OSJ Prayers: February 14, 2018

Canada Agrees to Stop Discrimination against First Nations

On Feb. 1—after four noncompliance orders from the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal—the Canadian federal government agreed to stop discriminating against First Nations children, youth, and families. For 150 years, Canada has provided lower quality and improperly funded public services to First Nations children and youth. Canada’s Indigenous Services Minister, Jane Philpott, announced immediate measures to cover key costs for First Nations Child and Family Service agencies and promised to implement the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

God, we thank you for this agreement and pray that it will be followed in good faith. We pray for leaders who are committed to moving Canada toward a future that puts into practice valuing the dignity of all its citizens. We pray for the First Nations peoples who have suffered from a lack of adequate services for too long. Bring hope, healing, and a future, we pray. May this agreement be the birth of something new and good and life-giving for all.

U.S. Senate Takes Up Immigration Debate

In an exceedingly rare move, United States senators will take to the floor for an open-ended debate on immigration this week. With the March 5 termination date for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program looming, the U.S. Congress is facing increasing pressure to produce an immigration bill that addresses the plight of DACA recipients and other concerns—and to have it approved in the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the Oval Office. The last time Congress earnestly considered immigration legislation was in 2013, when the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill. However, that bill was never taken up by the House.

God, we pray for all the leaders who will be part of these negotiations—give them wisdom, compassion, and a commitment to justice. We pray for the people who are most affected by the decisions that will be made—give them courage, peace, and a sense of hope. We pray that the outcome would bring the U.S. closer to an immigration policy that reflects Scripture’s teachings.

Venezuela Remains Mired in Economic Crisis

In the midst of Venezuela’s economic woes, pawn shops are doing a brisk business as people have resorted to selling their belongings to raise cash. Once Latin America’s richest country, Venezuela today faces the world’s worst inflation crisis, with the International Monetary Fund projecting inflation to reach 13,000 percent this year. The economic crisis has been deeply felt across the country: nine out of 10 homes cannot afford the cost of sufficient food for their families, and more than half the population can no longer afford medical insurance.

God, for the people suffering in Venezuela from poverty, an unknown future, and a sense of powerlessness, we lift our prayers. We pray for strong and compassionate leadership. We pray for a commitment to fairness and equity. We pray for decisive action that brings hope to people who are suffering from illness, hunger, fear, and poverty.

Yemen Sees Spike in Civilian Casualty Rate

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has voiced alarm at the increasing rate of civilian casualties in Yemen. Last week 27 people were killed and 76 others injured, casualties of indiscriminate bombardment and sniping by both government and rebel forces and airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition. Last week’s victims are more than double the confirmed casualties of the previous week. Since the start of the civil war more than three years ago, nearly 6,000 civilians have been killed, and millions more have been displaced. More than seven million Yemenis are food insecure; 18.8 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.

God, we lift in prayer the worsening situation in Yemen. We grieve the deaths and destruction caused by war and violence, and we ask for your comfort for all who mourn loved ones and lost lives. For the millions who face such a dire present and future, we pray for a sense of how to respond. We pray for global compassion, for a shared commitment to finding solutions, and for peace. We pray for hope for the Yemeni people, O Lord.

"Re-focusing for Lent"

In this Do Justice article, Danielle Steenwyk-Rowaan, editor of the Do Justice blog, encourages readers to re-focus for Lent on “Christ and his upside-down kingdom call on our lives.” The article highlights the Lent Advocacy Challenge and offers several issues and related resources for readers to prayerfully focus and act on. Read the article here.

Have a Heart Today!

Join First Nations families and advocates today in celebrating Have a Heart Day! On Feb. 1, the federal government of Canada agreed to stop discriminating against First Nations children and youth. Click here to ask your MP to ensure that First Nations kids receive equitable services in the future.