Friday, May 29, 2020

Praying for South Africa

The World Council of Churches Ecumenical Prayer Cycle highlights southern Africa (Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland) from May 31st to 6th June, 2020.

We are invited to pray for our diaconal sisters and brothers in South Africa - the Highveld Deacons, and the Methodist Diaconal Order. They are member associations of DIAKONIA World Federation and DRAE (DIAKONIA Region Africa Europe).

Friday, May 22, 2020

Cyclones, Heat and Climate Change

(May 22) Super Cyclone Amphan with sustained winds of 170 km/h and gusts up to 190 km/h has left more than 80 dead in India (and Bangladesh) as a trail of destruction was left behind. Cyclone Amphan intensified from a category-1 cyclone to a category-5 cyclone in a span of only 18 hours. It has caused widespread flooding, and millions are without power. Coastal villages have been devastated, and mud houses knocked down. Roads were littered with uprooted trees and lamp posts, electricity and communication lines were down and centuries-old buildings were damaged. Hundreds of villages were flooded and shelters were unable to run at full capacity in many places due to the coronavirus. Some people were too scared about the risk of infection to go there. The pandemic also will affect relief efforts and the recovery. Damage from the storm is likely to have lasting repercussions for the poor, who are already stretched to the limit by the economic impact of the virus.

Meanwhile Chennai (Madras, Tamil Nadu) is bracing for a heatwave. The sudden change in weather is attributed to westerly winds bringing dry land breeze, and super cyclonic storm Amphan, which has taken away all the moisture from the region. Cyclones are fuelled by available heat. Warming seas can make cyclones more powerful, by increasing the potential energy available to them, effectively increasing their power ceiling or speed limit. Higher sea-surface temperatures mean that cyclone wind speeds can increase. The Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology reported, "High ocean temperatures are conducive to rapid intensification of cyclones.  Some of the buoys in the Bay of Bengal have registered maximum surface temperatures of 32-34 degrees Celsius (~90 degrees F) consecutively for the first two weeks of May. These are record temperatures driven by climate change".

Three Deaconess associations in India are members of DIAKONIA World Federation.
* CSI Order of Women in the Church of South India, Women's House (Karnataka)
* TELC Bethania Deaconess Home (Andhra Pradesh)
* The Methodist Church in India, Deaconesses Order

Please remember them in your prayers.

A prayer in the aftermath of severe weather
Comfort your people who have been torn by the winds,
made homeless by the waters,
injured by falling buildings and debris,
the bridges washed away, coast ravaged,
roads blocked, trees ripped up by their roots.
Comfort those who grieve,
give strength to those who are rescuing
those not yet secured,
and searching for survivors.
Guide those who care for the injured,
and shelter the evacuated,
fearful of Covid-19,
which has already taken so many.
Lead those who try to bring in
food and medicine and relief supplies
where ways are impassible.
And as people emerge, seeking what is left of their lives,
connecting with family, hunting for home -
in the midst of the rains that continue,
give, O God, hope,
tenderness in loss,
companionship in rebuilding
and the compassion of the world. Amen.
(adapted, Maren Tirabassi, Gifts in Open Hands, 21 May 2020)

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Praying for Mamre Community in Madagascar

The World Council of Churches Ecumenical Prayer Cycle is a wonderful guide for prayer. From 17-23rd May, Madagascar is named (as one of the group of Indian Ocean Islands - Comoros, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles).

The Fiaraha Miaima Amim Bavaka MAMRE* FJKM (Mamre Community) in Madagascar is a member association of DIAKONIA World Federation, and of DRAE (DIAKONIA Region Africa Europe), with about 11 members.
(*Mamre is remembered as the site where Abraham pitched the tents for his camp, built an altar (Genesis 13:18), and was brought divine tidings, in the guise of three angels, of Sarah's pregnancy (Genesis 18:1-15)).

Sister Angéline writes:
Dear Sisters and brothers in Christ Jesus
“… and others do not marry for the sake of the kingdom of heaven…” (Matthew 19: 12b)
I thank Almighty God Father, Son and Holy Spirit, for giving his grace to each member of the Mamre Community. By this grace we can continue to live out our three vocations of prayer, consecrated celibacy and community life - our main testimony in this Malagasy nation and in the world. We are very happy with this life and in God’s calling for us. At this time of world pandemic, we are intensifying our prayers for the world because we trust that only God in his power can deliver this world. We continue to grow our faith in his Son Jesus Christ, the one who was victorious over death, the one who has all authority on earth and in heaven. In normal times, many people come to our homes for prayer and a time of silence. We are glad to continue our service to people in need:
* Evangelism of the prisoners once a week. The men are happy to have a time of prayer and they can share openly their sorrow with the sisters.
* We are still occupied with helping the primary school children who live around the community and go to the local state school. We give them lunch every school day. We have Bible study with them. We help them with their studies. They are delighted to come to the center and don’t always want to go back home.
I am sure all of you are carrying on with your service in your country, as much as you can. I encourage you all to serve our Lord Jesus Christ in the needy people around you, because you serve Jesus in them. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all of you.

COVID- 19 means some of these activities cannot be offered at this time. 

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Mothers Day 2020

God Be With the Mothers and Motherers
Be with the mothers and motherers,
Those awesome women,
Who play such a significant role and part in our lives,
Who embody for us so much of your love and character.
Gift them patience,
As they wait and hope for us to discover our potential.
Gift them grace,
As we so often take them for granted or abuse or disrespect their love.
Gift them forgiveness,
For us and themselves as we all make mistakes and fall short in our love.
Grant them strength,
For their load is heavy and the burden of their care for us unrelenting.
Gift them persistence,
For theirs is an ever unfinished work.
Gift them rest,
For their efforts and concern for our wellbeing and prospering is unceasing.
Gift them tears,
As they weep for our hurting and failing in their empathy and compassion.
Gift them grieving,
For love is full of loss
And they lose much as we grow into our independence.
Gift them insight,
The wisdom to see the best way of being.
Gift them gentleness,
To speak guidance to us who so want to be independent.
Grant them space,
To be themselves and chase their own dreams and goals.
Grant them peace,
Knowing that like you, we are our own selves,
Who make our own choices,
In our own way and time,
Carrying the consequences that come,
Hopefully shaped by their love and care,
But not always in the way that they would have us,
For in the end we are our own people,
As they nurtured us to be.
May we in return,
Treasure their part in our lives,
Be grateful in real and practical ways,
Honour their legacy to us by becoming our best selves,
And love them as they have loved us,
Just as we have been loved by you.
Be with the mothers who cannot be,
Who long for the children they cannot have.
Be with the mothers who have lost their children,
Whose souls have been tom and the ache of their grief is incessant.
Enfold them and all in your mothering love.
Be with the mothers and motherers.
In gratitude we pray.
(Source: Jon Humphries, Sydney, Australia)

International Nurses Day, May 12th

May 12 is recognised as International Nurses Day, the birth date of nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale. Between 31 July to 13 August 1850, Nightingale made her first visit to the Institute of Protestant Deaconesses in Kaiserswerth, a training school for women teachers and nurses. Her visit convinced Nightingale of the possibilities of making nursing a vocation for women.

In 1851 she spent four months at Kaiserswerth, training as a sick nurse, and passed her nursing exam. She became one of the most important pioneers in modern nursing. Today,  Kaiserswerth has the "Florence Nightingale" hospital, with two centres for the elderly, colleges for social and pedagogical education, schools of nursing and geriatric care; pedagogic facilities for children, teenagers and adults, an institute of continuing education, with more than 1400 people in many professions, including the deaconesses from the world's first "Mutterhaus" which was founded in 1836 in the centre ot Kaiserswerth.

This year is the bicentenary of Florence Nightingale's birth. She championed the need for good personal sanitation and hand hygiene. In 1854, she was asked to organize a corps of nurses to tend to the sick and fallen soldiers in the Crimea. More soldiers were dying from infectious diseases like typhoid and cholera than from injuries incurred in battle. She procured hundreds of scrub brushes and asked the least infirm patients to scrub the inside of the hospital from floor to ceiling to ensure more sanitary conditions in the hospital.

Nightingale herself fell ill from Crimean fever in 1855, and was dangerously ill for 12 days. Though she never fully recovered, she was able to continue her trailblazing work that greatly impacted 19th and 20th century policies around proper medical care.

The theme of International Nurses Day 2020 is 'nursing the world to health', with a focus on the 'true value of nurses to the people of the world', and especially in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Tragically, a number of nurses have lost their lives treating and caring for COVID-19 patients. In the UK alone, more than 100 NHS staff and health care workers have succumbed to the virus, with hundreds more health care workers dying worldwide. In the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this month said data suggests that healthcare workers account for about 11% of all COVID-19 infections. In Spain the figure was more than 13%. As of a week ago about 17,000 health care workers in Italy had been infected with the coronavirus, more than two-thirds of them women.

There are many of our diaconal community around the world who have trained as nurses, and we honour their work. Thank you.