This week's prayers:
- World Food Day
- First Man Standing
"I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." The promise set out in Jeremiah, part of this week's Revised Common Lectionary readings offers a vision of God's Kingdom truly come on earth. Pray for the fulfillment of this promise - in our lives and the lives of people around the world.
World Food Day
The 16th of October is World Food Day. The official theme is 'The climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too.'
The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization is calling for countries to include food and agriculture in their climate action plans, to invest more in rural development, and to support smallholder farmers. It explains:
One of the biggest issues related to climate change is food security. The world’s poorest - many of whom are farmers, fishers and pastoralists - are being hit hardest by higher temperatures and an increasing frequency in weather-related disasters.
At the same time, the global population is growing steadily and is expected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050. To meet such a heavy demand, agriculture and food systems will need to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change and become more resilient, productive and sustainable. This is the only way that we can ensure the wellbeing of ecosystems and rural populations and reduce emissions.
To coincide with World Food Day, the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches has made ten suggestions for helping people to "change their behavior and take action in both small and large ways." They are:
1 Give thanks for the food you eat.
2. Eat food grown as close as possible to where you live.
3. Strive for all people to have knowledge about and access to affordable, nutritious food.
4. Eat mindfully and in moderation.
5. Do not waste food.
6. Be grateful to those who grow and prepare food for your table.
7. Support fair wages for farmworkers, farmers and food workers.
8. Reduce the environmental damage of land, water and air from food production and the food system.
9. Protect the biodiversity of seeds, soils, ecosystems and the cultures of food producers.
10. Rejoice and share the sacred gift of food with all.
The WCC has produced a resource book to accompany the ten suggestions, giving background to them and points for discussion - email us for a copy.
- for smallholder farmers whose livelihoods and lives are endangered by climate impacts. Pray that they will receive assistance in adapting to climate change and to accessing food during difficult periods.
- for governments considering their agricultural and food strategies. Pray that they will give appropriate support to smallholder agriculture and rural development.
- for fairer supply chains, so that those who grow raw materials may share in the benefits accrued when products made from those materials are sold. Give thanks for Fair Trade Organizations such as Divine and CafeDirect, which are part owned by producers, who receive a share of the total profits.
- for those working to create more environmentally sustainable patterns of farming and fishing - and those promoting more environmentally sustainable patterns of food consumption
- for those working to preserve biodiversity and to learn from traditional knowledge and practices
Action Point: Take a look at the latest update on areas where there are food crises. Choose an area and donate to a charity that is working there. The three worst current situations are Yemen (Oxfam is providing access to food and water), South Sudan (CAFOD, Christian Aid and Tearfund have appeals) and northern Nigeria, but there are many other areas which are at crisis level. The World Food Programme is regarded as one of the most effective UN agencies: it is active in most crisis areas, though many of its appeals are dramatically underfunded.
Please continue to pray for Burundi, which this week voted to leave the International Criminal Court (ICC) – the first country ever to do so. The motion was passed overwhelmingly in the lower house and unanimously by the senate. Both houses are dominated by the ruling party.
Burundi has been plagued by violence since April 2015 when President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to run for - and was elected to - a third term, despite the fact that the country's constitution permit the president to be elected to only two terms. His party argued that he had been chosen by parliament and not elected to his first term, so was eligible to run again; and the country's high court agreed - allegedly under considerable pressure. Government crackdowns on protest were brutal, and the elections were not monitored by either the African Union or the European Union on the grounds that they did not meet the conditions for free, fair, and credible elections.
The decision to leave the ICC follows the ICC's announcement In April this year that it was launching preliminary investigations into allegations of imprisonment and violence in the country, having received reports "detailing acts of killing, imprisonment, torture, rape and other forms of sexual violence, as well as cases of enforced disappearances”.
Burundi also this week banned three UN investigators from entering the country. Again, the ban comes in the wake of criticism, in this case the publication of the United Nations Independent Investigation in Burundi (UNIIB) on September 20, which described “‘abundant evidence of gross human rights violations’, possibly amounting to crimes against humanity, by the Government of Burundi and people associated with it”. The report described widespread executions by the security forces, saying that “the majority of the victims were opposed, or perceived to be opposed, to the third mandate of President Nkurunziza”. The UNIIB report also documents the widespread use of torture and ill-treatment, the repression of civil society, especially human rights defenders and journalists, and says, “any semblance of opposition to the Government is dealt with ruthlessly and seemingly without fear of accountability”.
On Thursday October 13th the UN Security Council dispatched a special envoy to Burundi in an attempt to “find a way forward on all issues related to peace and security and UN activities in the country”.
The Anglican Church in Burundi has asked for prayer - these prayer points are taken from the announcement of their request:
- for the population living in fear and dread, afraid of the unknown and the uncertain, we ask for hope
- for those fleeing in Burundi or abroad, we pray for safety, freedom from disease and famine, and the security that they may return home
- for those seeking the way of violence that they would instead seek reconciliation between all parties
- for the surrounding countries that they may remain at peace, act justly, and broker a just settlement
- that God will enable an end to violence so that Burundi may become a beacon of peace rather than a place of fear and death
- that God will strengthen the church to stand for the ways of justice and righteousness and to reach out in love to the suffering
First Man Standing
In a week in which the negative ways that some men talk about and act towards women have been much in the news, we pray for the work of Restored, "an international Christian alliance that aims to transform relationships and end violence against women (VAW) by working through and with the church and Christians worldwide."
Restored makes the point that ending violence against women is not a matter simply of dealing with the violence itself. Nor is it simply a task for women, but for women and men working together. Its First Man Standing campaign - which is open to people in all parts of the world - provides resources for reflection and action, and asks men to commit to doing three things:
- respect all women
- challenge each other when attitudes and actions are disrespectful
- sign up to the White Ribbon campaign not to commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women
We've had the privilege of working with Mandy Marshall and Peter Grant, the co-directors of Restored, and hearing their stories of how churches around the world - in Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America and the Pacific - are recognising the prevalence of and taking action to end violence against women. Change is possible, and we all have an important role to play.
- that the spotlight on these issues may lead to greater determination to tackle violence against women - and all sexual violence - and to send the clear message that such violence is not permissible in any context
- that people will recognise the kind of language and actions that provide an atmosphere within which violence can flourish - and will challenge them as well
- for a renewal of popular culture so that portrayals of women and men may reflect their God-given dignity and model right relationship
- that God will guide Restored in its campaigns to end violence against women - and to celebrate the positive potential of right relationships.
- for healing and support for all women and men who have suffered physical, sexual or verbal abuse