OSJ Prayers: March 28, 2018

Pre-Trial of Quebec City Mosque Shooter Begins

On Monday morning Alexandre Bissonnette pleaded not guilty to six counts of first-degree murder and six counts of attempted murder. Bissonnette is responsible for the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre shooting last year that left six people dead and five critically injured. In recent years, Quebec City has seen a growing number of far-right groups in the area. According to the Quebec City police, the number of reported hate incidents targeting Muslims doubled in 2017 from 21 to 42.

God, we pray that justice and restoration may be made possible through this process. We pray for Mr. Bissonnette—for repentance and new life. We pray for the people grieving lost loved ones and for those living in fear after such trauma. We pray for peace and partnership between people of different faiths, and for an end to persecution of Muslims and Christians alike.

Eastern Ghouta Evacuations Continue

Negotiations between rebel groups and Russia, the Syrian government’s main ally, have led to the evacuation of nearly 13,000 people from towns in Eastern Ghouta, Syria. The rebel group controlling Douma—home to approximately 140,000 people and the last rebel-held stronghold in Eastern Ghouta—begins a second round of talks with Russia today to negotiate surrender and evacuation terms. About 70 percent of Eastern Ghouta is now under government control, following a major offensive that began on Feb. 18. Eastern Ghouta’s death toll hovers around 1,500 people, while more than 5,000 are wounded.

God, for all the loss of life in Syria, we offer prayers of lament. We fervently pray for peace to come to Syria. We thank you for the agreements that are allowing families to be evacuated, and we pray for safe passage for all who need to escape. We pray for the people who need medicine, food, and water. We pray for traumatized children, threatened aid workers, and people without hope. Empower the powerful, Lord, to work toward an end to this violence.

Papua New Guinea Earthquake Aftermath

A month after a 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck the highlands of Papua New Guinea, 270,000 people—including more than 125,000 children—remain in urgent need of assistance. Food and shelter are scarce: just 1,300 households have received emergency shelter, while 143,000 people are food insecure. Landslides have cut off road access to remote communities, making it difficult for humanitarian assistance to reach the more than 544,000 affected people. The Feb. 26 earthquake killed more than 145 people and displaced over 34,000 others.

We pray for a miracle—for shelter, food, and medicine to make it to the people devastated by this earthquake, Lord. We pray for the people aiming to help—bring energy. For all in pain, in fear, in sorrow, or in need—bring sustenance. For the people who will leave home in the wake of this disaster—bring welcoming arms.

U.S. 2020 Census to Include Citizenship Question


The U.S. Commerce Department announced on Monday that the 2020 nationwide census will include a question on citizenship status, in order to “permit more effective enforcement” of the Voting Rights Act. Civil rights groups and immigration experts have voiced concerns that the inclusion of a citizenship question will decrease participation from immigrants—both documented and undocumented—potentially significantly affecting future monetary distribution across the country, from the federal level to school district levels, as well as seat allocation in the U.S. House of Representatives. Census questions must be finalized by Mar. 31.

God, we lift in prayer immigrant communities who are marginalized and made to feel excluded and like strangers in the wake of decisions like these. We pray for the protection of people who are vulnerable to harm, oppression, and injustice because of such decisions. We pray that U.S. leaders will make wise choices that promote justice and mercy.

Note: OSJ staff will be taking a break next week—we wish you a blessed Easter!

Breaking Barriers

The Spring 2018 issue of Breaking Barriers is out! Articles in this quarterly newsletter from CRC Disability Concerns examine the theme of “Welcoming worship,” focusing on the different ways people with disabilities contribute in worship. Read more here.

Responding to Abuse: A Toolkit for Church Councils

CRC Safe Church Ministry is working on a three-step resource for responding to abuse in congregations and has released draft versions of the resource on The Network. Read the first step, “Be Prepared,” here.