OSJ Prayers | March 2017

OSJ Prayers: March 16, 2017

UN Announces Worst Humanitarian Crisis Since 1945

On Friday the United Nations announced that the world is facing the worst humanitarian crisis since the organization was founded in 1945. More than 20 million people in four countries — Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, and Nigeria — are threatened by starvation and famine. The UN has called for collective and coordinated global efforts and is advocating for funds to be sent immediately to those countries to “avert a catastrophe.”

God, we pray that the collective heart of the world’s people will turn in compassion, concern, and action toward the human lives in these four countries, lives created and sustained and beloved by you. May the ache in this heart translate into a loud voice calling on those in power to respond in immediate and effective ways to this crisis.

Israeli Bill Curbs Use of Loudspeaker for Muslim Call to Prayer

A bill that would regulate the use of loudspeakers for the Muslim call to prayer passed through Israel’s Parliament last week. One version of the bill would prohibit places of worship from using loudspeakers from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. Another version would ban any use of the loudspeakers regardless of the time of day if deemed “unreasonably loud.” Traditionally, the first daily call to prayer happens before sunrise. Those who oppose the law feel that it is an attack on religious freedom. The final draft of the bill needs final approval from Parliament before becoming law.

We give thanks, Lord, for the freedom to worship you in our country. We recognize that religious freedom is important to maintaining justice in any country. We pray for the leaders of Israel to make choices that protect the religious freedom of all who live in their land, since the oppression of anyone leads to the oppression of all.

Indigenous Youth Suicide Crisis in Canada

Indigenous youth in Canada are committing suicide at a rate at least 5 to 6 times higher than that of the general population. Indigenous leaders point to many factors, including an inferior health care system and the profoundly damaging legacy of residential schools and colonization. Health Canada too has identified notable gaps in health care, especially mental health services, for Indigenous youth. The Assembly of First Nations has called for a day of prayer and ceremony this Friday, Mar. 17, in response to the crisis.

Creator God, we pray for justice for Indigenous peoples, who deal not only with the legacy of residential schools but also with underfunded health care, education, and other social services today in Canada. We repent of our often apathetic attitudes. We yearn for true reconciliation.

40 Girls Killed in Fire in Guatemala

Last week Wednesday, 40 girls were killed when a fire swept through a dormitory at a children’s home in San Jose, Guatemala. Human rights groups have criticized the home in the past for being overcrowded and lacking in specialized care. Now some human rights officials are alleging the girls were locked inside. President Jimmy Morales has offered his support to the families of the victims, and an investigation into the children’s home has been ordered.

God, we know that children — especially girls — are often vulnerable around the world. We pray that the truth would come out in this situation and that human rights in Guatemala would be strengthened, not ignored. We pray for all who are grieving for these lives lost. We ask that systems and policies will treat female lives with dignity and justice.

Justice Mobilizing and Advocacy Fellow

Our office is hiring! If you are interested in faith, policy, and social justice, apply for our Justice Mobilizing and Advocacy Fellowship! The deadline to apply is April 3, 2017. The fellowship is a one-year full-time paid position offered to recent college or university graduates. The conferred fellow helps our office develop and assist in timely and effective advocacy and mobilizing strategies relating to selected issues of U.S. and Canadian policies, especially those that benefit people who are poor and oppressed. She or he will gain invaluable hands-on experience in real world advocacy and in faith-based mobilizing. Click here to apply now!

Canada: Call for a Review of the Safe Third Country Agreement!

Refugee policy in the United States is changing. It is time to carefully review the effectiveness of the Safe Third Country Agreement between Canada and the U.S. to make sure that the agreement does not endanger vulnerable migrants. It is important for Canada to set an international example in the protection and settlement of displaced people. Click here to take action!