viernes, 3 de mayo de 2013


Anabaptist  Women Theologians in Latin America

MAY 2013

"World Day of Prayer Statement of 2013: “There is no better place to crucify the ego than secret prayer in an atmosphere of intimacy with God” (Valeria Alvarenga)."

Meeting goals:
•      Come together in prayer and intercede for our brothers and sisters in El Salvador, Brazil and Puerto Rico.
•      Reflect on a life of prayer as the essence of Christianity.
•      Motivate us to establish the discipline of prayer in everyday life.
•      Promote the Movement of Women Theologians. 
•      Flipchart, markers.
•      Draw the flags of the countries as prayer objects.  Write general data of each country and place it in different corners of the room.
•      Write texts alluding to prayer on paper, and place them in the meeting room. Here are some suggestions: 2 Chronicles 7: 14, Luke11: 9, Psalm 34:10, Philippians 4:19, Jeremiah 33:3, Psalm 5:3, 1Timothy 2:1.
Beginning activity:
1.    Welcome:  We welcome all present.
•      We gather here today. We gather in the presence of God, because God is present in the face of every one of the persons here in our meeting.
•       Opening song.
(You may substitute it with a better-known song in your region if you prefer.)
                      The power of the Christian is in prayer                                      The one who prays constantly will defeat temptation every time.
The power of the Christian is in Jesus
And Jesus said, “Pray every day
Every prayer has an answer.”

And the defeated enemy will fall down at your feet
And you can win every fight and every test,
If you fervently pray with all your heart and mind
The evil forces that want to destroy you
And want to hurt your faith
Are not going to touch you.
 (The music and the lyrics are available: .)
2. Read Mark 1: 32-39 (NIV)
32 That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered at the door, 34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.
35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”
38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” 39 So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons
Reflection: A life of prayer: The essence of Christianity
Mark 1: 32-39
1 – Significant events for a life of prayer.
The Scripture recounts the success that Jesus had when he preached the Gospel in the city of Galilee where he was after having cast out many demons and healing many sick. There is no doubt that this was a day of very great joy and spiritual satisfaction for him. 
In his morning prayer time everything that took place the day before came to his mind, inspiring him to an attitude of praise and thanksgiving for everything his Father had done. It was a wonderful opportunity to surrender before God, praising him for his grace and the great things that were happening in behalf of the multitude (Phil. 4,6).
Our devotional time can also be a divine remedy to eliminate every opportunity of personal glory. After a great achievement, we are tempted to think that the victory has been reached because of our personal skills. When we don’t recognize the true author of the work, we are seduced by pride, arrogance and vanity.
There is no better place to crucify the ego than in private prayer and a close relationship with God. God is revealed as the source of all blessings and virtue.
Other times Jesus had to face unpleasant situations like the one described here. Persecution, slander and hate from his opponents were an opportunity for Christ to use prayer as a tool for the healing and restoration of their lives. Certainly many lives have been set free through divine forgiveness that flows from his heart.

2 – Prayer and confirmation of a purpose in life
When Jesus told his disciples that it was necessary for him to go other places to preach the Gospel, he also added, “…that is why I have come.”

During that glorious period of prayer, God also worked to renew and confirm the purpose of his life. Jesus was always conscious of his mission in the world. But it was definitely due to his intent and persevering search for the presence of his Father, that he kept firmly to his original purpose, without deviating to the right or left.
We live in a world always full of options to follow multiple paths. Our attention is distracted by words, visions, and many events. This is how, little by little, we distance ourselves from our original purpose. 
However prayer has the power to free the action of the Holy Spirit within us, in order to transform our heart (Psalm 139:23, 24).  The Spirit of God is the one who can point out improper motives, deception, parallel visions and sins. By revealing these things in our hearts, he gently leads us to repentance and the Truth. 
After a great day of miracles, and before other great new achievements, Jesus took a moment to seek the Father in prayer. He knew that his devotional life had to be an important part of every bit of his life. Through these rich experiences, thoughts, feelings, intentions and purposes it was possible to adjust to the original plan of God for his life.     
Share ideas together about the following question:
What message does this reflection leave with us for our lives now?
 3.    Our preparation for prayer
•      Exercise: The cross of the world
The purpose of this activity is to create within the group awareness and commitment for the construction of a better world. This will be done through a brief analysis of reality, and the expression of a committed life.  
Divide into six smaller groups. Give each group a sheet of paper and markers (not lead pencils or colored pencils). Ask the groups to reflect on the context of their city, town, community, and to draw it or write it on the paper. 
After a set time ask a person from each group to share their drawings or lists.  Place the pieces of paper on the floor in order to form a cross.

The leader explains that this is the cross of the world, with its problems, injustices, pains, etc., but that it is in our hands to change this painful reality through prayer and action.  Because of this every one of those present can write a personal commitment on the back of the paper. (Turn the papers over, but keep them in the form of a cross.)
Allow time for each participant to pass by, one by one, to write/sign his/her commitment. After that, tell the people, that now the cross looks very different, full of good purposes, but in spite of that, the problems are still there, and depend on us to carry out what we have proposed in order that things change.
•      Sing: “With my hands lifted up to heaven”
4.    Time for prayer:

The country faces serious infrastructure problems: roads, railways, ports, airports and urban transport. The collapse of the transport system, with long delays and costs, hinders economic development and exportation.
Domestic violence and public safety are also part of the serious problems that Brazil faces, with 50,000 murders a year, and a half million prisoners in overcrowded jails with a capacity of 300,000, and another half a million people with imprisonment orders that have not been completed.
Within the Mennonite conventions we found: Association of Mennonite Churches of Brazil, Evangelical Mennonite Alliance, Mennonite Church of God in Christ, Brazilian Convention of Evangelical Mennonite Brethren Churches and Renewed Church of Mennonite Brethren.
Pastor Valeria says, “The situation of our churches, especially for the AEM (Evangelical Mennonite Alliance), is quite calm for the very first time.  There is a need to improve the exchange between regions, and to create unity and missionary vision in order to grow in Spirit and in Truth.”

Prayer requests:
•      Ministry of Women
•      Church growth
•      Young people (drugs and prostitution)
•      Peace in our marginalized communities
•      Create unity and missionary vision in order to grow in spirit and truth.


Puerto Rico is experiencing social, political and economic problems, which have produced a stalemate in the country. We face many social problems like violence and corruption. Puerto Rico's economy has experienced a gradual decline for several decades. The unemployment rate on the island is a high 6.5% through 2012.  The work force is one of the lowest in the world.
For example, in agriculture the situation is critical due to poor governmental cooperation. What is needed is to develop organic farming, achieve food sovereignty and implement public policies to make Puerto Rico sustainable. Also farmers cannot compete with the low prices of imported products that have saturated the market, so they lose money in their production.
Part of the farm problem is the misuse of funds that don’t reach the farmers, and the fact that the more than 19 agricultural development plans that they have tried to implement for decades are not applied in the most serious way. Some proposals to remedy the situation are to make an inventory of agricultural land, maintain a developmental incentive plan, inject state and private funds, identify sectors in agriculture and analyze their sustainability, give some incentives and encourage and subsidize local production in order to remain competitive and for producers to try to maintain quality and quantity in production. Ensure that funds for promoting agriculture are not used in anything else. Promote mechanization.  Provide good-paying jobs.  Implement a public policy of food security. Promote the development of ecological agriculture, gradually replacing current agriculture practices. Promote the establishment of small gardens in each Puerto Rican home. There were additional proposals.
In Puerto Rico we found the following Mennonite conventions: Conservative Mennonite Conference, Caribbean Evangelical Mennonite Mission and Puerto Rican Evangelical Mennonite Church Conference. 

  • Por la Asamblea anual realizada en marzo de este año, que Dios confirme y bendiga las decisiones tomadas.
  • Por los niños y niñas quienes sufren maltrato, que muchas veces conlleva a la muerte y el abuso sexual que marca a nuestros niños y niñas de por vida.
  • Que Dios una a la familia en amor, respeto, que las parejas se comprometan en guardarse fidelidad  y proteja a las mujeres de la violencia intrafamiliar que en muchos casos llega al homicidio.
  • Por la reducción y erradicación de la criminalidad en el país.
  • Por los gobernantes, que sean sensibles especialmente a la necesidad de los más pobres y que gobiernen con sabiduría. Que las políticas gubernamentales no atenten contra la continuidad del trabajo de las iglesias en su compromiso de establecer el Reino de Dios en la tierra.
  • Por el fortalecimiento de los ministerios con mujeres (Damas Evangélicas Menonitas Puertorriqueñas, DEMP), con jóvenes (Juventud Evangélica Menonita Puertorriqueña, JEMP), con niños y niñas (Pequeños Surqueros, Sociedad de niños y jóvenes) y por los programas educativos de la Academia Menonita Betania y de la Academia Menonita Summit Hills.
Prayer requests:
•          That God may guide and confirm the decisions the Assembly made in March of this year.
•          For children who suffer physical abuse which many times leads to death, and for those who suffer sexual abuse, which leaves a mark on them for their whole lives.
•          That God may unify families in love and respect, that the couples may be faithful to each other, and that God may protect the women from domestic violence that in so many cases ends in homicide.
•          For the reduction and eradication of crime in the country.
•          That our government officials may be sensitive, especially to the most needy, and that they may rule with wisdom. That the government policies do not work against the continuity of the churches’ work in their commitment to establish the kingdom of God on the earth.
•          For the strengthening of the current ministries with women of the Puerto Rican Evangelical Mennonite Women (DEMP), with young people of the Puerto Rican Evangelical Mennonite Youth (JEMP), with children of the Little Surqueros Childhood and Youth Society, and for all the educational programs of Betania Mennonite Academy and Summit Hills Mennonite Academy.
•          That local initiatives and those of Dominican Republican international missionaries may experience the guidance of God in order that the good news of peace may reach many more people.
•       Thanks be to God that the Mennonite churches are stronger, have grown numerically as well as in their commitment, and that they are able to remain firm and faithful despite obstacles that arise.
•       For the facilitation of upcoming workshops on church planting for the continued growth of the churches and training of leaders who can support the various ministries in the new church groups.
(If you want more information, please go to Facebook: Misiones Menonita de Puerto Rico.  You will find some pictures and news from the churches there.)


The country is plagued with growing violence. It is fueled by drug trafficking and crime in which many young people without hope of finding employment are involved. Young people see migrating to the U.S. as an option. This causes a loss of the younger, more productive workforce. The economy doesn’t grow.  The $4,000 billion annual in remittances from immigrants abroad is the main source of wealth.
One of the greatest achievements of the peace accords on January 16, 1992, besides ending the bloodshed, has been to bring national reconciliation. Salvadoran society has made significant progress, such as learning to be more tolerant, more open to listen to others, even to live with different schools of thought.
Although the peace agreements proposed the creation of an Economic and Social Forum, this forum unfortunately did not yield the expected fruits. That means that in the economic area there is a very large debt and it is part of the problem of violence that exists in this country.
El Salvador is still a very unequal country, where the gap between the haves and the many who have little is abysmal.
In El Salvador the following Mennonite church groups are found: Mennonite Evangelical Church (Beachy Amish) and Evangelical Mennonite Church of El Salvador (IEMES).
The Evangelical Mennonite Church of El Salvador (IEMES) began in 1980, in the city of Metapán north of the capital city, San Salvador. Its development has been through national leaders who have put their effort into serving in the Kingdom of God. Currently there are nine churches, nine pastors and approximately 500 members. The body in charge and responsible for the churches is the Board of Directors nominated by the IEMES General Assembly every three years. This Board is made up of seven persons, of which two are women who contribute very much to the churches’ development.
Projects that develop churches are oriented toward training men and women to serve in the kingdom of God, which is done through an ongoing theological education program, in partnership with the Latin American Anabaptist Seminary (SEMILLA) working at congregational, Bible Institute, undergraduate and graduate levels.
They support and train the community about the culture of peace, since this is an integral part of the Gospel message from the life and teachings of Jesus. They work with young children about peace culture, care for the environment, defining our identity, life planning, etc.
They support the development of women's ministry, through an orientation program about the ministry of women, gender equality, self-esteem, etc.
They also have workshops for reflection-action with men learning about masculinity and the importance of shedding the macho culture in which they were formed.
Prayer requests: 
1- That there may be continuing education/preparation of leadership.
2- That church growth may occur in spiritual, numerical, economical, emotional and relational areas.
3- For our trans-cultural missionary vision.
4- That our youth and children may be protected by God, and that God may also protect the families from the evil that surrounds them, and that they could be men and women of goodwill, capable of contributing to the development and strengthening of their homes, churches and society.
5- That God may give a clear vision to the pastors and leaders for advancement and strengthening of the church.
6- For financial resources that so many times have limited the progress of our projects. But God has always provided.
For the country:
1- May God work within government officials that they may be more just and humane in carrying out their functions.
2- That laws which support homosexual and lesbian issues not be approved.  This has been a struggle in recent years.
3- For the diminishing and eradication of common crime, racketeering and drug trafficking. 
4-That there be a good investment of resources, especially that at-risk children, single mothers, the elderly, and homeless people receive attention and support, as well as all the young people who are at risk of becoming criminals. May those resources be invested in programs that promote development, especially of the marginalized.
5- For the sensitivity of the nation at large to hear and receive the Gospel message.

5.    Psalm 136: 1-16, 21-26. Read as a litany
The leader reads the numbered lines and the congregation answers reading the next lines, with the added: “forever endures his love”. So the response should be “His love endures forever, forever endures His love”. 
1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.
His love endures forever, forever endures His love.
2 Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever, forever endures His love.
3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever, forever endures His love.
4 To him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever, forever endures His love.
5 who by his understanding made the heavens,
His love endures forever, forever endures His love.
6 who spread out the earth upon the waters,
His love endures forever, forever endures His love.
7 who made the great lights—
His love endures forever, forever endures His love.
8 the sun to govern the day,
His love endures forever, forever endures His love.
9 the moon and stars to govern the night;
His love endures forever, forever endures His love.
10 To him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt
His love endures forever, forever endures His love.
11 and brought Israel out from among them
His love endures forever, forever endures His love.
12 with a mighty hand and outstretched arm;
His love endures forever, forever endures His love.
13 To him who divided the Red Sea[a] asunder
His love endures forever, forever endures His love.
14 and brought Israel through the midst of it,
His love endures forever, forever endures His love.
15 but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea;
His love endures forever, forever endures His love.
16 To him who led his people through the wilderness;
His love endures forever, forever endures His love.

21 and gave their land as an inheritance,
His love endures forever, forever endures His love.
22 an inheritance to his servant Israel.
His love endures forever, forever endures His love.
23 He remembered us in our low estate
His love endures forever, forever endures His love.
24 and freed us from our enemies.
His love endures forever, forever endures His love.
25 He gives food to every creature.
His love endures forever, forever endures His love.
26 Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His love endures forever, forever endures His love.

6.    Final prayer and sending
Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21, NIV)

We thank the following people for their collaboration in the preparation of this liturgy:
·         Patricia Urueña: prayer requests from every country.
·         Nora Marleni Martinez: resources for the development of the liturgy.
·         Valeria Alvarenga: the reflection included in the liturgy.
·         Olga Piedrasanta:  corrections and suggestions
·         Ofelia Garcia: corrections and suggestions
·         Nancy Morales, Moderadora de Iglesias Evangélicas Menonitas de Puerto Rico: sharing resources
·         Samuel Martinez Leal, President of the Convención Menonita del Salvador: prayer requests from his country
·         Ruhama Pedroza: English translation
·         Rebeca Gonzalez Torres: promotional poster, integration of communication and follow-up. Coordinator of Day of Prayer. 

We request that after conducting the celebration please send your reviews and testimonials to: Ester Bornes (coordinator of Facebook and blog) in order that all may be enriched. email:

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