In this week’s prayer email:
- Hurricane Matthew
- Time for Creation: Paris Agreement To Enter into Force
- Reminder: Prisons Week
The story of Elisha, Naaman, Naaman’s servants – and God – is in this week’s Revised Common Lectionary readings. God’s power, it reminds us, doesn’t require the trappings of state. Its witnesses are humble people who share their faith; its ways of acting are quiet and unspectacular. But its impacts are extraordinary.
Formal prayers for those affected by Hurricane Matthew:
- prayers for those in emergencies and floods – from Christian Aid
- prayer for those affected by the hurricane – from Christine Sine
- prayer for Haiti – from the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
- prayer for Haiti (written just before the storm, but still helpful) – from Mennonites based in Haiti
Those who have died or been injured in Haiti
This Sunday is the first day of national mourning for victims of Hurricane Matthew in Haiti. It is hard to know how many have died: the government’s official figures as of Saturday stated that 336 died, 4 were missing, 211 were wounded and more than 60.000 people were in shelters. The government, however, counts only those they can verify, whereas media on the ground (and sometimes with more resources than the government) are reporting almost 900 deaths and expecting the numbers to rise. This article gives a (very painful) sense of the stories behind the statistics.
- Pray for all who have died and for those who loved them. Pray too for all who have been injured – and all who are working to care for them, often without adequate medical supplies.
Haitians helping each other
“The first aid after a catastrophe always comes from the Haitians.” Amélie Baron
“The true heros are humble. They work in anonymity, without any fanfare, without publicity. A huge thank you to our true heros.” Secteur Transport Terrestre Haitien (STTH)
Dominique Osny a resident of Les Cayes, one of the hardest hit towns, who was helping his neighbours: “I’ve spent two days on my two feet, without sleeping. We must help each other. Everyone is a victim here: the houses have been washed away … we’ve lost all our roofing…It’s up to us to start the work [of recovery and rebuilding]: the first aid is us.”
- Pray for courage, strength and wisdom for Haitians who are working to assist their neighbours in relief and recovery. Give thanks for those whose care for people around them will save lives and restore hope.
Aid for Relief and Rebuilding
Countries and organisations have been quick to mobilise aid for Haiti. Aid is much needed, so the good will and the efforts to mobilise are welcome. But aid has a chequered past in Haiti: all too often in the past foreign aid has become entangled in internal and external power plays, has bypassed Haitian structures, and has sometimes simply disappeared. This means that the country faces what Haiti’s leading newspaper, Le Nouvelliste, referred to as “the aid dilemma” whereby aid is both needed … and the subject of concern.
- Pray that the quantities of aid pledged will be sufficient to meet the most pressing needs – and that governments and institutions will actually give what they pledge. Pray that the aid provided will be the right kind of aid, and that it will be distributed and used well in ways that help to build up Haitians’ own capacity and resilience.
Presidential Elections in Haiti
This Sunday, Haiti was due to hold presidential elections – which are being held because the results of a 2015 election were discarded as marred by fraud … and which have already been postponed three times. In view of the damages caused by Hurricane Matthew, the Provisional Electoral Council has had no choice but to postpone them again: it will release a date for the new elections by Wednesday.
- Pray for the acting president as he seeks to maintain stability, for the council as it decides when to hold elections, and for wisdom and discernment for the candidates as they respond to the situation. Pray that whatever is done may help lead to a stable and transparent government in Haiti.
One of the primary concerns in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew in Haiti is the potential spread of cholera. Cholera was introduced to Haiti after the earthquake in 2010 by poor sanitation among UN peacekeepers and has been present ever since. Already this year, the numbers of people affected were rising: lack of access to water and sanitation facilities threatens to make things worse. Materials to prevent and treat cholera are urgently needed – as is a well-funded, long-term plan to eradicate the disease.
- Pray for adequate relief supplies to give people access to safe water and sanitation, and to treat people with cholera. Pray that initiatives to eradicate the disease in Haiti may receive adequate funding and be planned effectively.
Matthew beyond Haiti
After Haiti, Matthew struck eastern Cuba, where it did substantial damage: the city of Baracoa was particularly hard-hit. It then crossed the Bahamas, first as a Category 3 hurricane and then, as the sea-surface temperatures in the region were very high, as a strengthened Category 4 hurricane. While there was a fair amount of property and infrastructure damage, few or no deaths have been reported, and recovery is underway.
The hurricane then followed – as predicted – a path up the Florida coast. On the whole, the most damaging part of the hurricane stayed offshore, with the eyewall only briefly brushing land. As a result while there was some storm-surge flooding and wind damage, the situation was far better than it could have been. But as it moved up the coast of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, its storm surge and rains – over 16 inches in a day near Fayetteville, North Carolina – created record-breaking floods in many areas, killing several people.
- Pray for those who died as Hurricane Matthew moved north, and for all people who have suffered losses of homes and livelihoods because of Hurricane Matthew. Pray for effective relief and recovery, especially in underresourced communities.
Action Point Christian Aid, Tearfund, All We Can, Catholic Relief Services, and many other agencies have appeals to fund relief and recovery assistance in Haiti. Please consider donating.
Time for Creation: Paris Agreement to Enter into Force
On the 5th of October, in a fitting end to the Time for Creation, the final threshold was passed for the Paris Agreement to enter into force – which means that it will enter into force on the 4th of November. Patricia Espinosa, head of the UNFCCC noted: “The speed at which countries have made the Paris’s Agreement’s entry into force possible is unprecedented in recent experience of international agreements and is a powerful confirmation of the importance nations attach to combating climate change and realizing the multitude of opportunities inherent in the Paris Agreement.”
- Give thanks for the treaty’s exceptionally speedy ratification and entry into force. Pray that now that the treaty has entered into force, it will be rapidly implemented, and the ambition of countries’ emissions reductions and commitments on climate finance will be increased.
Reminder: Prisons Week
“As we grow in faith and realise how much God loves each one of us—how great is his mercy in forgiving, nurturing and encouraging us—then we find that we ourselves become more able to show mercy to others, and then to ask God to show more mercy to us. It’s a virtuous circle: he is merciful, so we become merciful”
The theme of this year’s Prison Week is ‘Lord Have Mercy’. Materials, including a prayer, hymn and reflection for Sunday and a prayer diary for the week, are available from Prisons Week.