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The Women’s World Day of Prayer Service

15 February 2012 One Comment

The Women’s World Day of Prayer Service

Let Justice Prevail

A service prepared by the Christian women of Malaysia on Friday 2nd March 2012 at 10.00am at Sudbury Baptist Church, Church Street, Sudbury, CO10 2BJ. More information.

All are welcome.

Tea & Coffee will be served after the service.

One Comment »

  • Matt said:


    The Women’s World Day of Prayer on Friday, 2nd March, was an uplifting service. Congrats to Jane Kohler and all the others who pooled their efforts and talents to make it a memorable day.

    The service, written by Christian women of Malaysia, highlighted some of the difficulties faced by the Church, as well as other faiths in the multiracial and multi-religious country. For example, the voices seeking justice in Malaysia ask: Do we stay neutral or engage when the state of the nation gives cause for concern?

    The response of Malaysian women is that since ‘God calls us to be righteous citizens of our country, we do have a role to speak out against injustice. For this reason political affairs become a moral responsibility for Christians’. They also attest that it is critical to air their conscience:

    1. When political and moral orruption is evident;

    2. When discrimination against other races in favour of Malay-Muslim dominance occurs,

    3. When restrictions imposed to disallow Christians from using the word Allah (God) in penitance, prayer and publications (despite the view of Arab theologians that no country, creed or culture has sole ownership of the expression) betray common spiritual values.

    As witnesses to the ever-increasing conflict between Sharia and civil laws which tear families apart, Malaysian Christian women justifiably feel it is their ‘vital duty to raise our voices’. (Presently, when one parent decides to convert to Islam the children are automatically wrenched from the mother. Her faith and rights are brutally ignored, and any recourse to the civil court is redirected to the religious court.

    Readings from Habakuk, who rebukes God about the injustice he witnesses gave pause for thought, as the mainly women congregation of 80+ people with a sprinkling of men were asked to reflect on injustices known to them. Habakuk’s persistence in haranguing God is nevertheless rooted in his relationship with the Almighty and although his confidence in God is tested, it is made stronger by his questions, doubts, complaints and eventual deliverance. For ‘God, the Lord, is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, and makes me tread upon the heights.’ (Habakuk 3:17-19)

    Clearly in the face of injustice, persistent prayer pays; so Jesus taught us in the parable of the widow and the unjust judge (Luke 18:1-8), for ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled’.

    Examples of Malaysian women – of all races and religions – who have fought to highlight injustice and address grievances of the oppressed were featured in a talk by Jan Brownfoot. They are Irene Fernandez, who faced a 13-year nightmare court battle for publishing a report on the abuse, torture and dehumanised treatment of migrant workers in Malaysian detention camps; Zainah Anwar, who set up Sisters in Islam to primarily combat the treatment of women as inferior and subordinate to men; Marina Mahathir, who successfully campaigned for all HIV/Aids victims to be given free anti-viral drugs; and Ambiga Sreenevasan, a former president of the Malaysian Bar Council who is spearheading a campaign for clean elections and has had to hire bodyguards because her advocacy has led to threats of physical violence, including rape, against her. All these women have been recipients of awards from international organisations and/or world governments for their courage and leadership. In the 21st Century the rights of women worldwide continue to be trampled on but also fought for.

    The roles of the suffragettes in the early 1900s, and in 1968 the campaign of women workers at the Ford factory in Dagenham for equal pay with men doing the same work were held up for reflection on injustices in Britain. The congregation was asked to ponder what small steps they could take to advocate for change about injustices that they were deeply concerned about. Has there been a revolutionary transformation when the glass ceilings in many blue-chip companies continue to be a permanent feature?

    The evocative service began with a percussion ensemble playing Malaysian beats and music, and a traditional Malay greeting of Selamat Datang (Peace and Welcome). The readers and those who recited ‘voices’ of Malaysian women were dressed in various types of Malaysian costume, making it a colourful and joyous embracing of religion and cultures. A PowerPoint display flashed images of the country, as well as of some of the women (mentioned above), onto screens. The offertory taken up was for the work of Women’s World Day of Prayer and for Christian projects around the world.

    The service at Sudbury’s Baptist Church ended with everyone mingling with cups of tea and coffee, and munching biscuits and keropok (Malaysian prawn crackers!).

    I could only wish that more men would attend to celebrate the work of our Christian women.

    Matt George