OSJ Prayers

Hunger Crisis in Central African Republic

Over half of the people living in the Central African Republic (CAR), around 2.5 million, are experiencing a hunger crisis. The World Food Programme states that the number of individuals battling hunger has doubled since 2015 and that the most vulnerable are in need of emergency food assistance to survive. Three years of an ongoing civil war in CAR has caused the displacement of one million people, decreased food production (by 54 percent), and increased food prices. The United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organisation states that this is a crucial time to boost agriculture and revitalize the country because 75 percent of the CAR population depends on agriculture to survive.

Lord, we pray for this shocking situation in the Central African Republic. We pray for compassion and attention from the world regarding this crisis. We pray for all who are strategizing a response -- give them wisdom. We pray that agriculture and economic revitalization will be successful.

ISNA Headquarters a Target of Hate Crime

This week, the Islamic Society of North America’s (ISNA) headquarters in Plainfield, Indiana, were vandalized by three young men who spray-painted obscene statements on the front of the building. ISNA has reported the incident to local law enforcement and the FBI as a hate crime, and it cites an escalation in attacks and acts of bigotry toward Muslims. The FBI will investigate the incident if local law enforcement feel there was a violation of federal civil rights. ISNA also joins the country in mourning the recent execution style murder last week of three young men connected to the Muslim community in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Almighty God, giver of strength, we lift up to you the many Muslims in the United States who have been affected by suspicion, discrimination, and hate crimes being committed recently. Protect them, Lord. Make us, your followers, lights that shine with Christ’s love toward the Muslims in our communities.

Texas Abortion Case

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments yesterday on a case concerning a Texas law that requires abortion clinics to meet hospital-level standards. The law has caused many abortion clinics in Texas to close. The Supreme Court will decide whether this law will place an undue burden on women seeking abortions. The justices are seeking to determine whether the law is designed to make abortion safer or solely to close abortion clinics. It may be difficult for the Supreme Court to overcome a split decision after the recent death of Justice Antonin Scalia. If the justices reach a 4-4 decision, the decision of the lower courts will be upheld. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld the Texas law, but the Supreme Court has put a hold on enforcing the law while it is being considered. This is the first abortion case to reach the Supreme Court in just under a decade and will affect other states that have implemented similar laws.

Heavenly Father, we lament the many, many lives lost to abortion in our nations and our world. We grieve for the women and men who were told that abortion is safe and without consequence. Turn our hearts and minds toward you as we speak and act in ways that testify to the value of every life created in your image, born and unborn. And help our lawmakers and leaders to honor and protect the value of every life.

Meeting Between Trudeau and Obama
Next week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will meet with President Barack Obama for their first formal bilateral meeting in Washington, D.C. The two leaders plan to sign a continental environment and climate change strategy, among other initiatives, during the visit. The strategy is expected to include higher fuel and auto-emission standards and to increase collaboration with regard to environmental innovations. Faith groups and nonprofits have also advocated that the U.S. President and Canadian Prime Minister discuss the Syrian refugee crisis during the meetings.

We lift in prayer the President and Prime Minister -- may your Spirit be present to bring wisdom, compassion, and a heart for justice. We pray for tangible ways in which the U.S. and Canada can come together to be leaders on pressing issues. We pray for all who are most affected by climate change and migration; may those people, created in your image, be honored by these meetings.

Bibles, Badges, and Business Immigration Panel in Michigan
Tonight, a Bibles, Badges, and Business immigration panel hopes to bring the national immigration discussion to a local level and examine how immigration affects the Holland, Michigan, community. Join local faith, business, and law enforcement leaders in a thoughtful conversation this Thursday night on the value that immigrants bring to our city and state and on the need for sensible immigration reform. The panel will convene tonight at 7:00 p.m. at Western Theological Seminary, 101 E 13th St, Holland, Michigan. 

Forum on the Death Penalty
A Forum on the Death Penalty will take place at Calvin College in the CFAC recital hall at 7:30 p.m. on March 7 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The panel includes Shane Claiborne, Dr. Chris Dorsey, Randy Steidl, and Gail Rice. The forum is sponsored by the Office of Social Justice, Equal Justice USA, the Calvin College Social Work department, and the Heyns family.