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Devastating flash floods and landslides have killed at least 113 people in Timor-Leste (East Timor), West Timor and Flores since the Easter weekend. Officials expect the death toll to rise as there are still dozens of people missing. Our partners are responding.

Can you help? Please click here to donate to our emergency appeal today.

This GMIT church in Kupang is one of the many churches providing shelter for people impacted by the floods.

Across Timor-Leste and West Timor, home to some of the poorest communities in our region, storms and heavy rains sent torrents of water through towns and villages, turning streets into canals and destroying homes and businesses. 30,000 people have been affected and thousands are now taking refuge.

We are still gathering information, but our partners in Timor-Leste, IPTL, have reported being badly impacted. They are reeling from severe flooding and now facing the challenge of communities being cut off from food, water and electricity.

Our partners in West Timor, GMIT, have also been hit hard. Several people have died and a project we support on Rote Island has been devastated. Partner staff have flooded homes and their headquarters in Kupang is badly damaged (see header image). GMIT church buildings have been opened for use as emergency shelters (see image right).

This crisis, of course, is unfolding during a global pandemic among communities who were already highly vulnerable to it’s impacts. Thousands of people have had to access temporary refugee centres, where there is the danger of COVID-19 transmission and experts fear it could cause the number of cases in the region soaring.

Our partners in West Timor have asked for prayer:

Greetings from Us here in Kupang, we hope that everyone is fine in the midst of Covid-19 Pandemic.

In the joy of welcoming Easter 2021, we had to face The Seroja Tropical Cyclone which took place on April 5 at 11.00 WITA and ended on the 6th, at 9.30 AM. This storm is really a tough test for us in the midst of the Covid-19 Pandemic because it has brought the impact of hydrometeorological disasters ranging from heavy rain, flash floods, and strong winds. The areas affected by this disaster were the City of Kupang, Kupang Regency, TTS, Belu, the islands of Flores, Alor, Rote, Sabu and East Sumba.

The congregation who lives in the coastal areas and its surroundings have moved to GMIT churches because their houses were flooded/damaged by storms … the electricity went out since last night until now because the electricity cable was hit by a fallen tree, we do not have internet access except in certain places .. but Praise God that after the storm God gave us sunny weather so that the cleaning/evacuation process can run well today and the situation has started to be conducive, Thank GOD!

The recent number of victims due to the Seroja Tropical Cyclone reached 2,655 households due to damaged infrastructure, 68 people died, 15 people were injured, 70 people were missing (data as of today and will be updated).

We ask for your prayers and support so that we are strong and able to get through this situation, and can even support one another.

Once again Happy Easter, May God’s love surround us in any situation.

With Love,

TLM Foundation

 

Help us support our partners in Timor-Leste and West Timor

We have launched an appeal to support the emergency relief work of our partners. Funds raised will help provide displaced and vulnerable people with immediate needs of food, shelter and health care. In the longer term, it will support rebuilding, rehabilitation and the re-establishment of people’s livelihoods. Your support will make a huge difference and will be a powerful gesture of solidarity with our close neighbours dealing with the double crisis of floods and COVID-19. Please give generously.

Click here to donate now.

 

Prayer

Uniting Church in Australia Assembly National Consultant Rev Dr Apwee Ting has written a prayer for those in the affected areas.

Doa buat Nusa Tenggara Timur

 

Tatkala angin menyampaikan pesan nya dengan topan

Tatkala gerimis menyampaikan kesan nya melalui badai

Air mengalir tidak lagi bersahabat

Angin bergeliat tidak lagi berdesah

Manusia terhenyak

Kita tersentak

Tertunduk

Terkapar

Terkoyak

 

Tangis sedih mengiringi duka yang dalam

Luka dalam menetes darah

Berpisah tanpa kata kata

 

Nusa Tenggara Timur

Ku peluk dalam doa dan duka

Ku sebut nama mu

Ku jemput

dengan kepedulian

 

Nusa Tenggara Timur

Tidak sendirian dalam penderitaan

Ibu Pertiwi memeluk mu

Anak anak nusantara menopang mu

Tuhan pun ada  bersama mu

Prayer for Nusa Tenggara Timur

 

When the wind conveyed its message with a hurricane

When the drizzle conveyed its impression through the storm

Running water is no longer friendly

The wriggling wind was no longer sighing

Human gasped

We gasped

Bowed

Sprawling

Ripped apart

 

Sad tears accompany deep grief

The wound is dripping with blood

Parting without words

 

East Nusa Tenggara

I embrace in prayer and sorrow

I say your name

I’ll pick you up

with care

 

East Nusa Tenggara

Not alone in suffering

Mother Earth hugs you

The children of the archipelago support you

God is with you too

 

Header image: Our partner TLM’s headquarters in Kupang, West Timor after the storm. TLM is the development agency of our church partner GMIT.

The West Papua Council of Churches (which includes our partner, GKI-TP) has sent a Pastoral Letter for Easter condemning the increasing militarisation of the Papuan provinces and ongoing human rights violations by security forces. The letter also highlights serious environmental and land rights concerns.

In response to these issues, Papuan church leaders have reiterated a long-standing call for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to carry out an investigation into the human rights situation in West Papua, and for an independent third party to provide for the needs of people living in areas affected by recent military operations in the highlands.

The Papuan church leaders also call for “prayer and fasting support from people and church leaders in the Pacific.”

Read the full Pastoral Letter

“Prayer is a vital discipline for me. It is talking to our father for wisdom and strength. It’s a place to take refuge.” -Pastor Dorothy Jimmy, Presbyterian Women’s Missionary Union, Vanuatu.


The World Day of Prayer
is a global ecumenical movement led by Christian women who welcome you to join in prayer and action for peace and justice. It is run under the motto “Informed Prayer and Prayerful Action,” and is celebrated annually in over 170 countries on the first Friday in March. The movement aims to bring together people of various races, cultures and traditions in a yearly common Day of Prayer, as well as in closer fellowship, understanding and action throughout the year.

 Here are three prayer requests from our partners in Vanuatu:

 

    1. Pray for those most affected by the COVID-19 crisis

Cindy Vanuaroro, General Secretary of the Presbyterian Women’s Mission Union in Vanuatu and Chair of the World Day of Prayer Committee has asked the Australian Church to pray in solidarity with the people of Vanuatu struggling with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic:

“While we are thankful for achieving zero cases of COVID-19 in Vanuatu, the economic impact of the pandemic has been huge here. Thousands of people have lost jobs in Vanuatu, particularly in the travel and tourism sectors. People are living day-to-day to provide for their families. I often see newly unemployed people are walking the streets not knowing what to do.”

 

  1. Pray for women and men in Vanuatu working to end violence and build equality in their communities.

Cindy has also asked us to pray for the work of the Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu to help people and communities understand God’s plan of equality between women and men.

Currently, 72% of women in Vanuatu will suffer violence at the hands of men in their lifetime (double the global average), so the work of the Church is critical in creating advocates for anti-violence and equality, using he Bible to speak powerfully to hearts and minds.

Here’s a great story of change showing their work in action:

 

  1. Pray for the next generation in Vanuatu: the children of today and leaders of tomorrow

Pastor Dorothy Jimmy, the Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu Women’s Missionary Union asked us to pray with the PCV for wisdom in help guide their youth during so many modern social changes and uncertainties, and that they hold onto what is special and unique about their traditional cultures.

“I would like the church in Australia to pray for the church in Vanuatu as we lead our youth to uphold cultures and traditions that are important to us. The importance of family, social connectedness and all the things that unite us as a people. May we hold onto it and continue to pass it on to the next generations.”

Thank you for joining us in prayer in solidarity with our partners and neighbours in Vanuatu.

You can find resources on the official World Day of Prayer website: www.worlddayofprayeraustralia.org

Download the above as a PowerPoint

UnitingWorld has been monitoring the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and its impact on our partners and their communities.

We want to keep our staff, supporters and partners safe and we want to do our part to protect their friends, families and the broader community we work in.

As we work with vulnerable people in places that will be severely affected by the spread of the Coronavirus, our priority is to our partners and their communities, and we will seek to carry on our vital work with as little disruption as possible.

We have put in place a detailed risk management plan, and we will be updating it regularly. We are also in regular contact with our partners who are creating their own, and helping where we can.

We will have reduced staffing in the office, but we are set up to answer your calls and emails as always. Please bear with us if our response to your traditional mail is slightly slower than usual.

We ask you to join us in prayer for all those affected by the Coronavirus, particularly the vulnerable people and communities we work alongside. We don’t know what the full impact of COVID-19 will be on our partners and their communities, but we are preparing ourselves to stand with them, and respond as we can. Most of them do not have access to the same health care systems, insurance or savings that we may enjoy.

Now more than ever, we need to help and pray for one another. We will keep you updated as we know more.

Let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all (Galatians 6:9-10)

Rev Dr Mery Kolimon, Moderator of our partner in West Timor (GMIT), has written a prayer below in English and Indonesian. NOTE: We published the prayer unedited out of respect for our partners. Please consider cultural differences and the difficulties of translation in your reading. 

Header image: Our partners in Papua New Guinea run community education on handwashing and water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) to prevent the spread of deadly water-borne diseases. Read more here.


 

FORGIVE US, MOTHER EARTH

A prayer by Mery Kolimon, 16 Mar 2020

 

Beloved Mother Earth,

All other creatures,

Fellow germs and viruses,

Forgive us for belittling you,

Exploiting, attacking, and hurting you, even

Wanting to destroy you.

With COVID-19 since the beginning of this year

We learn

The Creator has made all things good.

All creatures are our brothers and sisters

Living by the Grace of The Creator of life

Blessed by the Earth that gives food each day.

Yet we have hurt Mother Earth.

We have destroyed our brothers and sisters.

With a desire for more and more wealth, more and more prosperity

We have damaged the earth without mercy.

We dump our waste everywhere

The oceans, mountains, fields, and forests

Broken by our actions.

Even the bowels of the earth have been dredged without mercy

For gold, coal, manganese, marble, and other minerals.

Forgive our pride and greed.

Forgive our arrogance and evil ways.

May this plague be an opportunity for us to learn

That our human economy is not everything.

The economy must move with ecology.

Ecology and economy must be balanced for the sake of the oikoumene,

So the Earth can be a home worthy of inhabitance by all creatures.

May we learn with our minds, all of creation is not our enemy

We must organize our lives more wisely

To distance life from extinction

So that we of this generation

May experience the intention of The Creator of Life that is truly good.

Forgive us, Mother Earth,

Forgive us, fellow members of creation.

Please accept us back in the dance of divine life

Where we hug each other as brothers and sisters

Sharing energy with each other for life that is mutual and whole.

 

MOHON AMPUN, IBU BUMI

Mery Kolimon, 16 Mar 2020

 

Ibu bumi terkasih

Segala ciptaan yang lain,

Kuman-kuman dan virus sesama ciptaan

Maafkan kami yang telah merendahkanmu

Mengeksploitasi, menyerang, melukai, bahkan ingin menghancurkanmu.

Di wabah COVID-19 di awal tahun ini

Kami belajar

Sang Pencipta membuat semua sungguh sangat baik

Semua makhluk adalah saudara

Hidup dari Anugerah Sang Pencipta kehidupan

Dinafkahi oleh Bumi yg memberi makan setiap hari.

Namun kami telah menyakiti Ibu Pertiwi

Kami menghancurkan saudara-saudara kami.

Hasrat utk makin kaya dan makin makmur

Membuat kami merusak bumi tanpa ampun

Sampah kami buang sembarangan

Laut, gunung, padang, hutan rusak karena perilaku kami.

Bahkan perut bumi kami kuras tanpa ampun

Utk emas, batu bara, dan mineral lainnya.

Ampuni kesombongan dan keserakahan kami.

Ampuni kepongahan dan kejahatan kami.

Biarlah ini wabah ini jadi kesempatan kami belajar

Ekonomi manusia bukan segalanya

Ekonomi harus berjalan dengan Ekologi

Ekologi dan Ekonomi harus seimbang dalam Ekumene

Agar Bumi jadi rumah yg layak didiami semua makhluk.

Kiranya dengan budi kami belajar sesama ciptaan bukan musuh

Kami mesti menata hidup lebih bijak

Agar jauh kehidupan dari kemusnahan

Agar maksud Pencipta itu kehidupan yang sungguh sangat baik itu

Dapat kami alami juga di generasi ini.

Ampuni kami Ibu Bumi

Ampuni kami sesama ciptaan yang lain.

Berkenan terimalah kami kembali dalam tarian kehidupan Ilahi

Yang saling merangkul sbg saudara

Saling berbagi energi utk kehidupan bersama yg utuh.

 

UnitingWorld is the international aid and partnerships agency of the Uniting Church in Australia, collaborating for a world free from poverty and injustice. Click here to support our work.

We received the below correspondence from our partners in Zimbabwe today about the situation in the country and to thank everyone for joining them in prayer on World Prayer Day. The letter is by Junior Vutoyi, who last month became National Director of the Methodist Development and Relief Agency (MeDRA).  She is the first woman to hold the position.

The letter was read out in the office today during a morning tea for World Prayer Day and International Women’s Day.

 


 

For such as time as this… (Esther 4: 13-14)

It is during this time that the communities that we work with look up to MeDRA for any form of assistance as we work to deliver social justice support to the marginalised. This is a very difficult time for Zimbabwe as we are going through a very difficult season. Only God will see us through!

For women and children, the situation in Zimbabwe at the moment is a very difficult one with the inflation level having reached unprecedented levels. The political and economic situation is deteriorating daily, and this is causing a lot of anxiety within the general populace. With the price of bread at $25 and $190 for 10kg of mealie meal (maize) – life is not easy for the women and children. This is increasing the burden on the women and affecting the future of children. School fees are unaffordable and putting food on the table for the family is a nightmare. The health sector has collapsed, and maternal health has been greatly compromised. Teachers are one of the lowly paid professions and they are putting very little effort on their job. Hope for a long-awaited improvement in the living standards is slowly fading.

The poor women and children both in the rural and urban areas are a sad story. With some communities suffering from a double tragedy from Cyclone Idai, the drought and floods, the situation is bad.

An ideal and aspirational world would be a place when all children can afford to go to school, have access to basic meals, clean safe water and the women have access to maternal health. People should live a dignified life.

As MeDRA, we have a role to play in all this. To give hope to the hopeless. To restore dignity. To fundraise for projects to ensure a “society that enjoys abundant love and God given dignity” through access to safe clean water, gender justice, increased household income, food secure households, shelter and everything and anything else that ensures that people live a dignified life. We have a role in the society “at such as time as this” Esther 4: 13-14 – the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe’s theme for this year. We really wish we could do more as a church organisation. To help all in need.

We are grateful that you are with us in your thoughts and prayers. With your support, we look forward that one day we will “rise, take up our mats and walk”.

Be blessed today and forever more.

Junior Vutoyi, National Director
Methodist Development and Relief Agency (MeDRA)
World Day of Prayer 6 March, 2020

 

Artwork for World Day of Prayer by Nonny Mathe, a Zimbabwean artist. Read more about it here.

 

UnitingWorld is the international aid and partnerships agency of the Uniting Church in Australia, collaborating for a world free from poverty and injustice. Click here to support our work.

The World Day of Prayer this year is held on Friday 6 March.

The day is an ecumenical initiative that was started in the 19th century by Christian women in the United States and Canada to bring together women of different races, cultures and traditions for a annual day of prayer for international mission.

It is now a worldwide movement of ‘Informed Prayer and Prayerful Action‘ that promotes closer fellowship, understanding and action for international causes throughout the year.

The movement is initiated and carried out by women in more than 170 countries and regions but the World Day of Prayer is an invitation to everyone.

This year the host nation is Zimbabwe, a country facing huge challenges:

Between 2018 and 2019, the number of people in extreme poverty rose from 29% to 34% an extra million people living on less than $1.90 a day in just the space of a year.

An El Nino-influenced drought and Cyclone Idai reduced agricultural production over several seasons, worsening the situation across many rural areas. The economic contraction has caused a sharp rise in prices of food and basic commodities and one tenth of rural households currently indicated they are going without food for a whole day.

The unemployment rate has been estimated at 90%.

All of this has caused additional issues for the most vulnerable in Zimbabwe:

Human trafficking: Zimbabwe is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labour and sexual exploitation.
Child protection vulnerabilities including child marriage, where 32% of girls in Zimbabwe are married before the age of 18.
Gender-based violence (including sexual exploitation and abuse) – 35% of women aged 15-49 years have experienced intimate partner physical and/or sexual violence at least once in their lifetime
Disability discrimination: people with a disability have lower education and employment opportunities, are often unable to access health services, and are at greater risk of sexual exploitation and abuse

Despite these challenges, the Zimbabwean people are generous and resilient. They remain optimistic and are working to improve their nation. Our partners the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe (MCZ) and its relief and development agency, the Methodist Development and Relief Agency (MeDRA) play a vital role in serving their communities and advocating for the people in national politics.

The World Day of Prayer is a call to pray for an end to the challenges facing Zimbabwe, but also to recognise and celebrate those who are working for peace, reconciliation and social transformation.

Please join us in praying for Zimbabwe and taking time to consider how we can seek closer fellowship and take action to support our neighbours there.  

Read more about our partnership with the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe.

Find World Day of Prayer resources here

UnitingWorld is the international aid and partnerships agency of the Uniting Church in Australia, collaborating for a world free from poverty and injustice. Click here to support our work.

A Prayer During Times of Disaster

Leader: We come before the God of compassion who aches with those hurting in the world,

and before the risen Christ who heals. We stand in silence and offer up our prayers.

As the candle is extinguished, we acknowledge the darkness that disasters bring to the lives of many.

Leader extinguishes the candle.

Leader: Let us pray.

All: God of mercy, love and compassion

Christ who enters into the pain of the whole creation

We cry out to you for all the suffering people of the world,

and especially today the victims of natural disaster –

the dead, the injured, the bereaved;

and those who have lost everything and their livelihood.

Leader lights the candle

All: God of mercy, love and compassion

Creator who calls us to care for people and the earth,

Fill us with love for our neighbours that we may know

the encouragement that comes from solidarity

Give us the wisdom to act; generosity, courage and unity

Most of all we pray that the God

of all comfort and renewal will be powerfully present

In and through your people

In Christ’s name we pray.

Amen.

Prayer by Cath Taylor

The President of the Uniting Church in Australia Stuart McMillan and UnitingWorld National Director Dr Sureka Goringe have written to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) over the human rights conduct of the Philippine government’s so-called ‘war on drugs.’

The letter expresses concern over “gross human rights abuses that continue to take place in the Philippines” in the form of widespread extrajudicial killings carried out during police anti-drug operations since July 2016. The Uniting Church in Australia (UCA) supports a joint statement made by 38 member states of the Human Rights Council in June, which urges the Philippine Government to allow an independent UN investigation into the killings.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines estimates there have been more than 13,000 extrajudicial killings linked to the anti-drug campaign. The Philippine National Police say less than 4,000 drug suspects have died in “legitimate police operations” from July 2016 to January 2018.

UnitingWorld is in regular contact with UCA partner church, the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) who have sent a word of thanks for UCA solidarity in their advocacy efforts.

Please continue to pray for our partners, human rights defenders and an end to the killings in the Philippines.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

‘And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.’ Colossians 3:15
Lent is a time of repentance, fasting, and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of reflection regarding the suffering, death, and resurrection of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ. It is also time for self-examination and reflection, for us to redirect and rededicate our attention and action, prayerfully, to the most crying needs in our society.
Let us heed Pope Francis’s call to a day of prayer and fasting for peace in South Sudan the Democratic Republic of Congo, to be held on 23 February, in the first week of Lent according to the Gregorian calendar. Let us join in prayer and fasting, as part of the global ecumenical movement in light of the ongoing social- political tension, violence, and the suffering of the affected peoples in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan.
In the DRC, 4.3 million people are displaced throughout the country and 13.1 million people will be in need of humanitarian assistance throughout the country this year.
In South Sudan, 2 million people have fled the young nation as refugees and about 1.9 million people are internally displaced, over the past four years of conflict- with 7 million people inside the country – that is almost two-thirds of the remaining population – still need humanitarian assistance.
Children, young men, and women have been among the most affected. Millions of women and girls are exposed to gender-based violence in these crisis-affected areas.
The churches and communities are dedicated and present in these communities, accompanying the affected people through these challenging times. We acknowledge the courageous and hopeful work that carries on each day to serve the people in need. May the prayers of all Christians on 23 February for the gift of peace be a sign of solidarity and closeness to those suffering in South Sudan and DRC.

May God bless you and your ministry during this season of Lent,

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
General Secretary

See Original Prayer

At least 44 people were killed and more than 100 wounded after suicide bombers targeted two Coptic churches in northern Egypt during Palm Sunday celebrations.

The first blast was inside St George Coptic church in the Nile Delta town of Tanta, north of Cairo, killing 27 people and injuring 78.

A second bomb was detonated in front of St Mark´s church in Alexandria on the country’s north coast after a suicide bomber tried to storm the entrance but was stopped by police. 17 were killed in the attack and at least 48 were injured.

As we grieve this tragic loss of life and attack on the Church body, we hold our Coptic brothers and sisters in prayer.

Prayer for the Coptic Church in Egypt

On this Holy Week,

As we journey with Jesus to the cross,

We hold our brothers and sisters in Egypt in prayer.

We pray for the congregations in Alexandria and Tanta,

We pray for Coptic Pope Tawadros II,

and the families of the victims.

May our condolences be a support in their sorrow,

May the passion of Christ be their solidarity

as communities in the process of counting of their losses.

If one part of the Body of Christ is suffering, all members are suffering.

We pray for Coptic communities in Australia,

In the face of this brutality, we speak faith-inspired peace.

Where there are hateful deeds, we pray for good will and actions.

In the world of religious diversity,

We pray for Muslims and Christians, and people of all faiths.

Be unified in the common good of humanity.

May their interfaith dialogue be a pathway towards understanding and respect.

We pray for national leaders to work in collaboration for the people

May they recommit to upholding religious rights.

We also pray for ourselves

In this Holy Week, we look to each other.

Where fear distorts people’s judgement,

Let us step forward and lay our burdens onto the Cross.

Where anger intensifies violence,

Let us put the sword away and proclaim compassion to all.

In this Holy Week, we look deeply into the Passion of Jesus.

Where hopelessness rests in the minds of many

Let us listen to the cry of Jesus.

In the emptiness of his forsakenness,

There rests the source of perpetual truth

– His passion is our path of salvation.

-Rev Dr Ji Zhang

Read more:

World Council of Churches condemns terror attacks on churches in Egypt, calls for end to violence

Egypt declares three-month state of emergency after Palm Sunday church bombings kill 44