Headlines from the New York Times for Thursday, March 30, 2017
Fleeing Boko Haram, Thousands Cling to a Road to Nowhere – Note, this is a very compelling and tragic article. If you have access to the New York Times, it is certainly worth the time it takes to read it.
More than 130,000 people have amassed along this desert highway outside Diffa, Niger — National Route 1. They now call its barren, sandy shoulders home.
All of them have been chased from their villages by Boko Haram, the Islamist militant group that kidnaps and kills indiscriminately in a campaign of violence that has lasted eight years.
National Route 1 does not take them anywhere. It is not a path to a distant sanctuary, a better life or even a refugee camp. It is, quite literally, a road to nowhere. It ends abruptly, connecting to nothing but more desert.
Begun by a Chinese oil company, construction stopped two years ago after attacks by Boko Haram spiked. Its intended destination — oil fields near the border with Chad — is far away, about 80 miles beyond the choppy lip where the pavement suddenly cuts off, like an interrupted thought.
But along Nigeria’s blurry border with Niger, Boko Haram fighters are still raging. More than 200,000 people scattered by the violence have come seeking safety here in the Diffa region alone, with tens of thousands settling along National Route 1, a sleek, paved highway in a part of the country where roads are usually nothing more than skinny scratches in the sand.
Generosity abounds along the road. Oxfam International, an aid group, estimates 80 percent of the displaced people in the area around Diffa are being fed and sheltered by local communities, which even in peaceful times are among the continent’s poorest.
Readings from Isaiah 35.1-2 for Thursday, March 30, 2017
The wilderness and desert represents the total world: physical, social, and spiritual which human arrogance having destroyed and God in his grace can make bloom. Theologians speak of the “already-but-not-yet” aspect of God’s promises. On some level we can expect the kind of abundance pictured in these verses. However, their full realization waits for God’s ultimate redemption of the world and humankind.
People who pray the prophets have the option of praying the problem or praying the promises. Today, let’s pray the promise of God bringing fruitfulness to our world, as people align their lives with God’s will.
Isaiah 35.1-2 – The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God.
Prayers for Thursday, March 30, 2017
Dear God, today we pray in hope for the multitudes who have been displaced from their land through war and oppression. We know you profoundly care for the vulnerable. Please give them a future and a hope.