I want to restart these weekly posts, as a way to keep in track of difficult situations throughout the world, to offer them to God in prayer---and to prayerful consider what any of us as individuals or congregations might be able to do to help.
Just as I sat down to work on the post, this article came up on Twitter: "6 facts about religious hostilities in the Middle East and North Africa." Read down through this essay and see what is generally happening in those areas toward religious persons: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/07/07/6-facts-about-religious-hostilities-in-the-middle-east-and-north-africa/?utm_content=bufferabe3e&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer Other articles that I scanned indicated persecution against Christians in places like Pakistan, Iraq, and elsewhere.
All morning I've thought about the two most recently shootings of African Americans, Alton Sterling in Baton Rough and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. This morning I also learned of this website that gives information about the persons (561 so far this calendar year) killed by police in the U.S. http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/ng-interactive/2015/jun/01/the-counted-police-killings-us-database#ronald-delfino-2016493 Add to these tragedies the sniper shooting in Dallas at a peaceful protest on July 7th.
Let us not forget the Syrian refugees and the ongoing warfare in that country. Let us also not forget the victims of bombings in recent days in Istanbul, and near one of Islam's holiest shrines, in Medina http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/07/medina-attack-muslim-world-reacts-deadly-blast-160705070354493.html
Let's also remember the ongoing crisis of religious extremism in Myanmar: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/23/no-muslims-allowed-how-nationalism-is-rising-in-aung-san-suu-kyis-myanmar
Lord, in your mercy....