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Immigration ban sparks prayer vigil

by William Bray

Some 17,000 students roil a National Prayer Movement

By Bill Bray, Special Campus Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

Students fastingCHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (ANS – February 2, 2017) — Local prayer partners from the campus community here are including a prayer vigil for stranded international students in their weekly call to prayer today. Similar vigils and prayer will continue through Thursday, February 9, on almost every campus in the country.

The effort is part of 40 days of fasting and prayer counting down to the Collegiate Day of Prayer on February 23. Group prayers are divided into four times of intercession: (1) for the campus community, (2) the United States, (3) ethnic minorities, and (4) global concerns.

The University of Virginia, like most colleges and universities in the country, is advising international students from seven majority Muslim nations to cancel all overseas travel plans and stay in the USA until the immigration ban is lifted.

Although only 17,000 students nationwide are affected by 90-day immigration ban against visitors from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen—the result has roiled all the 1.2 million international students in the country.

Most affected by the ban are Iranians, who account for 12,000 of the 17,000 students temporarily grounded in the USA.

Thus, there is a great deal of confusion and sometimes panic among the international students, and much effort by college administrators to assure students and parents that they are welcome and safe in America.

Deborah Yarde, national spokesperson for the Operation Esther Prayer Circles, says she has only one piece of advice for the students, “Put your eyes on God—not on President Trump.

“Don’t open the door to fear. Everything is going to work out. Just stay focused on your classes and what’s in front of you. Trust God and learn to pray. Prayer is the key. That’s what is so important.”

Campus ministries across the nation, like International Students, Inc. and Overseas Students Mission, are helping to organize special outreaches during this period.

Controversy around the new president is stirring up prayer focus on the new president and political leaders here and on the grounds of the University. The local mayor has vowed to make Charlottesville a “citadel of resistance” against President Trump.

On Inauguration Day, community and church leaders set aside a special all-day “Prayer Watch” with prayer breakfasts and sent a prayer team to Washington, DC.

Debra Yarde“We like to pray onsite with insight,” says the founder of the Operation Esther Prayer movement, Divinia Sanchez.

Meanwhile the group has called a Friday Fast that will continue throughout the 40-days although many students are participating in special daily prayers and fasts. As of today, over 200 universities have been adopted for prayer by prayer teams such as Operation Esther.

Last year, the same spontaneous prayer movement adopted 1,825 campus’ with hundreds of student-led clubs involved. On the Collegiate Day of Prayer website, they registered 2,099 campus ministries, churches and individuals in 1,046 campus communities, in all 50 states and 11 countries.

The fast ends on February 23, the national Collegiate Day of Prayer. The circle meets Thursdays from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Overseas Students Mission headquarters in Koinonea Church on Ivy Road. For details contact Debra Yarde, 434-305-9641.

The Collegiate Day of Prayer began 101 years ago, during the Student Volunteer Missions movement and quickly spread to all the Ivy League campuses including UVA. Annual prayer reunions have been held ever since on most campuses.

Student-led campus prayer movements were revived during the Jesus People revivals in the last century and are now led by a broad coalition of campus ministries including IVCF, the Luke 18 Project, Overseas Students Mission, and many other groups like the International House of Prayer based in Kansas City.

Praying for international studentsDuring the presidential election year, leaders noted that many joined the student prayer movement for the first time. Millions of additional Christians are expected to join in the national prayer movement as Lent and the “Seek God for the City” begins on March 1.

Christians in the larger community can sponsor campus prayer movements and adopt a campus at www.OSMission.org, or www.collegiatedayofprayer.org/ and register to join in the 2017 fasting at jointhefast@collegiatejesusfast.com.

Photo captions: 1) Students fasting. 2) Debra Yarde, 3) Students in prayer. 4) Bill Bray.

Bill BrayAbout the writer: Bill Bray, 69, is a Christian journalist who specializes in missions and student ministries. He is the author of the forthcoming book, Called to All: How I discovered the power of a yielded life. He welcomes interaction with our readers and can be contacted at bray.william@gmail.com.

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