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Justice Prayers - August 24, 2022

Lead, kindly Light, amid the gloom of evening.
Lord, lead me on! Lord, lead me on!
On through the night! On to your radiance!
Lead, kindly Light! 

- John Henry Newman

China drought causes Yangtze to dry up, sparking shortage of hydropower

A record-breaking drought has caused some rivers in China – including parts of the Yangtze – to dry up, affecting hydropower, halting shipping, and forcing major companies to suspend operations. A nationwide drought alert was issued on Friday as a long-running and severe heatwave in China’s heavily populated south-west was forecast to continue well into September. The loss of water flow to China’s extensive hydropower system has sparked a “grave situation” in Sichuan, which gets more than 80% of its energy from hydropower. The Yangtze is the world’s third largest river, providing drinking water to more than 400 million Chinese people, and is the most vital waterway to China’s economy. It is also crucial to the global supply chain, but this summer it has reached record-low water levels, with entire sections and dozens of tributaries drying up. Around the world major rivers are drying up as record-breaking heatwaves take a devastating toll, including the Rhine and the Loire in Europe, and the Colorado River in the US.

God, we pray for the end to the droughts that have destabilized our communities and our ecosystems this summer. Natural patterns of weather combined with generations of environmental harm have created harsh conditions for your people. We’re reminded of the importance of water as the source of our life on earth. Help, O Lord, bring rain. Bring abundance. And nudge us to conserve our resources for others sake, both in the present and future.

Jamaican migrant workers in Ontario pen letter likening conditions to 'systematic slavery'
Jamaican migrant farm workers in Niagara Region wrote an open letter to Jamaica's Ministry of Labour requesting more support in the face of what they call "systematic slavery," days before a migrant worker died in Norfolk County. Garvin Yapp, 57, of St. James, Jamaica, was killed last Sunday in an accident with a tobacco harvester at Berlo's Best Farm in Norfolk County, two hours southwest of Toronto. In a statement on Tuesday, the Jamaican Ministry of Labour expressed "deep sadness" and said Jamaican Labour Minister Karl Samuda will be visiting and touring farms in Canada employing Jamaican workers under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) this week. "As it currently stands, the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP) is systematic slavery," the workers wrote in their open letter. Workers wrote they were scared of sharing their grievances with Samuda directly for fear of being kicked out of the SAWP. They also said that workers from Mexico and the Philippines share the same grievances. Workers described housing conditions as so poor that rats eat their food. They live in crowded rooms with zero privacy with cameras, and lack dryers to dry their clothes after it rains, they wrote. "It feels like we are in prison," the letter reads. On working conditions, workers wrote they're "treated like mules" and punished for not being quick enough. They said they're exposed to dangerous pesticides without adequate protection, and their bosses are verbally abusive. "They physically intimidate us, destroy our personal property, and threaten to send us home," the letter reads.
Lord, this is infuriating! How dare these workers be treated in this manner? How dare they be dehumanized in this way? Do these employers not know that these migrants belong to you, the Most High God? We pray this treatment will be rectified immediately. For political economic leaders, we pray, Lord, that they use their influence to take a stand for human rights.

Texas Sending Migrants to New York; Leaves Migrants in Middle of Political Fight
For months now, the governors of Texas and Arizona have been sending charter buses full of migrants and refugees to Washington D.C and New York. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says he started sending the buses north because the Biden administration attempted to lift the pandemic-era emergency Title 42 order that allowed the U.S. to deny migrants entry. According to Abbott's office, more than 6,100 migrants have been bused to D.C. from Texas alone. They arrive six days a week, as early as 6 a.m. and as late as 11 p.m. — sometimes multiple buses each day. Some migrants want to come to New York or D.C., others say they've been forced or tricked into coming here by Texas officials. They have become the most public face of a political back-and-forth between the State of Texas and New York City. They're part of an increasing number of asylum seekers who have been coming to the city from the U.S.-Mexico border this summer. While city officials and volunteers have stepped up to give the asylum seekers a warm welcome, the migrants' journey can still be rocky once they arrive. Many of the newly-arrived asylum seekers don't have relatives in New York to stay with. So after they leave the station, they often enter city homeless shelters. The shelter system doesn't track people by immigration status, but city officials estimate that between 4000 and 5000 asylum-seekers have entered city shelters since May.
Again, Lord, we pray for those who have been political pawns in games played by the powerful. For those who send migrants to places unknown to score political points, we decry their wickedness. For those who have long ignored immigration concerns because they are out of sight and out of mind, we call out their inhumanity. We pray for immigration solutions, Lord.

Banking Services Denied, Hunger Leading to Sex Work to Survive in Tigray
Hunger in the besieged region of Tigray is pushing people to increasingly desperate measures as the authorities are systematically blocking and confiscating remittances needed by millions of people. Banking services and all communications have been cut off to the state by the Ethiopian administration since last year, with 6 million people denied access to their own money. Reports from inside Tigray say many women and girls are being forced to turn to sex work to survive while others suggest there has been an increase in suicide. Last week, EU and US envoys urged the Ethiopian government to swiftly resume services and lift restrictions on fuel essential for aid distribution.

For the people of Tigray, we pray, God. For food, for justice, for institutions to do their job and provide resources for the populace. Lord, we lament that in order to survive, the vulnerable are forced to make themselves even more vulnerable to violence and exploitation. Help us know how to help, God.

Becoming (part of) the Answer to our Own Prayers

Sacred Spaces Clean Energy Grant

Low-income people in the US are also those who confront the climate crisis first and foremost.  Often these same people experience inequitable environmental degradation where they live and work. This pilot project will provide both energy efficiency and likely renewable energy to the houses of worship where low-income people live in the state of Michigan.  Get more details on the grant.

Hearts Exchanged

Hearts Exchanged is a learning and action journey designed to equip Reformed Christians to engage with Indigenous people as neighbours and fellow image bearers.  Would you like to participate in a cohort this fall?  Make sure you let the team know at 

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