OSJ Prayers: July 5, 2018

Oil Spill in Iowa

An estimated 230,000 gallons (870,619 liters) of crude oil spilled into floodwaters from the Little Rock River south of Doon, Iowa, following a train derailment Sat., June 23. The train was carrying tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, to Stroud, Okla. The derailment raises concerns downstream as far south as Omaha, Neb. The spill reached the Rock River, which joins the Big Sioux River before merging into the Missouri River at Sioux City, Iowa.

God, for the earth you love, we lift prayers for healing. And for the people tasked with caring for the earth — including all of us — we pray for courage, for wisdom, and for accountability when we fail. Lord, help those who are in roles to respond to accidents such as this, to know what actions to take. Protect all that will be affected — the people, animals, plants, and other parts of the creation you love.

Violence in Northern Nigeria

The death toll from a recent flare-up in violence across northern Nigeria has exceeded 200 persons. Many claim that the bloodshed is fueled by cattle rustling and the displacement of communities pressed by a southward advancement of the Sahara Desert and resulting disputes over access to land. Release International, an organization that monitors Christian persecution, has voiced concerns over the targeting of mainly Christian villages by Muslim-majority Fulani herdsman, and it fears this is an attempt to drive Christians out of Nigeria.

We pray for our Christian family in Nigeria, fearful and displaced, their lives in danger and needing your protection. Hear their cries, Lord. We pray for an end to the violence taking place, knowing that everyone desperately wants to have their needs met, to provide for their families, to feel safe, and to flourish. We pray for a way forward that offers hope to all who are involved.

Mass Displacement in Syria

At least 270,000 people have fled their homes in southwestern Syria since the military launched an assault on rebel-held areas two weeks ago. Many of the people displaced by the fighting in Deraa and Quneitra provinces have headed toward Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Neither country has said it will allow an influx of refugees, sparking fears of a humanitarian crisis.

God, we again pray for refugees who are desperate for safety and who are being turned away. It is so hard to understand and to continue to bear witness to this suffering. Lord, please move national leaders to  offer refuge, to give hospitality. Please give these refugeed families — fathers and mothers, traumatized children, elderly grandparents, and others — an abundance of hope. Please also let your hope rule in our hearts, Lord. May we give hospitality. May we offer refuge.

Successful Restorative Programming in Manitoba

Manitoba's Southern Chiefs Organization (SCO) is pointing to its restorative justice program as one of the possible ways to reduce the overrepresentation of Indigenous adults and youth in Canadian jails. Restorative justice provides an alternative that focuses less on punishment and custodial sentences than on healing the relationships between individuals and families and the community. The SCO is one of several organizations that offer restorative justice programming for people who come into contact with the criminal justice system. According to the Manitoba SCO, 94 percent of the people they saw last year successfully completed the program and didn't have to go through the criminal justice system.

You are the God who restores — you heal the broken; you forgive the evildoer; you empower the weak; you give life where there is death. Bring the power of restoration to the criminal justice system, Lord, and breathe life into victims, offenders, families, and communities.

Canada: Stand Up with Indigenous Kids!

Despite years of promises, education results for First Nations students have not improved in comparison to those of other Canadians. (Auditor General’s report on Indigenous Services Canada, 2018)

Ask your MP to establish clear steps to address the funding gap and to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action 7-10 so that Indigenous parents can send their kids to schools that integrate their languages, cultures, values, and communities into the educational system.

Ask Congress to Address the Root Causes of Forced Migration

Factors such as violent conflict, climate change, corruption, economic and humanitarian crises, and natural disasters are forcibly displacing people at the rate of nearly 20 people per minute. These root causes are responsible for the current displacement and forced migration of 65.6 million people, of whom 22.5 million are refugees. Ask Congress to address the root causes of forced migration and to ensure that immigration enforcement is carried out humanely and responsibly.