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Justice Prayers - May 15, 2024

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. - Psalm 62:5

Wildfire in Canada’s British Columbia forces thousands to evacuate while winds push smoke into Alberta

Canadian authorities are urging all remaining residents in a town in British Columbia to leave immediately, despite improving weather conditions, after many were already evacuated due to a fast-growing wildfire. The blaze, which started Friday, almost doubled in size the following day, reaching about 17 square kilometers (4,200 acres). BC Wildfire Service maps showed the fire burning just a few kilometers (miles) west of Fort Nelson’s city limits. Fort Nelson is located in the far northeastern corner of British Columbia, about 1,600 kilometers (995 miles) from Vancouver. Fort Nelson and the Fort Nelson Indian Reserve have a combined population of about 3,000. In 2023, Canada witnessed a record number of wildfires that also caused choking smoke in parts of the U.S. and forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate across British Columbia. The high winds pushed smoke across Alberta on Saturday, putting the city of Edmonton under an air quality advisory with hazard levels rated at 10-plus — or “very high risk” — forecast. Meteorologists are not anticipating rain and have advised people to stay indoors.

Creator and Sustainer, we pray for first responders, firefighters, and frontline workers who are tasked with containing and putting out these fires, as well as working diligently to remove people and infrastructure out of harm's way. We pray for safety, for clean breathing, and for resources in abundance to withstand these blazes.

Israeli tanks reach residential areas as IDF pushes further into Rafah: Health Centers Out of Service

Israeli tanks have advanced further into eastern Rafah, reaching some residential districts of the southern border city in Gaza. Witnesses reported seeing tanks crossing the strategically important Salah al-Din road into several neighborhoods. “They are in the streets inside the built-up area and there are clashes,” one person told Reuters. A UN official said the most advanced Israeli positions were about 2 km from his office. Hamas’s armed wing said it had destroyed an Israeli troop carrier with a missile in the eastern al-Salam neighborhood, killing some crew members and wounding others. The Israel Defense Forces declined to comment on the unconfirmed report.

In a roundup of its activities, the IDF said its forces had eliminated “several armed terrorist” cells in close-quarter fighting on the Gaza side of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt. In the east of the city, it said it had also destroyed militant cells and a launch post from where missiles were being fired at IDF troops. On Monday, the Palestinian Authority said 80 percent of Gaza’s health centers were out of service, as Doctors Without Borders were forced to leave Indonesian Hospital in Rafah amid frequent Israeli bombing of the area.

We pray, again and we pray. Day after day, week after week, month after month, we pray for peace, both immediate and long-lasting. May the hostages be released and the tanks and soldiers be turned back. 

Africa’s Lake Tanganyika Floods Nearby Cities, Displacing Thousands

Record water levels in the world’s second-biggest freshwater lake have triggered floods that have displaced thousands of people in the poorest country on the planet and are threatening populations and livelihoods in three other African nations. The latest wave of torrential rains to hit eastern and central Africa in April and May — spurred by the El Niño weather phenomenon — have devastated parts of the region, killing at least 260 in Kenya, 155 in Tanzania and 29 in Burundi, which has the world’s lowest gross domestic product per capita. In a double hit, the downpours have also accelerated an increase in Lake Tanganyika’s water levels and pushed them to a record 776.72 meters (2,547 feet), displacing thousands of people living in Bujumbura, Burundi, the biggest city on the banks of the lake that straddles Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania and Zambia. The city is Burundi’s economic capital and lies on the northeastern shores of the lake, making it the main victim of the climate crisis plaguing a nation that has lost 5.2% of its land area every year since 2020 to soil degradation, according to the World Bank. It’s a huge economic blow to its almost 12 million citizens, 86% of whom work in agriculture, mainly as subsistence farmers.

For residents of Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, and Zambia, we fervently pray for their wellbeing and recovery amidst these torrential rains and ensuing flooding. For those heartbroken at the loss of a loved one, we pray you, O God, surround the mourning and strengthen all who must carry on.

Russia Mounting New Border Assaults in North, Ukraine Says

Ukraine rushed reinforcements to its northern border on Friday after Russian forces attempted to break through Ukrainian lines along several sections, applying new pressure on forces already stretched thin along a 600-mile front. The Russian assaults began around 5 a.m. Friday with massive shelling and aerial bombardments of Ukrainian positions followed by armored columns trying to punch through at several points along the border, according to a statement from Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense. “As of now, these attacks have been repelled, and battles of varying intensity are ongoing,” the ministry said. “To strengthen the defense in this sector of the front, reserve units have been deployed.” The breadth and intent of the Russian border incursions remained unclear. Military analysts have said Russia may be trying to force Ukraine to expend valuable resources in defending the region just as Russian assaults in eastern Ukraine are intensifying. A senior Ukrainian commander, speaking on the condition of anonymity to the New York Times to discuss the current state of fighting, said on Friday that the Russian attacks went beyond probing or intelligence gathering. The commander said the Kremlin’s immediate goal appeared to be to create a buffer zone along the border.

Ukrainians the nation over continue to live in a suspended state of uncertainty, with war and bombs seemingly waiting over the top of them at all times. We pray that Putin might be stopped abruptly and forcefully, and that peace might reign in the land.

Becoming (part of) the Answer to our Own Prayers

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