I just “overheard” a Facebook conversation expressing dismay and amazement at those who schedule (church) events on the evening of the Super Bowl. Well, guilty as charged in this corner, but none of us in the small group that formed to plan a service of prayer and lament for the Mennonite women of Bolivia thought of it, frankly, and no offense was intended. None of us, obviously, are followers of football.
In spite of American football’s crowning event and the rather poor driving conditions in southern Manitoba, however, some 80 or so people gathered for the service last night at the Morrow Gospel Church.
It’s always hard to evaluate something you’re involved in yourself, and that’s not the purpose with this post anyway, except that I’d announced it here and want to say now that it happened, and say thank you too to local readers of this blog who attended. We prayed using stories, Scripture, and song, and lit candles to mark our petitions. The music was wonderful, both the congregational singing led by Christine Longhurst with pianist Sherry Toews, and instrumental music by Lilian Guenther (harp) and by Barb Hamilton (viola). In the middle of our litany of lament, Lilian sang, unaccompanied, “Sometimes I feel like a motherless child” — this just before a Lamentations text that includes “Pour out your heart like water before the Lord.” Music can do that for us; it pours like water.
A few lines from Leona Dueck Penner ‘s benediction sum up, I think, the “movement” that those who participate in prayer can experience.
One by one, in trembling hope,
we gathered here this evening to pray and to weep
for our sisters and also our brothers in Bolivia,
feeling helpless yet wanting to express our love and
compassion for them across the miles.
Through God’s grace, we leave now strengthened and renewed
through sorrow expressed and shared within the community of faith
in the name of Jesus who invited the sorrowful to find rest in him….
As for “movement” within the people for whom we prayed, that is likely beyond our means to determine.
(Although it wasn’t the main aim of the evening, the offering raised for a women’s shelter that’s nearly completed in Pailon, Bolivia, under the auspices of the Evangelical Free Church of Canada Mission, came to more than $ 2900.)
Re. the specific situation around the sexual assaults, the most recent news I’ve seen — though it was more editorial commentary than hard facts — was several weeks ago now, from the Kurze Nachrichten, a German newspaper in Mexico, saying that there was to be a hearing shortly of half a dozen men held in Cotoca, with the possibility they would be released for lack of concrete evidence. (No DNA testing has been done.) A number of men are being held in a different prison. The commentary includes [my translation] that “one is struck by the fact that those imprisoned in Cotoca are not well off… and one [wonders] whether money is playing a larger role than justice and truth… Bribe money is the boss; the law its obedient slave.” But, the article goes on to say, “Three uncontested truths remain: many women were used as objects, some are still being used, and only a few people are letting it trouble them much.”