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Justice Prayers - August 12, 2020

For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. - Isaiah 43:19 NLT

Beirut Explosion, Protests, and Political Fallout

Protests in Lebanon's capital, Beirut, are drawing attention to the mounting anger over the devastating explosion a week ago that reportedly killed more than 200 people. Clashes broke out near the parliament building hours after the Lebanese cabinet submitted its resignation. Prime Minister Hassan Diab blamed the blast on years of endemic corruption but avoided taking responsibility. A fire is believed to have caused the detonation of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate that had been stored for six years without safety measures at Beirut's port. The blast wave flattened nearby buildings and caused extensive damage over much of the rest of the city, leaving hundreds of thousands of people homeless.

God, for those in Beirut whose lives have been turned upside down by this blast and all that’s happened since, we join in prayers. We pray for pastors, business owners, parents, and all those who are vulnerable. We pray for Lebanon’s leaders, and for those in positions of power around the world, to respond in ways that prioritize human dignity and human rights.

Mauritius Oil Spill

An oil tanker ran aground in Mauritius in late July. Last week, oil began leaking, launching a massive clean-up operation, with thousands of local volunteers heading to the eastern side of the island nation to help. The ship has already leaked about 1,000 metric tons of oil into a pristine Indian Ocean lagoon, and now the ship appears to be close to breaking in two, spelling disaster for the ecologically rich area. 

For the earth you created, Lord, we pray. We lament that humans have caused such damage, and cry out in grief over the destruction of so many plants and animals, complex ecosystems, that come in the wake of this spill. We thank you for those willing to spend their energy trying to avoid further harm. We pray, God, that no further damage would happen. And we pray for habits, policies, and economies that can change so that no such disasters will happen in the future.

Vietnamese and Cambodian Deportations 

Vietnamese immigrants are being deported after the Trump administration has begun to reinterpret a 2008 agreement, allowing them to expand the categories of refugees it can deport. Deportable immigrants include permanent residents who have committed certain crimes, those who came to the United States as children after the Vietnam War and have lived in the U.S. most of their lives, even offspring of U.S. troops who served in the Vietnam War. It’s part of a broad push to expand the numbers of deportable immigrants, resulting in a wave of deportations that has fallen heavily on Southeast Asian refugees, including Cambodians who fled the upheaval surrounding the Vietnam War. Many are being returned to countries they have never known – some were born in refugee camps along the way, for example.

God, for the families who are fearful that their lives will fundamentally change, who are facing a frightening and unknown future, who are at the mercy of powerful people, we offer our prayers. May the same church that worked to welcome refugees after the Vietnam War, who have been shaped and changed and have grown because of the presence of those people, speak boldly and clearly to this injustice.

Hong Kong

A new Beijing-imposed security law in Hong Kong prompts a raft of troubling questions and unknowns. The law—which broadly criminalizes any act of secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces in the Chinese Special Administrative Region—was written in secret by Chinese officials and only made public after it had been passed. It reclassifies what were previously considered minor infractions as serious crimes, punishable by a life sentence. The law expands the power of both the Chinese central and Hong Kong governments to oversee schools and social organizations and control content on social media and the internet. It also circumvents Hong Kong’s well-established judicial processes, allowing for warrantless wire-tapping, extradition to the mainland, and closed criminal proceedings.

God, we pray for those in Hong Kong who are so quickly seeing their lives change. We pray for those who are finding courageous ways to respond -- give them continued energy and creativity. We pray for those who are in power -- give them the willingness to protect the dignity of people, to stand for what is right. We pray for the global community to remember those in Hong Kong, and recognize the ways that oppression there impacts people around the world. 

Becoming (part of) the Answer to our Own Prayers

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