OSJ Prayers: August 8, 2018

Puerto Rico’s Prisoners Sent to Arizona

After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico nearly a year ago, and in response to the territory’s multibillion-dollar debt crisis, leaders have released a plan that includes sending about 3,200 inmates from their cells on the island — which sustained significant damage during the storm, and went without water and electricity for weeks — to privately run facilities in Arizona. Though the move is described as voluntary , civil rights groups have concerns that the free choice of prisoners is inherently absent and that many prisoners will fear retribution — longer sentences, worsening conditions — if they refuse relocation.

God, you call us to remember people who are incarcerated and to visit them. We think today of these prisoners who have been transported far away from their families and support systems, leaving them even more isolated than they were before . We lament the ways that the system of incarceration dehumanizes them. We pray for treatment that honors their dignity and aims to restore those who are broken.

Assisted Death in Canada

An Ontario man suffering from an incurable neurological disease has alleged — using an audio recording for proof — that hospital staff offered him medically assisted death, despite his repeated requests to live at home. Roger Foley, 42, claims that his rights have been violated, because he has not been provided with the necessary assistance to live, and instead has been pressured to end his life.

For all who are living with a disability that leaves them dependent on safeguards, goodwill, legal action, and the empathy of others, we offer our prayers, Lord. We pray that all lives would be treated with the dignity with which they are endowed as your imagebearers. We pray for policies that give dignity, structure, and accountability. We pray for laws that honor the gift of human life.

California Wildfires Largest in State History

The Mendocino Complex Fire, the name given to two wildfires in northern California that began in late July, has rapidly spread in the past four days and has burned through over 290,000 acres of land — an area almost the size of Los Angeles. By Monday night, the collective wildfires officially became the largest wildfire in the state's history. Triple-digit temperatures, low humidity, drought, and winds blowing across swaths of dry land have created ideal conditions for a large burn — and experts have named climate change as the driver.

For those in California who have lost everything, who are sickened by the smoke, who are vulnerable and in fear because of these fires, we pray and we hope for change. God, we don’t want to live in a world that is vulnerable to so much suffering because of the stress we put on your creation. We lament, and we ask for courage to face the critical moment we are in. We pray that leaders would respond in constructive ways to disasters like these, recognizing also what causes them, and that we might together take action.

Racism against Migrants in Italy

Since a markedly anti-immigrant election was won in Italy, violent, racist attacks against minorities are becoming routine. While gun and gang violence have historically been a problem in Naples, racist assaults have increased rapidly in the past two months — with at least 33 reported across the country. Victims have disclosed that while in the act, shooters have shouted slogans supporting Matteo Salvini, the leader of the far-right party that won the election in March and came to power under the aforementioned anti-immigrant rhetoric. Protests, organized by migrant and refugee communities in the wake of these violent attacks, have become almost routine.

God, for the immigrants who have seen so much suffering and who now feel vulnerable in the land they came to for safety, we lift prayers for protection, for hope, for peace that comes with justice. We lament that racism is alive in us, in the church, and in the world — and we acknowledge that it robs lives. Change our hearts, O God.

Action Alert: End Hunger!

The Farm Bill is a piece of legislation that governs the U.S. federal farm, food, and conservation policy and this year is up for renewal. Proposed changes to the bill would drastically impact food insecure homes.

Ask your representative to support a farm bill that increases access to nutritious foods for low-income families in the U.S. and funds critical international food assistance.