On Tuesday Canada released its 2016 Federal Budget. The budget includes an increase in funding for refugee resettlement and a program to reunify families by bringing in 20,000 additional refugees under Canada’s Parent and Grandparent Program. The budget also includes important investments in Indigenous education and other social services. The investments will be used to build schools, hire teachers, increase the quality of education on reserves, and ensure access to clean drinking water, health care, and housing. These investments take a step toward fulfilling some of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action, which asked the federal government to eliminate discrepancies in funding for First Nations children educated on reserves.
Budgets are moral documents. We lift Canada’s budget to you in prayer, Lord, and ask that you use Canada’s money in ways that honor people, work toward health and wholeness, and promote peace and flourishing.
Attack in Belgium
In Brussels, Belgium, on Tuesday at least 31 people were killed and 260 were injured in explosions at the Brussels Zaventem international airport and the Maelbeek metro station. Two suicide bombers caused the explosion at the airport that morning. A third man did not detonate his explosive device and fled the airport; he is still being sought by police. Another bomb was detonated an hour later in the metro station. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attacks. The attacks follow the arrest in Brussels of the main suspect in the November 2015 Paris attacks.
God, we are stunned at this latest incident of terrorism. We lift in prayer all who are affected, all who have responded, and all who are left vulnerable and hurting in the wake of these attacks. We pray for people around the world who are the victims of other acts of terrorism but have not received such widespread attention and support. We pray also for the groups who perpetuate such terrorism -- convict them, restore them, forgive them.
The U.S. and Cuba
U.S. President Barack Obama visited Cuba this past week and is the first sitting president to visit Cuba in 88 years. The U.S. encouraged Cuba to allow for freedom of speech and free elections and stated the need for an end to the Cuban embargo. The embargo, however, can only be ended by the U.S. Congress. The Christian Reformed Church has advocated for over a decade for an end to the embargo and has worked closely with CRC churches in Cuba, as well as with CRC churches in the U.S. and Canada that have been greatly disturbed by the effects of the embargo on the CRC and wider faith community in Cuba.
God, we lift up our brothers and sisters in Cuba who have longed for policies that will give them more opportunity and stability. We pray in the same way we have for so long: bring flourishing, freedom, hope, and faith to the church in Cuba. We pray for President Obama and for Raul Castro and for other leaders around the world who make decisions that affect vulnerable people