Lectionary Selection: Mark 1: 9-15
Prayers for the Dominican Republic:
Gracious and loving God,
We thank you for the hope and guidance you show us every day. Your forgiving love was shown through Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit appearing in purity as a dove. We pray that you continue to guide us with this purity and love, where we can spread this blessing to every person that we encounter. We are sent to be light unto this world, so when we are tempted, like Jesus was in the wilderness, give us the strength to persevere and find Light through the darkness.
Today we lift up the shared mission of the churches and the work of Caminante Proyecto Educativo. Bless churches around the world to be guided by love and unity. I specifically lift up prayers for the people working here in Dominican Republic. Provide this staff with the vision and knowledge to continue our amazing work with these children and guide them to a better, more sustaining life. Give us the words and wisdom to reach these children and provide the security and safety they are longing for. Pray for these children that are trying to survive on the dangerous streets, and keep blessing the ones that have come through Caminante and are living blessed and more peaceful lives now. Help these street children find their ways back into schools and get the education and support they need to achieve their dreams you placed in their hearts and minds! Continue to unify the world and guide us all with the Holy Spirit to spread your loving kindness to every person that we meet.
In your heavenly Name,
Last night President Trump opened his address to Congress by proclaiming that "The state of our union is strong," followed by his assessment of his agenda in 2017, and laying out a vision for what 2018 might hold. We feel it is appropriate to provide our own brief review of the United States' impact on our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world through their own words.
Ban on travelers from Muslim majority countries and reduction in refugee resettlement
On the president's decision to reduce the number of refugees admitted to the United States, and to block travelers from seven Muslim majority countries, we heard from Bishop Emeritus Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land:
I am worried, not only for those who can no longer enter your country, but for the safety of my neighbors in this region. I am afraid that the decision to deny entry for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries while suggesting preferential treatment for Christians from those same countries will be harmful to many smaller communities in the region. This approach will be especially harmful to Arab Christians. In the Arab world, Christians have a long history of living side by side with our Muslim neighbors. We reject any move to divide Arab society along religious lines, and continue to see ourselves as deserving equal citizenship with equal rights and equal responsibilities.
I am worried, because I myself am a refugee, and know firsthand the struggles refugee families face. At the same time, as a Lutheran bishop, I know that turning away refugees of any religion contradicts the message of Jesus Christ. Jesus himself was also a refugee, who sought refuge and safety with his family in Egypt. Throughout his life, through his teaching and his actions, Jesus showed concern for the stranger and the outcast. Read the full letter
As a result of this decision, approximately 80,000 refugees who would have received safety and the opportunity to work for a new life in the United States, have been left in refugee camps or have opted for more dangerous routes to escape persecution. The lack of American leadership in the program was cited by many other governments as an excuse to reduce their resettlement efforts as well. Islamophobic retweets by the president also prompted rebuke from American faith leaders.
Relocation of US Embassy to Jerusalem
The President also further hindered the possibility of peace between Palestinians and Israelis with his decision to relocate the United States Embassy to Jerusalem. A move that was widely decried by partners and the international community. This action provoked the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem to write an open letter to the president saying:
Our solemn advice and plea is for the United States to continue recognizing the present international status of Jerusalem. Any sudden changes would cause irreparable harm. We are confident that, with strong support from our friends, Israelis and Palestinians can work towards negotiating a sustainable and just peace, benefiting all who long for the Holy City of Jerusalem to fulfill its destiny. The Holy City can be shared and fully enjoyed once a political process helps liberate the hearts of all people that live within it from the conditions of conflict and destructiveness that they are experiencing. Read the full letter
In a letter from the South Africa Synod of the United Congregational Churches of Southern Africa, partners responded saying:
We found his announcement of treating Jerusalem as a capital city of the Israeli government manipulative and misleading. This utterance insinuates that Jerusalem only belongs to the State of Israel and that Palestinians are aliens in the area. Nothing could be further from the truth than President Trump’s dangerous insinuation. His utterances feed into the wrong notions that Palestinians are not children of Abraham hence aliens in the area. Read the full letter
Response to Hurricane Maria
Last night the president also called on Americans to continue to support recovery efforts in Puerto Rico where, four months after Hurricane Maria, tens of thousands of citizens remain without power. There was no hint of irony in his statement, even though just the day before, aid to Puerto Rico had been dramatically reduced. In the midst of the worst disaster on the island in recent memory, Global Ministries and partners responded immediately to the needs of the communities. A webinar was held with Miguel Antonio Morales, General Pastor of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ in Puerto Rico), prayers were lifted up from Rev. Edward Rivera-Santiago, General Pastor, United Evangelical Church of Puerto Rico, and we were moved by the testimonios, of the individuals serving as wounded healers. Much work remains to be done, and you can hear a vision for a more hurricane resilient and sustainable future for Puerto Rico in a webinar on February 15th, with Juan Rosario Moldanado of Amaneser 2025.
Use of racist language describing Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries
Partners in several countries replied with words of thanks when Global Ministries shared our letter to the President with them, calling on him to apologize for his hurtful and offensive descriptions of Haiti, El Salvador, and the countries of Africa. The affirmation that "We are Family...No Matter What" prompted many partners to reply with messages echoing that our bond as brothers and sisters would not be overshadowed by the words of government leaders.
Consideration of military intervention in Venezuela
In Venezuela, as the country sought a way forward in the midst of economic uncertainty and political instability, President Trump openly considered military actions against the current government. This prompted a letter from Global Ministries and the leadership of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ. While the military option was not further pursued, the words of that letter still bear an important reminder:
Global Ministries has been engaged in a relationship of solidarity and accompaniment with the people of Venezuela for more than 60 years. As such, we have walked alongside Venezuelans throughout various moments in the history of that nation. As we watched the news of the recent election, we would like to share with you our deep concern for the people of Venezuela and their future. We are deeply convinced that any US military intervention in Venezuela would exacerbate the current crisis and could bring back the darkest pages in the history of the country when the military overthrew civil governments to install dictatorships and de facto presidencies. Every time Venezuela has suffered a military episode in its recent times, the lives of the poorest and the most vulnerable population have been severely damaged. Read the full letterRead more
La fe es la certeza de lo que se espera, la convicción de lo que no se ve. Hebreos 11:1
Los sábados plantamos árboles.
Nos reunimos en el Instituto de Estudios e Investigaciones Interculturales (INESIN), uno de los consortes de Ministerios Globales en San Cristóbal, a las 7:30 a.m. Cargamos alrededor de 200 árboles y nosotros mismos nos subimos también en la parte trasera de una camioneta y condujimos 30 minutos en una carretera y 30 minutos más en caminos desiguales de tierra y grava para llegar a la granja de un pastor local. Subidos en el lado de una montaña, miramos hacia las llanuras a otra cordillera, que ya estaba empezando a estar cubierto por las siempre presentes nubes del día.Read more
The Alliance for Sustainable Resources Management (AMANESER 2025) is an ecumenical network of grassroots organizations whose purpose is to promote sustainability in Puerto Rico so that the island can design its development as “prosperous, fair, democratic, sustainable and happy.” To this end, Amaneser 2025 promotes education and training processes, support communities and encourage projects of any kind that uphold said objectives and purposes.Read more
Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
On Saturday, we planted trees.
We met at the Institute for Intercultural Study and Research (INESIN), one of Global Ministries’ partners in San Cristobal, at 7:30 a.m. We loaded around 200 trees and ourselves into the back of a pickup truck and drove 30 minutes on a highway and 30 minutes more on patchy dirt and gravel roads to arrive at the farm of a local pastor. Perched on the side of a mountain, we looked out over the plains to another mountain range as it was just starting to be covered by the ever-present daytime clouds.Read more
Lectionary Selection: Mark 1:21-28
Prayers for Mexico:
Father and mother God,
We ask for your guidance in listening to the voices of those who, like Jesus in the temple, speak from their own authority, those who carry the authority of their people, those who may see parts of the world differently than the way we see them. We ask you to open our eyes to the achievements of those who surround us and to teach us to share what we have learned.
We thank you, today and every day, for teaching us what it means to be seekers of the light in the world.
In this dire time of discomfort and discord between the U.S. and Mexico, we ask that you guide our steps and the steps of our leaders towards building relationships and breaking down walls and towards a better understanding of our neighbor country.
In your heavenly name we pray, amen.
Fray Antonio de Valdivieso Ecumenical Center (CEAV), NicaraguaRead more
Kingston, JamaicaRead more
Lectionary Selection: Luke 1:26-38
Prayers for Mexico:
There I was: small, defenseless, alone
without any understanding of the magnitude of the damage.
There You were: powerful, loving, and in a strange, incomprehensible way,
full of compassion.
You saw me, You loved me, years went by... and, today, You keep loving me.
There I was: growing in pain, in sadness, in anger;
clinging to You, to your mercy, to your grace.
There You were: gently tending to me, healing me, restoring me.
I ran away, terrified.
You kept close, chasing me, wrapping me in love.
Me, unknowing. You, knowing all.
Me, without understanding. You giving me purpose.
There I was: with my story...
my trampled dignity, my loneliness, my absurd existence.
There You were: with your story...
your dignity, your company, your true being.
You gave me life, a new story, a dream, a hope, a vision.
You changed my existence, readjusted my world.
Here I am and here you are, present.
I am always yours, and You, You infinite You, oh joy! You will always be mine!
(Prayer by Pastora Noemí Santiago Anzueto, México, 2017)Read more
“And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.
And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:
For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.” - Mark 12:42-44Read more