PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Christian women prepare worship resources for annual day of prayer

March 3, 2009

More than three million people worldwide will be worshipping together during an annual day of prayer on Friday, March 6, using a service prepared by Christian women in Papua New Guinea.

Further information and resources for the Women's World Day of Prayer are available here.

"Papua New Guinea is a land of many ethnic groups and more than 800 distinct languages of which more than half are unrelated," a release from the Anglican Communion News Service said. "As a result, there is great cultural diversity, yet the women of Papua New Guinea have emphasized the oneness there is in Christ.

"In spite of gender inequality, women in Papua New Guinea are beginning to take their place in professions previously closed to them," the release added. "There are now women who are pilots, engineers, doctors, lawyers, judges, lecturers and also officers in the military forces. In this way, they make a very positive contribution to their nation."

The symbol chosen for this year's Women's World Day of Prayer comprises the cross and a bilum, a hand-woven string bag widely used among Papua New Guinean societies.

The bags "are very strong and used to carry everything from food to a baby (who can see out through the holes in the bag)," the ACNS release said. "Sometimes a bilum is suspended on the branch of a tree and becomes a cradle for a sleeping baby. Men also use bilums to carry heavy loads. Where cultures are so diverse, this simple string bag is common to many. By placing the bilum on the cross in this symbol, the women of PNG seek a unity where they are not merely held together as though they were gathered into a string bag. They seek a vibrant unity where love is genuine, and where the many, many communities of Papua New Guinea are of one heart and soul."

The following prayers are taken from the order of service:

Loving and merciful God, God of oneness and unity, though we have different cultures, languages, colors and traditions, we are one in your Spirit. Thank you for opening our inner hearts to see the Lord Jesus Christ as the one who has united us. Though we are many members, in Christ we are one body.

Let us go forth, empowered to make a difference so that people around the world will see and feel the oneness of Christ in this broken world, and be compelled to draw closer to God. May the source of oneness and unity bind us together with his endless love, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.