OSJ Prayers

Violence in Burundi

While violence in Burundi escalates, the international community is showing little urgency to help. The violence began after Burundi’s president, Pierre Nkurunziza, ran for a third term despite constitutional limits. Survivors warn that with talk of opposition groups training in nearby countries, the government has resorted to ethnic propaganda reminiscent of the Rwandan genocide of the 1990s. In 2016 an average of 100 people per day walk across the Tanzanian border from Burundi, adding to the 250,000 refugees already present in overcrowded and underfunded camps in Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Lord, for relief from the desperate situation in Burundi, we lift our prayers. We pray for a wise and compassionate response from nations who have the capacity to respond. We pray for lasting solutions to this political upheaval. And we pray for the people who are forced to flee — please grant them safety as they travel and a safe place to land.

Missing Girls in Nigeria

Last Thursday marked the two-year anniversary of the day on which 276 girls were kidnapped from their school in Chibok, Nigeria, by the terrorist group Boko Haram. Since then the girls have been raped and terrorized; many have been forced to marry members of Boko Haram, some have been executed, and some have been forced to carry out suicide bombings. Many of the girls, being Christian, were forced by Boko Haram to convert to Islam. The girls were kidnapped because they were young women trying to get an education. Some have escaped, but 219 are still in captivity or have been killed.

God, we struggle to comprehend the suffering and despair of these young girls. We ask for a miracle, Lord. May they find safety, and may the plans of Boko Haram be thwarted. Bring hope, comfort, and peace, Lord.

DAPA and DACA in the U.S. Supreme Court

In 2014 President Obama created the program Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and expanded the program Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Together, these programs provide temporary deportation relief and employment authorization for about 5 million undocumented immigrants. In response, 26 states sued the Obama administration, and the programs were blocked by a federal judge, a move which President Obama then appealed. The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Monday in this case, U.S. v. Texas. The court’s decision will most likely be made in June. Because immigrants give to our communities, economy, and churches in numerous ways, many faith, law-enforcement, and business leaders filed amicus briefs in support of DACA and DAPA, which they see as temporary fixes to a broken system until Congress introduces and passes immigration reform.

God, we join in the prayers of so many immigrants who long to remain united with their families and to stay in the communities they call home. We pray for wisdom for the courts. We pray for all who fear deportation, or who have been deported, while these programs have stalled. And we pray that Congress will commit to finding lasting solutions to the illogical, ineffective, and inhumane U.S. immigration system.

Bombing in Afghanistan

On Tuesday morning a suicide bombing and shooting killed at least 64 people and injured over 300 in Kabul, Afghanistan. The Taliban has taken responsibility for the attack, after announcing its “spring offensive” last week. The group was apparently targeting a security team that protects government officials and guests. The victims were mostly civilians, women and children, but some security officials and soldiers were killed as well.

God, we pray for the people of Afghanistan who continue to suffer from so much violence and instability in their homeland. Bring hope, Lord. We join in grief with those who have lost loved ones to these violent acts or to extremist causes. We pray for peace in your world, Lord.

The CRC in D.C.

Last weekend, Faith Formation Ministries, the Office of Social Justice, and World Renew went with an intergenerational group of 36 Christian Reformed Church and community members to Ecumenical Advocacy Days in Washington, D.C. The group learned about the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015, which would reinstate the full protections of the original 1965 Voting Rights Act, helping to combat discrimination and voter disenfranchisement.

The group also had the opportunity to meet with their members of Congress and to advocate for the act. Join this group of advocates in working to ensure full protections at the polls before the November elections! Write to your members of Congress in support of the Voting Rights Advancement Act.

Jeff Halper in Grand Rapids, Michigan

On Friday, May 6, Nobel prize-nominated Israeli peace activist and author Jeff Halper will discuss his new book, War Against the People: Israel, the Palestinians and Global Pacification. Halper works with others for a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Jeff Halper is head of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions and author of An Israeli in Palestine and Obstacles to Peace. The discussion will be at 7:00 p.m. at Hope Church, 2010 Kalamazoo Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, Michigan.