OSJ Prayers: June 13, 2018

This week, headlines are filled with matters related to the migration
of peoples — our prayer newsletter is dedicated to that theme this week.

Migrant Ship Refused Port in Europe

A ship filled with people making the journey from Africa to Europe through the Mediterranean Sea — the world’s most dangerous migration route — was denied entry in both Malta and Italy. Italy recently elected a hardline interior minister, the leader of the anti-immigration League party, who made the decision to deny them port. On board are 629 people, including seven pregnant women and more than 120 children traveling without their parents, as well as Dr. David Beversluis, a relief worker with Doctors without Borders who was raised in the CRC. Spain has agreed to allow the ship to dock, but that journey will take three to five more days, and supplies of water, food, and sanitation are severely limited.

God, for the people on this ship — named, known, seen, loved — we lift prayers for rescue, for dignity, for a future of flourishing. For the politics of this situation — power, negotiations, messaging, ego — we lift prayers for your Spirit’s presence and influence. For the “helpers” — hungry, exhausted, demoralized by callous indifference to human suffering — bring fresh energy, hope, vision. And, God, for us, the church, we pray that the demand, the calling to show hospitality, would grip us, empower us, bless us, and energize us. Change us, Lord.

Domestic and Gang Violence Not Grounds for Asylum

On Monday, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions moved to further restrict U.S. acceptance of immigrants by ruling that fear of domestic abuse or gang violence is not an acceptable basis for granting asylum. Only 20 percent of asylum applications were granted last fiscal year, and now immigration advocates fear that even more asylum seekers from Central America and Mexico will have their claims denied.

God, for the victims of violence who don’t know where to turn for safety, and who will now be turned away from the U.S., we offer prayers for hope, for a way forward, for a safe place to go. For women and children whose cases have been pending, and whose fate is now so dire, we pray for a miracle that might save them from harm. For the decision makers in the U.S. whose ideas and attitudes so deeply affect suffering people, we pray for wisdom and for the dignity of oppressed people to be a central concern. Empower your church to speak up on behalf of all whose voices are not heard in the halls of power.

114 Immigrants Arrested in Workplace Raid

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers arrested 114 undocumented immigrants working at an Ohio gardening business in one of its largest workplace raids in recent years. The mass arrest is part of the federal administration's aggressive stance on immigration, and particularly its pledge to increase crackdowns on employers who hire undocumented immigrants. In October 2017, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Tom Homan, said he ordered the investigative unit of ICE to increase worksite enforcement actions by as much as fivefold.

God, for the families of people who are now in detention — lives upended, futures unclear — we pray for peace, for a community of support to surround them, and for good legal counsel. For the lawyers, pastors, business owners, and all others who will be affected by such a massive upset to the community’s order, we offer prayers for clear next steps, for compassionate attention to suffering, for a path toward healing.

Canadian Leaders Issue Warning to Migrants Crossing the Border

This month leaders in Canada have issued warnings intended to dissuade migrants crossing the border from the U.S., asserting that simply making it across the border is not a “free ticket” to stay in Canada. The number of migrants making the crossing on foot, often in dangerous conditions, continues to rise since immigration policy in the U.S. has become more restrictive to refugees and asylum seekers and has taken away legal status from some immigrants. Forty percent of such border crossers whose claims were finalized in the first three months of this year were granted refugee status, down from 53 percent for all of 2017, according to data provided by Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board.

God, for those who fear remaining where they are, and also fear making another journey to find safety, we lift prayers. We pray for people in positions of power in the U.S. and Canada who manage a growing suspicion of "the stranger" and a waning attitude of welcome among the people they represent. We pray that they might renew their commitment to seek justice and to address the needs of people who are vulnerable. We pray that we would be people who welcome.

Additional prayer item for the week:

Rising Tension in Nicaragua

Escalating protests and violence throughout Nicaragua have prompted some Resonate Global Mission and World Renew staff to leave the country. No CRCNA staff members have directly experienced any violence, but all are embroiled in the difficulties that come with the country being in turmoil. All of our Resonate and World Renew staff and partner organizations in Nicaragua ask for your prayers. Anxious for their friends and colleagues in Nicaragua, they are keenly aware that their Nicaraguan brothers and sisters have no “alternate reality to which they may escape.”

God, for Nicaragua, we pray. Bring peace, Lord — peace that comes when all people feel they are being treated with dignity and are experiencing justice. We pray for your church there, that it might be strengthened and be a hope-filled presence in such a fear-filled time. We pray for the people most vulnerable in Nicaragua — women, children, the elderly, persons with disabilities, persons who are ill. Protect them, Lord.

World Refugee Day Toolkit

World Refugee Day (June 20) is an opportunity to recognize the blessings of refugees in our communities and to educate ourselves about the growing global refugee crisis. How are we as a church — the body of Christ — to respond? We invite you and your congregation to recognize #WorldRefugeeDay throughout the month of June. Check out our World Refugee Day Toolkit for ideas about how to participate.

End Family Separation at the Border

Separating children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border is now official policy. On May 7, the Trump administration announced a new “zero tolerance” policy: all adults caught entering the U.S. illegally are to be criminally prosecuted — even those who are legally seeking asylum — and their children will be forcibly taken from them. As people who have been enfolded into God’s family, we understand the sacredness of family unity. Raise your voice to ensure Congress hears that Christians stand with families.

Video: What’s the Bigger Picture on Immigration, and How Can You Engage?

Overwhelmed by all the immigration headlines? Susan Reed, immigration attorney with the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, and Matt Soerens, U.S. director of church mobilization for World Relief, talk with Kate Kooyman from the CRC Office of Social Justice to help cut through the noise and discover ways to productively engage during this critical (and scary) time for immigrants.