World Day of Prayer, March 5th
Build on a Strong Foundation
Through the worship service we hear the voices of the Vanuatu women, whom invite us to focus on the Bible story in Matthew 7:24-27. Jesus tells a story about the kingdom of heaven using the image of a house and the land on which the house is built. Choosing the land on which to build the house is an important decision for people in Vanuatu. The combination of considering the terrain and the climate is crucial in a tropical archipelago located in the South Pacific Ocean prone to earthquakes, cyclones, volcanic eruptions and rising sea levels. On April 6th, 2020, Vanuatu was hit by Cyclone Harold, which had made its way across the Pacific destroying many islands in its wake.
Vanuatu's susceptibility to cyclones is highlighted in the painting chosen to represent WDP 2021, titled “Cyclone Pam II: 13th of March, 2015”. It shows a mother bending and praying over her child. The waves crash over her but a palm tree bends protectively over them. The woman's skirt is modeled after the traditional clothing on Erromango. On the horizon you can see small crosses representing the lives taken by cyclone Pam in 2015.
The artist, Juliette Pita, born in 1964 on Erromango Island, is currently the most well-known artist in Vanuatu. Her talent was discovered early on. At school she was always the best in art classes. She was the first woman to graduate from the Institut National de Technologie du Vanuatu (INTV). Juliette never imagined making money from her art but she believed God had plans for her. She gives all the money she earns to anyone who needs help.
The Republic of Vanuatu was founded on its traditional values, Christian principles, and the people’s faith in God as established in the Constitution of 1980, upon gaining independence on July 30, 1980. Vanuatu is a beautiful country of many islands and people of many ethnic groups and languages. The islands have black and white sandy beaches and beautiful coral reefs with tropical colored fishes. The forests are full of lovely birds, flora and fauna, and spectacular cascades.
The inhabitants of Vanuatu are known as Ni-Vanuatu. Most are of Melanesian descent with a Polynesian minority on the outlying islands.
Vanuatu is a Y-shaped tropical archipelago located in the Southt Pacific Ocean with over eighty islands, sixty-five of which are inhabited. The islands are prone to natural disasters including earthquakes, cyclones and volcanic eruptions. There are seven active volcanoes scattered throughout the islands.
Land is very important to the Ni-Vanuatu and a crucial resource for production. Land is thought to be the precondition of human culture; the human inhabitants merge with the earth in some sense. Land is not viewed as a thing to be owned but as vital to the existence of humans and animals in sustaining their livelihood.
“Land to a Ni-Vanuatu is what a mother is to a baby. It is with land that he defines his identity and it is with land that he maintains his spiritual strength.”
Through the country background information and the worship service’s prayers, we learned about some of the challenges in Vanuatu such as child malnutrition and violence against women. Today, we get a better insight into these issues directly from WDP Vanuatu and also learn about the impact of COVID-19 on the islands and their plans for their celebration in 2021.
The following video is a conversation held by WDPIC with WDP Vanuatu on October 22, 2020. Across 7 regions, 26 participants from 13 WDP committees came to the "Let's Talk with Vanuatu" meeting to listen to the voices of Vanuatu women as preparations for WDP 2021 begin. Read more about it here.
The WDP Writing Committee
The Writer Committee Workshop for the 2021 WDP annual celebration was held in Port-Vila, Vanuatu, from April 9-13, 2018. The workshop officially started the writing process and the world will discover the global result on March 5, 2021. For many participants, this had been their first opportunity to represent and lead their denomination. As friendships where established, it was wonderful to see the denominational barriers broken down. To hear the voice of Vanuatu women, their joys, their hopes and their struggles. God has chosen this group of women to be heard across the world in 2021.
The history of World Day of Prayer in Vanuatu was pieced together through conversations and research by the current committee. The first World Day of Prayer service was reportedly held on March 8, 1946, in the Presbyterian Paton Memorial Church in Port Vila. World Day of Prayer was introduced by Canadian missionaries, Mrs. Amy Skinner and Mrs. Catherine Ritchie.
On the invitation of the Presbyterians, Anglicans and Catholics joined in 1981. Women from Apostolic and Church of Christ congregations remember joining together as young women in the 1980's on the islands of Ambae and Pentecost. In later years, other women from different churches across the islands joined World Day of Prayer.
With the creation of the Women’s Desk of the Vanuatu Christian Council, in the early 2000s, collaborations with WDP groups already in existence were developed. The World Day of Prayer International Committee held a workshop in Vanuatu in 2011 to strengthen the connection between those groups.
“By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established” (Proverbs 24:3)
The Writer Committee Workshop for the 2021 WDP service was held at the Presbyterian Church, which was carefully set up for the meetings and included the traditional lap lap to celebrate WDP. The participants brought gifts to beautifully prepare the altar table. It was decorated with flowers from their gardens, the Bislama Bible, garland necklaces, and palm weaved baskets and fans.
Those moments lived together are now extended to WDP around the world. The photo on the left represents a gesture of care from Vanuatu women to the WDP theme preparatory process. It symbolizes the Vanuatu communities, it reflects God’s creation, and it shows the connection with the land and the beauty of a life by faith.
Activities for Children
Puzzles can be a fun way for children to learn the Bible story!
Try taking phrases from the Bible text, cut out the verse number and ask the children to put the story in the sequence they think corresponds to what Jesus taught.
Let them share the sequence they created and lead the conversation to explore the new insights they learned.
Weaving is a big part of Vanuatu culture. Women weave baskets, mats and fans to sell at the market and children weave balls to use in outdoor games and activities.
Weaving is an important skills that is taught at a young age and can be a community activity. The weaving is traditionally made using leaves from the Pandanus Palm. Children in your country can try to weave like a Ni-Vanuatu using paper!
Sandroings (sand drawing) is a unique and complex traditional art form in Vanuatu. The drawings are produced directly on the ground in sand, volcanic ash, or clay. A single finger is used to create a graceful, geometric pattern using a continuous line. The drawings are more than an artistic form of expression and refer to a combination of knowledge, songs, and stories with sacred meanings.
Laplap is the national ceremonial dish is of Vanuatu. Vegetables such as bananas, taro or yam roots are grated into a paste, mixed with coconut milk and sometimes greens and meat, wrapped in leaves, then baked for hours in a traditional earth oven. It can be prepared for and exchanged at ritual ceremonies.
Nagol (land diving) is practiced by males to display their prowess and as a means to appease the gods for abundance in the farms. Nagol attracts a lot of tourists to the nation including the Queen of England. The frame and vines for the Nagol structure are carefully selected by experienced jumpers; and a traditional healer stays on site in case of accidents.