OSJ Prayers: August 1, 2018

Nations Collaborate with U.S. on Religious Freedom

This week the U.S. State Department concluded its first-ever Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, at which more than 80 nations met and outlined a plan called the Potomac Declaration, an effort to reduce religious persecution worldwide. It calls for the repeal of “inherently subjective” antiblasphemy laws abroad and the protection of the publication of religious materials. In addition, 25 countries cosigned a statement condemning abuses of religious freedom by terrorist groups, while almost a dozen added their names to statements condemning religious restrictions in China, Iran, and Myanmar.

God, for people around the world who are subjected to limitations, abuse, or persecution because of their faith, we lift prayers for freedom and hope. We pray that nations will continue to work together to ensure that all people have the ability to freely pursue faith — especially faith in you — and that people who are marginalized because of religious belief will be protected from harm.

Four Million Bangladeshis May Lose Indian Citizenship

In an effort to identify illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, India has published a list that effectively strips about four million people in the northeastern state of Assam of their citizenship. After Bangladesh declared itself an independent country from Pakistan in 1971, a bitter war ensued, and many refugees fled to Assam. Recently more than 32 million people were asked to submit documents to prove that they came to India before the official date of Bangladesh’s independence, but four million who did so have been left off the list and are now at risk of deportation.

God, we pray for all who are stateless around the world. We pray for people who are at risk because of their national origin or ethnicity. We pray for wisdom for leaders who make policies that can welcome people or deny them the community that they need. We pray that what seems to be a contagious trend of exclusion would be overwhelmed by a new spirit of hospitality around the world.

Zimbabwe's First General Election Since Mugabe

Zimbabwe is awaiting the results of its landmark elections this week, the first since longtime ruler Robert Mugabe was ousted. European Union and U.S. election monitors have been allowed into the country for the first time in 16 years to assess whether the elections are free and fair, and they hold out hopes that the election will mark a break from the country’s repressive past. The turnout was very high, with almost half of Zimbabwe's voters under the age of 35.

God, we pray with hope for a peaceful election process in Zimbabwe that is fair and free and reflects the voice of the people. We pray that the young people there may trust in a hopeful future. We pray for transparency around the world, so that people who are especially vulnerable to poverty and oppression are able to experience systems of power that are fair and just and contribute to their good.

Nia Wilson: #sayhername

Nia Wilson, an 18-year-old black woman, was standing on a Bay Area Rapid Transit station platform in Oakland, Calif., Sunday night when she was stabbed to death in an apparently unprovoked attack. The attacker has been arrested, and while his motive hasn’t been identified, his family has claimed he had untreated mental health concerns and has drawn attention to a lack of accessible mental health care in the United States. Wilson’s family has stated they believe it to be a hate crime. A vigil for the teenager turned into a protest that drew hundreds of people into the streets of Oakland. She has become the latest face of the #sayhername movement recognizing black women who are victims of racial violence by police and others.

God, for the violence that black women have long faced without attention or action, we lament. We pray for an end to crimes like this, along with the trauma they cause, and to the many acts of violence that go unreported in communities across the U.S. We pray for Nia Wilson’s grieving family. We pray for the man who committed this horrifying crime. We pray, God, for your peace; we pray that all who have privilege would use it to change any systems or practices that dehumanize people — that your image, beautiful and clear in all people — might be honored.

Introducing New Immigration Regional Organizers

We are excited to be partnering with the Reformed Church in America to contract immigration regional organizers to help CRC and RCA congregations in the U.S. deepen their understanding of immigration and refugee issues! No matter where you are, fill out this form to get started in partnering with us!

Meet your organizers! Top left- Jason Lief (NW Iowa), top right - Rose Admiraal (Pella), bottom left - Marissa Aguilera Saints (Denver), bottom middle - Vanessa Martinez (southern California), bottom right - Peter Zigterman (Chicago).