OSJ Prayers: October 24, 2018

On this day in 1964, Northern Rhodesia gained independence from the United Kingdom and became the Republic of Zambia. Lord, we pray for people across the globe working for their liberation, either from oppressive regimes or exploitative markets, and we ask that you knit our hearts together in the struggle for justice.

Central American Migrant Caravan Treks through Mexico

A caravan of Central American migrants numbering up to 7,200 or more — by U.N. estimates — has reached southern Mexico and has fueled the criticism of U.S. President Donald Trump. The caravan began Oct. 13 when a group of mostly Honduran migrants — along with Guatemalans, Salvadorans, and Nicaraguans — embarked on the trip north, fleeing government corruption, extreme poverty, and rampant violence. Trump has taken to Twitter to criticize Central American governments, to suggest the migrants receive refuge in Mexico instead, and to threaten to reduce U.S. aid to these countries. But requiring these people to apply for asylum in Mexico would be a violation of international law, which obliges the U.S. to provide protections to people fleeing persecution and entitles those who flee to receive an interview to determine the credibility of their fear.

Give us eyes to see, Lord, your face among those who are most vulnerable. We remember you have taught us that welcoming “the least of these” means welcoming you, Jesus. Help us to see clearly, to think deeply, and to act in ways that reflect that calling — in our words, in our actions, in our votes, in our worship.

As Refugee Admissions Drop, Fewer Persecuted Christians Admitted to U.S.

The number of Christian refugees coming to the United States from the countries where Christians are most persecuted has dropped dramatically under President Trump’s administration, despite the president’s pledge during his first week in office that helping persecuted Christians overseas would be a priority for his administration. According to a new analysis by Matthew Soerens of World Relief, an evangelical Christian organization with a long history of resettling refugees, the number of Christian refugees admitted to the U.S. from countries noted for their persecution dropped nearly 79 percent between fiscal years 2016 and 2018. A total of 1,215 Christian refugees were welcomed from those countries in fiscal 2018, Trump’s first full year in office, which ended Sept. 30. That’s a drop from 5,731 in fiscal 2016, former President Obama’s last full year in office, which Soerens said was a “uniquely high time for refugee resettlement.”

God, we pray for all people around the world who have fled persecution. We are called to weep with those who weep, to have compassion and empathy when there is pain among members of the body of Christ. Where we are insulated from such pain, awaken our senses. Bring peace, comfort, and justice, Lord.

Canada Announces a National Price on Carbon Pollution

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that in order to ensure a healthy climate, Canada will adopt a national price on carbon pollution starting in January 2019. Specifically, Canada will implement a carbon fee and dividend on greenhouse gas emissions, with revenue from the fee returning directly to Canadians. It is projected that the average household in Ontario, for example, would gain about $300 per year. Trudeau said he believes the added cost on fuels will tamp down carbon-intensive consumption, reduce emissions, and help curb pollution. Under the terms of the national climate framework — a deal agreed to by most of the provinces and the federal government roughly two years ago — Ottawa will levy a tax of $20 on every ton of greenhouse gas emissions starting in 2019, rising by $10 each year to $50 a ton by 2022.

God, we pray for forward-thinking, proactive, compassionate solutions to the immediate crisis of climate change in the world. We pray for leaders who have been given the authority to make choices that affect all people. Guide them, give them wisdom, give them courage.


Famine Imminent in Yemen

Yemen is on the verge of widespread famine, with about half of the population completely relying on humanitarian aid for survival. U.N. officials have said the crisis will be "much bigger than anything any professional in this field has seen during their working lives.” Having issued warnings to the world community in early 2017 and again in November that an immediate global response is needed, the situation has only become more grave, due to the number of people at risk: now an estimated 14 million. Yemen is the Arab world's poorest country, and conflict began there in 2014 when the nation’s capital was taken over by rebels and a Saudi-UAE coalition began fighting those rebels to regain government control.

God, we pray for the millions of suffering, beloved human beings in Yemen who are without food, medicine, and hope. Bring hope and justice, Lord. We pray that leaders in power may find a way forward that addresses the root causes of this famine and brings justice to the people of Yemen who have borne the brunt of those seeking power through violence.

Upcoming Event: Pilgrimage to Peace — Justice and Peace in Israel and Palestine

Come and learn about the realities affecting both Israelis and Palestinians and how people of faith in the United States can play a positive role in pursuing peace.

Join Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon, executive director of Churches for Middle East Peace, as she hosts a conversation with Jessica Montell, an Israeli peace-builder and executive director of HaMoked: Center for the Defense of the Individual, and Sami Awad, a Palestinian Christian and executive director of Holy Land Trust, about peace-building and advocacy related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

When: Sunday, Oct. 28, at 7 p.m. at Church of the Servant in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Monday, Oct. 29 at 7 p.m. at Third Reformed Church in Holland, Mich.

Action Alert: Support Immigrants and Oppose Changes to the ‘Public Charge’!

The Trump administration has announced that immigrants in the United States who legally use public benefits such as food assistance and Section 8 housing vouchers could be denied green cards under a new “Public Charge” ruling. The move could force poor immigrants who rely on public assistance for food and shelter to make a difficult choice between continuing to access programs their families need, and risking the loss of their legal immigration status. Submit a public comment and oppose this ruling!