OSJ Prayers: September 27, 2018

Dorothy Day, a journalist and Catholic, is famous for having said that the greatest challenge we will ever face is the challenge from within: how to bring about a revolution of the heart. We believe that the Holy Spirit does the work of changing our hearts through prayer, and in doing so, makes us more Christlike (2 Cor. 3:17-18).

Small Midwest Towns Using Data to Combat Climate Change

For small towns in the Midwest, the effects of large storms on a city’s infrastructure can be devastating, especially when the frequency and ferocity of storms continue to increase. In order to combat an onslaught of what meteorologists call “once-in-a-1,000-year storms,” a new tool has been developed that aims to help public officials navigate the pressures put on infrastructure and public health by the effects of climate change. The Environmental Resilience Institute Toolkit (ERIT) is an online database of case studies, reports, and contacts for Indiana officials seeking to replicate projects that have successfully prepared other communities for climate change. City officials and climate activists alike are taking notice of some other numbers preceded by dollar signs: every $1 invested in infrastructure that can withstand the effects of climate hazards, such as flooding, can save $6, according to the National Institute of Building Science.

God, we pray for leaders and researchers who are called to innovate, adapt, and plan for the future. May your Spirit inspire leaders to invest in tools and strategies that will sustain and promote human flourishing for generations to come. We pray that solutions for our world’s most challenging problems will cut across political and ideological divides and seek the common good.

Wildfire Breaks Out at Moria Refugee Camp in Greece

Last week we noted that a refugee camp off the coast of Greece was at risk of being shut down due to unsanitary and inhumane living conditions. This past weekend a wildfire broke out near the camp harboring thousands of migrants and refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos. The camp, known as Moria, and the makeshift settlements surrounding it, are temporarily home to an estimated 9,000 people. According to medical professionals on the scene, children are living in appalling conditions, which are contributing to a considerable deterioration of their physical and mental health. "In all of my years of medical practice, I have never witnessed such overwhelming numbers of people suffering from serious mental health conditions, as I am witnessing now amongst refugees on the island of Lesbos," wrote Alessandro Barberio, a clinical psychiatrist with Doctors Without Borders. “Many are unable to meet or perform even their most basic everyday functions, such as sleeping, eating well, maintaining personal hygiene, and communicating."

For the people in this refugee camp suffering so deeply today, Lord, we offer prayers for relief, for assistance, for hope, for human kindness. We pray that healing may be possible after the trauma they have suffered. We pray for conditions that can promote healing — stability, sanitation, safety, and community. We pray, God, that there might be a home for these people soon; move us to open our hearts, homes, communities.

Rule Change Will Deny Green Cards to Legal Immigrants Using Public Benefits

The Trump administration announced on Saturday that immigrants in the United States who legally use public benefits such as food assistance and Section 8 housing vouchers could be denied green cards under a new “Public Charge” ruling. (Undocumented immigrants do not have access to such benefits.) The move, aimed at keeping out people the administration deems a drain on the country, could force millions of poor immigrants who rely on public assistance for food and shelter to make a difficult choice between continuing to access programs their families need and risking the loss of their legal immigration status. Federal law has always required those seeking green cards to prove they will not be a burden and has taken into consideration the acceptance of cash benefits. But the government has never before considered the use of other public benefits, like assistance for food. The administration has announced that this ruling would affect 382,000 people a year.

God, for the fear that immigrants in the United States with or without legal status experience in today’s climate, we lament, and we pray for a new way forward. Use your church as a beacon of hope for immigrants — hospitality, dignity, friendship, support. Motivate people in power to enact laws that recognize and reflect the blessings that immigrants bring.

New Report Highlights Child Poverty in Canada

A new report issued Tuesday highlights alarming statistics regarding the mental, physical, and emotional health of Canadian children. The report, titled Raising Canada, shows that 1.2 million Canadian children currently live in low-income housing and that 10.7 percent of families with children under six report experiencing food insecurity. According to the report, Canada also has one of the highest infant mortality rates of OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) nations, and the leading cause of childhood deaths are preventable accidents and suicide. The report also found that 27.9 percent of kids ages 12 to 17 reported being overweight or obese, and only 35 percent of five- to 17-year-olds meet the daily recommended guidelines for physical activity.

God, for children — beloved by you, created in your image — who suffer because of poverty, we pray for your presence and your work in their lives. We pray that these findings will help to move Canada toward new policies and practices that protect the dignity of these children, who are full of potential and talent and bear your likeness.

Pilgrimage to Peace: Justice and Peace in Israel and Palestine

Come and learn about the realities affecting both Israelis and Palestinians and how people of faith in the United States can play a positive role in pursuing peace. Join us for a presentation and discussion at Church of the Servant CRC in Grand Rapids, Mich., Oct. 28. Read more.

Action Alert: Oppose the Indefinite Detention of Migrant Children!

The Trump administration is proposing a change to the amount of time it can legally incarcerate immigrant children. Under current practice, children must be held in the least restrictive settings and may not be incarcerated for longer than 20 days. The administration wants to change the rule so that children, together with their parents, can be incarcerated for as long as the family’s immigration cases are pending. Email the Department of Homeland Security!