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Justice Prayers - February 23rd 2022

Being salt and light demands two things: we practice purity in the midst of a fallen world and yet we live in proximity to this fallen world. If you don't hold up both truth in tension, you invariably becomes useless and separated from the world God loves. - David Kinnaman

NE Syria: Ravaged by War & Now Climate Change

In northeastern Syria - a region ravaged by ISIS and armed conflict - prolonged drought and drying rivers have made stability even more precarious. The prolonged drought in the region has been linked to climate change worldwide. But in northeast Syria, the country’s historic breadbasket, its effects have been compounded by more than a decade of war, a devastated economy, damaged infrastructure and increasing poverty, leaving a vulnerable society even more at risk of destabilization. “This problem of climate change is combined with other problems, so it’s not just one thing,” said Matt Hall, a strategic analyst for Save the Children in the Middle East and Eastern Europe. “There’s a war, there are sanctions, the economy is devastated. And the region can’t pick up the slack by importing wheat because it no longer has the money.” The U.S. space agency, NASA, which studies climate change, says the drought that began in 1998 is the worst that some parts of the Middle East have seen in nine centuries.

For communities in Syria for whom violence and resource depletion is part of everyday life, we pray. We pray for local, federal, and international efforts to restore the waterways and farmlands that has nourished the region for centuries. Guide us, Lord, to know how to help our neighbors.

Immigration Courts in U.S. Beyond Overbooked, Struggling to Function

America’s immigration courts are struggling to function at the most basic level, with judges who are already woefully understaffed and often undertrained now overwhelmed by a growing backlog of more than 1.6 million cases. The system is so damaged that judges, scholars and attorneys all share concerns about whether immigrants due in court will even receive notice before their hearings so they know to show up and aren’t ordered deported in absentia – an urgent concern made worse by volatile immigration policies at the US-Mexico border. “It’s very worrisome. The fundamental requirement for a full and fair hearing is notice of your hearing and the ability to attend your hearing,” Mimi Tsankov, president of the National Association of Immigration Judges (NAIJ), said. It all adds up to courts “suffering from a lack of acceptability, affecting the integrity of the whole system”, said Muzaffar Chishti, a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, adding: “People don’t have faith in it.”

How long will we kick this can down the road, Lord? How long will we refuse to fix a system so broken - benefiting some while leaving so many others in chaos and limbo? No longer, Lord, can we stand for such a system that is inhumane. 

Amidst Fear of Invasion, Ukrainian Civilians Evacuate & Face Uncertain Future

Warnings from the Russian-backed separatist governments in eastern Ukraine of an imminent attack by Ukraine had driven many families to gather their children and flee. There is evidence suggesting that the sudden evacuations of the Russian-controlled areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions were planned and likely to have been designed to set the stage for a formal Russian intervention in the country’s east. The leaders of the Russian proxy states in eastern Ukraine filmed their announcements of the evacuations days before they were made public, according to video metadata. For the women, children, and others who are being evacuated, the result is undeniably real and traumatic, as they arrive by the hundreds in a neighboring region that appears unprepared for the tide of evacuees. Many are taking steps to prepare for an uncertain future. 

We pray for families now fleeing with uncertainty ahead - with the fear of war and invasion imminent. We ask, Lord, for safety, and perhaps, for the first time in a long time, refuge for communities who’ve known nothing but threats and instability for nearly a decade. Come, O Lord.

3 Week Protest in Ottawa Comes to an End 

Over this past weekend, Canadian police secured the downtown core of Ottawa and put up fencing to allow city workers to clean up trash and snow plows and tow trucks to clear streets after two days of tense standoffs ended a three-week protest. The protesters initially wanted an end to cross-border COVID-19 vaccine mandates for truck drivers, but the blockade turned into a demonstration against all COVID-19 mandates, with some demanding the removal of the Prime Minister and the government. Demonstrators had used trucks and vehicles to block the city center since Jan. 28, disrupting local residents and businesses with excessive noise, diesel fumes, and reported incidents of racism and intimidation. This prompted the government  to invoke rarely used emergency powers, passed by the House of Commons on Feb 22. So far, 191 arrests have been made, and seventy-six vehicles have been towed, police said. 

God, we give thanks to live in a nation that allows for peaceful protest. At the same time, we desire to care for our neighbors and the common good of all peoples, and so we are thankful for the calm that has washed over the streets of Ottawa. We also know that this protest has unearthed a wave of divisiveness and anger that doesn’t go away after people go home. Help us, Lord, to be good neighbors, to disagree with grace, and give wisdom to our elected leaders with what comes next.

Becoming (part of) the Answer to our Own Prayers

Faith Over Fear Training

This training is designed for leaders who wish to counter anti-Muslim discrimination in their communities. We'll share up-to-date research, resources, tools, and messaging to be stronger, strategic, and more effective actors in shaping our nation toward a greater vision - where all people, no matter their religious or cultural background, are treated with fairness, dignity and respect.  Full registration details here.

Lent Challenge 

This Lent, we’re inviting you to join us in a journey of Creation Care. We want to live out our faith by investing in the flourishing of God’s creation. Each week, you can choose a practical challenge based on where you are in your net zero journey and reflect on Scripture to consider how we can be faithful stewards during this season of worship.  Download the challenge here.


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