Conflict in South Sudan
Last week violence broke out in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, right before the five-year anniversary of its independence. South Sudan became independent from Sudan in 2011. The country’s President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar are rivals from different ethnic groups, causing ongoing tension that has led to several mass killings between the two groups in the past few years. Last week fighting broke out again between forces loyal to Kiir and forces loyal to Machar, killing hundreds of people and three United Nations workers. The President and the Vice President announced a ceasefire on Monday, but it is not clear how long it will last and whether the violence has really subsided. According to the United Nations refugee agency, at least 36,000 people have already been displaced due to the fighting.
God, we pray for the people of South Sudan who have seen so much violence and displacement. We pray for South Sudan’s leaders and the forces who are fighting. We pray for world leaders who are choosing how to respond. We pray especially for the people most vulnerable, whose lives are so directly affected by such violence — women, children, people who are disabled, and those who are poor.
Refugee Crisis Continues
As the global refugee crisis continues, at least 17 people were killed and 40 wounded in airstrikes targeted at a refugee camp for internally displaced Syrians near Syria’s border. It is unclear if the warplanes were Syrian or Russian. It is speculated that the camp was targeted because some of the refugees have family members in a U.S.-backed rebel group operating out of Jordan. Near the Grecian island of Lesbos, at least four refugees were found dead on Wednesday from drowning, including two children. Six refugees were rescued. According to the United Nations refugee agency, so far in 2016 at least 2,923 refugees have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea or are still missing.
We continue to pray for the horrific situation for refugees in Syria, in the Mediterranean, and in other places around the world. We ask for a renewal of the world’s compassion, and may your church not be overwhelmed or fatigued by the continual stories of desperation and trauma.
Great Britain’s New Prime Minister
Following the European Union (EU) Referendum on June 23 (Brexit), in which the people of Great Britain voted to leave the EU, Prime Minister David Cameron decided to step down. This past Wednesday, Theresa May, former Home Secretary, became the leader of the Conservative party and the second female Prime Minister of Great Britain. Prime Minister May is in the process of forming the new government—Boris Johnson, the former mayor of London, has been named the Foreign Secretary. Mr. Johnson campaigned to leave the EU. Prime Minister May, along with former Prime Minister Cameron, was opposed to leaving the EU, but she states that she plans to lead Great Britain’s exit pragmatically and with a focus on social justice. She will wait to begin the withdrawal process until later this year.
God, we lift in prayer to you the political leadership of Great Britain during this tumultuous time. We pray for immigrants and refugees, for people of color, for all who have felt marginalized by the Brexit vote. We pray that justice will indeed be a value, and an outcome, of the decisions made in Britain in the coming months.
Shootings in the U.S.
In the wake of violence in the U.S. last week, peaceful protests took place throughout the country against police brutality and systemic racism. Hundreds of protesters were arrested. A protest in St. Paul, Minnesota, however, became violent when some protesters attacked police officers, and two police officers were injured. Additionally, just hours before a sniper in Dallas killed five police officers last Thursday, a black man armed with an automatic rifle, a pistol, and a large amount of ammunition fired at a highway in Tennessee. He killed a woman and injured three others, including a police officer. The man stated he was angry about the recent police shootings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling.
God of righteousness and justice, we lift our prayers for the United States. We pray for courage to have crucial conversations, for forthright leadership, for physical safety, for a sense of hope. We pray for all who grieve a loved one lost and for those experiencing secondary trauma. We lift in prayer pastors who are leading people of faith with care and courage. May your church see Christ and embody the love of Christ during this time.