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Justice Prayers - October 19, 2022

“Hope is what you get when you suddenly realize that a different worldview is possible, a worldview in which the rich, the powerful, and the unscrupulous do not after all have the last word.”
― N.T. Wright

Updates from Ukraine

A Russian fighter plane has crashed into a residential building in the southern Russian city of Yeysk, near Ukraine killing 4 civilians. Footage on social media, which has been verified by BBC News, showed a large fireball erupting from what appeared to be a multi-storey building.

Yeysk is located on the coast of the Sea of Azov, which separates southern Ukraine and southern Russia. Additionally, Four people were killed and several more wounded in the eastern region of Sumy after rocket strikes targeted energy infrastructure. The emergency services said an electrical substation was shelled, sparking a fire that damaged an administrative building. Three people were “rescued from the rubble”. Lastly, Ukraine announced that more than 100 prisoners have been swapped with Russia in what it said was the first all-female exchange with Moscow after nearly eight months of war. The head of the breakaway region of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, Denis Pushilin, confirmed the exchange, saying that out of 110 people who agreed in the swap, two people had decided to remain in Russia.

Lord God almighty, we pray for the expulsion of Russian forces from Ukraine, for a repudiation of Vladimir Putin’s conquest, and for peace to settle on both sides of the borders. We pray for families, communities, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers who will no longer have to send their loved ones to war. We pray for peace and justice, Lord.

Blockade, Violence in Haiti Leading to Food, Fuel Shortages, ‘Nightmarish’ Situation

The head of the United Nations has called for “armed action” in Haiti, warning that residents face a “nightmarish” situation, especially in the capital, Port-au-Prince. A weeks-long gang blockade of the Varreux terminal in Port-au-Prince has led to critical shortages of fuel and water and complicated efforts to respond to a dangerous outbreak of cholera. Prime Minister Ariel Henry this month asked the international community to help set up a “specialised armed force” to quell the violence, which has worsened in the power vacuum created by the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moise. But many Haitian protesters and civil society leaders have rejected the prospect of international intervention, saying history has demonstrated that foreign forces bring “more problems than solutions”. More than four million people face severe insecurity and more than 19,000 others are suffering from famine. The situation is particularly dire in the coastal neighborhood of Cite Soleil, where swelling violence and armed groups vying for control have meant many residents cannot access work, markets or food aid, officials on Friday said.

How is it that this situation has spiraled so far out of control, God? Empower the helpers, and create for them a path to meet the needs of those so desperately needing nourishment. And moving forward, Lord, help all to know what a healthy relationship with Haiti might look like in trade, foreign policy, and mutuality. Help cease this violence.

Regenerative Farming in India: Investing in the Breadbasket

Right now, much of India’s breadbasket is on fire. At roughly the same time each year, 2 million farmers across Punjab and Haryana set their fields aflame. The heat kills the microbes that once gave the soil its fertility. Millions of tons of carbon dioxide that were stored up in plants drift into the upper atmosphere, adding to the growing layer of gases heating the planet. At the surface, toxins like carbon monoxide and ozone fill the air, making breathing difficult for rural and urban residents alike. For many farmers, the decision is less a decision and more a response to climate-shortened growing seasons, regulatory requirements and rapid changes in the world of farming. Amandeep Kaur, college student and farmer, knows it doesn’t have to be this way. Kaur urged her father to stop burning crop residue several years ago. Now she helps lead the family’s operations across 45 acres. The father-daughter duo, willing to try something new, were early adopters of a crop seeding machine called Happy Seeder that holds a lot of promise.

As the Happy Seeder rolls behind its towing tractor, it: 1) collects and chops the paddy stubble, 2) plants wheat seeds into the soil, and, 3) spreads the chopped rice straw over the wheat as a mulch. Not only do seeders like this one eliminate the need to burn, they also improve the soil by trapping moisture and creating natural fertilizer. While stubble-burning neighbors must increasingly spend more income on fertilizers to rebuild their fields, Kaur’s soil has stayed alive and is constantly regenerating and enriching itself. It’s also supporting a web of life.

“When we burn the fields, we are burning biodiversity,” says Kaur. “But even insects have family and we need to respect that.”

How beautiful a site it is to see innovation that creates and sustains life, O God. We thank you for those who, like Amandeep, who see a challenge and because of the life of their community, their family, and the created world seek to create pathways for flourishing. We pray for the Kaur family and those like it who are seeking to farm in an increasingly volatile environment, and pray they might harvest bountifully and restore their soils.

Canada: Undocumented migrants may get permanent status soon as IRCC ministry engages with experts, stakeholders

On October 16, thousands of migrants and their supporters demonstrated in Canadian cities to urge Ottawa to grant undocumented people permanent status. Additionally, requests were made for the immediate implementation of a comprehensive regularisation programme for undocumented migrants. This long-standing demand, according to its proponents, now seems more likely than ever to come true in light of recent actions taken by the federal Liberal government. During the COVID-19 epidemic, Ottawa started a regularization programme for asylum seekers who worked in the medical field. Since then, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has expressed interest in growing the programme. In a mandate letter dated December 2021, the Trudeau government charged the minister of immigration and citizenship with developing current pilot programmes to further investigate the possibility of regularising status for undocumented workers who are contributing to Canadian communities.

For what comes next, Lord, we pray. For undocumented migrants and their families whose hopes, dreams, and future rest upon the decisions made by political leaders, we pray. We pray that decisions are made wisely, considering all the facts, and done with the best intentions for the migrants and for Canadians.

Becoming (part of) the Answer to our Own Prayers

Restorative Practices FaithCARE Training

On October 27-28, the Office of Social Justice and Safe Church Ministry will be partnering to offer a two-day training in Restorative Practices for Faith Communities. This training will be held at the CRCNA offices (1700 28th St. SE) in Grand Rapids, Mich., and will introduce participants to FaithCARE’s framework and vision for restorative congregations. Register here for this training!

Persecution in Nigeria

Violent persecution has been increasing in Nigeria, and kidnappings are becoming a common occurrence in the northern region of the country. Canadians, call on your Member of Parliament, particularly the Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, to contact the Nigerian government to convey their vigilant interest about the issue of kidnappings in Nigeria and to encourage them to do everything possible to ensure the release of these victims.

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