World Day of Prayer highlights stories of Christian women of Vanuatu
Published on 3 March 2021
This Friday (5 March) marks the World Day of Prayer, an annual international ecumenical prayer movement which is carried out by Christian women in more than 180 countries and in over 1,000 languages around the world.
Each year, on the first Friday in March, Christians are encouraged to pray for and with Christians of other countries and cultures, and to be enriched by their faith experiences.
This year, the annual World Day of Prayer service comes from the Christian women of Vanuatu – a group of 82 islands (65 inhabited) in the South Pacific Ocean – on the theme of ‘Build a strong foundation’.
Through the specially created resources, the women of Vanuatu share their stories reflecting on their history and situation on the island today, including struggles with food production, the environment and children’s education.
‘A gift of wisdom’
“One of the first things we learn with Vanuatu women is that, ‘land to a Ni-Vanuatu is what a mother is to a baby’,” Rosângela Oliveira, the World Day of Prayer’s international committee executive director, tells us.
“The relationship with land is at the foundation of the Ni-Vanuatu identity and spiritual strength. We listen to their voices through the worship service, which invites us to focus on the Bible story in Matthew 7:24-27.
“Jesus tells a story about the kingdom of heaven using the image of a house and the land on which the house is built. Choosing the land on which to build the house is an important decision for people in Vanuatu.
“The combination of considering the terrain and the climate is crucial in a tropical archipelago located in the South Pacific Ocean prone to earthquakes, cyclones, volcanic eruptions and rising sea levels.
“The Vanuatu sisters praise God for fertile land, the sweet melody of the birds and for the sound of children. All of these together reflect their way of life and their everyday struggles with production of food, care for the environment and the education of children.
“Those challenges are reasons to praise God for being the source of their strength while they pursue opportunities in education, keep children away from malnutrition and provide alternatives to young people.
“In receiving their voice as a gift of wisdom, we share their hope and creatively engage our communities in ‘informed prayer, prayerful action.’”
Representatives from the Church of Scotland, including the Guild, sit on the World Day of Prayer’s Scottish committee.
‘Build on a Firm Foundation’
Elizabeth Burroughs, the president of England, Wales and Northern Ireland’s committee, has written the following prayer for Vanuatu:
Holy God, Creator of the heavens and the earth and all that is in them: –
We join with the Christian women of Vanuatu in praise to you
– for fertile land and fresh air
– for the sweet melody of the birds, for land animals and the mysterious creatures of the deep
– and for the sounds of children playing.
We thank you for the example of the Christian women of Vanuatu
– for their trust in you and
– for their fortitude as they struggle to provide food for their families and education for their children
– things that we in this country so often take for granted.
We ask your forgiveness for our thoughtlessness, our carelessness and our lack of foresight which has led to the pollution of the environment and the current climate emergency, and is causing irrevocable damage to Vanuatu and to other low-lying Pacific islands.
We pray that you will help us
– to listen more carefully to you and to your Word
– to build our homes and communities on its strong foundations
– and to work together towards a world where resources are used more sustainably;
where justice and peace reign; and where all your creatures can live in safety and harmony.
We pray in the name of Jesus
Take part in the World Day of Prayer
If you would like to attend a special service, a list of some of the World Day of Prayer worship services taking place via Zoom and YouTube is available on the website.
Or, if your church group would like to get involved with holding your own service this Friday, you can find an abundance of helpful materials on the World Day of Prayer Scotland website, including an order of service, a meditation, children and young people activities, and much more.
You can also follow the World Day of Prayer Scotland on Facebook, where daily reflections from faith leaders in Scotland, including Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair, will be shared in the lead-up to Friday.
Next year’s World Day of Prayer will take place on Friday 4 March 2022, with a service written by the Christian women of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, on the theme of ‘I know the plans I have for you’.