Prayer for people in the Horn of Africa
The humanitarian catastrophe across the Horn of Africa is affecting rural communities in southern Somalia, southeastern Ethiopia, and eastern Kenya. The worst drought in decades has not only led to water shortages but to a devastating lack of food. Millions are leaving their homes for the Dabaab refugee camp on the border of Kenya, walking up to 23 days—often with little food or water. Dabaab, which is a complex of three camps, is the largest in the world. It currently has a population of 400,000 people and is stretched beyond its limits.
The conflict in Somalia, which has lasted for two decades, is also an important factor. Humanitarian supply lines are vulnerable to looting and attacks from armed bandits. Aid workers have been killed while trying to administer aid and this has hampered the UN’s ability to deliver food and water to the areas that are in need. In addition, food prices have risen by up to 200 percent in the last nine months.
In the face of such an overwhelming crisis, which on the surface seems beyond the scope of human resources, prayer for divine guidance and intelligence is needed. The selfless activity of prayer for those who are suffering, reaches to the very heart of Jesus’ teachings.
His mission was to bring comfort to those who were brokenhearted and in need. No matter how dire the circumstances, Jesus knew God, His loving Father, would provide solutions that would protect and care for all of His creation. Jesus’ words in Mark’s Gospel are reassuring in their acceptance of God’s power: “With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible” (10:27 ).
This understanding of God’s omnipotence enabled Jesus to provide food for 5,000 people in the wilderness, heal the sick, and raise the dead. Prayer based on Jesus’ teachings is also our means to open thought to the power of the Christ—of God’s love—to save humanity. The Christ-power that Jesus taught, and which Mary Baker Eddy explains in Science and Health, enables us to break through the mental miasma of hopelessness, despair, fear, and violence facing those in the Horn of Africa.
United under God’s government
“When man is governed by God, the ever-present Mind who understands all things, man knows that with God all things are possible,” writes Mary Baker Eddy (Science and Health, p. 180 ). This spiritual truth removes the possibility that there could be any situation beyond God’s loving government. In other words, no country or people can be outside the care and love of the ever-present Mind “who understands all things.” Therefore it is possible to prove that there is no place for hunger, conflict, or lack to appear or to have existence.
God, divine Mind, has always provided for His spiritual idea, man, meaning both men and women. This provision includes the wisdom to understand that under God’s government there are only infinite, unlimited possibilities. Through our prayers we will be able to move mentally beyond the limits of materiality, whether this involves belief in lack of resources or human pity, which dwells on the mortal, hopeless sense of things. Instead, we uplift thought and hope by acknowledging the reality of God’s goodness and His inexhaustible provision for all.
To protect and sustain the children
Prayer strengthened by this conviction in the protecting and sustaining power of God’s love is needed particularly for children, the most vulnerable of the refugees. Sometimes unaccompanied on the long walk to the Dabaab camp, hundreds of children arrive each day. Most are severely malnourished and weak. For many of these little ones it would seem that time is running out for their chances of survival. Our prayers for them need to be consistent and underpinned by the absolute certainty that there is no condition outside the range of God’s all-encompassing Love.
No matter how intimidating the problems may appear, every individual is precious to God.
The Bible provides many instances of lives that were saved by God’s power despite alarming circumstances. The plight of Hagar and her son, Ishmael, who were cast out of their home into the wilderness is one. They were without protection and their water bottle soon was empty. Unable to bear watching her son die, Hagar placed him under a bush. Weeping and desperate, she cried to God for help and heard an angel message that assured her of the boy’s safety. Opening her eyes, she saw a well that enabled her to replenish her supply of water, and their lives were saved (see Gen. 21:14–19 ).
I love the idea that right there in the wilderness God’s angel messages were heard, and brought life instead of death. Through prayer we, too, can lift up our thought and acknowledge that all those who are suffering in the Horn of Africa are under divine Love’s government. No matter how intimidating the problems may appear, every individual is precious to God. Under His benevolent government no one can be lost or separated from Love’s abundant provision and care.
God’s power brings peace and safety
Along with the famine, the ongoing civil war in Somalia has added to the people’s difficulties. The underlying human need for safety and security has been a strong inducement for many to leave their homes. At this writing there is a lull in the fighting, but many are concerned that it could resume at any time.
How important it is for us to understand and to pray with the knowledge that God is the true source of power! What appear to be aggressive, destructive forces are not actually groups of people but states of thought. These conditions would overthrow the God-given rights of individuals to live in peace and security. Mary Baker Eddy challenges the supposed authority of terror, fear, and hatred, writing: “A few immortal sentences, breathing the omnipotence of divine justice, have been potent to break despotic fetters and abolish the whipping-post and slave market; but oppression neither went down in blood, nor did the breath of freedom come from the cannon’s mouth. Love is the liberator” (Science and Health, p. 225 ).
I like to think that those immortal sentences are the foundation of our prayer. They are supported by God’s omnipotence that enforces divine justice for all. In other words, prayer is our means to forward the liberation of all who are enslaved by lack of freedom of any kind whether it be through poverty, famine, war, or homelessness. As Mrs. Eddy writes, “No power can withstand divine Love. . . . Truth makes man free” (Science and Health, pp. 224–225 ).
Our conviction of God’s omnipotent care and love for all His creation will support the selfless individuals who are working to find solutions for those who are suffering in the Horn of Africa. Infinitely intelligent Mind will reveal the way to get the supplies of food and water to the places most in need. We can be confident that our spiritual understanding, our love, and our compassion will be effective. We have the sure knowledge that there is no problem beyond God’s care and love, for nothing is impossible to God.