The Divine Gift by Alice
“The hands symbolically receive the divine gift and pass it on to the next generations. Every day the sun shines over the land where animals and plants have found a place. The vegetables and fruit tell us that there is enough food for everyone. The blue frog is one of the protected animal species that can only be found in Suriname. The red and yellow heliconia is native to our country and the majestic kapok (ceiba) tree is a beautiful giant in our forest. The Voltzberg (Voltz Mountain) is one of Suriname’s many granite mountains. The seven women symbolize all women in Suriname who cherish this gift to pass it on to their children. Seven also symbolizes the seven days of God’s creation.”
World Day of Prayer
On March 2, Christians in over 1,200 communities across Canada will gather to learn about, pray, and celebrate environmental issues in solidarity with the women of Suriname through the World Day of Prayer.
The World Day of Prayer was started by women on both sides of the border who had endured a war in which they had little agency. Women in Canada were not even considered persons under the law until 1927.
Since 1812, women have encouraged one another to engage in personal prayer and lead communal prayer within their mission groups. Presbyterian women in the United States then called for a national day of prayer in 1887, and Anglican women in Canada established a national day of corporate intercessions for mission in 1895.
On October 19, 1918, Presbyterian women in Canada called together representatives of five Women’s Missionary Boards – Anglican, Baptist, Congregational, Methodist and Presbyterian – “to promote the spreading of Christ’s kingdom through united prayer and action.” That first inter-church meeting gave birth to the Interim Committee on the Federation of the Women’s Missionary Society Boards of Canada, which organized a national and inter denominational day of prayer on Jan. 9, 1920.
On Friday, March 3, 1922, millions of church women throughout Canada and the United States met in one of the greatest events in North American religious history. The annual event became the Women’s World Day of Prayer in 1927.
That day of prayer is now observed by women and men around the world in 113 languages, the purpose of which is prayer with “immediate application.”
Today women struggle to have their voices heard on issues that affect them such as peace negotiations, disaster recovery, policy development, and human rights violations. The World Day of Prayer connects people in authentic, meaningful ways across social, geographic and political barriers by amplifying the voice of women.
The Canadian committee changed its name to become the Women’s Inter-Church Council of Canada (WICC) and now includes representatives from 11 church partners. It has also provided over $500,000 in grants to justice projects over the last five years alone.
Through participation in the World Day of Prayer, affirmed prayer and action are inseparable, and both have immeasurable influence on the world.
The host country
This year’s host is the Republic of Suriname, which lies in the northeastern part of South America.
Suriname is part of the Guianas, an ecological region within the Amazon. The word ‘Guiana’ comes from a Kaliña word meaning, “land of many waters.” Over 90% of the country is covered by pristine tropical rainforest with a high biodiversity.
It has a humid tropical climate with an average daily temperature of 27.1C. January is the coldest month, averaging 26.1C, and the hottest month is October, averaging 28.3C.
The country has approximately 540,000 inhabitants with a multi-ethnic population consisting of indigenous peoples of African, Asian and European descendants, plus Lebanese and recent immigrants from countries like Guyana, Brazil, and Haiti.