Praying for health -- and peace
"For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom." (Isaiah 9:6-7a)
The ELCA Malaria Campaign supports malaria programs in 13 countries in Africa; many of these countries are additionally plagued by war and violence. Together with our sisters and brothers in Africa, we pray and work for peace.
Less than a week ago, we rejoiced together and celebrated the birth of our savior, which was heralded by shepherd and kings alike. But yesterday, our lectionary texts revealed the much darker side of Jesus's birth story: Herod's systematic slaughter of all of the infants under age two, ignited by his fear that a newborn baby would usurp his kingship. As I listened to this story yesterday, I was reminded that Jesus came because our broken world is in desperate need of a savior, a Prince of Peace.
Our world today is not immune from this brokenness, or this need. The ELCA Malaria Campaign supports programs in 13 countries in Africa; several of these countries are plagued by war and conflict and widespread violence.
In South Sudan, a presidential power struggle has catalyzed tribal conflict. Hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes, seeking safety in other communities or UN camps. In fleeing their homes, many are hiding in swampy areas, where the risk of malaria skyrockets. Hundreds or even thousands of children have been separated from their families. Despite these grave circumstances, the Lutheran World Federation continues to operate its malaria program as thoroughly as possible in rural areas. Lord, have mercy.
In the Central African Republic, malaria program plans are on hold as civil unrest and violence spark a mass humanitarian crisis. The Lutheran-run Bohong clinic has been completely ransacked. More than 800,000 people so far have fled violence in their hometowns, seeking shelter mainly in the capital city of Bangui – which itself is not immune to the violence. Christ, have mercy.
In Nigeria, the malaria program is operating in the Northern and Eastern parts of the country—the same place where religiously-motivated violence has provoked a military response, resulting in the deaths of insurgents and civilians alike. Lord, have mercy.
Even as we celebrate Immanuel, God with Us, our world remains broken. Through the ELCA Malaria Campaign and other ministries like ELCA World Hunger, we walk alongside our sisters and brothers as they face these daily realities. Come now, O Prince of Peace. Use us as your hands and feet in this broken and beloved world.