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Justice Prayers - June 26, 2024

Our true identity is flat and plain, not puffed up with the wrong kind of ingredient. The Messiah, our Passover Lamb, has already been sacrificed for the Passover meal, and we are the Unraised Bread part of the Feast. So let’s live out our part in the Feast, not as raised bread swollen with the yeast of evil, but as flat bread—simple, genuine, unpretentious. - 1 Corinthians 5:6-8

Darfur: Ongoing Violence has Analysts Fearful of Another Genocide

Darfur, a region in western Sudan, has a tragic history marked by ethnic violence and humanitarian crises. In the early 2000s, the area experienced a brutal conflict that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions. Today, there are alarming signs that Darfur may be heading towards another genocide. For more than a year, swathes of Sudan have erupted in fierce clashes between the Sudanese Army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) that have left more 14,000 people dead and displaced more than 8 million others, according to the United Nations. Their battle for territorial control has now drifted toward El Fasher, the last major town in Darfur that’s yet to be conquered by the RSF. Analysts say it’s only a matter of days before El Fasher falls to the rebels. The violence has forced tens of thousands of people to flee, many seeking refuge in neighboring Chad, the UN Refugee Agency said. At least 134 people were killed in El Fasher last month after gunfire rang out in the city and bombs fell on civilian homes as RSF fighters encircled the town.

Lord God Almighty, we pray and we plead for peacemakers, diplomats, community leaders, and all who can cease this violence to be empowered by your mighty hand to stop this violence at once. For those many who have already died, we pray for their families and loved ones, and for all those displaced, we pray for shelter, food, medicine, and safety.

Record flooding inundates northwest Iowa, prompts evacuations, isolates one city

Historic flooding struck parts of Iowa over the weekend, damaging nearly 2,000 properties and prompting evacuations and disaster declarations. "I can tell you that the devastation is severe and it's widespread," Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said at a news conference Sunday afternoon in Des Moines. Flooding on Saturday and overnight into Sunday was the result not just of direct rain — some areas measured 15 inches in two days, Reynolds said — but also of overflowing rivers' flooding dry communities downstream, National Weather Service meteorologist Roger Vachalek said. Precipitation drawn north from the Gulf of Mexico and parked over northwest Iowa and neighboring states was then unleashed in a clash with a cool, low-pressure wave moving from west to east, he said. Spencer, a city of more than 11,000, was cut off from the rest of the state by floodwater overnight as hundreds were evacuated to two city shelters, Mayor Steve Bomgaars said. Spencer Fire Chief Jesse Coulson said city first responders, with the mutual-aid help of neighboring departments, made 383 rescues since the first one related to floodwater was reported at 5:15 a.m. Saturday.

God, we pray for the residents of northwest Iowa who are experiencing devastation to their homes, their farms, and their communities.  We lift up to you the churches that have been directly impacted. We pray that the long road to recovery be met with swift and abundant support from the local, state, and federal governments as well as neighbors, friends, and all those who can lend a hand. 

Terrorists kill 19 people in Russia's Dagestan region

A terrorist group targeted Jewish synagogues and Orthodox Christian houses of worship in two cities in southern Russia’s Dagestan region on Sunday, killing multiple civilians and about a dozen police officers who were defending the institutions and responding to the attacks, said U.S. officials. The officials said that reports from the regions indicate the attackers used firebombs and firearms and slit the throat of a high-ranking Orthodox priest, attacking congregants during services on an Orthodox holiday. The Russian government said that five terrorists were killed, and that 19 other people died in the attack, 15 of them police. The violence in the regional capital of Makhachkala and nearby Derbent was the latest that officials blamed on Islamic extremists in the predominantly Muslim region in the North Caucasus, as well as the deadliest in Russia since March, when gunmen opened fire at a concert in suburban Moscow, killing 145 people. ISIS-K, the affiliate of the Islamic State group in Afghanistan that claimed responsibility for March’s raid, quickly praised the attack in Dagestan, saying it was conducted by “brothers in the Caucasus who showed that they are still strong.”

God of all creation, we pray that you might welcome into your arms the victims of violence and terrorism. Please comfort their families and all who grieve for them. We pray that these evildoers might be brought to justice. For all who remain left in the wake of this violence, we pray for their safety.

Closing arguments in admitted Winnipeg serial killer's trial followed by rally to search landfill

The trial of an admitted Winnipeg serial killer heard dueling arguments Monday during closing submissions about whether Jeremy Skibicki was driven by psychotic symptoms and delusions linked to schizophrenia when he killed four women in 2022, or whether he preyed on vulnerable women at homeless shelters before committing four planned, deliberate murders. Defense lawyers and prosecutors each tried to poke holes in the credibility of the forensic psychiatrist the other side enlisted to assess Skibicki's mental state — key evidence in a trial where the accused has admitted to the killings, but is asking to be found not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder. Skibicki has pleaded not guilty to four first-degree murder charges in the deaths of three First Nations women — Rebecca Contois, 24, Morgan Harris, 39, and Marcedes Myran, 26 — and an unidentified woman community leaders have given the name Mashkode Bizhiki'ikwe, or Buffalo Woman, who police have said they believe was an Indigenous woman in her 20s.

The women are believed to have been killed between March and May 2022. Contois's partial remains were found in garbage bins near Skibicki's apartment in May 2022, and more were later discovered during a search of a Winnipeg landfill. Harris's and Myran's remains are believed to be in another landfill outside the city, which the provincial and federal governments each pledged $20 million earlier this year to search. After closing arguments in the trial wrapped up on Monday, dozens of people gathered for a rally outside the Winnipeg law courts. Some sang and drummed, while others chanted "bring them home" or held signs saying "search the landfill" or "a garbage dump is not a grave site."

God of the broken hearted, these stories of the slain have torn apart so many in Winnipeg, throughout Maniotba, and across Canada. These stories of violence against women are tragically all too common, and the failure to find answers, especially for Indigenous women in Canada, has become commonplace. No longer, Lord. We pray fervently that this upcoming decision might help start to change these outcomes so that all are safe in their communities and have a sense of the justice system working properly.

Becoming (part of) the Answer to our Own Prayers

Recognizing the Image of God in Every Body

Some stories of disability within the Bible have historically been portrayed in a way that diminishes the disability story and the value of seeing God’s image within that person. However, a careful evaluation shows the story is less about offering a cure to a disabled person and more about healing relationships and restoring a sense of community and well-being. Join us in reflecting on the story of Jacob wrestling with God.  Read Here »

Friday was National Indigenous People’s Day

When Indigenous peoples and settlers first met we were very different in language, culture, clothing, and food. Today, while we maintain our uniqueness, we also have much in common. The Christian Reformed Church’s Indigenous Ministries have resources available to help you learn about Indigenous justice and explore how to live as reconciled people. To learn more, visit 

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