The YWCA/YMCA Week of Prayer is a tradition dating back to 1904. Each year in the month of November, the YWCA and YMCA movements issue a joint call for prayer.
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…”2 Corinthians 4:8
God is faithful and continues to reveal Himself to us; always showing us His loving-kindness and steadfast love. Yes, evil abounds, accidents, natural disasters war etc. Many times we struggle to make sense of things. The depressing images we see throughout the year in our work, the physical destruction that we walk through as we retrieve trapped bodies, the crying and wailing that deafens our ears, all those people whose lives are permanently altered – that is our call to duty. This work, our work is not easy, but it must be done even in the face of death, persecution, and despair. We are reminded: “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed but not driven to despair; persecuted but not forsaken; struck down but not destroyed…” (2 Corinthians 4:8). So we will not relent or be pushed back by the forces of evil.
At the same time, we are filled with hope and we are creating positive change in the life of the young People, women and communities in which we are present. Our actions at a Global level contribute to change of policies e.g.: Adoption of common positions and resolutions against child marriage and the redefinition of the sustainable development goals.
Since last year’s Week of Prayer a lot has happened that has brought sadness to people on a global scale, making this by far, one of the most difficult years in recent times. This year our YWCA/YMCA Week of Prayer comes at a time when the world is groaning under a myriad of tragedies: Terrorism, conflicts of all sort, diseases, as well as ongoing human rights issues… The list is endless!
As we gather together during this Week of Prayer, we will take a moment to reflect on these; but better still we will pray, and declare that WE WILL ALL BE TOGETHER AS ONE. Circumstances might seem hopeless, it may seem that evil continues unabated, suffering continues in different forms. But we have a message to tell to the nations; the message we bring to the masses we serve, those who have to face this pain every day; “…Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Psalm 30:5b).
Darkness will only be for a while, and then there will be no bleakness in our journey
We will learn new words; we will carry hope for a new world
Our world will be void of evil and suffering
We hope for a world that is God’s Kingdom
Restoration of humankind and creation, this is our hope
Hope we will keep alive, and despair we will not know again
When they see us, may they experience God’s love; and as we walk with them side by side, holding each other’s hands – hope becomes real. In these moments of darkness and despair, let us bring light. In these moments of bleakness, let us bring hope, let us keep hope alive; let us become aware of God’s protection, reminding ourselves and appreciating the prayer of Jesus Christ, as he prayed, saying, “I am not asking you to take them out of this world but I ask you to protect them from the evil one.” (John 17:15). Let us know that we are not alone, let us be encouraged, and encourage others – this suffering will not crush us! God will restore peace on earth. We are privileged to be part of the great work, the story of renewing hope and restoring God’s creation.
Our work takes us to places and people who are troubled and every year we pause and draw inspiration from the Week of Prayer. Those who do not should be encouraged to make time for this all important life-giving tradition held by a The YWCA/YMCA staff and volunteers.
The reflections of the week are based on our various experiences and realities related to personal suffering, our assistance to others, natural disasters, violence against women, plight of migration and globalized terror. We must remain hopeful and we must continue to be a force for positive change in the world.
Our calling is to keep hope alive in times of despair and persecution. The foundation of our faith is Hope. We shall and should keep Hope alive and continue “to bring the good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release of the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19).
Deborah Thomas Austin, World YWCA President and Peter Posner, World YMCA President