OSJ Prayers: August 22, 2018

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Wildfire Season in B.C.: Hotter, Drier, Longer

Currently more than 3,400 firefighters have responded to about 600 wildfires in British Columbia, and more than 20,000 people have received evacuation alerts and orders. Since 1970, the number of wildfires sparked and hectares burned each year has doubled, and leading experts and ecologists point to one reason: human-caused climate change. Climate change increases the frequency and intensity of wildfires — including more severe droughts, declining snowpack in mountain areas, increasing incidence of thunderstorms, and extreme heat exacerbated by rapid warming in the Arctic. But wildfires themselves may also contribute to global climate change, emitting more greenhouse gases and advancing a vicious cycle.

For the professionals who are fighting these fires, Lord, we pray for protection and stamina. For residents who have been forced to flee their homes, we pray for hospitality, signs of a hopeful future, patience, and peace. For our own actions, and for the actions of influential leaders, whether motivated by economics, politics, public health, future generations, care for creation, or other concerns — we pray that we all might do what can be done today to take seriously the reality of climate change and your calling to care for the earth.

Venezuela Faces Widespread Hunger and Poverty

In the midst of an eight-year economic crisis, Venezuela closed its banks on Monday as the nation’s treasury prepares to release the new “sovereign bolívar” amid warnings from International Monetary Fund economists that Venezuela’s inflation rate could exceed one million percent this year. The current economic crisis is considered to be much more severe than the Great Depression in the 1930s. Hunger has escalated to the point that Venezuela's Living Conditions Survey found that nearly 75 percent of the population has lost an average of 19.4 pounds or more in weight due to a lack of proper nutrition. According to a study published in 2018 by three Venezuelan universities, almost 90 percent of the population now lives in poverty.

God, we remember the suffering people of Venezuela, and we pray that your presence may be deeply known there among those who are hungry, afraid, and vulnerable. We pray for powerful decision makers whose actions have such an impact on so many people. Convict them and guide them; give them compassion and courage. We pray for your church in Venezuela, our Christian family, asking that they may be able to live in peace and receive justice.

Ontario Mayor Opens Home to Syrian Refugees

Eric Duncan, the mayor of North Dundas, Ont., opened his home to a family of five Syrian refugees, who lived there for nearly six months. Duncan, saying he wanted the family to have a smooth transition to Canada, moved in with his mother while he continued to serve as mayor. The arrangement gave parents Dania Al Muazzen and Adel Al Ghorani a space to raise their three children while saving money to open a store. They have settled in North Dundas, thanks to 20 people in the community who raised enough money in 2015 to privately sponsor the family from war-torn Syria. After a five-month stay, the family has moved into their own rental unit in town.

God, sometimes we receive glimpses of your grace in action in the world. We give thanks for the selfless actions of this mayor. We give thanks because you are the God of hospitality, who calls us to welcome the stranger in our midst and who welcomes us although we were once strangers. We pray for this Syrian family as they put down roots in Canada. We pray for all who have fled their homes and are desperately seeking safety. We pray for leaders — mayors and others who have governing authority — to act with humanity and compassion toward individual refugees, and to use their power to create a more welcoming system for the great number of people in need of safety.

Prisoners Strike in U.S. against Modern-Day Slavery

Inmates in 17 states went on strike Tuesday to protest what they have called inhumane living conditions and “the end to modern slavery.” The 13th amendment of the United  States Constitution disallows slavery except as punishment for a crime. Many have drawn a connection between the prison labor industry, for which inmates earn an average of $0.20 per hour, and the racialized system of mass incarceration that disproportionately imprisons people of color. The demands of the strikers, who hope to carry on until Sept. 9, include improved living conditions, reinstatement of their voting rights, reform of laws that lead to the disproportionate incarceration of people of color, an end to life imprisonment without parole, and more.

God, we pause to remember all who are in prison. We remember that you are the God who restores, and we pray that criminal justice practices and systems may increasingly lead to restoration and allow for human dignity for victims of crimes as well as those who commit them. We pray for the prisoners who are striking, for the staff who work in prisons, for all who minister there, and for leaders who oversee the conditions and policies that affect the welfare of prisoners. We pray for justice, Lord.

Action Alert: Support Survivors of Sexual Assault!

The Survivors’ Access to Supportive Care Act (SASCA) will plan, develop, and make recommendations to increase access to sexual assault examinations for survivors by holding hospitals accountable and supporting the health-care providers who serve them. Ask your members of Congress to support The Survivors’ Access to Supportive Care Act today!

Church Between Borders

Is your church planning your ministry calendar for the year? It’s not too late to add a workshop on immigration to help your congregation faithfully engage this topic. Church Between Borders is a three part interactive workshop that sparks thought and discussion for groups interested in engaging immigration from a Biblical perspective. Learn more.