OSJ Prayers: March 14, 2018

Militia Commits Mass Rape of Women in Central African Republic

According to Doctors Without Borders, militia fighters kidnapped and raped a group of women in an isolated region of the Central African Republic on Feb. 17 before releasing them. Fearing further attacks if they left their village, the victims did not report the mass rape until Mar. 2, when 10 women arrived at a hospital and sought medical care. The survivors reported that many more victims remained in their village, fearing stigmatization by their community if they identified themselves. Since 2013, Central African Republic has seen a surge in violence between rival armed groups, with an accompanying increase in sexual assaults against women.

God, for the horrifying use of rape as a weapon of war, we lament and cry out for change. Heal, somehow, the trauma these women have experienced. Empower repentance for the ones who have inflicted this deep harm. Bring peace to the Central African Republic, which for too long has endured this violence. For the victims of gender-based violence—too many to comprehend—we pray that we might see signs of hope. Change policies, change conflicts, change us, O Lord.

U.S. Admits Five Syrian Refugees in First Two Months of 2018

The latest data from the United States Department of State and the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration show that just five Syrian refugees were admitted to the U.S. during the first two months of 2018. According to refugee resettlement agencies, refugee admissions have dropped sharply over the past year; current trackers indicate that the U.S. has admitted 8,635 refugees out of the 18,750 required to reach the administration’s refugee resettlement goal of 45,000.

How long, O Lord, will suffering people—who have lost their homes, their loved ones, their sense of safety, their sense of hope—continue to be ignored by the people in power? We pray for a change, God, to U.S. refugee resettlement policy and practice so that there might be a greater number of people welcomed. Empower us to be welcoming; empower us to advocate for welcome.

Arctic Region Experiences Warmest Winter on Record

The warmest winter on record in the Arctic region has left experts worried as sea ice hit record lows for this time of year. Scientists say that climate change is the “overriding thing” driving unprecedented weather patterns that probably contributed to the recent icy storms in Europe and the northeastern United States, even as 15 Arctic weather stations recorded temperatures at least 10 degrees Fahrenheit above normal for the winter. February’s record-high temperatures at the tip of Greenland were more typical of May temperatures, and Arctic sea ice measured 521,000 square miles below the 30-year norm.

We pray for a response, Lord, to the earth’s clear distress. We pray for a future—full of hope and a commitment to change habits and policies in response to disasters—for the coming generations. We pray for solid, practical, innovative, and forward-looking policies from all around the world that decidedly address climate change.

Lawyers Optimistic about Model for Indigenous Jury Reform in Canada

Based on concerns that “all the visibly Indigenous prospective jurors” were left off the jury that acquitted Gerald Stanley in the shooting death of Colten Boushie last month, lawyers in Saskatchewan noted that adopting the “coroner’s system” as a model in the criminal justice system could ensure that at least half of the jurors at a criminal trial were Indigenous, achieving a more representative jury system.

God, we know that representation matters. We know that people deserve fairness when they face trials. We ask for guidance for the people who will consider this model, that the criminal justice system might take steps toward becoming more fair toward people who have historically been oppressed. Your will be done, Lord.

Support Youth Community Leadership and Diversity

In less than a week, Parliament will vote on a motion opposing changes to the Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) program. The current changes have jeopardised funding for some applicants, including religious charities who offer services such as summer camps for children and refugee resettlement programs. Ask your MP to support the motion!

We’re Hiring!

The application deadline for the Mobilizing and Advocacy Fellowship with the CRC Office of Social Justice is coming up in less than a week! The fellowship is a year-long, full-time, paid position for recent college or university graduates interested in learning more about the intersections of faith, policy, and social justice. Learn more and apply here by Monday, Mar. 19.