By Bill Bray, Special Campus Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia (ANS – February 1, 2017) — Local prayer partners from the campus community here are including a prayer vigil for stranded international students in their weekly call to prayer. The vigil will continue through Thursday February 9.
An estimated 17,000 interantional students in the USA are being asked not to leave the country by their host campuses.
The prayer vigil effort is part of 40 days of fasting and prayer counting down to the Collegiate Day of Prayer February 23. Group prayers are divided into four periods 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 President Trump’s immigration ban is lifted.
An estimated 17,000 students nationwide are affected by 90-day immigration ban against visitors from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Most are Iranians, who account for 15,000 of the 17,000 students temporarily grounded in the USA.
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 Bridges International, International Students, Inc. and Overseas Students Mission, are helping to organize special outreaches during this period.
Controversy around the new president is stirring up a prayer focus on the White House 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’s immigration policies.
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.
“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.
During 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 February 14.
Christians in the larger community can sponsor campus prayer movements and adopt a campus at www.OSMission.org, or www.collegiatedayofprayer.org/
ABOUT 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 ” target=”_blank” style=”color: #1155cc;”>