Taiwan was selected as the writer committee for World Day of Prayer (WDP) 2023 during the WDP International Committee Meeting, which was convened on August 20-27, 2017, in Foz do Iguaçu, Paraná, Brazil. After two preparatory workshops, which will be led by Rev. Rosângela Oliveira, Executive Director of WDPIC, the worship service materials will then be prepared ecumenically, collectively and with grassroots women from 2019 until September 2021.
The first of the proposed workshops, a Strengthening National Committee Workshop, took place from December 4 to 6, 2019 when more than 30 participants gathered at Our Lady of Providence Girls’ High School, New Taipei City, Taiwan.
Local participants included women and young women from the Catholic Church (Taiwan Catholic), Yu-Shan Theological College & Seminary, Women's Prayer Group, the Mustard Seed Mission, the Salvation Army, the Methodist Church (Taiwan), Chang Jung Christian University (CJCU) School of Theology, YMCA of Taiwan, YWCA of Taiwan, Taiwan Lutheran Church, Taiwan Theological College & Seminary, the Garden of Hope Foundation and the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (Presbyteries/Districts).
Through various creative activities and dialogue, the three-day workshop aimed to strengthen fellowship, to build relationships, and to “brainstorm” concerning the worship service materials for WDP 2023.
During the opening worship, Rev. Rosângela briefed the participants on the historical roots of the World Day of Prayer and how the seed was planted. In the nineteenth century, Christian women in North America were moved to action when they saw the suffering of women around the world and in their own communities. They were active letter writers, and so they wrote letters and called for united prayer and action in solidarity with women across the globe.
About 100 years later in Taiwan, more than 30 participants from various denominations were challenged to write letters for the preparation of WDP 2023 under the theme "I have heard about your faith" (Ephesians 1:15). Following a Bible Study summarizing the background of the book of Ephesians, led by Rev. Dr. Wu Fu-Ya, former President of Tainan Theological College and Seminary, (Rev. Wu incidentally was the first female ever appointed as a principal of a theological institution in Taiwan!), the participants were asked by Rev. Rosângela to think deeply about their reaction to the theme. "What is it that you have heard about her/his/their witness of faith and love?" In small groups, the participants wrote down their letters according to the structure of Ephesians 1:1, 15-16, and 17-18. Their letters touched various levels and showed their concerns about personal health conditions, the Pearl Family Garden*, the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT)’s mission, the 2019 Hong Kong protests, and so on.
Through this activity, the participants expanded their vision and identified specific categories: Women and Family, Women and Politics, Women and Health, Women and Environment, Women and Culture, and Women and Leadership. Based on the different categories, the participants began to think deeper about "What are the prayers and actions that women in Taiwan want to voice in 2023?"
During the discussion of Women and Environment, Vavauni Ljaljegean, a Paiwanese Evangelist from Mu-Lin church in Pingtung, Taiwan, told the participants a heartbreaking story. After Typhoon Morakot, a three-day rampage from August 6 to 9 in 2009, the elder Indigenous people who lost their homes and relocated in the plains took their own lives due to difficulties adjusting to an unfamiliar environment.
When it came to Women and Leadership, it was agreed that promoting equal representation of women in decision-making is important; however, the participation of women in leadership roles in Taiwan is still lacking and has a long way to go. Nancy Lin, former WCC Central Committee member (PCT), encouraged the participants to step up, lead and speak up.
For the closing worship of the WDP Taiwan SNC workshop, on the third and final day, the workshop participants used the materials of the Zimbabwe 2020 WDP program under the theme “Rise! Take Your Mat and Walk” (John 5:2-9a).
May all the acts and efforts glorify God and let the voices of Taiwan be heard – we now look forward with enthusiasm to the second workshop!
By 陳怡婷 (Rachel Chen, PCT Information Center Staff) and Carys Humphreys, Administrative Assistant to the PCT General Secretary
*Pearl Family Garden’s mission is to bring the gospel to women in prostitution and to mobilize the church for missions in the red-light districts of Taiwan.
When we were chosen to write the WDP worship service for 2018, we did not anticipate the powerful impact that being a writer country represents. We were honored and humbled by that realization. We were enthusiastic about having the whole world pray for our country; a country hardly known. We had the great responsibility of lifting up the care for creation, for the sustainability of our planet and the future of the next generations. The offerings we received were shared with projects and organizations we partnered with to make a difference in our communities.
For the Wildlife Protection all animals have their own value and are worthy of being treated with respect as independent beings. They aim to save and protect animals by treating them well, respecting their freedom and raising awareness about their integrity. They advocate proper care for domesticated animals, conservation of natural wildlife habitats and proper living conditions for animals held in captivity. The Unu Pikin Foundation has been committed to improving children’s education since 2003. Assistance and extra care is given to those with disabilities. Their book department sells and offers free books for schools and other institutions.
Stop Violence Against Women Foundation actively contributes to the prevention and combat of domestic violence against women. Together with the government they take a prominent role in developing and influencing national policy for gender equality.
The Wi Oso Foundation teaches those who are disabled to grow and sell their plants and vegetables. Care for Moms is a project dedicated to offering support and guidance to women with breast cancer. Huize Albertine is a home for the elderly and Hope for Children is a shelter home for abused and abandoned children.
There were many lessons to be learned. The first one was that we, as women, do have a powerful contribution to make to the world. With God as our guide, we came together to bring the necessary changes to our communities. We came out of that WDP experience with a vision for the future of our committee. It felt wonderful to be in prayer with our people and the people around the world!
- WDP Suriname Committee
Being chosen to write the 2015 service for World Day of Prayer, under the theme “Do you know what I have done to you?” based on John 13:1-17, was an inspiration for every island of the Bahamas. It brought attention, understanding and change to our people, to the local committees, and to the work of the National Committee.
A beautiful set of collectible postage stamps with the 2015 artwork and the World Day of Prayer name were created for the occasion. It was a means of educating people about WDP, especially for those who had never heard of the movement.
Gifts and donations from countries in every region were shared with children’s homes, women’s shelters, breast cancer research groups, the AIDS Foundation, teen mothers, children’s literary groups, and feeding programs. The P.A.C.E. (Providing Access for Continuing Education) for teen mothers and the AIDS foundation were able to provide sleeping spaces for those who have had to leave their homes. The 'Sister, Sister' Breast Cancer group have been able to assist more than one hundred women to purchase ports.
Since 2015, we have made recurring donations to the Children’s Emergency Hostel, the ‘Sister, Sister’ Breast Cancer Group, and teen mothers, the Women’s Crisis Center and Children’s Literary Programs. We enjoy the relationship built with these organizations, whom keep in touch with us and also attend WDP annual services.
World Day of Prayer gives us an opportunity to learn each year about another country, and we have developed monthly meetings where we share something about the service and the country. We study the Bible text, we learn the music, we prepare the foods, we pray, and we collect offerings designated to the writer country.
- WDP Bahamas Committee
“I am Merlyn, from Mindanao. When I was 15 years old, I was forced to seek employment after my parents died. I said I was 18 years old and boarded a ship with a recruiter to the big city of Manila. The agency assigned me to work for a family and I worked almost 24/7 without a day-off. After 3 months, I did not receive any salary, so I resigned. My employer filed a complaint against me for qualified theft. She accused me of stealing. I was put in a detention cell for 3 days. With the help of a Christian lawyer, I won my case against my employer on unfair labor practices and received compensation.
My story is that of many young girls who come from rural areas, and the ones that leave our country as overseas workers. Forced by economic circumstances, we migrate to the urban centers and abroad. We are often abused, and experience economic injustice…”
This excerpt was taken from the World Day of Prayer 2017 worship service program written by the WDP Philippines committee. Given the theme “Am I Being Unfair to You?” based on the bible story Matthew 20:1-16, the committee decided to focus on the unjust labor practices in their country and bring awareness to the struggles the women, men, and sometimes children, face. The men face high unemployment rates and the women are overworked, underpaid, and taken advantage of.
Due to increasing costs of living, many men and women decide to work abroad in order to find better paying jobs. This often impacts the family negatively. Families break up and children begin to do poorly in school. The country has passed laws to protect workers but implementation is lacking.
With the support and offering received from the World Day of Prayer, the WDP Philippines committee took its first steps in tackling these issues. They supported two Mangyan (indigenous people) lay missionary empowerment projects. The first entails Bible study sessions for the women participating. They are mentored by women leaders to attend conferences, WDP events, seminars, and training sessions. The second project involved teaching the Mangyans of Mindoro, to weave baskets and trays so they can promote their culture and simultaneously make a living. Their products were marketed at conferences and community events to support their progress.
Through the WDP service the question presented is - What can be done to create a better world? Every day, women and men in the Philippines bear the responsibilities of providing for their families in the face of unfair labor practices. Through these offerings the WDP Philippines committee was able to make a small change in the lives of some.
“We will not lose hope. We will continue to be resourceful and mentor our children until even just a glimmer of light shines through to guide us.” – Prima Formilleza, WDP Philippines Chairperson
- Based on reports received from WDP Philippines
En 2016, el comité del Día Mundial de Oración de Cuba escribió el programa bajo el tema “Al recibir a las niñas y los niños, me reciben a mí” basado en Marcos 10: 13-16. El tema nos llevó a crear nuevas iniciativas, que con gratitud en nuestro corazón hemos dado seguimiento a la atención a los niños y las niñas, los protagonistas de la celebración en 2016. Les compartimos un poco de lo que hemos hecho.
Al coro creado de niños y niñas provenientes de zonas vulnerables, les impartimos clases de música y de formación de valores. Hemos trabajado también con niños y niñas con síndrome de Down usando las artes visuales como instrumento para su inclusión social. En Holguín, hemos dado acompañamiento material y pastoral a niños y niñas cuyas madres están presas. Y hemos propiciado el compartir celebrativo de niños y familias en situaciones vulnerables, tanto en los barrios como en las iglesias.
Gracias a una ofrenda para apoyo psicológico, pudimos apoyar y acompañar a algunas familias de las víctimas del accidente aéreo de Mayo de 2018, donde 17 niños provenientes de las familias pastorales se quedaron huérfanos.
Muchas mujeres se han capacitado y hemos podido desplegar un trabajo de prevención con mujeres y adolescentes que estaban viviendo en situación de violencia. En algunas escuelas secundarias en Cuba se introdujo la temática del “anti-bullying” (acoso escolar).
En la zona oriental del país, organizamos un evento formativo con 300 mujeres de diferentes denominaciones donde promovemos el movimiento del Día Mundial de Oración. En el marco de este evento apoyamos a mujeres jóvenes que perdieron sus casas a raíz del paso de un terrible huracán. Muchas personas e iglesias que no conocían el DMO se animaran a celébralo por primera vez.
Uno de nuestros encuentros más transformadores ha sido la colaboración con el Proyecto Cuidándonos entre Hermanas. Este es un espacio de convivencia formativa y terapéutica para que las mujeres desarrollen la sanación personal y se capaciten con herramientas para el cuidado pastoral.
A partir de la celebración del DMO 2016, el movimiento del Día Mundial de Oración en Cuba se ha fortalecido con numerosas alianzas ecuménicas y la inclusión de mujeres jóvenes. Durante todo el año nos involucramos con las actividades formativas del Programa Mujer y Género, que movilizan a mujeres de diferentes denominaciones, incluyendo a la Iglesia Católica. Dentro de estas actividades se cuentan la Jornada de la No Violencia hacia las mujeres y las niñas, los cursos de promotoras, la Semana de Oración por la Unidad, los encuentros de comunión y retiros de la red de mujeres Débora.
Al mismo tiempo, dimos continuidad a proyectos apoyados por la Sociedad Bíblica de Australia y la Comisión Bíblica de Cuba. Esta alianza de colaboración nos provee de literatura para el trabajo de prevención de la No Violencia entre las nuevas generaciones, así como la disponibilidad de la Biblia ISHA para el trabajo con mujeres.
En Cuba hoy hay una serie de actividades y programas que resultaron de las ofrendas recibidas de la red internacional del DMO. El impacto es sentido desde nuevas iniciativas en conjunto con el Consejo de Iglesias de Cuba hasta el fortalecimiento del DMO en las comunidades reportado aquí por Midiam Lobaina, Reverenda María Yi Reyna y Ruth Trueba. Con el apoyo de los coordinadores territoriales del Consejo de Iglesias de Cuba en la difusión de los materiales del DMO (vía impresa y digital) y la coordinación de las celebraciones en las varias de las provincias de Cuba, hemos logrado fortalecer la presencia de un comité provincial del DMO. Hemos estado presentes en cada región del país, como por ejemplo, Matanzas, Pinar del Río, Cienfuegos, Camagüey, y Guantánamo. Esto hay permitido que nuevas iglesias se han sumado a las celebraciones.
El Día Mundial de Oración en Cuba, no sólo se activa durante el primer viernes de marzo sino que permanece tejiendo acciones concretas orientadas hacia el empoderamiento de la mujer cristiana, promoviendo espacios de espiritualidad, formación y oración.
- Ruth Mariet Trueba Castro (Coordinadora del DMO en Cuba), Midiam Lobaina (Miembro del Comité Escritor del DMO Cuba 2016), y Reverenda María Yi Reyna (Iglesia Los Amigos Cuáqueros en Holguín, Coordinadora del Consejo de Iglesias de Cuba en la provincia de Holguín)
In 2012, the women of WDP Malaysia wrote the World Day of Prayer worship service under the theme “Let Justice Prevail” based on Luke 18:1-8. The WDP offering is a sign of our worldwide prayers, as we can learn with our sisters in Malaysia, who dedicated the offerings to support the following projects that involve women and children - Elshaddi Learning Center, Project Hope, Malaysian Care, Single’s Mothers Home, Sengoi Educational Development Program, and Indigenous women’s training.
There are more than 19,000 refugee children in Malaysia and the numbers are increasing. These children are denied entry into government schools and private schools are very expensive. Education is the basic right of children and without an education these children face a bleak future. The Elshaddai Learning Center caters to refugee children and offers both primary and secondary education. Currently the school has 550 students from Myanmar (Rohingya and Chin tribe), Indonesia, Pakistan and Cambodia. This education gives the students a basic foundation while their families await relocation to other countries. Similarly, Project Hope aims to provide indigenous children with housing closer to schools so they may have easier access to their education and prevent drop outs. Donations are used to buy books and provide tutors to help the children meet the proficiencies required by the Ministry of Education.
Malaysian Care is a Christian organization that provides diversified services for rural and urban communities. The WDP offering was used towards a project dedicated to helping women and children affected by substance abuse and living with HIV/AIDS. These people are often abandoned and need urgent assistance for basic necessities like medication.
The Single Mother’s Home is a local community based project which was started in 2011. It currently houses eight single mothers, who are either widows or victims of domestic abuse, and their children. The home is rented and relies on donations to continue operating. Without this home the women and children could potentially face a hard life on the streets and be exposed to dangerous situations.
The Sengoi Educational Development Program was initiated by a Methodist Church as part of their mission work among the indigenous Sengoi tribe. The program aims to educate the Sengoi and empower the new generation to raise their standard of living and economic welfare. Their action plan is to train secondary school students to become pre-school teachers and earn a degree in Early Childhood Education. Other programs in development with the Council of Churches of Malaysia and Indigenous churches involve leadership training for rural women. Regular seminars and workshops are held where indigenous women are encouraged to become more active in their church and community life. They are taught how to identify the issues faced in their community and consider solutions.
The Women’s Work Committee of the Council of Churches of Malaysia, who organizes the WDP services, is grateful to all of the countries who donated their offerings to support these projects. The opportunity to put into practice the WDP motto of ‘Informed Prayer. Prayerful Action’ and make a difference in someone’s life is something the committee is incredibly thankful for.
- Based on reports by Mary Thomas Mathew
Moderator, Council of Churches of Malaysia, Women’s Work Committee
“Come, everything is ready” – with the invitation from Luke 14, 15-24, the Word Day of Prayer (WDP) services were celebrated all over the world united by the prayers written by women of Slovenia. On Friday March 1st 2019, the Slovenian women celebrated the 2019 service and the 20th anniversary of the very first WDP service held in Slovenia simultaneously.
In 1999, Ljudmila Smid, a Slovenian migrant worker in Switzerland, first encountered the WDP movement while working there. When visiting with a group of Slovenian migrant workers back home, around the first Friday in March, she took the initiative to organize a local WDP celebration. She encouraged Greta Rothmeier Klancnik to invite some friends in Rogaska Slatina to the first worship. They were inspired by the movement and continued to organize services every year.
In 2001, the first WDP service organized by a German speaking parish was held in the capital, Ljubljana. The two groups connected and expanded their community by inviting women from different parts of Slovenia to a preparatory workshop. By 2002, the service was celebrated in four places and the movement started to grow.
The impact of this new movement was marvelous. For most of the women, it was the first time they could meet other women on an ecumenical level. Together they read the bible and shared their experiences of wisdom, joy and sorrow which lead them to prayer. To have women preparing a worship service, and more than that - an ecumenical service, was innovative in Slovenia. For many women WDP has had an immense impact on their growth in faith and self-confidence.
Learning annually about a different country from another region of the world has helped to open up their hearts and minds, to widen their horizons and to share their own lives with others. “Informed prayer – prayerful action” moved the groups to identify people in their surrounding areas living in difficult situations and organize help for them.
Being the writer country for 2019 was at the same time a challenge and a gift for the young WDP movement in Slovenia. After three years of hard work, the invitation has spread all over Slovenia - “Come, everything is ready.” The committee raised support for people and groups in need. The movement was officially acknowledged by church authorities. It is growing and celebrations were held in 8 places. They are on the way to being registered as a non-profit organization.
I have been a part of the process since 2001, and at this moment, I am overwhelmed and grateful for the gift of WDP and its impact on the Slovenian women. The little seed planted twenty years ago has grown into a wonderful tree with branches of ecumenical sisterhood, encouragement, and awareness of the responsibility for God’s creation.
- Corinna Harbig, former WDPIC chairperson and member of WDP Slovenia
The 2019 WDP theme “Come, everything is ready!” reminds me that we have to answer the invitation each day. The invited had said "Yes" and then, when the time came and their host had gone to great trouble and expense, they turned their backs on him.
Our decision to be faithful to Christian values, build ecumenical relationships, and promote World Day of Prayer is not to be taken for granted. Sometimes it is easy, but sometimes it is hard to keep promises. The theme motivates me, as Chairperson of the committee, to use my talents, time and energy for what God has planned.
People all around the world were praying with and for Slovenia. Armenian women in Aleppo, Syria and 3,000 women in South Africa – just overwhelming! I get goose bumps when I imagine that. God was already working and many miracles have happened since the start of the preparations in 2016 in Slovenia.
Being the focus of the WDP program, challenged us to expand our circle, which meant involving people who could help with the writing of the worship service materials and songs, to take pictures that represented Slovenian life, to organize activities, and to promote the celebrations.
As a result, two new WDP local groups were formed and two new children services were celebrated. We hope that more blessings are still to come. Also, we feel ready now to take a new organizational step. We want to grow from an informal WDP committee to a registered legal organization in Slovenia. We feel we can reach out to regions that we are not yet present in and increase participation of young women and new moms.
Our prayers are turning into action through partnerships with different organizations and groups that impact the lives of women and children. A nice relationship grew especially with Home for Mothers and ASPI centre for people with Asperger syndrome. We also are involved with the Trauma Healing project in partnership with Bible Society of Slovenia.
One can see the impact of being a writer country just by realizing how WDP Slovenia is evolving, growing, consolidating, and building communities… like a red carnation flower blossoming from a small bud.
- Tanja Povšnar Vrečar, WDP Slovenia Chairperson
The Writer Country Workshop for Vanuatu 2021 was held in Port-Vila, Vanuatu, from April 9th to the 13th. The workshop officially started the writing process and the world will discover the global result on March 5, 2021.
Between 2018 and 2021, a continuous process made up of meetings, writer groups, reviews, translations, adaptations, celebrations and finally, reports, will take place.
For the women of Vanuatu, the time has come to gather together, to work ecumenically and to develop what was started in April 2018. A decision was made among the committee that every Sunday morning they would come together in personal prayer and make this WDP writing process a priority.
It was such a privilege to be part of this workshop! As the theme “Build on a strong foundation” and the focus “Live Wisely” were explored by the women of Vanuatu, who had come from across the nation to participate, it was not hard to be excited for what God has planned for these women and the nation of Vanuatu in 2021.
For many participants, this had been their first opportunity to represent and lead their denomination. As friendships where established, it was wonderful to see the denominational barriers broken down. To hear the voice of Vanuatu women, their joys, their hopes and their struggles. God has chosen this group of women to be heard across the world in 2021.
Women attending the workshop shared their stories of having to leave their homes under threat from volcanic activity. Some had travel plans disrupted by a cyclone looming off the coast. We learned so much about our sisters and are eager to continue this journey with them and share their stories.
Let us join these women in prayer, as they continue to work on the materials for 2021 and remember that….
Coming together for World Day of Prayer we are all just sisters in Christ and Gods children.
- Laurence Gangloff (WDPIC Chairperson) & Vicki Marney (WDPIC Pacific Regional Rep.)
Women from different islands and different denominations have gathered together this week to begin developing the WDP Vanuatu 2021 service and bring the voices of the Vanuatu women to the rest of the world. WDPIC Chairperson, Laurence Gangloff, WDPIC Executive Director, Rosângela Oliveira, and WDPIC Pacific Regional Representative, Vicki Marney, led and facilitated the meeting.
The writing of the worship service and resource material is an ecumenical and collective process. Each participant of the workshop is a potential member of the writing working groups. And each member of the extended community in the country is a supporter of the process through their prayers and wisdom.
This workshop is the beginning of an exciting journey to study and understand the Bible text, develop the theme, and create a stimulating service for World Day of Prayer!