OSJ Prayers: February 21, 2018

Three-Day Death Toll in Eastern Ghouta Exceeds 250

The Syrian government’s recent escalation in shelling and airstrikes has killed more than 270 civilians and wounded hundreds more in Eastern Ghouta, Syria. Among the dead are 60 children. Six hospitals were also destroyed or damaged in the relentless bombardment, which began on Sunday and has not stopped since. Eastern Ghouta, a rebel-held suburb of Damascus, is home to nearly 400,000 people. The area has been under siege for four years, leaving many people in desperate need of humanitarian aid. Last Wednesday marked the first day in almost three months that the Syrian government allowed a humanitarian aid convoy to enter Eastern Ghouta.

God, we bring before you the people of Eastern Ghouta—fathers, mothers, children. Have mercy, O Lord. We pray for comfort for grieving families. We pray for wisdom and care for doctors and medics. We pray that humanitarian aid would reach Eastern Ghouta. We pray for people all over Syria who are unable to escape to safer places. And we pray for a way forward that leads to peace in this region.

Human Rights Group Accuses Myanmar Government of Destroying Rohingya Mass Grave

A human rights monitoring group in Myanmar has accused the Myanmar government of bulldozing over the site of a Rohingya mass grave in an attempt to destroy evidence of a massacre at that site. This follows reports of other mass graves, even as aerial photography shows various parts of Rakhine state appearing to have been bulldozed. Last November, Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed on a repatriation deal, slated to begin in January. However, amid Rohingya fears that they would be forced to return against their will and rights groups arguing the prematurity of the process, Bangladesh postponed the commencement date indefinitely, noting that the “process has to be voluntary.”

God, we pray for an end to the incredible suffering of the Rohingya people. We pray that any and all human rights abuses will be exposed, and that the government of Myanmar will be held accountable. We pray for courage and wisdom for the leaders of Bangladesh as they respond to the Rohingya people who are desperate for safety.

Gunman Kills 17, Injures 14 Others in Deadly Florida School Shooting

A shooter opened fire at a high school in Florida last Wednesday, killing 17 children and adults in the span of 10 minutes. The 19-year-old suspect, Nikolas Cruz, used an assault rifle in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Cruz was arrested over an hour after the shooting, having initially escaped undetected in a crowd of evacuating students, and is being held without bond. Of his 17 victims, seven were 14 years old. Student survivors, parents, and advocates have taken to demanding that Congress and President Donald Trump act to prevent future school shootings.

God, for the grieving families of the children and adults killed, we pray. For the students who have endured such trauma, we pray. For the next steps and all they entail—difficult conversations, legislative proposals, political differences, deep division—we lift our prayers. For Nikolas Cruz—beloved and broken—we lift our prayers as well. Bring wisdom and courage to dinner tables, congregations, rallies, social media feeds, and especially the halls of Congress.

Mother/Child Read Aloud Program Restarts in Canada

The Mother/Child Read Aloud Program, a service that allows incarcerated mothers to record bedtime stories for their children, has restarted in Canada after a three-year hiatus. Originally launched in 2000, the program has been instrumental in providing a way for incarcerated mothers to maintain a connection with their young children. Besides recording audio books, the mothers are also able to record a brief personal message for their children. Approximately 26,000 Canadian children have mothers who are incarcerated.

God, for children who are growing up without their mothers, we pray for comfort and hope. For mothers who long for their children, we lament and pray for peace. We pray that this program might bring seeds of hope and connectedness, and aid in restoring families broken by crime and incarceration.

Share your worship ideas on creation care!

The Climate Witness Project, World Renew, the CRC Office of Social Justice, CRC Worship Ministries, and the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship are collaborating to produce a new crowd-sourced collection of worship resources on creation care. Learn more and submit your own creative idea here.

Life in a Rohingya refugee camp

World Renew has been responding to the Rohingya crisis, working with Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, and providing food to over 40,000 families. Watch a video from World Renew’s partner, Christian Commission for Development in Bangladesh, for a glimpse of life in a Rohingya refugee camp, and prayerfully consider donating to the ongoing work here.