Dear WSCF students and friends,
Last year over a hundred SCMers in Cité Soleil in Haiti celebrated the UDPS with a five-hour workshop of prayer and reflection. They sang, they prayed and shared their ideas on the realities of poverty and misery. They concluded that with God’s help, the power to change the conditions that bring about suffering is in their hands. The Haitian movement affirmed that this day of prayer was productive and promised to continue holding this celebration every year.
This year we celebrate 110 years of the UDPS, it is one of the oldest ecumenical days of prayer. We give thanks for the wisdom of WSCF’s founders in establishing this day. We give thanks for the Federation’s pioneering role in the ecumenical movement and beyond. We give thanks for the solidarity and unity that this day has facilitated over the past 110 years. Each time we celebrate the UDPS we hold the Federation and all students up to God and ask that young people may be blessed as they work for God’s reign of justice and peace.
This year we are especially mindful of the suffering of the SCMs and students in Zimbabwe, Myanmar/Burma, Philippines, Iraq and Haiti as they witness in their contexts. We pray for students everywhere who struggle for a better world.
In 2008 WSCF’s theme is Students in the 21st Century. We note with concern the increasing commercialisation and commodification of education which brings pressures on students, teachers and educational institutions. We remember those who are unable to study what they wish and those who have no access to education.
On the 110th anniversary we are mindful of the importance of this day. We remember that in times of war sometimes the only thing WSCF members could do together was pray. The UDPS has been an act of unity and solidarity and love through many times of turmoil and conflict. In the UDPS we are mindful of the power of prayer, of solidarity and hope.
Since 1895 WSCF has been challenging young people to claim their power to change the world. This year will see WSCF’s 34th General Assembly. The theme is ‘Your sons and daughters shall prophesy’. In this year’s UDPS we ask for your prayers for WSCF’s 34th General Assembly, we ask that WSCF may be renewed for a new quadrennium, we also ask that God will inspire the students of today to become the prophets that the Church and the world so badly need.
We call on all students and all friends of WSCF to join us in celebrating the 110th UDPS.
The officers of WSCF
Dr Kenneth Guest, Chairperson
Ms. Adèle Djomo Ngomedje, Dr. Udan Fernando & Dr. Eilidh Whiteford Vice-chairs.
Mr. Youhanna Kamal Shawky, Treasurer
At the Convention of the WSCF, held at Williamstown, in America in July 1897, it was decided unanimously by the delegates present from all parts of the world that there should be a universal day of prayer for students…. the officers of the General Committee of the Federation were authorised to fix the exact date and to issue the call for observance of the day. It was understood that the leaders of each national movement would take steps to ensure as general and thorough observance of the day as possible in their respective countries. Therefore the General Committee of the WSCF recommends to all student Christian organisations, to all Christian students and to the Church of Christ, that Sunday, February 13, 1898 be set apart to be observed as a universal day of prayer for students.
The influence of prayer for students is inestimable. Some of the greatest spiritual movements in the life of the Christian Church, both in past centuries and in recent years, have been the direct result of united prayer by and for students.
A proper observance of the day of prayer means larger numbers of students led to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord; a great increase in the numbers of students studying the Bible, and also in the fruitfulness of Bible study; holier and more triumphant living and more earnest service for Christ in hundreds of colleges and universities all over the world; more self-denying and heroic giving of money to the work of Christ; a deepening of the prayer life of the student world; the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon Christian organisations of students in all lands, thus saving them from becoming mechanical, formal, worldly and powerless, and enabling their members to bear in their lives the fruit of the Spirit.; a more aggressive and sustained missionary spirit, and the thrusting forth of multitudes of students into the harvest fields of the world; and through all these things it means a more consecrated leadership of the forces of the Church and of the nations, and therefore a wider and speedier extension of the Kingdom of Christ in all the world.
The following suggestions are given as to the observance of the day:
February 13, 1898, will be the first day that Christian students of all continents of the world have been called by their representatives to unite in prayer for a great object. The world has not yet begun to realize the marvelous possibilities of united prayer. When we recall the unchanging truth of Christ’s promise. “That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew xviii.19); when we remember what spiritual awakenings have been experienced in certain colleges, both in the Occident and in the Orient, when little bands of Christian students have united in importunate, believing prayer; when we remember how great national student movements have been born as a result of concert of prayer, and then mightily used to impress the Christian life of whole nations; what may we not expect from this practical and spiritual union of Christian students of all nations and races for the purpose of wielding the unseen yet irresistible forces of the Prayer Kingdom?
Karl Fries, Chairman
John R. Mott, General Secretary
December 1, 1897