OSJ Prayers

Missing Girls in Nigeria

The first of over 200 Chibok girls captured by Boko Haram in Nigeria in April 2014 has been found. The girl, Amina Ali Nkek, was found alive by a vigilante group on Tuesday near the Cameroon border. 218 girls remain missing.

God, we thank you for the return of Amina, and we continue to pray for the safety of the other girls who are missing. We lift up girls all over the world who are victims of violence.

Lethal Injections

The pharmaceutical company Pfizer has announced that it will no longer allow its products to be used in lethal injections. Pfizer was the last remaining company that allowed its pharmaceuticals to be used for the death penalty—now those drugs are no longer available on the open market. Due to the growing scarcity of lethal-injection drugs, some states have already banned the death penalty, and other states have either experimented with drug cocktails or reverted to other means of capital punishment such as the firing squad or the electric chair. If only cruel and unusual options remain, advocacy groups are hopeful this will end the use of the death penalty in the United States.

God, we pray for criminal justice practices that restore both victims and offenders to wellness and dignity. We pray for the people who are waiting on death row -- draw near to them and bring them peace. We pray that we might see your Spirit work not only in the lives of individuals affected by capital punishment but also in the economic and political systems that perpetuate this practice.

Immigration Raids in the U.S.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials plan to restart immigration raids in May and June on Central American families, many of whom are women and children seeking asylum in the United States after fleeing extreme violence, persecution, and poverty. ICE previously planned raids in December, but the raids were halted after human rights organizations and the faith community advocated against them—although 121 individuals were detained in the process. Many of the targeted individuals had not been given the opportunity to argue for asylum but were still ordered for deportation. It is not illegal to cross the border seeking asylum. However, individuals can be placed in detention centers or deported without having the opportunity to argue for asylum or without representation in court.

Lord, we lift prayers for mothers, children, families who suffer persecution and violence in their home countries and who cannot find a place to begin again. May the policies of the U.S. reflect the values of hospitality and human dignity. We ask for your comfort and protection for the families and communities who will be deeply affected by these raids. May your church find its voice and cry out for change.

Sanctions on Myanmar

The human rights organizations Fortify Rights and United to End Genocide are advocating that President Obama renew targeted sanctions against Myanmar for another year in response to serious human rights violations committed against ethnic minorities. The President has until May 20 to renew. Reforms began in Myanmar in 2011, and the U.S. then removed most economic sanctions, investment bans, and embargoes. The remaining sanctions promote responsible investment and target individuals responsible for human rights violations, prohibit businesses from dealing with blacklisted individuals or businesses, prohibit arms transfers and investments with the Ministry of Defense, and ban imports on jade and rubies. These sanctions are meant to create “incentives for human rights abusers to clean up their act,” states Fortify Rights. “Known human rights abusers shouldn’t profit from improved bilateral relations.”

God, we pray that sanctions and diplomacy and the decisions of governments might be tools that you use to bring justice, peace, and flourishing. We lift up the people of Myanmar who have suffered so much, and we pray for an end to the oppression they have endured.

Image credit: Flickr user CIAT

Action Alert! Support Those Most Affected by Climate Change

The most vulnerable around the world are disproportionately affected by the unpredictability of a changing climate—the Green Climate Fund helps to address their needs. Congress is currently discussing the FY 2017 budget, and President Obama has requested $750 million for the Green Climate Fund. However, the funding may not be appropriated because of opposition from some members of Congress. Click here to write to your members of Congress today and ask them to fully fund the Green Climate Fund in the FY17 budget.

Kalamazoo Blessing Not Burden Event

Immigrants bless our communities and country in so many ways. Immigrants are an asset and gift to our congregations, families, local economies, and community. However, when discussions about welcoming refugees or the need for immigration reform arises, immigrants are often talked about as burdens.

You are invited to join the Kalamazoo community to learn how together we can change the conversation about immigrants in our communities. There will be speakers, food, community, advocacy. The event is sponsored by Justice for Our Neighbors, the Christian Reformed Church in North America, Michigan United, World Renew, and Kalamazoo College and will be held on Thursday, May 26, at 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. at 205 Monroe St., Kalamazoo, MI 49006. Click here for more information.