By Amanda Jackson, Executive Director of Women’s Commission
We are now in the 4th month since the coronavirus first came to global attention. It is still spreading and its impact on health, the economy and on the well-being of whole nations is deepening.
What real messages of hope can we give, while recognising the pressures and fears facing women in particular?
Women make up the majority of care workers and care givers across the world. They are delivering care to older people in nursing homes and in private homes and are taking extra risk getting to and from work. They care for vulnerable children and adults, whilst trying to keep their own families healthy and well fed.
Please pray for them to be kept safe, to be paid fairly and to do their work with love. May they know they are appreciated.
Women make up the majority of workers in part-time and lower paid jobs. They clean to make offices safe, serve customers in supermarkets and in street markets, teach children in primary schools and pre-schools and they look after parents and parents-in-law. A lot of work by women is voluntary and not greatly valued.
Please pray for women in low-paid jobs to have secure employment and be able to pay bills and provide for their children. Help them not to fear illness and to know that someone is watching over them.
Many millions of pregnant women are feeling vulnerable (around a quarter of a billion women will get pregnant this year)
Please pray for women who are self-isolating that they will not feel cut off from help, or fearful for their babies. Pray for women who can’t access help from older relatives. Pray that they will know God’s assurance and peace.
Pray for all of the women we know! Wake Up Deborah has these three points to pray for all girls and women
• Daily life: pray for God’s closeness and protection throughout the day.
• Physical health: pray for health and protection.
• Mental health: pray for hope, meaning and for healing and recovery if they are enduring psychological suffering.
Here are some hope-filled stories from across the world. They are tinged with the reality of hardship but cling to the truth of God’s over-arching salvation.
At church in Orlando, they are igniting a rhythm of united prayer called ‘7:14’. Jeanette, a senior pastor says, “No matter where we are at, we pray at 7:14 AM & 7:14 PM. The verse we’re using is from 1 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, who are called by name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
From Bethlehem, Madlein, a lecturer, pastor and mother says, “Media is becoming a means of ministering, helping us to connect with students and people stranded at home.” She adds, “We want to learn lessons after leaving this hardship. God is calling us to slow down & be more attentive. The Lord is raising more Deborahs in this season. To have a key role in victory over despair and fear.”
There is a sense that in all crises, there is a chance to turn back to God for hope and purpose.
In Barbados, Jenifer tells me that women are making grocery parcels for older women. Practical love! In Amsterdam and London (and other cities), people are lighting a candle at 7pm each evening and praying for health workers.
God does not forget those who humbly serve.
Hannelore, who leads Hope for Europe Women, has a practical prayer for her daughter, “The prayer for pregnant women in the whole world spoke to me, because our youngest daughter is pregnant with her 3rd child. So I will add all these vulnerable feeling women in the world to my daily prayers for my daughter.”
And from Egypt, Nabila, director of an NGO for girls and women, a university lecturer and church leader tells us what hope looks like, “Well, we have been praying through voice messages & WhatsApp. We have agreed to use the word of God which brings comfort, peace & encouragement to the women who are working in hospitals, clinics, and care houses.
A lot of women in the impoverished areas are uneducated & have no ideas about hygiene. So the Christian media is using videos to explain hygiene, how to wash and how to prepare food.”
As Mary prayed when she was pregnant with the baby Jesus, “God’s mercy extends from mother to daughter, for those who fear Him…He raised the humble and filled the hungry.” (Luke 1:50-51)
Please pray for many thousands of women like Hannelore, Nabila, Jenifer, Jeanette and Madlein, who are bringing light and hope in these strange times.
Here is a prayer that might be helpful if you aren’t sure how to put hope into words: https://worldea.org/en/news/prayer-amid-covid-19-crisis/
There are many helpful messages available for women (and men). There is a short series on Psalm 46 on Instagram from an English pastor/vicar see @sophiecbannister Instagram stories.
It is so good to know that we can be united in prayer for women all over the world!