OSJ Prayers

Violence in the Philippines

More than 700 suspected drug users or dealers have been killed in the Philippines since Rodrigo Duterte was elected president in May. These killings are part of Duterte’s attempt to crack down on suspected drug users and dealers in the country. However, the killings seem to be targeting mostly street-level dealers and users, and in many cases, reportedly, innocent civilians are being targeted. These killings have been carried out by police as well as vigilante groups who have been promised impunity by the president. Duterte won the election by a landslide in May and has encouraged violent measures since his inauguration. Human rights organizations are calling on the United Nations to denounce this violence.

God, for the nation of the Philippines, we lift our prayers. We pray for peace, for justice, for an end to violent rule. We pray especially for people whose family members have been unjustly killed, and for those who today feel targeted and afraid. We pray that the attention of the world might bring pressure needed to bring peace in this situation.

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada

On Wednesday, the Canadian federal government announced the launch of an inquiry into the systemic roots of the disproportionately high number of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada. This long-awaited announcement comes as a relief to families who have been advocating for a fair and just investigation. The inquiry, which will begin on September 1, aims to honor the victims and to work to remove systemic causes of violence and secure the safety of Indigenous women and girls in Canada. Indigenous groups are well represented among the inquiry commissioners.

We pray for the important work that will be done by this commission — we pray that the truth will be told, so that change can happen. We pray for all who continue to grieve the loss of these women and children they love, and may they finally feel empowered by the government instead of dismissed and silenced by it. We pray for Indigenous women and girls in Canada, Lord — protect them and give them peace.

Economic Collapse in Venezuela

The situation in Venezuela continues to worsen following an economic collapse earlier this year due to low oil prices and corruption. Extreme poverty within the country has increased by 53 percent since 2014, and a majority of the people are going hungry. Last month 35,000 to 100,000 Venezuelans crossed into Colombia searching for food after the country temporarily opened a border crossing. The borders are now closed. Earlier this week President Nicolas Maduro issued an order to allow the conscription of Venezuelans into forced labor for 60 days on farms and in food production to create more food. It is not clear if or how his order will be carried out. The president has also denied offers of food and humanitarian aid from non-government organizations.

God, for the suffering in Venezuela, we lift our prayers. We pray for President Maduro — for a new conviction to lead his country justly and fairly, for wisdom to end oppressive policies, for accountability for the choices he has made. We pray for aid groupo — for strength and courage, for a door to open so that they can help. We pray for a sense of urgency in the international community to respond. We pray for those who suffero — draw near to them, and bring hope.

Death Penalty in Delaware

The Delaware Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that the state’s rules for imposing the death penalty are unconstitutional. This decision temporarily halts the use of the death penalty in Delaware and could lead to its abolishment within the state. The state’s rules allowed judges to override jury verdicts in order to impose the death penalty. In January the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a similar law in Florida was unconstitutional because it violated the Sixth Amendment, which protects an individual's right to a trial by jury. The Florida ruling makes it unlikely that Delaware could appeal the state Supreme Court ruling. In order to reinstate the death penalty, the Delaware Legislature would have to draft new laws to impose it. This development leaves Alabama as the only remaining state allowing judges to impose the death penalty despite a less-severe jury verdict.

God, we praise you for the sanctity of each human life, and for each step toward an end to capital punishment. We pray that the justice system in the United States would begin to be shaped more by a commitment to restoration than a goal of retribution. We pray for prisoners who are on death row now — give them hope, Lord.

New Web Pages for the Climate Witness Project

The Climate Witness Project recently launched new web pages! Over 200 CRC members from 35 congregations in the U.S. and Canada have come together to learn, act, and advocate for a safer and more just world. If you are wondering how your church can get involved in the climate conversation, check out the Climate Witness Project at  

Restorative Practices Training in Grand Rapids

The Restorative Practices for Congregations Training, run by Shalem, helps church members and leaders better engage in conflict and build healthier, more restorative relationships in their congregations. During the three-day training, participants will receive an overview of the philosophy of restorative practices, gain skills in creating circles and a restorative culture, and become trained in leading restorative practices conferences. The training costs $200 and will take place October 4-6 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Click here to register.