The CWM World Day of Prayer 2022 gathered more than 100 participants from CWM member churches and ecumenical partners worldwide for a time of prayer and to stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in Myanmar and Ukraine. Held virtually on 4 March, the timely prayer and sharing session organised by the CWM East Asia and South Asia Regions allowed participants to come alongside in intercessory prayer for those suffering in the military coup and pandemic in Myanmar and the conflict in Ukraine.
The event commenced with words of welcome from Rev. Dr Jooseop Keum, CWM General Secretary, who commended the Ukrainians’ courage and the Presbyterian Church of Myanmar (PCM) for voicing their prophetic witness in society, providing loving care to the people of Myanmar, and prioritising community life over individual interests.
“What I found in my long friendship and accompaniment in PCM is that Myanmar Presbyterians have often displayed two striking characteristics regarding their witness of their liberating gospel. One is that the church has struggled against oppressive regimes and another is that church has often approached the issue from the standpoint of the oppressed people.
“The traditional missiology of salvation of souls only is not authentic if it does not respond to the dreadful violation of basic human rights and democracy. The mission work among the oppressed should take into account the victimisation, agony, cries, and aspirations for freedom and human rights in daily life,” he added.
Subsequently, PCM General Secretary Rev. Ramthanga, PCM Women & Youth Secretary Mrs. Van Lal Hming Sangi, and PCM Youth Member Ms. Van Lal Zawmi, shared brief situational updates via pre-recorded videos. A grim picture emerged, of many PCM church members becoming Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), and the pandemic claiming the lives of 6 PCM ministers and many church members last year, said Rev. Ramthanga as he appealed for continual prayer for the restoration of peace in Myanmar and the survival of the church and its ministry. He also expressed his gratitude for prayer and financial support from all PCM’s partner churches and organisations, without which the situation would be “unthinkable”.
Mrs Van Lal Sangi, PCM Women & Youth Secretary spoke about the perilous journey many faced enroute to uncertain freedom, with some sexually abused before being killed, and children becoming orphaned every day. Mrs Sangi implored participants to pray earnestly for justice for all, especially the vulnerable, while PCM youth representative Ms Van Lal Zawmi summarised the shortage of medical supplies, electricity and media blackouts, a shrinking economy and increased cost of living.
Upon receiving these updates, Mr. Sandy Sneddon, Interim Chair of PCM Partners offered an invocation prayer (Psalm 27:1-3), which was followed by pre-recorded prayers of solidarity from leaders of CWM East Asia member churches in their native languages.
The next programme segment saw participants observe a solemn moment of silence in remembrance of those who died, and participants then joined breakout rooms, offering poignant prayers to God for those in Myanmar and Ukraine.
As the well-organised, thoughtful event drew to an end, Rev. Lydia Neshangwe, CWM Moderator offered the Closing Prayer and Benediction.
A Prayer for Ukraine by Protestant Church in the Netherlands (PKN)
God of love and faithfulness,
We pray for the people of Ukraine, all those affected by the terrible violence.
In astonishment we see the abominable images, Lord, have mercy on this land and its inhabitants.
Let violence and clattering of weapons cease, the weapons be silent.
We pray for the Ukrainian community in our country,
they are deeply concerned about relatives and loved ones.
Lord, be close to them when all is so uncertain,
give them courage to persevere.
Lord, grant that images of enemies may not be magnified unnecessarily,
may Your vision of reconciliation and peace continue to carry us no matter what.
Grant that those voices that want to stay away from fear and struggle are heard,
give wisdom to all concerned leaders.
That weapons are not given a right to speak, that peace is sought and found.
Show us the way of looking after each other, of mildness, trust and gentleness.
Lord, have mercy on this world, in which mutual love is often so hard to find, give us a view of your hopeful future.
In Jesus’ name,
A Prayer from the Joint Public Issues Team of the United Reformed Church (URC), Methodist Church and Baptist Union
God of all,
with alarm and concern we bring before you
the military intervention in Ukraine.
In a world you made for peace and flourishing,
we lament the use of armed force.
We mourn every casualty of this conflict,
every precious life extinguished by war.
We pray comfort for those who grieve
and those who are fearful.
Hear our longing that leaders and nations
will honour the worth of all people
by having the courage
to resolve conflict through dialogue.
May all our human failings be transformed
by your wonderful grace and goodness.
We ask this in the name of Christ,
the author of peace and sustainer of Creation.