OSJ Prayers: January 11, 2018

Rohingya Militants Attack Government Forces

Three days ago, 10 members of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA)—a rebel group in Myanmar—ambushed government troops in Maungdaw, injuring three people. ARSA claimed the attack to be a response to the systematic “ethnic cleansing” that forced more than 650,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh. However, analysts fear that such attacks will provoke strong military retaliation. The government denies committing any violence against the Rohingya people; an internal inquiry last November concluded that not a single innocent civilian had been raped or killed by military forces—strongly contradicting the reports of independent observers, aid groups, and Rohingya survivors themselves. The governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh have agreed to a deal to repatriate the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, beginning Jan. 23.

God of mercy and justice, we pray for the Rohingya people of Myanmar who have faced such brutal persecution. We pray also for the Rohingya militants who feel the need to turn to violence in order to be heard. We pray for mercy in the response of the Myanmar government to this attack, that they would not harm innocent civilians. We pray that the dignity of each Rohingya person may be recognized, that their lives and personhood would be honored by the Myanmar government. And for the repatriation process we pray that your watchful eye and mighty arm will ensure safety and security.

Government Air Raids in Syria Kill at Least 40

Recent “indiscriminate bombardment” by the Syrian government has killed at least 40 people in Eastern Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus with ties to rebel forces. Home to 400,000 people—around half of whom are children—the suburb has been under siege for four years. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, the “humanitarian situation in Eastern Ghouta has reached a critical point,” with food, medicine, and basic provisions critically lacking; an estimated 11.9 percent of children under age five suffer acute malnutrition. Aid agencies recently reached an agreement with the Syrian government to allow them to begin evacuating critically ill residents.

God who invites all people into a relationship with you, our hearts cry out for mercy and grace for the Syrian people who face such desperate conditions. For the children who are hungry, for the sick who lack medicine, for families who live under constant fear of injury and death, we pray: Lord, have mercy. We pray that the Syrian government would no longer harm innocent civilians, and we ask for an end to the violence that has claimed so many lives.

Israel Issues Ultimatum to African Migrants

Israel has issued a notice to thousands of African migrants, informing them that they must leave the country within 90 days or face incarceration, offering them up to $3,500 to leave voluntarily. According to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, this plan violates both international and Israeli laws. The Population and Immigration Authority of Israel views the migrants as “infiltrators.” Having come mainly from Eritrea and Sudan, many of the migrants entered Israel seeking asylum. Israel regards the vast majority of immigrants as economic migrants rather than refugees or asylum seekers; since 2009, Israel has officially recognized just 210 people as refugees.

God of all compassion, we pray for the African migrants and refugees in Israel who have been told they must leave or face imprisonment. We pray for mercy and compassion on the part of the Israeli government, that they would recognize that each person is made in your image. We pray for an end to the violence and conflict that have forced so many people to leave their homes and seek refuge elsewhere. Hear, Lord, and have mercy.

U.S. Ends TPS for 195,000 Salvadorans

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced on Monday its decision to end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Salvadorans, effective Sept. 9, 2019. Salvadorans make up the largest group of TPS holders in the United States, numbering about 200,000 people. Families and advocates worry for the safety of these Salvadorans—and their 192,000 U.S. citizen children—when they have to return to El Salvador, one of the most dangerous countries in the world. The announcement has Canada preparing for a potential influx of asylum seekers.

Creator and Sustainer of all life, we bring to you the hopes and fears of our Salvadoran neighbors—people made in your image who now face such uncertain futures after the U.S. government’s recent decision. We pray for the parents who face the impossible decision of bringing their children with them to dangerous conditions or of separating their families. We pray for your compassion to guide U.S. immigration policymakers, that they would value family unity and the sanctity of every human life. We pray too for an end to the violence in El Salvador; we pray for the peace of El Salvador.

Support World Renew’s Work with Rohingya Refugees

Since the Rohingya crisis began last August, World Renew has been working with local partners in Bangladesh to provide much-needed relief to Rohingya refugees, including food assistance to over 40,000 families. Please prayerfully consider donating to World Renew’s continued work with the Rohingya people.

Celebrate Sanctity of Human Life Sunday

On Sunday, Jan. 21, join other congregations in celebrating the sanctity of human life. The Office of Social Justice has prepared worship resources to honor the day, including a prayer, responsive reading, and bulletin inserts. Browse and download the resources here.