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Justice Prayers - March 20, 2024

Maybe this is what it means to be an Easter person - to see Christ and think, Gardener, not as a mistaken identity but a prophetic one.  The seed in the ground, the body in the tomb - this is a picture of defiant hope. - Kate Bowler

Rafah Invasion Looms ; Al Jazeera journalist arrested

The United States has issued its strongest public warning yet to Israel against invading the crowded city of Rafah in the Gaza Strip, saying that such a ground operation would deepen the humanitarian crisis in the besieged enclave. US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Monday that, while President Joe Biden remains committed to the goal of defeating Hamas, he communicated to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that a major assault on Rafah would be a “mistake”. “It would lead to more innocent civilian deaths, worsen the already dire humanitarian crisis, deepen the anarchy in Gaza and further isolate Israel Internationally,” Sullivan said. The Israeli military has killed more than 31,000 Palestinians in Gaza since the start of the war on October 7, following a deadly attack on southern Israel that killed at least 1,100 people.

Al Jazeera Arabic correspondent Ismail al-Ghoul has been released after being arrested for 12 hours and severely beaten by Israeli forces in Gaza City’s al-Shifa Hospital.  Al-Ghoul was there early on Monday with his crew and other reporters to cover the Israeli army’s fourth raid into the hospital, where thousands of civilians are trapped, including medical staff, patients and displaced families.

Lord God, we pray you would cease the hands and feet of those who seek to wreak havoc upon Rafah and its civilians. For civilian safety, security, and prosperity, we pray. This violence cannot continue, O God of peace.

Canada’s Logging Industry Devours Forests Crucial to Fighting Climate Change

Canada has long promoted itself globally as a model for protecting one of the country’s most vital natural resources: the world’s largest swath of boreal forest, which is crucial to fighting climate change. A new study using nearly half a century of data from the provinces of Ontario and Quebec — two of the country’s main commercial logging regions — reveals that harvesting trees has inflicted severe damage on the boreal forest that will be difficult to reverse. Researchers led by a group from Griffith University in Australia found that since 1976 logging in the two provinces has caused the removal of 35.4 million acres of boreal forest, an area roughly the size of New York State. While nearly 56 million acres of well-established trees at least a century old remain in the region, logging has shattered this forest, leaving behind a patchwork of isolated stands of trees that has created a landscape less able to support wildlife, according to the study. And it has made the land more susceptible to wildfire, scientists say. Though Canada claims to hold logging companies to high standards, scientists involved in the peer-reviewed study, which was published in the academic journal "Land," said their findings show that the country allows unsustainable practices that have deeply degraded the forest.

We pray for transparency and accountability for those who project a message and image of environmental protection but in reality cause harm that is out of sight, out of mind. For the trees, the creatures, and the health of the Boreal Forests, we pray.

Nearly 130,000 children exposed to lead-tainted drinking water in Chicago

About 129,000 Chicago children under the age of six are exposed to poisonous lead in their household drinking water because of lead pipes, according to a study published on Monday.

The study used artificial intelligence to analyze 38,000 home water tests conducted for the city of Chicago, along with neighborhood demographics, state blood samples and numerous other factors. It estimated that the 19% of Chicago children who use unfiltered tap water as their primary drinking source have about twice as much lead in their blood as they would otherwise. “These findings indicate that childhood lead exposure is widespread in Chicago, and racial inequities are present in both testing rates and exposure levels,” said the study, published by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health in Jama Pediatrics. “We estimated that more than two-thirds of children are exposed to lead-contaminated drinking water.”

How could this possibly still be happening, Lord? We pray fervently for the children of Chicago, and every other child who is exposed to lead, that they receive the short and long term care they need. And Lord, we pray for the implementation of the Infrastructure Bill to replace lead pipes across the country swiftly and aggressively.

South Sudan closes schools in preparation for 45C (113F) heatwave

South Sudan is closing all schools from Monday in preparation for an extreme heatwave expected to last two weeks. The health and education ministries have advised parents to keep all children indoors as temperatures are expected to soar to 45C (113F). They warned that any school found open during the warning period would have its registration withdrawn, but the statement issued late on Saturday did not specify how long schools would remain closed. The ministries said they “will continue to monitor the situation and inform the public accordingly”. South Sudan, one of the world’s youngest nations, is particularly vulnerable to the climate crisis with heatwaves common but rarely exceeding 40C (104F). Civil conflict has plagued the east African country, which also suffers drought and flooding, making living conditions difficult. The World Food Programme in its latest country brief said South Sudan “continues to face a dire humanitarian crisis” due to violence, economic instability, climate change and an influx of people fleeing the conflict in neighboring Sudan. It also stated that 818,000 vulnerable people were given food and cash-based transfers in January.

God, shield your people from this oppressive and dangerous heat. We pray for shade, water, and relief in abundance during this season of immense heat, and for stability amidst an ongoing crisis of security and stability.

Becoming (part of) the Answer to our Own Prayers

Your Ministry Shares help Young Adults Flourish On Campus

Campus Ministry fills a crucial void, especially in university settings, by offering the sense of community and spiritual exploration that many students crave. Discover in our video why your support through ministry shares is instrumental in transforming these campuses into vibrant, nurturing communities. Witness the profound impact your generosity has on the lives of students who yearn for connection and purpose in a world that can often feel disconnected. Watch Now

Easter Resources 2024

Thrive hosted several worship planning roundtable conversations for planning your Easter service. You won't want to miss this list of ideas that came up in our roundtable conversations as well as some past content that might be helpful as you plan. 

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