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
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
As preparations for the 2021 Vanuatu WDP celebration started in many countries, WDPIC held an online conversation with WDP Vanuatu on October 23, 2020. Across 7 regions, 26 participants from 13 WDP committees came to the "Let's talk with Vanuatu" meeting.
The sisters in Vanuatu reflected on the 2021 theme "Build on a Strong Foundation" and informed on issues of child malnutrition, violence against women, the impact of COVID-19 on the islands and their plans for WDP 2021.
Annette Poitier, WDP Bahamas, was invited to offer the opening prayer, to which she responded with appreciation for being part of a group that prays. In her prayer, she thanked all for being together from different time zones, and affirmed that we know that we are standing on a firm foundation when we are standing on prayer.
“Build on a Strong Foundation, it is really an exciting theme. When we think about it, we automatically switch to our country motto ‘In God we stand’. Without God we can do nothing. Our country’s development after 40 years of independence reflects our belief that in God, we stand. In these uncertain times, the theme becomes very relevant to the world and to us. We hope that all will build their foundation on God alone, and then all things will be added,” affirmed Cindy Vanuaroro, from WDP Vanuatu.
Through the country background information and the worship service’s prayers, we learned about some of the challenges in Vanuatu, to which Ruth Dovo, WDP Vanuatu, offered some updates. According to Ruth, Vanuatu is experiencing a double disaster: the COVID-19 pandemic and the aftermath of Category 5 Cyclone Harold that hit the islands in April 2020. The cyclone season is from October to March, and although the people are resilient and prepared for the season, sometimes the destruction is more than what was anticipated. Now, the communities affected are recovering thanks to the support of organizations and churches.
Vanuatu is rich in natural resources like the fertile land and ocean, but some children may face malnutrition. This could be addressed with parental education, to help the families understand how to feed the children well.
The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted the tourism industry leaving many unemployed. All the frustrations caused by this economic situation can be seen in the rise of domestic violence. That being said, this situation has also created an opportunity for Vanuatu to go back to its agricultural roots. Now, everybody is farming and gardening because it is not known when the COVID-19 situation will be finished. People are encouraged to have their own gardens for their own consumption and for commercialization.
When, Pollyanna Banga, WDP Vanuatu, last visited her home island, she got very excited. She comes from one of the islands where a volcano erupted and the people were evacuated. They are coming back and settling down, and women and young people are gardening. They started to plant again, and now they are harvesting the crop and living on that. “It is a good thing,” said Pollyanna joyfully.
Ruth Dovo is grateful for the government task force’s response to COVID-19. One of the issues they dealt with was the repatriation of seasonal workers from Australia and New Zealand, who had to quarantine for 14 days. The policy may have contributed to Vanuatu being considered COVID-19 free, which is very important, as the medical facilities are too limited to deal with an outbreak.
WDP committee representatives of Australia and New Zealand expressed their concern with the impact of the country’s closing borders to the seasonal workers from Vanuatu, whose families depend on them.
In regards to plans for the celebrations in 2021, WDP Vanuatu created a working committee to organize several workshops for the empowerment of women, the worship service, a festive parade, and a big lunch with cultural performances. “Vanuatu is a Christian country,” continued Ruth, “so women in the church come to assist with prayers and support. We go through different challenges all the time, but we believe in God and know we are not alone. God is with us.”
In the midst of the uncertainties, one thing we can say for sure, "we are covering Vanuatu in our prayers," concluded Janice Soyer-Delaney, from WDP Tobago. WDPIC thanks everyone who participated in the conversation, which was adjourned with Ruth reciting the Lord’s Prayer in her mother tongue from the Pentecost Island.
Watch a video summary on our Youtube channel!
- Rosângela S. Oliveira, WDPIC Executive Committee
We really felt blessed and humbled to be the writer committee for the 2020 WDP worship service. The opportunities given by the collaborative writing process enriched us and let us grow in faith. One of the impacts of promoting the program as the focus country is that it united us. Women from different religious backgrounds, cultures and traditions came together under a common goal for the betterment of our country. It was a wonderful experience which required creativity.
In the beginning, we found the theme motivational and a reminder that Christ would give us strength. However, as the days went by, the theme became more relevant, especially because of the COVID-19 outbreak. The theme sounded like a mandate, a mantra and certainly a way of life as the Coronavirus pandemic hit the nations in 2020.
In Zimbabwe, the pandemic grouped together with the drought and the economic hardships made us feel that God was speaking directly unto our situation. Our people had to rely on Jesus Christ and His command to “Rise! Take Your Mat and Walk” towards the love and peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, and the reconciliation with the Holy Spirit, who brings healing and restoration to us all.
Since the theme was defined in 2012, to the launch of the writing process through the Strengthening National Committee Workshop in 2016, and finally the moment of the celebration in 2020, the message has evolved. Really, God showed Himself to us. God is All Knowing. Our country and all others around the globe must indeed “Rise! Take Your Mat and Walk.”
Notwithstanding the disruption in our calendar due to the pandemic, the children and youths were able to undertake a drama which was aired at the Zimbabwe broadcasting studio; they assisted with advertising on social media, sang and danced in the services. They were also involved in projects making sanitary pads, sewing face masks, crafts involving beadwork and donating food to those in need. Little girls from the Girl Guide movement also participated in the activities. These activities showed that all hope is not lost. The children acquired a good foundation as they learnt attitudes basic for their sense of humanity, which are caring for others and catering to their needs. This intergenerational exchange of skills also blessed us all.
During the full WDP process as a writer country, we were reminded that despite the dark times, Zimbabwe is still part of a global village. We learnt to appreciate all that God has entrusted us to look after. We learnt a lot about our own country and how to love and embrace people from other religions, cultures, traditions and who speak different languages. We are all God’s creatures.
Recently, we also learnt new things such as how to use video conferencing applications (e.g. Zoom) and other technologies to stay connected despite the lockdown due to Coronavirus. More significantly, all nations around the world took it upon themselves to pray for our country. The responses we got from other countries have encouraged us to engage and support other writer countries, thus we are more motivated with next year's program written by WDP women of Vanuatu.
There was an overall excitement that took charge of the atmosphere around the world throughout the preparations and services. We heard very positive comments from different churches and organizations. They told us to “keep up the good work.” Others wished they were the ones leading the program. Some organizations indicated that they would like to join in the World Day of Prayer programs and projects. Every woman got involved, regardless of their tradition.
There was a great sacrifice by the committee members for the whole program to sail through. To put the materials together with participants from different parts of Zimbabwe and with no access to social media to facilitate our communications was our biggest challenge. Thus, we created a steering committee to coordinate the promotion of the activities and formed sub-committees to help with the fundraising. People were highly supportive of the World Day of Prayer, and gave very good suggestions for the promotion of the activities; we even got support from people in the government. Sacrifice, commitment and dedication are key!
Those who managed to attend the worship service before the government ordered a lockdown expressed their gratitude as they felt the service was heartwarming. They were encouraged to propel above injustice, hatred, violence and walk towards Love, Peace and Reconciliation.
We look forward to engaging with more community outreach events while we build up and improve on the prayer journey that has already began. Through our ecumenical relationships, we developed partnerships to support the mothers and care givers of Ramangwana Ravo Trust, the Mucheke Old People's Home and Omni Village Rehabilitation and Skills Development Center. Also, it helped birth relationships that empower women to share ideas on how to manage challenges in life and be self-sufficient.
This entire experience has reinforced how important it is to pray without ceasing for others and for ourselves. Without God we are unable to do anything. We depend on God for everything. God is God of the impossible. Is there anything too hard for God?
- WDP Committee of Zimbabwe
The WDP Zimbabwe Committee's report was published in the 2020 WDP Journal. The Journal captures the lively presence of this worldwide ecumenical movement of informed prayer and prayerful action. Each country's story helps weave the wisdom and enthusiasm that the annual celebration generated in each part of the world. We invite you to view the Journal on our website and read the stories of this year's celebration.
The Bahamas joined the World Day of Prayer movement in 1950 when the wife of a Presbyterian Minister in Nassau, invited the wives of ministers throughout New Providence to celebrate the day. The early services were held at the Presbyterian Church and later moved to other denominations and other islands.
World Day of Prayer was celebrated on every island of the Bahamas in 2015, when our committee was tasked as the writer country and the world prayed for us and with us. Since 2015, five islands have continually observed WDP in schools and in ecumenical services.
Our 2020 celebration was scheduled to take place on Cat Island, where we have the highest hill in the Bahamas, ‘Mount Alvernia’! This service was scheduled for the month following the annual service, and was to include women from every island! However, on March 15th, our country was shut down and international travel was prohibited, except for cases of emergency, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was providential that the WDP Committee of New Providence (Nassau) observed seventy years during the annual service in Nassau. At the conclusion of the prayer service for Zimbabwe seventy candles were presented, each candle standing in a large delicious homemade cupcake, and placed on a cake rack resembling a sea-grape tree. The beautiful six-tiered cake-stand was created by Tyrone Ferguson, whose artwork was used on one of our postage stamps in 2015. The cupcakes were made by Julia Burnside, a member of our committee and the daughter of Gertrude Burnside (also featured as our historian in 2015).
On the table decorated for Zimbabwe stood nine large candles commemorating the lives of members ‘In Memoriam’ and these were lit by members of their families. Two of these candles represented the souls that perished in Abaco and Grand Bahama during Hurricane Dorian. The chairperson of the Abaco Committee traveled to Nassau for the service, and the former High Commissioner to the U.K lit the candle for Grand Bahama. A moment of silence was observed. On the top tier of the stand was one very large ‘sparkler’ candle, the last to be lit by all the children present.
The first candle was an international candle, lit by Annette Poitier, WDP Bahamas President. Then followed three candles for Zimbabwe, lit by three ladies from Zimbabwe, followed by candles representing the region. We are fortunate to have committee members from Canada and the United States as well as from seven other Caribbean countries. The islands of the Bahamas and the denominations represented in our committees were all included and well represented.
A great applause went up after the children lit the last candle, sending sparkles high into the air, and the band played, in calypso style, an old Bahamian New Year’s Eve chorus: ‘Thanks for another year O Lord!’ We danced, ate meals prepared by the Zimbabweans and of course we ate the cupcakes!
After another half hour of greetings, dancing, and building fellowship, we left thanking our hosts and thanking God for the growth of our work in the Bahamas.
- Annette Poitier, President of WDP Bahamas National Committee