One year after the first Global Conversation, organized by World Day of Prayer International Committee, we are back again to share our experiences and learnings with the 2021 WDP Vanuatu program. We want to nurture global relationships, practical learning about WDP and strengthen our journey in the way of peace and justice.
Almost 60 WDP leaders representing the seven regions of the world attended the online conversation on May 28, 2021. In more than 10 small groups, we talked about how it felt to celebrate during the pandemic and the reasons for our prayers.
For Maral Haidostian, Lebanon, the conversation was a time of friendship and encouragement, while Sylvia Marowa, Zimbabwe, was thankful to God for preserving us all during the pandemic. Margarita Casco, Paraguay, reflected on the painting from Juliette Pita, where she sees God as the mother caring for the child during the turmoil caused by the pandemic. Pauline Bryan, Jamaica, shared about the prayers for the sisters of Vanuatu, as their experiences resonated with the women in her home country.
The Conversation ended with an intercessory prayer led by Nora Carmi, Palestine. In the spirit of WDP's practice of informed prayer and prayerful action, she contextualized the continuous oppression of the Palestinian people. As a person who knows suffering but does not lose hope, Nora concluded the invitation to prayer affirming the hope that is built on the strong foundation of our faith. To which, Áine Pedersen, Slovenia, responded with gratitude for the witness and support with prayers.
The video below is a brief insight into the conversation on May 28th and what we hope to achieve with this series. WDPIC will continue to host Global Conversations throughout the year to keep the WDP network connected, engaged and informed. Watch our video and share it with your network!
- Rosângela Oliveira
Executive Director, WDPIC
“May the peoples praise you, O God;
may all the peoples praise you.
May the nations be glad and sing for joy.” (Psalm 67:3,4)
World Day of Prayer Croatia’s preparation for the celebration on the First Friday of March took place under special circumstances due to the Coronavirus pandemic. As mentioned by Kata Lenđel, “Having faced the challenges of isolation and recent earthquakes which severely hit parts of Croatia, experiencing isolation and the impossibility of meeting one another, as well as constant fear of new quakes, the National Committee of WDP Croatia initiated online gatherings.”
Given the unusual situation, WDP Croatia sensed a genuine need for mutual prayer and used the benefits of virtual meetings and social media to come together. At the beginning of 2021 they started a cycle of online prayers which they called “Together in Prayer”. Brigita Hengl says “we focused our prayers on gratitude, repentance, faith, supplication, and trust. Together we meditated, sang, and recited the Lord's Prayer. We tried to find comfort and peace, strength, and inspiration for continued action, daily challenges, and successful preparation for the prayer with women in Vanuatu. We felt especially close to them as we are also exposed to natural disasters, like the earthquake that-ravaged parts of Croatia in December 2020. In addition to the spiritual message, we recognized the importance of developing social and geo-political strategies to build a healthy and just world for all.”
On February 24, they held an online Bible study on the theme Build on a Strong Foundation, Matthew 7: 23-27, led by theologian and philosopher Juliana Mladenovska Tesija. This online event was attended by participants from Croatia and neighboring countries like Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia and Serbia. Finally in March, their worship service was held virtually over Zoom. Despite the special situation experienced this year, they felt enriched with new experiences and opportunities provided by the digital world, including the use of the hashtag #vanuatuwdp2021 on WDP Croatia’s Facebook page to promote prayers.
Sanja Sabljak highlighted a moment during preparatory meetings where one WDP sister shared her thoughts: “I was consumed by true fright and excitement facing the task of preparing a prayer that will be pronounced and supported by my fellow sisters from WDP. It looked like a good opportunity to share with them my most intimate beliefs and contemplations about God, my favourite Bible passages and hymns. This experience enabled me to test what can be shared about God's greatness, thanksgiving, penitence, faith, requests and confidence among sisters. I liked what I learned, and it encouraged me profoundly. It meant that I have matured in my faith. In my church, women don't often have an opportunity to lead common prayer which is the reason why this event was even more intense and beautiful. Sharing one's faith in common prayer was for me a moment of immense joy and intimacy in spirit with sisters. I am thankful for being given the opportunity to not only participate, but also organize and create the prayer meeting.”
One great component of getting women to pray together within the World Day of Prayer celebration is to unite them in the spirit of Jesus Christ. Encouraged by such joy and peace given to us by the Lord through these online prayer meetings, WDP Croatia commits to continuing “Together in Prayer” into the next year.
Text adapted from reflections by WDP Croatia members: Kata Lenđel, Brigita Hengl and Sanja Sabljak
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
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
Throughout Canada, we pray for hope and peace for the women of Vanuatu. We thank them for writing the World Day of Prayer 2021 service which inspires us to “Build on a Strong Foundation.”
To build, we encourage applications to our annual World Day of Prayer grants that help ensure opportunities to create social justice for women and children both nationally and internationally. These are due on March 31st. Please go to the WICC website for details.
To build, the Women’s Inter-Church Council of Canada created a one hour WDP service video to allow the 2021 theme to travel to homes in the midst of COVID-19 regulations.
To build, our one hour service video included speakers and performers from across Canada.
To build, we have become familiar with technology that allows us to communicate when meeting in person is not/was not possible. The Women’s Inter-Church Council of Canada hosted WDP coordinator training sessions and “Festival Days” for hundreds of women in December and January so that resources could be shared and questions answered. We are grateful to the steady leadership and flexibility of so many as we navigate a changing world.
To build, we have encouraged World Day of Prayer to be celebrated on days and by means which help to inspire. Beginning in September 2020 and continuing into 2021, we introduced 15-minute World Day of Prayer NOW sessions on the first and third Friday of each month.
To build, we turn to prayer, root our actions in faith, and trust in God.
- Women’s Inter-Church Council of Canada
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
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)
World Day of Prayer annually brings together Christian women of various denominations and cultures in fellowship, prayer and understanding. It is indeed inspiring to be part of this global ecumenical network that spans 146 countries worldwide.
The World Day of Prayer services, held on the 6th of March 2020 in South Africa, were very special. Along with praying for the women of Zimbabwe, it was the celebration of the 90th anniversary of the Women’s World Day of Prayer in South Africa. All Praise be to God!
The first observance of the WDP was held in March 1930, at the Congregational Church at Sea Point in Cape Town. In the same year, a small group of Afrikaans and English-speaking women met in Johannesburg to organize a service. Since then, the movement has grown into a solid organization.
South Africa is known as the “Rainbow Nation”, with 11 official languages. Annually, the program is translated into 8 of the official languages. Many services are inter-cultural, and the same sermon is presented in Afrikaans, English, German and Zulu. An estimate of 1,200 plus services are organized on the Prayer Day – in schools, churches, old age homes, prisons, Bible study groups, and community halls. Approximately 80,000 programs are printed, and a huge amount are electronically distributed. We also assist countries such as Namibia, Swaziland, Botswana, Lesotho and Zimbabwe with copies of the program. Around 120,000 people attend the services on the particular day. What a blessing this has been again in March 2020. Prayer truly knits hearts together for eternity!
South Africa can look back on the past 90 years with pure bliss and joy, where our Lord has never left or forsaken us. His lovable presence, guidance and mercy remained with us every step of the way.
What was outstanding from the feedback received on the 2020 service, was the enthusiasm for the writer country. Zimbabwe is one of our neighbours, and most families in South Africa know someone from Zimbabwe. Most congregations made special efforts to invite and accommodate families or women from Zimbabwe. Ladies dressed up in colourful Zimbabwean outfits. The Zimbabweans enthusiastically brought food, artwork, and mats for the services. The Dutch Reformed Church in Jacobsdal handed out key holders in the form of Africa, with a little heart above Zimbabwe. The United Church in Hermanus had a lovely display of quilts, depicting a story specifically related to Zimbabwe and made by a known quilter, Helen Granville, who previously lived in Zimbabwe. Many congregations gave voice to a Zimbabwean to tell their own personal stories.
The 90th Jubilee of WWDP South Africa was celebrated with joy and gratitude. Beautiful birthday cakes and cupcakes were baked and served in traditional wooden dishes, and decorated in the colours of the Zimbabwean flag. Dances and choirs highlighted the services. In Klerksdorp, 300 little hessian mats were handed out at the doors, each with a peanut slab inside to celebrate the 90th Jubilee. Beaufort-West treated the ladies with bookmarks in the form of a mat, and a little gift bag with sump, corn, mealies as souvenir.
There was a very positive drive all over to involve the youth. We cannot thank our teachers enough for their willingness and enthusiastic efforts to keep this wonderful movement alive for future generations. In Klerksdorp alone, 11 primary schools and five high schools were involved. In Piet Plessis, prints to be coloured, a sandwich and a cool drink were handed out to every pupil. In Beaufort-west, and other towns, more than 500 teenagers took part in the children’s program. In Underberg, (KwaZulu Natal), young ladies from Pevensy Place (an adult cerebral palsy home) were special guests at the service.
The theme “Rise! Take Your Mat and Walk”, had a great impact. It led many to self-reflection and a new commitment to face our own problems and walk in the grace and presence of our Lord and Saviour. The Prayer Day is not only a day of prayer and worship, but it leads to many ongoing projects in communities to support the poor and the needy.
We were blessed to be able to host our Prayer Day before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic hit South Africa. Our hearts go out to everybody that has been affected by the virus, and especially to those who have lost loved ones. May we be united in prayer, and may God Almighty protect us all and be with us.
Life as such is challenging and when we look at the 2021 program, we have “Hope” and can build on a strong foundation.
- Joa Van Aarde, WDP South Africa