The Iraqi Armed Forces and their allies began the fight to reclaim the city of Mosul from the Islamic State this week. The United Nations estimates that Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, is still home to 1.5 million people. The UN also suggests that up to one million could flee their homes in search of safety. Such a movement could create a very large and complex humanitarian crisis—perhaps the largest in the world this year. While deciding to remain in the city is dangerous, it is also dangerous to flee. In addition, there are only seven emergency camps set up outside Mosul, with only 60,000 tents available.
Lord, we pray for the people in Mosul. Grant them wisdom in deciding whether to stay or to go. We pray that there might be safe places to flee for refuge. We pray that we might be people who model the hospitality that such crises demand. We pray for an end to the long story of violence and upheaval in Iraq—may Western and Middle Eastern leaders work toward peace.
Thwarted Terrorist Attack
Three men were arrested and charged on Friday for planning to detonate a bomb in a terrorist attack on a mosque and housing complex in Kansas where Somali immigrants live and worship. The men were part of a group called “The Crusaders,” who allegedly stockpiled firearms, bomb-making materials, and a written manifesto to be published with the attack scheduled for November 9, the day after the presidential election.
God, we thank you for protecting the community of Somali immigrants in Kansas. We ask that you work in the hearts and minds of the men who planned this attack; bring your justice, Lord. May our communities be transformed to embrace the truth about the stranger in our midst—beloved by God, made in your image—and may we change the conversation from fear to celebration regarding the blessings they bring.
Humanitarian Pause in Aleppo
Russia announced plans for an eight-hour humanitarian pause in Aleppo planned for Thursday to allow rebel militants, the injured, and other civilians an opportunity to leave the city. The US and UK have rejected this pause, stating that a pause should last up to 48 hours. On Tuesday, Russia stated there had been a temporary halt in military activity ahead of the humanitarian pause to ensure that roadways were cleared for the safe exit of civilians. The United Nations states that it will need assurances from all sides that fighting will stop before it can provide humanitarian assistance to the city.
God, we pray for peace in Aleppo. Protect all who will attempt to leave the city during this brief pause. We pray for those who have suffered unspeakable loss and whose lives have been altered because of the violence. Bring an end to this conflict soon, and move in the hearts of leaders to commit themselves to peace and to the protection of those who are vulnerable.
21 Chibok Girls Return
On Thursday, Nigeria’s government reported that 21 of the schoolgirls who were abducted by Boko Haram have been released after more than two years in captivity. The group of 21 is part of more than 200 girls, known as the Chibok Girls, whose mass kidnapping from their school in April 2014 sparked international outrage. The release of the girls came after negotiations between the Nigerian government and Boko Haram. It is not clear what Boko Haram received in return. Human rights organizations estimate that roughly 2,000 people have been kidnapped during Boko Haram’s rising.
Lord, we give you thanks for the liberation of these girls. May they be welcomed back into their communities with love, and may they find resources to heal the trauma they’ve faced. We pray for all those who remain in captivity—rescue them, Lord. We pray for vulnerable girls and women around the world, for an end to extremism in so many communities, and for a future in Nigeria where all people may have a voice and be able to flourish.