OSJ Prayers: February 28, 2018

Boko Haram Militants Kidnap over 100 Girls in Nigeria

Last Monday heavily armed members of the Boko Haram militant group attacked the village of Dapchi in Yobe state, Nigeria, and kidnapped 110 schoolgirls. After dismissing for a week the idea that Boko Haram extremists abducted the girls, the federal government has now finally launched a large-scale search. This attack bears many similarities to the 2014 Chibok abduction of more than 270 girls, in which the government also initially denied the kidnappings. More than 100 of the Chibok girls remain captives to this day.

God, for these girls, terrified and vulnerable, we plead for safety and a swift return. For the people who commit such violence, we pray for repentance, asking that your Spirit would convict them of the evil they have done. We pray too that the leaders in power will respond quickly and with great wisdom. We also plead for an end to violence against women and girls all over the world.

Threats to Christians in the Holy Land

On Feb. 25 the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem closed its doors for the first time in 28 years. Christian leaders organized the closing in protest of a new tax law, which they believe aims to bring about the end of a Christian presence in Israel and occupied Palestine. Under the new law, the city of Jerusalem has issued collection notices and orders of seizure of church assets and has placed holds on the finances of Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and Armenian Orthodox churches. This move had an immediate effect on the churches and their operations, affecting Christian schools and hotels. The government of Israel backtracked on its taxation plan yesterday and announced that it was creating a team to “formulate a solution.”

God, for your church—our brothers and sisters—we lift our prayers. We pray for wisdom, hope, and protection as they face systems and structures that seek to oppress them. We pray for strong and powerful voices around the world to emerge in support of these churches, and that we might stand boldly in solidarity with persecuted Palestinian Christians.

U.S. Dreamers Remain in Ongoing Insecurity

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was set to wind down on March 5 after President Donald Trump announced the end of DACA on Sept. 5, 2017. Recent court rulings allow current DACA-holders to apply for a renewal of their status, protecting them from deportation and enabling them to continue working. President Trump challenged Congress last September to devise a legislative solution for Dreamers. However, Congress has made no progress toward that goal. Dreamers continue to face immediate questions about their future and their ability to work, the possibility of their deportation, and whether a legal pathway for them will affect other immigrants in the future.

God, we continue to pray for hope for Dreamers, who face yet another milestone in their anxious journey. We pray for lawmakers and the president to find a way forward that prioritizes human dignity, that reflects the blessings that Dreamers and immigrants bring to the U.S., and that allows families to remain united.

Fighting Continues in Eastern Ghouta Despite Supposed “Pause”

Despite Russia ordering a five-hour daily pause for civilians to leave Eastern Ghouta, Syria, via a “humanitarian corridor,” government air and artillery strikes continued on the first day of the “pause” itself, resulting in no medical evacuations or aid deliveries. More than 1,000 critically sick and wounded people urgently need evacuation, according to the World Health Organization, while almost 12 percent of children under five years old are acutely malnourished. More than 500 people, including 120 children, have been killed in Eastern Ghouta since the Syrian government intensified its bombardment on the rebel-held enclave 10 days ago.

We pray for an end to this unimaginable suffering, Lord. Convict the people in power to allow civilians to leave safely or receive the food and medicines they need to survive. End the fighting in Syria, Lord, and disrupt the plans of any who would use this suffering as a way to gain more power.

Annual Inter-Classis Safe Church Conference

The 2018 annual Inter-Classis Safe Church Conference will be held on Sat., Mar. 3, at Waterloo (Ont.) CRC. The one-day conference will feature an update from Bonnie Nicholas, director of the CRC’s Safe Church Ministry, and multiple workshops. Click here for details and to register (registration closes Mar. 1).

We’re hiring!

The CRC Office of Social Justice is hiring! If you are interested in faith, policy, and social justice, apply for our Mobilizing and Advocacy Fellowship. The fellowship is a year-long, full-time, paid position for recent college or university graduates. The deadline to apply is Mar. 19. Learn more and apply here.