Zimbabwe the focus of the 2020 World Day of Prayer

Mary Larouche and Ursula Paxton light a candle to help commemorate the celebration.

LITTLE CURRENT – This year’s World Day of Prayer was organized globally by the women of Zimbabwe and the local ecumenical celebration was hosted in Little Current by St. Bernard’s Roman Catholic Church.

Reverend George Gardner welcomed the attendees to the church and delivered a message of tolerance and love. Rev. Gardner went on to request that prayers be given for those who are working on a solution to the current COVID-19 pandemic. “This is no joke, folks,” he said. 

Rev. Gardner recognized his colleagues, Pastor Paul Allard of the Little Current United Church and Pastor Philip Hovi, as well as pianist Maurice Labelle.

“Friends, in the path for justice, let us reflect and place before God our stories for the world,” read Ms. Ferro as a column of women processed to the front of the church bearing signs inscribed with “reconciliation, peace and love” and a number of items symbolic of Zimbabwe. “Our people are diverse and have a long history. From the Great Zimbabwe Empire to today, there are many stories to tell.”

Zimbabwe means “house of stones” and Ms. Ferro asked those assembled to greet each other in the language of that country’s Shona people “kwaziwai” (pronounced kwuz-WHY) and in the language of the Ndebele people “salibonani” (sah-li-bo-NA-nee).

Zimbabwe is a country rich in natural resources, such as coal, gold, platinum, copper, nickel, tin, clay and diamonds—and those resources have shaped Zimbabwe’s social and economic history.

The readers went on to speak of Zimbabwe’s recent troubled environment, particularly over the past three years where the country “has been going through changes in government” and “people, ecumenical organizations and churches are actively raising awareness for a peaceful transition.”

This year’s World Day of Prayer activities at St. Bernard’s Roman Catholic Church in Little Current featured a prayer group. Leaders from several of the town’s churches attended the special event. photos by Michael Erskine

The assembly watched a short video presentation on Zimbabwe before singing ‘Be Thou My Vision.’ Other songs during the World Day of Prayer included ‘Jesus Loves Me,’ ‘Just a Closer Walk With Me,’ ‘How Great Thou Art’ and ‘Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty.’

The bible reading for the meditation was from John 5:2-9a.

The assembly was asked to reflect on the following questions: What circumstances, for you or your community, prompt Jesus’ life-changing question “do you want to be made well?” What are the obstacles or excuses that do not allow for transformation? And what does “Rise! Take your mat and walk” mean for you.

“Rise! Take your mat and walk” is the theme for this year’s World Day of Prayer.

Following the service, the assembly was invited to partake in refreshments and fellowship with Zimbabwe-themed foods.

World Day of Prayer is celebrated all over the world, including many Christian churches, universities, organizations and schools in Zimbabwe since its introduction to the nation in 1962 by the Methodist Church and the Salvation Army.

The World Day of Prayer is hosted in Canada by the Women’s Inter-Church Council of Canada (WICC), which grants up to $5,000 to fund justice projects. The deadline for applications is March 31. 

Among the projects funded in Ontario by the WICC are a vocational project for refugee women, leadership training for Indigenous, high risk youth focused on the sex trade and transitions for trafficking victims.

The opening procession featured religious and cultural artifacts that were reflective of Zimbabwe’s culture.

A $2,000 emergency grant was sent to Zimbabwe in May 2019 after the devastation caused by Cyclone Idai. 

Next year’s World Day of Prayer service is being written by Vanuatu. That country is listed as the most at risk to “exposure to natural disasters, lack of coping capacities, susceptibility through inadequate infrastructure such as water and sanitation and lack of societal and policy adaptation to the prevailing environmental conditions.”