contribution that WDP Romania through Edith Toth and her music team offered to us. As in the words of Ruth V. E. Phillips, from Barbados “The children with Edith are beautiful. It was a pleasure seeing them enjoying themselves with us. There is hope for the World Day of Prayer! Hallelujah!!”
To conclude the virtual gathering, Laurence Gangloff, WDPIC Chairperson, introduced our prayerful action: wearing black we said NO to rape and gender-based violence as in the #ThursdaysInBlack campaign. Our witness was posted on WDPIC Facebook and Instagram on January 28.
With all microphones on and the overlapping laughs and greetings, one by one left the virtual meeting room, leaving behind their thankful comments in the chat. With you, I leave the blessing left to us by Manon Naidoo, from South Africa:
“Blessings to each country. This has been a very supportive meeting with unity. Spending this time was awesome. Love.”
- Rosângela Oliveira, WDPIC Executive Director
We greet the New Year with busy WDP hands in supporting the most vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic in our communities. We feel empowered by the collective hope to build together the foundation for peace and justice.
Our attention now turns to the theme that will engage World Day of Prayer (WDP) in conversations and celebrations over the 2021 year. The program was developed by the WDP Committee of Vanuatu under the theme “Build on a Strong Foundation.”
Vanuatu is a beautiful country located in the South Pacific Ocean of many islands and people of many ethnic groups. World Day of Prayer can be traced back to Canadian missionaries holding the first service at the Presbyterian Paton Memorial Church in Port Villa in 1946. Since the early 2000s, with the creation of the Women’s Desk of the Vanuatu Christian Council, an ecumenical committee was formed and connected with the local WDP groups.
The current committee, who developed the WDP worship service materials, hopes that this year’s prayer experience will meet the grace of God, and that they will have the strength and resources to be in action. There are many needs in the communities that women in the churches are working together to address. During the “Let’s Talk with Vanuatu” conversation, held online in October 2020, we heard from their representatives the concerns about the situation of child malnutrition, violence against women, and natural disasters.
The Bible story that guides World Day of Prayer in 2021 is based on the sermon that Jesus told to the crowds on the hill. It is a simple story that most of us have heard since childhood (Matthew 7:24-27). “Through the comparison of two house builders, Jesus asked the listeners to act on his words. But what words? In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you (Matthew 7:12). This is our solid foundation.”
We are invited to listen to Jesus’ words in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. What does it mean for you? One of the meanings we find is that healing comes when we raise our own awareness for our actions and we care for the common good. As it is said in the Bible study written by WDP Vanuatu, “The essence of the story of Jesus is to HEAR accurately the word of God, and ACT accordingly and precisely. We shall act inspired by God’s love and know that our faith without action is dead (James 2:14-16).”
#WDPUnitedInPrayer on the First Friday of March
On the first Friday of March the World Day of Prayer movement comes together united in prayer and action in the local communities across the world. This year is no different. We will pray together, but not as we were used to. We are living under the COVID-19 pandemic, and WDP cares for the wellbeing of our communities.
In many places the restrictions for in-person gatherings to reduce the spread of COVID-19 are keeping the churches and schools closed for worship services. In places where in-person services are allowed, there are a series of restrictions and guidelines to congregate. WDP committees must abide by the local health protocols to keep people safe. This is one of the prayerful actions we can collectively offer to our communities.
During the pandemic we have learned that we can be physically separated but still connected. Slowly we introduced the technological learnings acquired during the time of the pandemic to our own WDP activities. Many WDP committees hold their board meetings or workshops via online conferencing, or continuously catch up with each other over mobile chats or social media. Many studied the Bible and prayed together over the phone or online. This practice will continue as we prepare to pray together with Vanuatu on the first Friday of March. We may be astounded at this new way, like the crowds were at Jesus’ teaching (Matthew 7:29); but, creatively, we can affirm that we are #WDPUnitedInPrayer and we hold onto the motto “Informed Prayer. Prayerful Action.”
How to Join a WDP Service?
If you want to join a WDP service or send your offering in response to your prayers, we encourage you to connect with the WDP National Committee in your country. You can check their contact information by visiting the WDPIC website or emailing the WDPIC office. Some committees are planning to livestream the worship service, others will hold a service via mobile chat, and in the few locations where it is allowed, a small service following the proper health protocols may be possible.
Additional to the WDP plans for national and local celebrations, World Day of Prayer International Committee (WDPIC) recorded a video of the worship service led by the WDP Vanuatu Committee and the WDPIC Executive Committee, with greetings from several WDP Committees.
The video will be released to WDP National Committees, and posted on the WDPIC YouTube channel and social media. Be sure to visit our site by the first Friday of March. The service in the video is in English, but it can be followed using the materials available in your language by the WDP Committee in your country.
Separated but connected, let’s pray together with family or friends over the phone or via online platforms, alone or in small groups. Let’s participate in the action by giving to WDP to empower the communities. Let’s stay together to “Build on a Strong Foundation.”
- Rosangela Oliveira, WDPIC Executive Director
We are starting 2021!
Usually on the first day of the year, we look towards the future and ask ourselves about what this year holds to us.
In the Lectionary of today there are two well-known recommended Bible texts for meditation. Together, they can offer a vision that we are prompted to have in the beginning of the year: Ecclesiastes 3:1-13 and Matthew 25:31-46.
In Ecclesiastes, we may find comfort knowing that there is a season for everything. It may help us deal with the anxieties of battling the COVID-19 pandemic in the context of the first vaccines available and the alarm over an outbreak of a more contagious variant of the coronavirus. It sounds like “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (3:4).
The reflection about our time continues in the reading of the final judgment in Matthew: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” (25:35-36).
“When was that time?” we may ask ourselves in our meditation. As World Day of Prayer, we hope that our services are one of those times that we cared for the other in prayer and action.
As we look forward to the year of 2021, let’s make it a time of trust in this God that is with us always and in all seasons. Let’s be #WDPUnitedInPrayer.
We wish you all a Happy New Year!
- Rosângela Oliveira, WDPIC Executive Director
As a child, I loved to hear this sentence! It meant that my family would soon be reunited. We wo uld have delicious meals and above all, lots of presents! As an adult, I also like this sentence, and I do have an incredibly long "to-do-list" for this festive period.
Today, in France, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are uncertain if we will be able to gather indoors with the extended family to celebrate Christmas. All the plans for big meals and presents seem useless and selfish. We may have to review our priorities to celebrate Christmas in light of what we have learned during this time of lockdown to control the spread of the COVID-19.
Christmas is coming, as well as World Day of Prayer on March 5th 2021. “Build on a strong Foundation” is the 2021 theme written by Christian women in Vanuatu. We listen to women’s voices through the worship service, which invites us to focus on the Bible story in Matthew 7:24-27. Jesus tells a story about the kingdom of heaven using the image of a house and the land on which the house is built.
In Jesus’ story, the wisdom of the builder of the house comes from hearing and acting on the word of God, which is a word of love. This is the foundation on which our sisters in Vanuatu call us to build our homes, our nations and the world. A call of faith to be earnestly considered when responding to the prayer of commitment: “What is the house that you would build?”
Today, I know that what is essential and unique in each Christmas celebration is the human connection. Christmas could be an opportunity to say to my family and all my friends how much I love them. This is much more important than the gift I was running to get for each one of them.
The Christmas celebration is unique as well as World Day of Prayer. Every year it happens as a great gift. In the midst of the pandemic, it is like an opportunity to give the best of ourselves to the common good. In the face of the millions we have lost, who will be greatly missed in the family reunion, we commit to making Christmas an opportunity for transformation.
We are reminded by the women of Vanuatu that nothing prevents us from having our trust in God. I invite you to listen to the words of the angel to Mary, “Rejoice! The Lord has granted you a great favor. God is with you!” (Luke 1,28) Isn’t it the greatest of all promises?
Let us therefore celebrate Christmas affirming the foundation of the Gospel, which is God's love for the world. Friends of the WDP, feel blessed!
Laurence Gangloff, WDPIC Chairperson
WDP Croatia has been organizing workshops and lectures implementing an initiative, called ‘She shall be called woman’ – re/constructing women's identity in the Bible. This initiative began in January 2020 and will end in April 2021.
The project discusses female identity, acceptance, self-image, and values that women have before God. We want to contribute to the change in ourselves and in our environment, to be as the Creator imagines us to be, and to leave a mark on the people around us. We are encouraged to reflect on our actions as Christians.
In October 2020, we held a workshop on the Island Veli Losini, on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. The theme was “When God calls us to overcome fear”, based on Genesis 1-5 and the Book of Esther 2-9. We gathered 46 participants from 17 to 75 years old, from 9 Christian denominations, and 20 Croatian cities. Among them, 18 women were first timers. For those who were not able to come to the workshop, we enabled the Zoom platform for participants from Croatia, Slovenia and Serbia.
We are also thankful to God for guidance, protection and for keeping us safe from the coronavirus. We were allowed to meet and followed the proper protocols. We had a safe gathering! Praise the Lord! We are immensely grateful for our prayers have been answered.
In the first part of the workshop, we reflected on God`s plan for human beings (Genesis 1-5). The participants were asked to reflect on their fear and their responses, and identify if and why they would feel intimidated in their communities, churches and homes.
Many shared about their fear of speaking up for themselves, or to speak in front of their churches, or even to their husbands. Others said they felt there is no room for them to express what they could really do, apart from the pre-set roles given to them by the male authorities in their communities. One said that she felt in her Church like “an unwanted child.”
Reflecting on Genesis 1-5, we understood that the fall should never be construed as God's divine order for us. God created man and woman with gifts and ordained them to walk with Him and be as one, and He would meet the innermost needs of both of them.
In the second part of the workshop, we turned to the Book of Esther (2-9) and analysed what happens in situations of great fear. We read the story of Esther and how she changed her attitude from one of “accepting the situation” (passive) to “accepting God’s plan for her” (active resolution). Esther understood what was going on and looked for support in God and in her community. In her response, Esther’s fear was a trigger for her actions.
In conclusion, we recognized that religion, as well as the Bible, are an important part of women’s lives. However, we feel bad when we are told that we are less worthy or less equal to God. We are tired of being constantly pointed at as “guilty” for the first sin. None of that brings to light the many examples of women in the Bible who provided godly leadership. Rather, they are samples of the patriarchal interpretation of the Bible. However, we can read the Bible with an interpretation that fosters equality. When open to this perspective, we see women and men equally loved by God.
Esther’s courage was not an absence of fear. Rather, it withstands fear. We then discovered that the strongest source of courage in the face of fear is faith. When we place our faith in God, we find the courage to face what seems bigger than we can handle. Let’s be in the power of God!
- Senka Sestak Peterlin, WDP Croatia & WDPIC Regional Representative of Europe
The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign is an opportunity to show collective actions and solidarity in efforts to end violence against women. The campaign runs from the 25th of November, United Nations (UN) International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to the 10th of December, UN Human Rights Day.
In 1993, the UN’s Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against women defined violence against women “as any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life”.
Approximately two-in-three women reported having experienced violence from their spouse in the Pacific island countries which is alarmingly high by world standards. The Christian Talanoa Network (House of Sara, Fiji) launched the Break the Silent Sunday to remove the culture of silence and shame around violence against women especially in faith-based settings.
UN Women reported that in Vanuatu, three in five women (60%) who have ever been in a relationship have experienced either physical or sexual violence (or both) by a husband or intimate partner. More than two in three (68%) experienced emotional violence.
Since the border closure in March due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, the number of domestic violence cases in Vanuatu has surged and almost tripled compared to the average reports for previous years, Vanuatu Women’s Centre (VWC) Research Officer Sharon Frank revealed. “Sometimes they won’t talk to anyone directly, like sharing with their friends or relatives, that they are facing that problem. It is quite hard. Here (in Vanuatu) they tend to be a bit shy, they would say I can handle this, I can face that but in reality, it is a silent killer as well if it is affecting emotionally and mentally, resulting in break-ups and broken homes,” said Laurina Liwuslili, Psychologist of Wamogo Counselling and Psychology Services.*
Word Day of Prayer joins the World Council of Churches campaign Thursday in Black to raise awareness and say NO to gender-based violence and rape.
On these 16 days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign, let’s break the silence in our families, churches, WDP committees and affirm women’s human rights to a life free of violence.
Let us pray,
Loving God, you are the one who desires that all people be brought into right relationship with one another and with you. Show us the path to justice and peace in our families, our communities and our world and fill us with your transforming power. AMEN.*
- Rosângela S. Oliveira, WDPIC Executive Director
*(Domestic Violence Surge During Lockdown, sista.com.vu, 2020)
*(Prayer from Break the Silence Sunday Liturgical Resource)