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
Two earthquakes and two hurricanes marked the history of the Caribbean with destruction and despair in the past few weeks. Many of our partners have suffered the devastating effects of these natural phenomena, piling up on top of the permanent social, economic, political, and emotional challenges of everyday life on these lands of sun and blue skies.Read more
Hurricanes Irma and Harvey have battered the southern coast of the United States as well as wreaking untold damage across the Caribbean. Many of the most heavily hit areas have not been heard from yet, and this page will be updated as new information from partners is received.
Please continue to hold all of those impacted in your prayers.
You can make a gift towards the recovery work by following the links
- One Great Hour of Sharing Response (UCC)
- Week of Compassion Response (Disciples of Christ)
- Global Ministries Partners Response
Originally posted here, February 27, 2017
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) — The London-based international human rights group, Amnesty International, has criticised the situation in three Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries on issues ranging from the “ill-treatment of documented migrants” to alleged crimes against humanity.Read more
Rev. Dr. Patrick Villier
June 24, 1963 - December 15, 2016
Patrick Villier, 53, was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. June 24th, 1963. He was married to Francoise Stvil Villier. He raised a family of 6 children and 5 grandchildren.Read more
We will continue posting updates to this page as they are received with the most recent news at the top.Read more
Lectionary Selection: Luke 18:1-8
Prayers for Haiti:
In my distress I called upon the Lord,
And cried to my God for help;
The Lord heard my voice out of the Lord’s temple,
And my cry for help before God came into God’s ears. Psalm 18: 6
Lord of all that is good, we find comfort in being able to call upon you and to know our words fall on ears that hear with love and compassion. We are grateful for your mercy and your righteousness which reveal that you will act on behalf of your people when those whose hearts are hard and self-focused seek to harm or denigrate.
We desire to please and honor you with our lives and ask that you help us to stand strong and confident in a world that seems more and more chaotic. So often it seems the only time we can make sense of our surroundings is when we take our thoughts off of ourselves and set our sights on being the salt and light you call us to be.
We embrace your call to encourage one another and to bear one another’s burdens as we pray for our sisters and brothers in Haiti.
O God of all tenderness we ask that you will be with the people of this island nation as they seek to elect leaders who will advocate on their behalf in the areas of employment, education, agriculture, and health care.
Lord of all that is good, we find comfort in your promises and your love.
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Trip is at capacity, please keep an eye out for future travel opportunities
Global Ministries invites you to join in a transformational pilgrimage to visit partners in Jamaica, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic this fall. From October 3rd to the 13th participants will experience the life giving work of three of the child sponsorship sites - Mt. Olivet Boys' Home, Pringle Children’s Home, and House of Hope, as well as witnessing the work of four partners – CONASPEH, the United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, Caminante, and CECAF.
During this trip you will have the opportunity to meet with the children and adults that are benefiting from the ministries of partners in the region while learning first-hand about the joys and concerns facing the people that we walk with in partnership.
This opportunity is being organized by the Child and Elder Sponsorship Program, the Latin America & Caribbean Office, and the People-to-People Pilgrimage program.
“Go where your best prayers take you.” - Frederick Buechner
Tim and I were living and working in Asia when the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami tore a path of destruction across many countries in that part of the world. Tim was quickly asked to work with the rebuilding in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, the area closest to the epicenter of the underwater earthquake that set mountainous waves of water in motion. My work with creating partnerships between churches from around the world and churches within Asia and the Pacific took on a more intentional focus as countless congregations joined together in the rebuilding of homes and lives. It was a tremendous time of ministry and we were especially proud to be a part of Global Ministries’ recovery efforts in Banda Aceh.Read more