October 2019 Prayer Partner Email: Recognizing the Power of Prayer
Dear praying friends,
Last week, I was at the Texas-Mexico border, gaining a deeper understanding of the challenges facing asylum seekers – many of whom are now waiting in Mexico for their court hearings – as well as the U.S. Border Patrol. As I write this after returning home, my heart is heavy, knowing that many brothers and sisters in Christ are facing very difficult circumstances, most of which I feel quite powerless to address.
Arriving back home from that trip, I thought of friends from my church who came a few years back from Venezuela, where politically-motivated violence and shortages of food, water, medicine and energy in what was once South America’s wealthiest country have led more than 4 million individuals to flee the country. My friends were fortunate enough to come with tourist visas to the United States, but now they face a dilemma: their tourist visas have expired, but to return now might literally mean returning to hunger and potential persecution – and not being able to support their relatives still left behind with the dollars they earn in the U.S.
Earlier this month, the leaders of the Evangelical Immigration Table sent a letter urging the Trump Administration to extend compassion to individuals like my friends by offering Temporary Protected Status – which would include permission to work and protection from deportation – to Venezuelans currently present in the United States. But we do not know at this point if the administration will heed this request.
Last week ended with the announcement of the annual ceiling for refugee resettlement for the federal fiscal year that begins today. Historically, that ceiling has been set at an average level of 95,000, but last year it was lowered to 30,000 and this year’s ceiling will be cut again to a record-low 18,000. This drastic reduction of the refugee resettlement program will affect families I know personally, who were resettled to the U.S. in years past but are desperate to be reunited to family members still waiting to be resettled. And, as I wrote for Christianity Today, the decision will likely have many ripple effects even beyond those directly impacted.
Evangelical Immigration Table leaders have voiced concerned echoed by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in urging the president to restore the refugee ceiling to a historically normal level, noting in particular that resettlement has long been a lifeline for persecuted religious minorities. We’ve done all we can to advocate strategically – so the decision to cut the ceiling was very disappointing to me.
As I was wallowing in my own powerlessness to address these situations, though, I began to read through the Psalms. I was reminded of several truths that have challenged me to recognize the power that is available to me – and to you – through prayer.
As I heard from a Mexican church leader last week about being kidnapped by criminals seeking to prey upon the vulnerable asylum seekers her church has sought to shelter, Psalm 94 was in my mind: “They crush your people, LORD; they oppress your inheritance. They slay the widow and the foreigner… they say, ‘The LORD does not see; the God of Jacob takes no notice… But the LORD has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refugee” (Psalm 94:5-7; 22 NIV).
As I worry over whether politicians will decide to grant Temporary Protected Status to Venezuelans or to increase the refugee ceiling, I was reminded: “Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save… Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God… He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free, the LORD gives sight to the blind, the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves the righteous. The LORD watches over the foreigner…” (Psalm 146:3, 5, 7-9 NIV).
We can and we should advocate before governmental leaders – I hope you will do so.
But, more importantly, we should be crying out to our God on behalf of those who are vulnerable, entrusting them to Him in the intimacy of prayer.
Would you commit to praying fervently this week for asylum seekers, for those fleeing and those still in Venezuela and for refugees throughout the world hoping for resettlement? Would you pray for President Trump, for his cabinet, for congressional leaders and for all others in positions of authority, that God would grant them wisdom to know what is right and the courage to do it?
National Coordinator, Evangelical Immigration Table