OSJ Prayers: December 20, 2017

Somali Deportees Held Shackled on U.S. Deportation Flight for 48 Hours

More than 90 Somali men and women were kept shackled on an airplane for nearly 48 hours in a failed deportation attempt by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The Dec. 7 flight made it to Dakar, Senegal, before returning to the United States with everyone still on board. Representing the 92 passengers, seven people have filed a lawsuit, saying that, among other forms of abuse, ICE agents “kicked, struck, or dragged detainees down the aisle of the plane.” ICE has denied the allegations. The deportees fear that Islamist militants will persecute and kill them if they are returned to Somalia, an increasingly unstable country.

God of mercy, we pray for these traumatized people—bring safety, healing, and peace. For the ICE agents who allegedly committed these abuses, bring reconciliation, accountability, and restoration. God, for the policies of the U.S. that are deporting people to dangerous places, causing separation between families, creating suffering and grief, we pray for change.

Attack on Church in Pakistan Kills Eight

Last Sunday an attack on a church in Quetta, a city in western Pakistan, killed eight people and injured 33 others. A suicide bomber detonated explosives at the gate of Bethel Memorial Methodist Church, while a second attacker fired at worshipers before being killed by police officers. The so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has claimed responsibility for the attack.

God, for our grieving brothers and sisters in Pakistan, we lift prayers for comfort. We pray for the ones who committed and instigated these attacks—may they experience a change of heart and healing of the brokenness and injustice in their own lives that cause this violence. God, we pray for the miracle of peace in these regions where violence is commonplace.

Opioid-Related Deaths in Canada to Surpass 4,000 by End of 2017

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) reported on Monday that it expects opioid-related deaths in Canada to hit 4,000 by the end of the year—far more than last year’s count of 2,861. The chief public health officer of Canada called the issue a “national public health crisis” and highlighted several societal challenges, including homelessness, poverty, and the stigma attached to substance abuse.

Lord, we pray for people who are addicted to opioids and to other drugs—beloved by you, created in your image, full of potential and value. We pray that they might find recovery, and we ask for wise policies and leaders who invest in those means of recovery. We pray for the political leaders who are tasked with a systemic response, for those who profit unjustly from the making and selling of opioids, and for those who are complicit in this epidemic—speak to them, Lord.

Human Rights Group Finds U.S. Response in Puerto Rico Lacking

Refugees International recently released a report on the U.S. response in Puerto Rico to Hurricane Maria, calling the relief effort “uncoordinated and poorly implemented . . . prolonging the humanitarian emergency.” Months after Hurricane Maria hit, authorities still have not distributed temporary roofs and tarps to all of the 472,000 families whose homes were badly damaged or destroyed. On Monday, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello ordered a review of all Maria-related deaths in light of vastly contrasting numbers: the government’s official death toll stands at just 64 while independent reporting and analyses place the figure at more than 1,000 lives.

God, for the people who live in Puerto Rico—still suffering, still lacking basic provisions—we lift our prayers. We pray that the vast resources of the United States would be used to provide relief. We pray for accountability on the parts of the U.S. federal government and the local government in Puerto Rico, that justice might be possible for people who have been harmed not only by the force of this storm but also by the lack of response from officials who are responsible for securing and distributing aid.

Note: OSJ staff will be taking a break next week—we wish you a Merry Christmas, and you'll hear from us again in the New Year!

Join “Operation Ruby Slipper”!

World Renew has launched a fund-raising effort for schools, youth groups, college clubs, and church groups to help families displaced by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria return home. Called “Operation Ruby Slipper,” the goal is to raise $100,000—the amount needed to help 25 families return to their homes. Click here for more information.

Support the Dream Act!

Time is running out for Congress to pass the Dream Act this year, with just a few days left before the Christmas recess. Dreamers and advocates across the U.S. are urging Congress to act now, mindful that 122 young immigrants lose their Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status every day. Call on Congress to pass the Dream Act of 2017!