One of the organizations that your 2012 World Day of Prayer offerings supported is Mpanzi, working in rural villages in Africa. You can read more about the work we funded on our 2012 grants page.
What follows is an excerpt of a new book written by Jackie Ogega, co-founder and co-director of Mpanzi, about her personal experience with Female Genital Mutilation or Cutting. The book is called “Pervaise Violence: What Makes Female Genital Cutting Possible, Even Inevitable. You can order her book on Amazon, or visit the book website to learn more!
This was the day to witness these circumcision festivities for boys as well as girls. Mom and other relatives were away. There was hardly anyone watching over me, besides uncle Machira.
I jumped off the Mapera tree and sneaked away from my uncle towards the roadside where the male initiates were being escorted to their homes. After the circumcision, the initiates would be escorted home in a ceremony marked with song and dance. A community of families would form an entourage of about 30 to 40 men, dropping off initiates every time they got to their homestead. I hid nearby a think bush by the huge gum tree that stood erect by the gate of my father‘s house.I peeped through the bush to see the male procession approaching in full combat gear. Men raising their spears and machetes in mock war. Their deep voices piercing the quiet morning with song, whistles and chanting.
I trembled, burying myself deeper into the thick bush as the violently jovial males passed by our gate towards Okari‘s home. When I was sure they had passed the gate, I emerged out of my hideout and tried to peep. If only I could see one male initiate! How did they look? The speculation was that they would be nude, the foreskin of their penises taken off. I also understood from rumors that their rituals were much more elaborate. But no one really spoke about it. I had no brother to nudge to tell me about it. I must have stayed by the gate for a few minutes, completely subsumed in the thought of the mysteries of male circumcision.
Then a pang of fear cramped my stomach causing me unbearable pain. I held to my stomach with my two little hands. What if my sisters did not make it back? What if they bled to death? What if they cried and the mythical curse took effect? My knees gave in as my body collapsed into the thick bush that had become my hideout. I wept, holding onto the bushes.
Inter-generational cooperation was at work during the World Day of Prayer service at Landsborough Seventh Day Adventist Church! Check out this video of Elizabeth Little, singing a duet with her granddaughter, who also played the flute!
In the national office of WDP USA, we get to hear from you often with your questions and concerns. We wanted to answer some of your most popular queries all in one place. And so, we bring you this (…drumroll, please…) WDP USA Mythbuster!
MYTH: World Day of Prayer Worship Services must be held at 12 noon.
FACT: World Day of Prayer Worship Services can be held at any time of day! Schedule your service for the time that works best for your community. Some communities find that a brief service combined with lunch works for people who work nearby. Others consider the availability of working folks, teens and college students, and decide to hold services in the evening. Some communities do a morning service and an evening service, acknowledging that one or the other might work better for individuals. If driving at night is of concern for your community, engage new participants by asking them to drive.
MYTH: World Day of Prayer Worship Services must be held on the first Friday in March.
FACT: Although the first Friday in March is technically World Day of Prayer, you are free to hold your service on another day in symbolic solidarity with women around the world. Some communities find that Saturday services are easier for more people to attend. Other communities incorporate elements of the WDP service in their regular worship service the following Sunday. Scheduling a “rain date” is practical in many parts of the country where heavy snows are common in March–feel free to schedule your own “rain date” and hold your service on day when it is safe for your community to be out on the roads!
MYTH: Men are not allowed to attend World Day of Prayer.
FACT: All people are welcome to attend WDP services! The focus of World Day of Prayer is on women’s leadership and honors women’s theological and liturgical work in the service that is developed each year. It would be our goal that your planning and leadership teams would be made up of women, but men are certainly welcome to take part in World Day of Prayer. Sometimes, they might have the most to learn from what is shared.
MYTH: Materials distributed by World Day of Prayer USA cannot be altered.
FACT: Although it is important to remain faithful to the worship service women in another country have worked hard to put together, there is no rule against your community adapting it in a way that would make it more effective where you are! If making changes will allow your community to engage more deeply with what other WDP women are sharing, by all means, make them!
If your community enjoyed the 2013 World Day of Prayer worship service, they might be interested in the Bible Studies provided by the WDP France Committee. The Studies focus on Leviticus 19 and Matthew 25:31-46, using both texts to explore the topic of welcoming the stranger. Each study can be divided into three different lessons or discussions, making them ideal for Adult Education groups. Why not invite a group of friends over for a simple supper and study once a month to engage the Bible Studies? However you decide to use them, you can download them for free by clicking here!
If you’d rather have a hard copy, they can be ordered from Kutztown Publishing by calling 1-888-937-8720 at a cost of 5 for $2.50 plus shipping and handling.
How can we keep folks excited about and engaged in World Day of Prayer after the first Friday in March? Here are some of your ideas, please share others in the comments section, below!
“Following last year’s service, several of the women from different churches wanted to have more frequent joint events. In Nov. 2012, we gathered for a fall event of fellowship and spiritual uplifting. This will continue!”
Mary Hewes, Arco, ID
“I used the online resources, including the ‘Mythbuster’ sheets at the UCC Women of the Evansville Tri-State Association’s Spring Workshop Meeting.”
Sandra L. Hoy, Evansville, IN
“Several people took the Bible Studies and Children’s Programs to use in their churches during regular Sunday School or Adult Sunday School.”
How did World Day of Prayer inspire new conversations or action in your community? Let us know in the comments section below!
“The topic of immigration inspired a very lively conversation following worship. We had lots of discussion on this ‘hot button’ issue. As a preacher, I knew I was in tricky territory, but I thank you for stretching me. I discovered that explaining the issue and showing that it’s as old as the Bible itself helped a lot.”
Michael A. Ward, Milnor, ND
(Service held on 3/10/13—Sunday morning worship)
“The service was very effective to those who had never attended a WDP event before. The idea and participation in another culture’s worship program resonated with many. The realization that the tangible and spiritual needs of those across the globe were like their own was truly insightful and thought-provoking.”
Kathy McKenzie, Linden, NJ
“Our motivational speaker challenged us to welcome the stranger among us. This is necessary in a retirement community where new residents are coming to live!”
Marian B. Poole, Rydal, PA
“We made ‘welcoming the stranger’ the theme for our forty days of lent at Zion Lutheran ELCA.”
Women from the Mar Thoma Church planned and led this WDP service, which was held on Saturday, March 2 to enable families and working adults to attend. Watch a video summary of the service right below and read about the creative elements they included in this report.
Click on the images below to watch a slide show of ideas from these creative planners, including Mar Thoma services held in other parts of the country!
The Rockford Salvation Army hosted a celebration, adapting some of the excellent material contained in the 2013 materials. We combined the opening greetings from the French committee with salient paragraphs from the background materials.Each woman, wearing a colorful scarf around her neck, greeted celebrants and told a little bit about France. The last speaker welcomed the Stranger with a bright red scarf, passing it from her neck to the Stranger’s . We incorporated the Scripture reading through a play featuring a woman who anticipated a visit from Jesus but was instead visited by three needy persons. The woman gave away with compassion all the gifts she had been saving for her celestial Visitor. When in her prayers she questioned the Lord about his promise, she was reminded that Jesus had indeed come–in the guise of the needy persons who crossed her threshold. [Click here to download the script.]
We used three of the listed songs, including “God Make Us Friends” which was sung as a solo by an immigrant woman from newly arrived from the Congo. She is French speaking and sang a verse in her own language. She was also the object of an interview on her experiences coming to this country. She and her children had to escape tribal fighting and told the audience how Christian people in the US gave them sanctuary and helped their difficult entry. The Prayers of Intercession outlined in the materials made a fitting climax to the interview. We put each of the program elements on an 8 x 11 cardstock piece with the beautiful drawing by the French artist as background. Songs and readings were printed on the back, so that all was contained in one very readable piece. The excellent children’s material gave us the means for our table decorations, which were cardboard Eiffel Towers patterned in the materials and placed on royal blue cloths with a single red rose next to the 10-inch high towers. Chicken salad croissants and several varieties of gateaux (cake) served as refreshments following the service. In the chapel where the service was held, a five-foot replica of the Eiffel Tower (same pattern enlarged) was placed near the altar which held a bouquet of wild flowers and a Bible opened to the Matthew scripture. We included a few additional elements, such as a worship dance by members of our church’s Hispanic ministry. This accorded well with the theme of welcoming the Stranger in our midst. About sixty women attended, and this was good for us. An ad run in the local paper generated at least two women who had never attended before. An offering was taken following a presentation outlining how WDPUSA uses the gifts given.