Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) invites you to use the Days of Prayer for the Displaced campaign Aug. 31 – Sept. 6 as a church, a small fellowship group, or individually, to guide your prayers for the hundreds of thousands facing an uncertain future in Haiti and the Dominican Republic (D.R.). You can access the prayers daily on this page, via social media, or by e-mail. You can also download a PDF version of the prayer guide.
MCC believes in the power of prayer to stir the hand of God to transform situations of injustice and suffering. We also believe advocacy is a powerful opportunity to engage decision makers from a faith-based perspective and to show love for our neighbor in a tangible way. This week of prayer will be followed by an action alert, inviting you to write to the U.S. State Department concerning the crises discussed in the Days of Prayer.
Background information on the crisis is available here.
Day 7: Reconciliation
Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. 1 John 4:20 (NRSV)
Pray for reconciliation within and between Dominican and Haitian societies. Many Haitians and Dominicans share strong family, community, and economic ties, and the D.R. gave substantial aid following Haiti’s 2010 earthquake. These cannot be forgotten. At the same time, racism, discrimination, and mob violence directed at Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent in the D.R. are a part of recent history.
Haitians and Dominicans predominantly identify as Christian. Pray for their common faith to help heal communities and families being broken apart by deportations and the unresolved crisis of statelessness in the D.R. Pray Christians and other peacemakers can be voices for tolerance, compassion, inclusion and peace in these difficult times, and that communities in each country can see their neighbors first and foremost as God’s children worthy of protection. Pray that interpersonal, community, and governmental relationships might be transformed by the Holy Spirit and marked by a new mutual respect and concern.
Day 6: Diplomacy
Leadership gains authority and respect when the voiceless poor are treated fairly. Proverbs 29:14 (The Message Translation)
Pray for improved diplomatic relations between Haiti and the D.R. Dialogue based on mutual trust and respect needs to be reestablished to find solutions that respect the dignity of all of God’s children ― documented or otherwise. Pray for wisdom and compassion for national leaders, that they can overcome complicated politics and envision a way forward. Haitian and Dominican governments, like all governments, ought to be forces for order, peace, and the flourishing of the common good. Pray that international organizations and other countries can play a positive role in encouraging mediation and dialogue.
Here are some scriptures to help guide your prayers for governmental authorities:
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity.
1 Timothy 2:1-2 (NRSV)
In days to come
the mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be raised up above the hills.
Peoples shall stream to it,
and many nations shall come and say:
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between many peoples,
and shall arbitrate between strong nations far away;
they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more;
but they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees,
and no one shall make them afraid;
for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.
Micah 4:1-4 (NRSV)
Day 5: Church Engagement
There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28 (NRSV)
Pray for the Church’s engagement in responding to the displacement crisis. As the Church, we are called to care for neighbors, strangers, widows, the impoverished, and the oppressed. Pray that churches in Haiti and the D.R. existing in a climate of high social tension would rise above their societies’ fears and prejudices and follow the example of Christ.
Pray that churches in Hispaniola would be “cities on a hill,” actively caring for those in need and working for positive social change. Pray too that the global church would be active in calling for a just resolution to these crises and walk alongside local churches through devoted prayer and assistance.
Prayer from Pastor Lesly Bertrand, Haitian Mennonite Bishop:
Haiti and the Dominican Republic are a single bird’s two wings. If the bird loses one wing it cannot fly, and this is like the island of Hispaniola. Each country needs the other to advance. Without peace on the island, there cannot be development for its people. Peace brings prosperity and well-being so that all of society can advance.
Let us pray for the Holy Spirit to touch the hearts of the leaders of both these countries for the benefit of the people. God’s all-powerful blessing can bring Shalom to Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Shalom! Shalom! Shalom!
“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 (NRSV)
Day 4: Compassion
Thus says the Lord of hosts: Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another[.] Zechariah 7:9 (NRSV)
Pray for compassion for those in need. Many communities on the Haiti side of the border have already opened their homes to displaced families coming from the D.R., demonstrating overwhelming hospitality and compassion as they share their extremely meager resources with those in greater need.
Meet Miatrice (L) and Michana (R). Two months ago, Michana was living in the D.R. with her 9-month-old son. One day she was plucked from the streets of her town, dropped off at the border and made to cross. Miatrice saw her crying on the side of the road and asked her father if Michana could come live with them in the small town of Terre Froide, near the border. Miatrice and her family of ten have opened their hearts and home to Michana and her son.*
Similarly, pray for Haitian families who are receiving relatives that migrated to the D.R. for work and have not been seen for many years. Returnees can feel shame at needing to leave the D.R. with so little in hand. Many were expected to provide for their relatives back in Haiti but find themselves in the position of needing provision.
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” Matthew 25:35-36
* Story and photo shared courtesy of Ted Barlow at Operation Blessing.
Day 3: Provision
Pray for immediate provision of humanitarian assistance. Assistance is needed to reach families who have left their belongings and livelihoods in the D.R. and are now living in precarious conditions in Haiti.
Basic supplies such as food, drinking and bathing water, and durable shelter are needed by returnees and deportees all along the border. Jobs are also desperately needed for families considering how to establish themselves in their new settings.
Andre Joseph, his wife Roseline, and their 15-year-old son (pictured above) were recently gathered up in the middle of the night and forced to leave their home in the D.R. Andre, now 53, spent 43 years working in the agricultural sector in the D.R. Unsure of where his family roots are in Haiti, Andre is looking to re-establish himself in the land of his birth. He is particularly worried about the lack of work. “There is nothing for us here,” he said.
Though aware of the needs of the displaced, the Government of Haiti has proven ill-equipped to respond during the early stages of its response. For now, a few local and international humanitarian organizations, including MCC, are primarily providing material aid. Pray for the leadership of the Haitian Government and these organizations, that they will respond quickly with appropriate resources to relieve suffering and help families integrate.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Psalm 23:1-3 (NRSV)
Day 2: Protection
Pray for the protection of the vulnerable. On the Haitian side of the border, thousands of recently returned families are struggling to re-establish themselves. While some are able to settle in home communities, others without ties are setting up encampments in under-resourced areas hit hard by drought and suffering from food insecurity. Where tents are not provided, homes are being fashioned out of materials like cardboard, branches and bedsheets. Pray for protection from harsh weather and disease.
In a southern border town, Anse-a-Pitres, where 700 displaced families have set up camp, a young woman shares her story: “I was born [in the D.R.]. My mother died a couple of years ago but I stayed to work. It’s all I know. I know no one in Haiti, but my Dominican neighbors said they would burn me, so I walked away from the city and walked toward the forest until I reached Haiti.”* Women and children, like Darlene Pierre and her son (pictured above), are especially vulnerable while crossing the border. Pray for those still in the D.R. fearing deportation and under threat by their neighbors.
Corruption is also commonplace on the Dominican side of the border where a number of organized groups, including guards, extract bribes from deportees and people trying to cross. Pray against abuses of power by any people involved in immigration enforcement and deportation proceedings.
In solidarity with those who are fearing for their security and their very lives today, pray through Psalm 91.
* Story courtesy of Nancy Dorsinville.
Day 1: Justice
The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love. Psalm 33:5 (NIV)
Pray for justice on the island of Hispaniola. Justice is needed to reverse the policies that made so many Dominicans stateless and protect the rights of Haitian migrant workers in the D.R.
We want to see the effects of the 2013 court ruling that stripped 210,000 Dominicans of their citizenship reversed, and we want every person made stateless to be protected from expulsion to Haiti, a country that is not their home. For Haitian migrant workers affected by reforms in the law that affect their legal status, we want their dignity protected under the law and in society.
Ketlen was born in the D.R. to Haitian parents. She is twenty years old. She reported that on July 7, Dominican officers came to her home and told her that Michel Martelly, Haiti’s president, asked that she go vote in Haiti’s upcoming elections. Not understanding their ploy, Ketlen left her three-year-old in her sister’s care and went with the officers and her six-month-old to be dropped off at the border. When she arrived, she noticed “no one was waiting for me. Not a car, not a motorcycle, nothing.” She is now separated from her family, living in a tent camp in Fond-Parisien on the Haitian side of the border with 44 other families.
Our hope is Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent would not be treated unjustly under Dominican law. Pray that lawmakers and those in positions of power would act swiftly to find sustainable solutions to the immediate and longer term needs of so many vulnerable families.
Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Isaiah 58:6-7 (NRSV)
* Cover photo courtesy of Milo Milfort