OSJ Prayers: April 12, 2017

Palm Sunday Bombings in Egypt

Attacks at two Coptic Orthodox churches in Egypt’s Nile Delta killed more than 40 people and injured more than 100 others during Palm Sunday services. The first attack occurred at St. George Church in Tanta, about 60 miles north of Cairo, when an explosive device went off under a front row seat in the prayer hall, killing 27 and injuring 78. The second occurred at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria, where a suicide bomber detonated explosives, killing 18 and injuring 41. The so-called Islamic state ISIS has claimed responsibility for both attacks. The church bombings are the deadliest since a December 2016 attack at a cathedral complex in Cairo killed 29, who were mostly women and children.

God of peace, we cry out to you for Christians in Egypt. We pray for all who are grieving the loss of loved ones. We pray for all who are terrified. We pray for protection and safety for all who remain. We pray for an end to terrorism.

Migrant Victims of Trafficking

Women and children making the dangerous journey to Europe to flee poverty and violence in Africa are being beaten, raped, and starved in Libya, a country they must pass through on their way. A recent report exposes that children are being sexually abused and coerced into prostitution and work, and people are being held for ransom for months in overcrowded detention centers. Men and women are being sold into slavery if their families cannot pay ransom. Many of the detention centers identified in the report, housing thousands of people, are run by the Libyan government’s Department for Combating Illegal Migration.

God, we pray for the vulnerable people who have been forced to flee their homes and who now encounter horrors as they seek safety. Protect them from evil, Lord. We pray for the country of Libya, which is experiencing such lawlessness, to become a place where justice and peace are possible. We pray for all who are captive and oppressed — hear their cry, Lord.

Executions Planned in Arkansas

Seven death row prisoners in Arkansas are scheduled to be put to death within 11 days of each other starting next week. Lawyers representing the inmates suggest that the short time between executions leaves too much room for error that could result in cruel and unusual punishment. The last time a double execution was carried out, in 2014, catastrophe occurred when Clayton Lockett’s execution was botched, leaving him writhing in agony for 43 minutes before he was declared dead.

God, we pray for an end to the death penalty in the United States, a practice that leaves no room for restoration of victims or offenders. We pray that leaders in Arkansas will act with compassion and wisdom and be protectors of human dignity.

Immigration Enforcement Crackdown

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced measures that the Justice Department will take to deter illegal immigration. While promising to streamline the process for hiring new immigration judges to more quickly process cases at the border, Sessions also announced plans to vigorously prioritize the enforcement of human smuggling and identity fraud laws. The measures also call for federal attorneys to consider prosecution of anyone who harbors undocumented immigrants.

God, we pray for immigrants forced to cross a border in order to move from hopelessness to hope. We pray for border patrol agents who encounter the heartbreaking stories of migrants every day. We pray for people who minister and live in border communities. And we pray for people of faith in the United States who are called to stand in solidarity with immigrants without documents — and whose ministries of mercy are now at increased risk. Give them wisdom and courage, Lord.

Faith and Politics Series in Holland, Michigan

Join Pillar Church in their upcoming series to learn about and discuss the intersection of faith and politics throughout our country’s history and within today’s current political climate. Come prepared to learn, listen, and share with a spirit of humility and grace with one another. Click here for more details!

Canada: Speak Up for people Affected by Hunger and Poverty around the World!

Canada’s new budget proposes no new increase to international assistance, and Canada’s contributions are currently at a 50-year low. Conflict is devastating entire nations such as Syria, South Sudan, and Yemen. Famine and drought are crippling millions in East Africa. Climatic change is undermining the harvests of small-scale farmers around the world. HIV and AIDS continue to indiscriminately tear families apart and orphan children. Click here to make sure international assistance is included in Canada’s budget!