Philippine Ambassador participates in the first prayer @Parliament 2015 in Wellington, New Zealand
As the Philippine Embassy continues to foster closer people-to-people ties and deeper friendship, solidarity and understanding between Filipinos and New Zealanders and in response to the invitation extended by Hon. Chester Borrows, Deputy Speaker of the House and Member of Parliament for Whanganui, Philippine Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez attended the first Prayer @ Parliament for 2015 held at the Grand Hall of the Parliament of New Zealand on 19 March 2015. Pastor Rasik Ranchord, Convener of the Interdenominational Christian Prayer Gathering and Founding Pastor of the Abundant Life Church (ALC) in New Zealand, holds the Prayer @ Parliament three times a year, every March, June and September, to pray for the government, leaders, business, church, youth, family, media, sport, education, various sectors of society of New Zealand and prevailing developments, important issues and crucial concerns affecting the multi-cultural and ethnically diverse nation. Over the past thirteen years, Ministers and Parliamentarians have participated in the prayer gatherings open to all people from different denominations and places in New Zealand. Christians from more than 50 churches from Greater Wellington, Wairarapa and other regions attended the first Prayer @ Parliament for 2015 where as Pastor Rasik described “the praise was glorious, the input was enlightening and the prayers were powerful.”
The ALC Worship Team led the opening praise songs and sang a moving rendition of the National Anthem of New Zealand. Pastor Hamish Thomson, Senior Pastor of ALC gave the opening prayer, Deputy Speaker, Hon. Chester Borrows, the Parliamentary Host and Pastor Rasik welcomed everyone present on this special occasion. This was followed by the readings from the Old Testament on the theme of wisdom, 1 Kings 3:5-15 by Samoan High Commissioner Papali’i Tommy Scanlan, and from the New Testament, James 3:13-18 by Ambassador Benavidez. Group prayers followed the three prayer tracks focusing on the Party Leaders/Ministers/Speakers/Party Whips with input from Member of Parliament Tim Macindoe, the Senior Government Whip and MP for Hamilton West, Duties and Challenges facing the Members of Parliament with inputs from Hon. Chester Burrows and former MP Gordon Copeland and the Wellington Region Super City proposal with input from former MP and Mayor of Lower Hutt City John Terris. The meaningful and heart-warming Prayer @ Parliament ended with the people proclaiming, worshipping and thanking GOD with the song “How Great Thou Art.”
“By GOD’s grace, the Philippines is honoured to be part of this prayer gathering again at the Parliament which is of utmost importance in obeying GOD’s Word to pray for all those in authority and for the nation for the common good of the people and for the welfare and peace of the country. To be able to join in individual and collective prayers right at New Zealand’s seat of government transformed into an altar of worship and a sanctuary of prayer is a moving, meaningful and memorable way of demonstrating the Christian heritage of the Philippines and the Filipino people’s solidarity and togetherness with the people of New Zealand in praying for their country and leaders,” Ambassador Benavidez stated. She thanked Pastors Rasik and Lalita Ranchord and the Members of Parliament for the honour and privilege of participating in the annual Prayer @ Parliament since she arrived in New Zealand four years ago.