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Justice Prayers - August 25, 2021

It's hard to count it all joy
Distracted by the noise
Just trying to make sense
Of all your promises

-Thy Will (Hillary Scott) 

Flash Flood in Tennessee Upends Communities, Causes Devastation

Over the weekend in middle Tennessee, up to 17 inches of rain inundated parts of the state in less than 24 hours where streets were quickly transformed into rivers and water overtook homes. Thus far, at least 21 individuals have died and many more are missing. The deadly floods over the weekend were the second major flooding event in Tennessee this year. Torrential rain flooded parts of Nashville in March and killed at least four people. Flash flooding — when water rises very quickly and flows with enormous speed and power — is getting more common in many places as Earth heats up. This is because hotter air can hold more moisture, and hotter air also dries out soil, which makes it less absorbent, and thus when a lot of rain falls in a short period of time, it can't soak into the ground.

God, in the same way that water can bring life, water can also bring death and destruction. We feel so fragile - and the fragility of our neighbors - as so many of us are at the mercy of a changing environment. We pray for the people of middle Tennessee as they recover, build back, care for one another, send care packages, cook meals, and pray. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayers.

Kabul Airport Transformed into near ‘Refugee Camp’ as Afghans Wait for Rescue

As the disaster in Afghanistan continues to unfold, the crowds outside Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport continue to grow with each passing day of Taliban rule. Since the Taliban first took over the city on August 15th has now ballooned to thousands of desperate men, women and children squatting around a rundown filling station, dirt fields, small patches of grass and nearly any other expanse of land near the gates leading to the non-civilian areas of the airport. Over a week since the Taliban takeover, roughly 30,000 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan, but tens of thousands more are still waiting.

Our eyes, ears, and hearts are turned towards Afghanistan and Kabul as we wait, wonder, pray, give, and think of all those whose lives are now overturned. For all those who’ve been evacuated, we pray they will be welcomed in new homes. For those who await rescue, we pray for their protection and ask for your fervent protection, Lord. Bring your beloved to safety. 

Despite Commitments to Resettlement Afghan Evacuees, Questions Linger in Canada

Canada, via Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, declared over the weekend that they would welcome up to 20,000 Afghan refugees from the nation recently fallen under the control of the Taliban. Catherine Rodd, a spokeswoman for the United Church of Canada, said that even without being asked, about 60 of its congregations have indicated that they want to privately sponsor Afghan refugees. Despite these commitments, it’s unclear whether the 20,000 refugees will be people who are currently fleeing or those who have already escaped Afghanistan but are stuck in refugee camps elsewhere. Trudeau’s government must decide if it will follow the Syrian precedent of waiving various rules around documents. Also unclear is whether the government will accept only people referred to it by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, a potentially time-consuming process, or if they will try other channels and perhaps focus on people with some sort of link to Canada. Above all, no one has yet said how many of the 20,000 refugees will be privately sponsored rather than resettled by the government.

We give you thanks, O God, for churches and governments that step up in a moment of crisis to offer hospitality. We pray for homes to open up across all provinces in Canada, and communities to invite those desperately in need of safety, care, and community into their neighborhoods. For the details that remain blurry, we pray for clarity. We pray for swift solutions. We pray for justice, and we pray for peace.

Indian Christians Gather to Discuss Report on Persecution, Differing Opinions Abound

The release of a recent landmark report by the Pew Research Center, entitled “Religion in India: Tolerance and Segregation” has caused great discussion and debate among Indian Christian leaders who have questions and concerns about the report. About 100 Christian leaders from across the subcontinent attended an online consultation last month hosted by the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) to discuss the findings and ramifications of the report. The report itself covered topics such as tolerance, segregation, religious beliefs, identity, and nationalism. The biggest area of disagreement among the leaders was the level of communal tensions between India’s majority Hindus and its Christians, Muslims, and other religious minorities as reported in the report. Pew found 9 in 10 Indian adults say they feel very free to practice their religion, while 8 in 10 say respecting other religions is very important to their own faith as well as to being truly Indian. Yet Pew also found a fair amount of support for religious segregation. For example, a third of Hindus in India would not be willing to accept a Christian as a neighbor, and neither would a quarter of Indian Muslims or Sikhs. “It was generally agreed that the [Pew] report, although unsurprising in some respects, does not adequately reflect the ground reality in India—particularly the narrative of hate and polarization,” said Vijayesh Lal, EFI’s general secretary and a panelist during the consultation. Tensions over increasing Hindu nationalism in India have caused the nation to climb the ranks of persecution watchdogs in recent years. 

God, we thank you for the body of faith in India that is vibrant and witnesses to the power of your resurrection. We’re grateful for leaders across India who have met to wrestle with all that this document has reported, and for their courage and wisdom to challenge its findings. We pray in the weeks and months ahead that the global church be given a more vision for the truth on the ground in India so we may know how to pray further for the church’s flourishing. 

Becoming (part of) the Answer to our Own Prayers

Do Justice Podcast: Season 3 

We've released every episode in our summer season of the Do Justice podcast.  Tune in and listen - we asked all of our guests this question: we’ve been in a season that is unsettling, a time where many injustices came into collective center focus--has this spotlight on what is broken impacted your work? How?  The answers may suprise you.  Listen on your favourite app today.  

At the Front Door: Preparing for Election Season

When we’re not prepared it can be difficult to know what we should be asking these candidates, especially in the area of justice. This is why we’ve called on friends of the Centre for Public Dialogue to welcome you to their front doors this election season to share the topics and questions they will be bringing up when candidates come calling.  See this video series here.


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