OSJ Prayers: November 22, 2017

U.S. DHS Ends TPS for Haiti

The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on Tuesday that it is terminating Haiti’s Temporary Protected Status (TPS), effective July 2019. TPS was granted to Haitians who were already in the United States when the devastating 2010 earthquake struck their country, as Haiti could not handle its citizens returning in the midst of managing the effects of the disaster. TPS for Haitians has been extended several times due to further humanitarian concerns and an overall lack of stability in the region. Approximately 50,000 Haitians are TPS holders—granting them the ability to work legally in the U.S. and protecting them from deportation, though not providing permanent legal status—and thousands have U.S. citizen children. Earlier this month, DHS also terminated TPS for Nicaraguans, after terminating the same for citizens of Sudan in September (while extending TPS for South Sudan nationals for 18 months). DHS failed to make a determination about TPS for Hondurans before the deadline, defaulting to a six-month extension for them but leaving expectations of an eventual termination of TPS for them as well.

God, for those whose lives are drastically changed by the end of TPS, we lift prayers for comfort and peace. We pray for all whose businesses, neighborhoods, schools, and churches will be changed when those who have made a home in the U.S. are forced to leave after so long. We pray for wisdom amid the heart-wrenching decisions of whether to separate families or remain together and face dangerous situations. We pray for reform of the broken U.S. immigration laws, Lord.

Canada Prepares for Haitian Asylum Seekers

The Canadian government is anticipating a possible increase in the number of Haitian asylum seekers along its border after the United States Department of Homeland Security’s decision to end Temporary Protected Status for Haiti on Tuesday. Canada has already seen a number of Haitians crossing the border in hopes of asylum since June this year after then-DHS Secretary John Kelly instructed Haitians to prepare to leave the U.S.

Lord, for the people in power who make laws and policies that deeply impact people’s lives, we pray for wisdom and compassion. May they lead in ways that achieve true justice and that honor the dignity of all who are affected by these policies. We pray that the church might always be a community that gives hope, extends welcome, and embodies good news to those who suffer.

Bombing in Nigeria Kills 50 at Mosque

On Tuesday a suicide bomber killed at least 50 people gathered for dawn prayers at a local mosque in Mubi, northern Nigeria. Police estimate that the bomber was about 17 years old. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. The militant Islamist group Boko Haram has launched hundreds of attacks over the past eight years throughout northern Nigeria, killing thousands of Nigerian civilians.

For the people of Nigeria who live amid violence and turmoil, we lift prayers. Protect them, Lord. Bring peace that comes from justice—through authorities who are willing to work for dignity and flourishing for all people—and an end to ethnic and religious violence, we pray.

One-Fifth of Hong Kong Residents Below Poverty Line

New data from the Hong Kong government reports a record number of residents living in poverty despite economic growth and the government’s raising the poverty line last year on the basis of median monthly household income. In a deeply unequal society, featuring the world’s most unaffordable housing market, approximately 1.35 million people—20 percent of the population—live below the poverty line. Human rights activists have criticized the government for failing to act to alleviate poverty.

God, we lift prayers for the many people who are poor in Hong Kong. We pray for policies that might protect them from further stress and suffering. We pray that equality—especially for those most vulnerable—would become a priority for all who have power to change the system there.

Correction: Last week's prayers shared some statistics on hate crimes in Indiana and Minnesota, stating that the data came from the FBI when, in fact, they were from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. FBI statistics were different: they found that hate crimes increased in Indiana by 24 percent and in Minnesota by 9 percent (versus 123 and 27 percent, respectively). Thanks to the reader who caught this!

Worship Resources for Sanctity of Human Life Sunday

Celebrate Sanctity of Human Life Sunday on Jan. 21 with CRC congregations nationwide. OSJ is offering resources for your church to honor the day, including a prayer, a responsive reading, and bulletin inserts (the deadline to order these is Dec. 18). Learn more about this year’s focus and find worship resources here.

"Immigrants Are a Blessing" Litany

Scripture reminds us over and over that God uses “strangers” and immigrants to bring a blessing. On Sunday, Dec. 10, CRC congregations around the country will join together to remember the blessing of the "stranger" throughout Scripture and to give thanks for our immigrant and refugee neighbors today. Join us in using this litany in worship on Dec. 10—download a free copy here.