Pray with the Marshall Islands, February 26, 2023
Lectionary Selection: Matthew 4:4-11
Prayers from the Marshall Islands
God of Creation,
Help us learn to put our trust in you. When powerful voices promise to look out for our best interests if we just give in or go along, help us to be clear-eyed about the risks. Sometimes our personal dignity, the integrity of our community, or the security of our planet may be at stake.
We pray for the wisdom and confidence to know when “putting ourselves in your hands” means joining hands with allies, getting our hands dirty, or raising a hand in opposition.
We pray for the Jarin Rarik Dron and the people of the Marshall Islands as they contend with past and potential threats to their well-being posed by nuclear contamination, climate change, and the lure of US power and prosperity.
In the name of Jesus, who shows us there is faith in resistance,
Mission Moment from the Marshall Islands
After capturing the Marshall Islands from Japan in World War II, the United States chose the islands as a site to test nuclear weapons. One Sunday in 1946, the military governor of the territory encouraged the residents of Bikini Atoll to evacuate during the bombing for “the good of mankind and to end all world wars.”
The village leader relented: “We will go believing that everything is in the hands of God.” Between 1946 and 1958, the US conducted 67 nuclear tests in the Marshall Islands. Today many Bikinians remain displaced from their homes and continue to suffer the effects of radiation exposure.
While the US provided compensation for the nuclear fallout, many Marshallese feel it has been inadequate considering the long-term health, environmental, and cultural damage it caused—and the fact that the US left tons of nuclear waste stored in a sea-level “tomb” that is now deteriorating due to climate change.
Global Ministries partner, the Jarin Rarik Dron, or United Church of Christ in the Marshall Islands, grew from the efforts of nineteenth-century Congregational missionaries from Hawaii. While learning to place everything “in the hands of God,” experience has taught the Marshallese to be suspicious when governments promise to look out for their best interests.
A decade after the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan, the Japanese government now plans to dump long-stored radioactive waste into the Pacific Ocean. Despite Japan’s assurances, Marshallese and other Micronesian communities have protested, fearing the waste will pollute their waters.
Since the Marshall Islands and Japan have both experienced the devastating effects of radiation, anti-nuclear advocates in both places have united to raise awareness about the threats of nuclear contamination. In December 2022, the Aizu Radiation Information Center, a Global Ministries partner in Japan that advocates for nuclear victims, held an online international forum, “Don’t Contaminate the Oceans with Radioactivity!” in order to build solidarity across the Pacific around environmental protection from nuclear threats.
March 1 is Nuclear Victims Remembrance Day in the Marshall Islands. Global Ministries joins partners in the Marshall Islands and their Japanese allies in calling attention to the threat nuclear power poses to humans and the planet.
Partners in the Marshall Islands