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OSJ Prayers: December 12, 2018

Ethnic Violence in Mali

Violence between rival ethnic militias in Mali has led to more than 200 deaths, the burning of dozens of villages, and widespread displacement, hunger, and looting of livestock. Most victims are ethnic Fulani villagers and are being targeted because of a belief that they support groups linked to Al-Qaeda. Human rights groups are calling on Mali’s president to ensure that Mali’s security forces impartially protect all civilians at risk from attacks by militias and armed groups, and for judicial authorities to investigate and prosecute groups responsible for abuses.

God, we lift in prayer those who are suffering in Mali and who are unable to protect themselves and their families from violence. We pray that leaders in power may find ways to hold people accountable, to protect people who are vulnerable, and to promote peace. We pray that the systems and structures underlying this violence will be addressed so that people of every ethnicity, tribe, and faith might be able to live meaningful and safe lives, with access to the resources they need.

Palestinian Refugees Leaving Lebanon

Since the 1948 Palestine War, hundreds of thousands of people displaced from Palestine have lived in the countries neighboring Israel, including Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, and are registered as Palestinian Refugees (the only refugee group in the world to be mainly inherited — because the group includes descendents of those originally displaced — and the world’s oldest unsettled refugee population). Citizenship or legal residency is denied to them in Lebanon, which means they have limited work options and face dire economic conditions and denial of basic human rights. A few years ago, there were 450,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon registered with the United Nations. However, the first-ever government census showed that the number dropped to 175,000 earlier this year. Many refugees are hoping to gain entry to Europe, and they pay smugglers thousands of dollars to help them.

God, for these people, created in your image, who have known only a life of displacement and suffering, we offer our prayers for hope and a future. We pray for the countries where Palestinian refugees now live — for humane treatment, for sustainable solutions. We pray for the countries where Palestinian refugees hope to move — for hospitable policies, for compassionate leadership. We pray for the leaders of Israel and Palestine today — for a path to peace, for a recognition of the generations-long oppression of those who have been displaced.

Police Discrimination in Canada

A black person is 20 times more likely to be shot dead by police than a white person in Canada's largest city, according to a new report from Ontario province's Human Rights Commission. It studied seven years of data related to interactions between police and black residents in Toronto for the report, which found that the city's black citizens are disproportionately discriminated against by police. The police have accepted the commission's recommendation that it continue to support the inquiry into racial profiling and discrimination against black people. The commission has also said that another recommendation — that police be required to collect and publicly release race-based data relating to when they stop, search, and use force on civilians — will require further study.

God, we pray for fair treatment of people of color by all who have power. We pray that police officers would receive support and the resources they need to do their jobs. We pray for all who are traumatized by violence — whether police officers on the job, or people of color in interactions with police officers — that they would experience the hope of healing, restored relationships, and healthy communities that are possible when difficult issues like these are seen, named, and addressed.

Raids on Chinese Churches

This week, reports emerged that 100 Christians were taken away in overnight raids on the underground Chinese church. Worshipers were removed from their homes and off the streets in a coordinated crackdown across Chengdu in Sichuan province. Many see it as an effort by the government to close down one of the country’s most prominent Protestant house churches. Members’ personal accounts and cell group discussions on social media channels were blocked at around 9 p.m. on Sunday; the church’s telephone line was also cut. The homes of the church’s leaders, including pastor Wang Yi, were among those raided. The pastor was also arrested. Bob Fu of China Aid, a U.S.-based Christian nonprofit organization, said the crackdown represented a major escalation of religious persecution in China. Despite the massive purge, one of the church's elders said gatherings would continue.

We lift in prayer our Chinese brothers and sisters, Lord, asking for their protection as they face persecution for their faith. We pray that the government will be held accountable to defending and protecting human rights. We pray that China might become a place where people are free to practice their faith. We pray that we might learn from these brave Christians; give us wisdom to know how to stand alongside them as they suffer.

Sanctity of Human Life Sunday Worship Materials

January 20 is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, and we are offering resources for your church to honor the day. We hope your congregation will join the many others commemorating the sanctity of human life in ways that are mindful of the impact abortion has on our communities and affirm the value of every life, at all stages of development. Visit crcna.org/life for worship resources, including bulletin inserts, a prayer, and a responsive reading. The deadline for ordering bulletin inserts is December 19.

Please note: If you already ordered our bulletin inserts through the church ordering link you received from the CRCNA, you do not need to order them again.

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