While we had a blog scheduled for today, I felt it was important to delay that blog's publishing to simply ask you to pray for Afghanistan and Haiti.
No doubt you have seen the news about the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan, the broad implications of which have been widely reported on at this point. Additionally, there have been calls to specifically pray for Afghan house churches—pastors and believers who have been threatened and now fear for their lives because they follow Jesus. You can read this article to learn more specific ways to pray for Afghan pastors.
Additionally, Haiti is reeling from both an earthquake and tropical storm Grace, which interrupted rescue and recovery efforts from the earthquake. As the death toll continues to rise, pray for those affected and for those responding to these disasters.
Pray for these countries. Pray for their citizens. Pray for the church, its leaders, and believers.
I want to leave you with the following liturgy, which was adapted by Bradley Bell from “A Liturgy for Grieving a National Tragedy” in Every Moment Holy, Volume II: Death, Grief, and Hope by Douglas Kaine McKelvey.
A Liturgy for Responding to International Tragedy
Lord, as I rest in the grace of government stability,
Distant tragedy threatens to disturb my peace.
Will I pause long enough to care, to weep?
Or will I attend only to the hum of my life and my ministry?
Let me see that this, too,
is my ministry.
O God who gathers what has been scattered,
Shelter Afghanistan and Haiti in the shadow of your wings.
O Christ who binds our wounds,
Be their great healer.
O Spirit who enters every grief,
Intercede now for these hurting peoples,
in these broken lands.
Be present in the midst of this far-reaching
pain, O Lord, for we are reeling again,
at the news of threat and loss to life that touches
us all; news of flourishing diminished;
of individuals harmed; of pain imposed,
not only upon victims and their families who
bear now the immediate brunt of it—but also
upon entire nations.
For we are all more fragile than we know.
Engage our imaginations and move our hearts
to compassion rather than commentary,
that we would interact with these casualties
not as news stories or statistics, but
as our own flesh and blood, divine image-bearers,
irreplaceable individuals whose losses will
leave gaping holes in homes, friendships,
workplaces, churches, schools, organizations,
Be merciful to those now wounded.
Be present with those now bereaved.
Be mighty among those now afraid.
You do not run from our world’s chaos, O God.
So let us not either.
Be with all who move toward this need,
those who offer aid and protection.
Grant our government leaders wisdom,
courage, vision, sympathy, and strength
to serve with the humanity that
ultimately flows from your heart.
Console those who have labored long
and sacrificed to serve these nations.
And forgive our nation for our shortcomings
and contributions to this brokenness.
Arrest the hearts and stay the hands of any
who even now might be plotting further evil
and violence against others, O Christ.
Turn them from hatred.
Turn their hearts to you.
You have declared yourself a Father
to the weak and fatherless
So may you now protect the most vulnerable:
women, children, elderly, disabled,
the targeted, the hated,
your beloved bride,
our forever family.
Give them courage to stand
and be multiplied
even as they may fall
and be subtracted.
You alone have strength to carry these peoples.
Carry them now, O Lord.
You alone have wisdom and power
to heal the wounds of nations.
Heal them now, O Lord.
Even in the shadow of such tragedy, let us
not lose hope. Give us eyes to see the rapid
movements of mercy rushing to fill these newly
wounded spaces. Let us see in this the echoes of
your own mercy and compassion—a foretaste of
your kingdom coming to earth. For in the cross
you have shown that you are able
to take even the very worst of circumstances
and astound us with the greatest of good.
And so be merciful again, O Lord.