We are very grateful to our God during a pandemic that brought much uncertainty and affliction to our country. But we also had the opportunity to show our love to those people, who needed to be comforted by the fact that God's love has not changed. He has not abandoned us. God is still generous. He wants to be with us in these moments of our life. He has poured out many blessings and has arranged them all for our good (Romans 8). Although things have been difficult, we know that these challenges and sufferings have a purpose for our lives and have helped us to grow more.
There were many things to pray for: asking our God to take control of all our actions; motivating the group to pray but also to act in the midst of so many difficulties. We prayed with the people who were affected by anxiety and fear over the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to our Lord, who up to now has taken care of us, protected us to be able to comfort and continue loving and praying always.
The celebration gave us a call for reflection in terms of making decisions and facing challenges (Matthew 7:24-27). The words of Jesus challenge us so that our life goes well and does not end in disaster. The call is to build on the rock who is Jesus and to listen; listen carefully to his words and put them into practice. The message invites us to decide to live by what the Lord says in his word, to love, forgive, cry with those who mourn, be simple and clean of heart, work for peace and justice. This way we will have a safe and welcoming home for everyone. A house built on the rock, which is Jesus Christ.
Our role in the community
We have a high percentage of unemployed youth who have not been able to enter the labor market due to the economic crisis in our country. This problem has increased due to the pandemic.
Like the voices of Vanuatu women, the women of our country are also affected by the same problems, perhaps more or less. There are women who, due to their poverty conditions, cannot and have not been able to acquire basic education. They leave their homes in rural areas and travel to the big cities, seeking solutions and many times the situation becomes worse. Many end up working in degrading manners to support themselves and the family they left in their hometowns.
Our help to women in these unfavorable conditions would be to collaborate with them, guide them and connect them with organizations that protect women and provide alternatives so that they can train and acquire the necessary tools to be able to perform an honest job that dignifies them.
As in Vanuatu, malnutrition is an alarming health problem in Panama. A large number of children under the age of five suffer the physical consequences of poor diet, they suffer from stunting and frequent infections. In other words, children are hungry and often get sick. They don't eat foods that can keep their bodies and brains growing strong. Poverty makes the most disadvantaged children face the greatest risk of all forms of malnutrition.
To the children in these situations, the help that the women of the WDP would give is to pray for our God to take control of this situation and to support with financial resources the foundations that protect and help these children. Pray and take action.
Communication is key
We were in total quarantine throughout 2020 and it was difficult for us to meet but thank God we maintained communication through calls to coordinate everything related to the program. The Worship Service was carried out and the attendance of 35 people was achieved in accordance with what was established with the restrictions of the health authorities allowed in the temples and parishes with the required capacity. It was possible to simultaneously transmit the worship in a virtual way for those sisters and invited people who could not participate personally. The service was a great blessing specifically because of its theme.
It was a different year in every way. Less face-to-face participation, but today we want to get up and build our houses, our nations and the entire world on the word of Jesus, who is our firm foundation. That must be the fundamental principle of our message today and forever. May the Lord make us wise builders for eternity.
Mayor Inez Proverbs, WDP Panama
El Comité del Día Mundial de Oración (DMO) en Cuba agradece los cuidados de Dios en medio de este tiempo de crisis sanitaria mundial, y los aprendizajes que de ello hemos podido extraer; volver a lo esencial de la vida, nuevas formas de relacionarnos, valorar la convivencia en familia, autocuidarnos para poder cuidar, alimentar nuestra espiritualidad y ser más solidarias, entre otras muchas enseñanzas. Agradecemos la vida de las personas que coordinan y apoyan el movimiento del DMO a nivel internacional y en cada país, y que con su labor nos ayudan a mantenernos unidas, informadas, orando y actuando. Especialmente agradecidas por la solidaridad de nuestras hermanas, el afecto expresado en mensajes, oraciones y espacios virtuales compartidos. En este sentido, damos gracias a Dios porque los avances tecnológicos nos permiten comunicarnos con mayor inmediatez, celebrar juntas desde la distancia, ver nuestros rostros, intercambiar información y palabras de ánimo. Y porque a pesar de la distancia física, nos sentimos más unidas. Nuestro corazón se encuentra agradecido porque en medio de un contexto global de enfermedad, crisis e incertidumbres, la gracia de Dios y su Palabra, nos dan continuas señales de vida y amor fraternal, para vivir confiadas en nuestro día a día, y mirar con esperanza el futuro.
Preparar las actividades del DMO en contexto de pandemia fue muy desafiante. Las iglesias no se estaban reuniendo por causa del Covid 19, y sólo en algunos lugares podían hacerse, con sumo cuidado y cumplimiento de protocolos sanitarios, pequeñas reuniones. Hicimos la distribución habitual de los materiales con la esperanza de que grupos pequeños pudieran usarlos, pero mayormente nos proyectamos hacia lo virtual específicamente para WhatsApp y Facebook que son las redes sociales más asequibles para nuestro contexto, donde el acceso a Internet es relativamente costoso y la conexión inestable. No obstante, la participación en la celebración virtual del grupo de WhatsApp, tuvo muy buena acogida y superó las expectativas del equipo. De modo que las actividades fueron preparadas en medio de la incertidumbre de no saber qué acontecería al día siguiente, pero con la certeza del Dios que escucharía nuestras oraciones en tiempo presente y con visión de futuro. Damos gracias a Dios también porque pequeños grupos de hermanos y hermanas en otras provincias de Cuba donde la Covid19 aún no se había propagado con fuerza, pudieron hacer pequeñas celebraciones presenciales. Varias denominaciones y organizaciones ecuménicas tomaron parte en las actividades.
El entorno de la pandemia afectó la participación de los niños/as, quienes se encontraban en aislamiento en sus casas durante la cuarentena, ya que fue limitada la presencia de menores de edad en espacios públicos. En el caso concreto de Cuba, la tendencia es que los niños/as no poseen dispositivos móviles para conectarse a Internet, de modo que, aunque compartimos los materiales del culto infantil con las iglesias, y seguramente fueron empleados en las casas, no tenemos ninguna constancia de cultos infantiles propiamente.
El grupo de WhatsApp creado permanece activo para compartir oraciones diarias, con unos 100 miembros habituales y nuevas personas que se suman paulatinamente. Consideramos como un aporte/logro el que podamos compartir oraciones diarias, las cuales son un canal de acompañamiento, ánimo y esperanza para personas enfermas y sus familiares.
Poder convocar a mujeres de todas las generaciones y de todas las provincias del país, para el culto virtual, nos dio una bonita perspectiva del diálogo intergeneracional, de la diversidad de dones y afinidades que poseen, y sobre la manera en que podemos construir juntas, intercambiando saberes, habilidades y motivos de oración.
Acciones de apoyo a las mujeres y comunidades
Agradecemos a Dios que en Cuba podemos contar con acceso igualitario a la educación, en todos los niveles, y que, en el caso de las mujeres, son mayoría en las estadísticas de los estudios universitarios. Podemos notar que existe un especial interés en la atención a la infancia y existen proyectos para apoyar a este sector de la población. Por ejemplo, actualmente la FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) se encuentra desarrollando un programa para apoyar la desnutrición infantil, beneficiando a embarazadas e infantes.
No obstante, surgen nuevos desafíos. En la pandemia, muchas mujeres han quedado desempleadas (sector turismo, sector privado, artistas, etc.). Incluso para aquellas que se mantienen laborando, el teletrabajo supone un reto tecnológico y de distribución de los tiempos en casa. En Cuba existe una tendencia de que las mujeres sean las principales cuidadoras de enfermos y ancianos en el hogar. Por otro lado, la crisis económica ha provocado un notable desabastecimiento de alimentos, medicamentos y otros productos básicos, por lo que se generan largas filas en los establecimientos, donde se percibe una mayor presencia de mujeres, quienes tienen un rol importante en la gestión de trámites relativos al hogar y en la tarea de buscar los alimentos.
Coincidentemente, en el reporte diario de casos positivos al Covid 19, el mayor número de casos positivos es de mujeres. Cabe mencionar, que la presencia de los menores en casa también supone para la mujer la responsabilidad de acompañar el proceso educativo de los hijos/as, quienes asisten a clases televisadas durante la cuarentena. Estos factores, unidos al contexto de crisis económica y sanitaria, colocan en riesgo la salud física y mental de las mujeres. Para este caso, nuestro Comité desarrolla un proyecto de incidencia en la salud mental de las comunidades, desde el abordaje de la No Violencia, y la creación de recursos de resiliencia a través de las artes expresivas. El DMO Cuba mantiene una estrecha colaboración con el Programa de Mujer y Género del Consejo de Iglesias de Cuba, en sus acciones formativas de empoderamiento de las líderes eclesiales.
Para el acompañamiento diario, diseñamos recursos litúrgicos como oraciones, cantos, y otras herramientas formativas que sirvan a implementar una estrategia de autocuidado, redes de apoyo, y solidaridad femenina. Apoyamos en redes mediante las cuales intercambiamos motivos de oración y peticiones de medicamentos para intentar localizarlos y movilizar la solidaridad. También, en nuestras actividades y talleres, priorizamos emplear como facilitadoras a mujeres necesitadas, mujeres jóvenes o profesionales desempleadas, de modo que puedan percibir alguna bonificación temporal por su colaboración. Son pequeñas acciones, a veces de carácter temporal, pero mediante las cuales hemos podido acompañarnos mutuamente.
El mensaje hoy
Desde finales del año pasado y especialmente en este 2021 han acontecido muchos procesos (económicos, sociales, políticos, eclesiales, etc.) que, acompañados de la pandemia, han venido a agudizar la crisis mundial de la que no estamos exentos, y así a desplazarnos de nuestros habituales cimientos, zonas de confort o seguridades. Desde esta visión, el programa de Vanuatu desafía fuertemente a la Iglesia Cubana a fortalecer sus cimientos en la base firme, que es Dios y a buscar nuevas formas de apoyarnos mutuamente, aportando nuestros dones al servicio del reino, y en favor de los más necesitados.
Ser sabio, en el contexto de nuestro país implica, sobre todo, ser creativos y resilientes. La creatividad ante un panorama de crisis económica, sedimentado por el bloqueo y ahora agravado por la pandemia, ha supuesto para cubanos y cubanas, la búsqueda de soluciones concretas, prácticas y cotidianas. La resiliencia ha permitido adaptarse a situaciones de carencia, desde una economía de la solidaridad, un crecerse ante las dificultades, y mayormente, confiar en que Dios nos sostendrá sobre una base firme. La sabiduría debe ir acompañada de la formación, pensando en las nuevas generaciones, que son el presente de la sociedad, y en este caso, también de la Iglesia, los cuales muchas veces carecen de herramientas necesarias para emprender sus sueños y, sobre todo, de valores sólidos.
Ser sabios, en esta hora de nuestra realidad, implicará también apoyar a personas vulnerables, con pocos recursos espirituales y materiales, y especialmente a los adultos mayores, que son mayoría en nuestra población. La sabiduría para este tiempo implica enarbolar un discurso de no violencia, de diálogo intergeneracional, de acompañamiento pastoral y de inclusión.
Cuba es una isla donde también los ciclones afectan la vida cotidiana durante una época del año. Desde esa perspectiva insular, conectamos muy bien con los sentimientos expresados por la obra de arte de la artista de Vanuatu, y la inspiración del tema. Construir sobre una base firme, en tiempos de profunda inestabilidad, fue un aliciente emocional y espiritual para las mujeres cristianas vinculadas al movimiento. Ha generado, entre otras cosas, el desafío de seguirnos uniendo, animarnos mutuamente en la fe, y obrar juntas creando alianzas de trabajo y saberes compartidos.
La metáfora de la base firme, como contenido principal de la celebración, nos ha inspirado a estar más unidas como equipo DMO nacional, reconociendo la solidez de nuestro movimiento, en Cuba, gracias a la misericordia de Dios y la labor de muchas cristianas de nuestro país.
- Ruth Mariet Trueba Castro, DMO Cuba
“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
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
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
El tema “Construir sobre una base firme” en medio de un contexto de pandemia, significa para nosotras colocar a Dios como cimiento de nuestras vidas, especialmente cuando tantas “rocas firmes” se han desmoronado en el 2020. Se trata de construir sobre la Palabra de Dios que nos ha sostenido, pero también de edificar sobre la base del amor fraternal que se ha hecho gesto concreto, a pesar de la distancia, a través de las redes de apoyo.
Sobre la máxima de que nuestros cuerpos son templos del Espíritu Santo, también creemos válido retomar la importancia del autocuidado y la salud integral, así como el cultivo de nuestra espiritualidad, el tiempo de calidad en familia, el cuidado de la naturaleza y una economía del compartir. Construir sobre una base sólida se trata para nosotras, de caminar juntas con Dios, viviendo un día a la vez y renovando nuestra esperanza.
La oración-acción que nuestro comité está promoviendo para este 2021 es un clamor por la salud mundial y la unidad de nuestras iglesias para seguir acompañando al pueblo cubano en servicio, amor y solidaridad, en las actuales condiciones que suponen nuevos desafíos. Oramos por continuar colaborando con el reino de Dios al construir sobre la base del intercambio de experiencias, oración y acciones concretas de apoyo mutuo entre mujeres cristianas que oran y actúan por la vida abundante.
Entre los principales planes de celebración que queremos compartir con ustedes se encuentran encuentros virtuales de unidad y oración, organizados por las promotoras del DMO. También realizaremos talleres, estudios bíblicos y jornadas de oración por WhatsApp, así como un concurso de arte para niñas y adolescentes. En las provincias que puedan reunirse presencialmente para la fecha del mes de Marzo, las coordinadoras provinciales del DMO en cada provincia facilitarán encuentros de oración con grupos pequeños, pero en el momento el panorama por causa del COVID-19 es muy complejo y es más seguro realizar los encuentros virtuales.
Ahora, queremos extender nuestras manos para construir orando, sobre la base sólida que es nuestro Dios:
Oramos por las mujeres en todo el mundo,
y especialmente por las niñas y las mujeres en Vanuatu,
Para que la esperanza de Dios les anime a vivir cada día,
Para que la misericordia de Jesús el Cristo les acompañe siempre
Y que la gracia del Espíritu Santo florezca en ellas.
Que aún detrás de la máscara no les falten la oración ni las sonrisas,
Que a pesar del distanciamiento físico y la crisis, no carezcan de amor ni de manos extendidas que sanan y bendicen.
Que podamos seguir construyendo juntas, sobre la base firme de la Palabra de Dios.
- Ruth Mariet Trueba Castro, DMO Cuba
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
In the course of preparations for WDP 2019, for which Slovenia was the writer country, I was privileged to visit the ASPI Centre twice. I was very touched by their work. ASPI, I have since learned, is the name which Slovenes with Asperger syndrome use to refer to themselves.
The ASPI Centre helps and supports adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorders. They prepare them for independent living, as much as possible, in cooperation with their parents and families. It is located in the outskirts of Domžale, a town in the greater Ljubljana region of Slovenia. The facility has been supplied by the local Caritas. It is a fairly small, longish narrow building with a garden attached in a quiet area not far from the old main road from Ljubljana to Maribor. They have some limited overnight accommodation and offer a series of programmes which include gardening and vegetable growing. They offer individual therapy, classes and activities that enable adolescents and adults to pursue their interests and develop their life skills in a meaningful way.
During my visit, I had the chance to see one of the neighbours assisting with the gardening, which appears to be a meeting point for the local community and the ASPI clientele. This Centre is a place to which persons on the autism spectrum and their families can come freely and find acceptance and help; which improves their wellbeing by making them feel more secure and calmer.
In Slovenia, there are limited official resources, recognition or understanding of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Many families live in isolation and unaware of where to turn to for help and understanding. The government and the society still need to research and learn more about it. Official recognition of the disorder would help the organisations get financial aid from the state to assist those people and their families.
ASD can be manifested in extreme sensitivity to sounds, light, smells, or interaction with other people and groups. Sometimes schools and churches are not prepared to welcome them, and so they are excluded from many activities that would enrich their lives or be enriched by them. When they are together, they realise that they are not alone or not to be blamed, but their condition needs to be understood so they can count on help to face the frightening world around them.
In case you live with a person with ASD or want to create a welcoming environment for them, let me share a few tips. Be aware that noise or light can be quite unbearably painful to them; even music played at fairly acceptable volume. Their repetitive behaviour and gestures, or unwillingness to meet your eye, does not necessarily mean that they would not like to be your friend. They may have no way of interpreting the body language of those around them. They may look like a lonely child, although they themselves may be actively seeking companionship.
I have a friend with Asperger syndrome, who is one of the most caring and artistically gifted people I know. She spends much of her life doing voluntary work with old people - who appreciated her care and concern - but could not hold a paid job because somehow “she didn’t fit into the norm.” She must have been in her 40s before she and her sister heard of Asperger syndrome, and it took her another few years to get the necessary medical assessment, and then a monthly pension. But simply understanding her own condition was a great relief to her.
It is very important to understand ASD and raise awareness in schools, churches, families, the medical field and government offices. People on the autism spectrum and their families need to be supported and we are grateful to the WDP committees who partnered with us to donate to the ASPI Centre in response to the World Day of Prayer Slovenia service in 2019. Thank you all very much.
- Áine Pedersen, WDP Slovenia