#Pray4Refugees – The power of prayer sparks compassion for welcome

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#Pray4Refugees

Beginning Sunday, August 19th, Faith Communities are Praying for Refugees as the Administration Plans to Continue Drastic Cuts to Refugee Resettlement

The power of prayer sparks compassion for welcome

Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai:  “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”

  -Esther 4:15-16 (NIV)

Why We’re Called to #Pray4Refugees
We live in a time when an unprecedented 68.5 million people are displaced around the world, including more than 25 million refugees – the highest number in recorded history. With global need at its highest, troubling news articles have revealed that the administration is planning to further dismantle the refugee resettlement program. Reports indicate the administration could set the refugee admissions goal for Fiscal Year 2019 at an immorally new low of 25,000 refugees or even less. This reduction would follow this year’s already historically low goal of 45,000, of which we have only resettled 18,327 to date – while the average refugee admissions goal in U.S. history is 95,000 per year.

It is critical that we make our voices heard decrying further drastic cuts to refugee resettlement. We are calling on the Trump administration and Congress to commit to resettling at least 75,000 refugees in FY19. For more resources, including an action alert and instructions on writing an Op-Ed, please visit the #Welcome75K Toolktit.

Power In Prayer
Many faith traditions are preparing for a week of prayer for refugees starting Sunday, August 19th to show the solidarity of the faith community with refugees and to highlight the importance of the resettlement program to our communities through the power of prayer. Here are examples of how to join:

  • Post written prayers for refugees on social media, faith-based blogs, newsletters, bulletins,  and websites — including the hashtag #Pray4Refugees.
  • Ask your regional conference body or denomination to offer prayers in their weekly services.
  • Invite a refugee to speak at a worship service, vigil, or special event.
  • Connect with your local refugee resettlement agency and invite them to participate.
  • Consider inviting an elected officials, community leaders, community events reporters from your local paper, or other well-known members of your community to be part of the #Pray4Refugees effort.
  • Post a personal video on social media stating why your faith community is praying for refugees and why the administration and Congress should #Welcome75K. Invite refugees to be part of the video to tell their stories.
  • Hold prayer services in public spaces or in your place of worship to honor the contributions of refugees in your community, and pray for those who are stuck waiting in refugee camps without durable solutions. In selecting a public space, a place that has special meaning, such as outside a resettlement office, a refugee-owned business, or outside a government building or office to pray for decision makers.
  • Connect with local refugee leaders or faith leaders who are former refugees and make sure they have an opportunity to be part of any events, prayer services, or social media posts.

Prayers, Liturgies, and Litanies
Many great resources of prayers for refugees, that we can adapt for the moment, already exist within our network. Please make sure to include the important message of praying for our decision makers to find compassion in their hearts to resettle at least 75,000 refugees next year. Please tag your Senators or Representative in the social media posts you create to push them to hold the administration accountable. Please click below for prayers, reflections, and other resources:

CWS Ecumenical Declaration Resources and Prayer Resources for Refugees
UCC Pray4Refugees UCC Litany for Refugees and Asylum-Seekers
Reformed Church of America, Prayer for Refugees
United Methodist Prayer to Immigrants and Refugees
PCUSA Reflection and Prayer for World Refugee Day
CRC Pray For Refugees
Episcopal Prayers of the People for Refugees and Displaced People

Post your own Video or Picture to #Pray4Refugees #Welcome75K
In these technological times, anyone can make an impact through social media, and when we do it together, it is more powerful. This is why we’re encouraging people to post their prayers via text, pictures, and videos online. See the step by step process below.

    1. Creative Content: Start with the prayer resources linked above and make any changes you’d like to see. You can also write your own prayer or faith-rooted statement.
    2. Be Yourself: Make sure to explain why this issue is important to you and your community and why you are sharing this prayer or statement in support of welcoming refugees.
    3. Keep it Simple: Keep the prayer or statement relatively short so you don’t lose your audience. Keep videos under 60 seconds. For pictures, consider holding a sign with a prayer or taking a picture of a handwritten prayer. People should be able to capture the meaning right away.
    4. Be Timely: The timing of this social media campaign will be very important. We are launching the #Pray4Refugees effort on Sunday, August 19th, as the administration and Congress will make their decision in the coming weeks about how many refugees the U.S. will resettle. The more we act together, the greater the impact will be.
    5. Track the Hashtag: Be sure to include #Pray4Refugees and #Welcome75k in social media posts.
    6. Tag Decision Makers: Through various platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, you can “tag” or “tweet at” your Representative and Senators. A list of Twitter handles for Members of Congress can be found here. Consider tweeting at other elected officials or well-known leaders who could retweet you for support. Twitter handles for members of the administration include: @StateDept @SecPompeo @VP @Mike_Pence @POTUS @realDonaldTrump @IvankaTrump
    7. Invite Friends: Encourage others from your congregation or community to participate. If you have refugees in your community, invite them to tell their story and show why it’s so important we welcome refugees.

For additional resources including action alerts, how to meet with policy makers, sample op-eds, sample media advisories, and step-by-step instructions on how to plan an event, check out:

  1. #Welcome75K Toolktit
  2. We Are All America Demand Welcome 75K
  3. 2018 RCUSA Community Advocacy August Recess Toolkit

For questions or assistance inviting or engaging with local media around a planned event, please contact us via email at media@cwsglobal.org.

Quotes from Refugee Leaders’ Opinion Editorials World Refugee Day 2018

When I close my eyes, I can still hear the cry of innocent children and women screaming for help and the smell of people burned alive in their houses. After experiencing such traumas, I arrived in the United States with a new set of challenges. But the welcome we received from our new Houston community helped me overcome these hardships and begin healing from my past.”
—  Salemu Alimasi, refugee from the DRC writing for the Houston Chronicle

Though the scars on my once beautiful face serve as a permanent painful reminder of that horrible experience, today — on World Refugee Day — I am grateful to the United States and my new community for giving me another chance to live safely. Despite the fear that politicians seek to stir up about people like me, I have been welcomed by the generous people of Ohio and given a chance to rebuild my life as a cake decorator.”
— Deborah Jane refugee from Uganda writing for The Columbus Dispatch

“I have seen how North Carolinians believe in the importance of welcoming others like me—and I seek to welcome other refugees who are new arrivals. That’s why I am not afraid to raise my voice to support the rights of refugees through my work as a refugee leader and advocate for refugee issues.”
–Miriam Salum, refugee from the DRC writing for IndyWeek in Durham, NC

I am a refugee, and there are millions around the world like me who would have preferred never to have been forced from their homes. To save myself, my wife and our three children, I had to make the most difficult decision of my life…Life in the U.S. wasn’t easy at first; we were strangers in a new place where we didn’t understand the culture or the language. But our new community in Lancaster welcomed us with open arms, helping us overcome these hardships and begin healing from past traumas. I am so grateful to the United States and my new community for giving me another chance at life.”
–Salim Amani, refugee from Bhutan writing for Lancaster News

After many days of walking, our feet were swollen and our bodies were tired but we could not stop. After experiencing such traumas, I faced other challenges while being resettled in the U.S., such as learning the cultural norms, new foods and different ways of speaking. What has made the biggest difference in overcoming these hardships – and in healing from past traumas – has been the welcome I received when I joined my new community.”
–Clara Hart, refugee from Mozambique writing for the Argus Leader in Sioux Falls

As someone who understands the struggles of refugees firsthand, I am disheartened to see that my beloved new home is denying that same opportunity to others now facing similarly dangerous situations.”
–Tirak Nerould, refugee from  writing for the Union Leader in New Hampshire