OSJ Prayers: April 25, 2018

U.S. Admits Fewer Muslim and Christian Refugees in Fiscal Year 2018

A new report from the CATO Institute shows a 91 percent decrease in the rate of Muslim refugee arrivals in the United States in fiscal year 2018 compared to fiscal year 2016. The number of Christian refugees admitted to the U.S. has also fallen by 63 percent over the same period. Further, by the end of March—the midway point of the fiscal year—the U.S. had resettled a total of just 10,548 refugees, far fewer than the 22,500 refugees who should have arrived in order to reach the administration’s historically low goal of 45,000 for this fiscal year.

God, we pray for hearts of flesh that feel the suffering of people made in your image. We pray for their safety and future. We pray that we might receive the gift of hospitality, and do what we can in our individual and communal lives to welcome the stranger. For leaders tasked with shaping the systems that open and close the doors to refugees, we pray for wisdom and compassion.

Italy’s Supreme Court Rejects Appeal to Release Rescue Vessel

Italy’s Supreme Court has rejected an appeal to release a rescue ship seized preemptively last August on charges of aiding illegal migration and colluding with smugglers. The German ship belongs to one of several nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that increased sea rescue operations after Italy and the European Union pulled back from sea rescue at the end of 2014. The appeal against the ship seizure noted that its rescue operations occurred in international waters as crew members worked to rescue migrants and refugees from drowning in the Mediterranean Sea. Due to numerous reports documenting systematic abuse in Libya—the main gateway to Europe for African migrants and refugees—human rights groups are concerned with Italy’s arrangement with Libya to send migrants and refugees back there. A shipwreck last Sunday that left 11 people dead brings the total number of people who have died or disappeared while trying to reach Europe this year to more than 500.

We give thanks for all the people who risk safety or money or reputation, or even lay down their lives, for friends trying to reach safety and a new life by crossing the Mediterranean Sea. Strengthen these helpers, Lord, and move among the halls of power in Europe, among the smugglers in Libya, and among the people who are on a dangerous journey—that your justice might be seen on earth.

Protests in Nicaragua Continue

Thousands of demonstrators rallied around Managua, Nicaragua, on Monday to protest the violent response of police to demonstrators and to demand the resignation of President Daniel Ortega. Protests began last week over President Ortega’s proposed changes to the welfare system. The initially peaceful protests turned violent after police allegedly used live ammunition on demonstrators, along with tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets, as protesters threw rocks and maintained barricades. At least 10 people were killed while hundreds more were arrested. President Ortega has since canceled the welfare system overhaul.

For Nicaragua, we lift prayers, Lord. For the people who are poor, for those whose voices are silenced, for those treated as less than human, we offer prayers for courage and justice. We pray that President Ortega and others in power will use their positions for the good of all the Nicaraguan people.

Montreal Launches Second Homeless Count

Yesterday evening volunteers across Montreal, Que., took to the streets in an attempt to count how many people in the city are chronically homeless. Organizers hope that an idea of the number of people who are homeless and the challenges they face will help policymakers invest funding in better ways. Homeless advocates and researchers have called for a more comprehensive approach that includes the “hidden homeless”—people without permanent addresses who live in temporary shelters. Many hidden homeless people are youths and women. Montreal’s first homelessness survey, conducted in March 2015, counted 3,016 homeless people.

For the vulnerable people in Montreal who lack the resources they need to live in safety and dignity, we offer prayers, Lord. We ask you to use the ideas and the energy of these volunteers to bring hope and change in Montreal. We pray for people who are “hidden” all over the world—empower the church to see and love all who are seen and loved by you.

World Refugee Day Toolkit

You know that in God's upside-down kingdom, strangers become neighbors. But how can your church get started living into that kingdom reality? We'll be releasing a World Refugee Day toolkit soon, packed with ideas to get you started or keep you going. Sign up to receive it here.

OSJ Prayers Survey

Thank you to everyone who took the OSJ Prayers survey a few weeks ago! If you haven’t done so yet, will you complete this single-question survey? Your feedback will help us better compile and present the content in Prayers. Take the survey here.