Prayer for Rio de Janeiro, by Joanna Hipp

God of the disenfranchised,

We come this week praying for the citizens of Brazil. Specifically, in Rio as the joy of the Olympics and World Cup are in motion, the citizens are left without joy, without a home, without life.


As you breathe in life into every body

breathe in a sense of hope

a sense of restoration

to the people

who have lost their breath

their breath of hope and survival.


As the people cry, “Remember me…”


As your people are forced to live in the rubble

God of the Temple,

create and build new life.


As your people cry, “Remember me…”


Re-member us as we are called to be.

Re-member our bodies to be our own,

Re-member our world to be the justice

you have called us to enact in the world.

Re-member societal classification

that honors the rich

and weakens the poor.

Re-member the eyes of the oppressor

to see Christ in the face of the hurt and abandoned,

to see Christ in the face of the desolate and marginalized,

to see Christ in all persons, in every place..


As your people cry, “Remember me…”



As the bulldozers rage:

crumbling buildings,

crumbling homes,

crumbling lives,

crumbling hope,

let it not crumble love,

let it not crumble you,

abide, loving God, abide…


For your people are lost.


As your people cry, “Remember me…”


As cries wail, “Where do I go?”

Whisper answers of “home.”

For in you, you provide the hope of tomorrow,

the hope of everlasting peace,

the hope of life,

the hope of justice.


So enable justice to rise,

for when lips speak of greed,

speak with lips of compassion, love and empathy.


As your people cry, “Remember me…”


When hands rise in protest,

we raise our hearts

our minds

our voices

that will not let the rich prosper

at the hands of the poor.


So clasp hands, God of the poor, with our brothers and sisters

in Rio, who are left to live in material ruin;

but let these people prosper in abundant wealth

of love for one another,

for when you call upon the poor

we respond with adoration and praise,

because you are

the poor

the outcast

the oppressed

the marginalized

you are me,

and as I look in the face of my brother and sister

I see you—


As your people cry, “Remember me…”


So God, enable the vision of life

the vision of hope and restoration

the vision of righteousness.


As your people cry, “Remember me…” we stand together, reading the words you have taught us in scripture…for just as the Gospel calls us to act, you are the action in our lives. May we embrace the loving Spirit of our neighbor: of our brothers and sisters.


For it is when we cry out remember me, you enter into our whole being, our whole body, our whole selves, and Great God of all bodies,

abide this day and days to come,






Information on Rio de Janeiro, Brazil:

Everyone that loves sports is excited about the World Cup in 2014, taking place in Brazil. It is an exciting time for soccer enthusiasts, and a time where support for one’s country can be at an all-time high. However, despite the enthusiasm and love for the game, and sports in general, it is the people in Rio who are left with nothing to celebrate. For the poor are losing everything, while the government prospers on tourism and the hope of an influx of people. According to RioOnWatch, “On Tuesday March 13th, a demolition crew contracted by the Rio de Janeiro State government arrived at the Beira Rio community in Manguinhos in Rio’s North Zone to demolish vacated houses as part of an eviction process that has been underway for four years now. Arriving unannounced without warning residents still living in adjacent houses, cutting off the electricity supply and proceeding to bulldoze recently vacated houses without necessary official documentation, the crew’s activity was eventually halted around 3pm when residents, supported by the media presence of several journalists, called on the UPP police officers to investigate the legality of the demolition.”[1] What seems like an “upgrade ready to happen,” is a violation of human rights, and the loss of homes and livelihoods.

In a recent interview, Fernando Soares, coordinator of RedeCAPP’s Manguinhos Human Rights Laboratory, said, “People thought it was going to be an upgrading project for the favela… If it’s a housing and sanitation project, the beneficiaries should be the residents of the favela, but the residents aren’t asked what kind of project we want. The project is planned behind our backs and the excuses are always the same: ‘We’re changing the tire while the car is running. Either you take this now and before long you’ll get used to it, or you won’t get anything.’”

Vanderley Pereira da Silva, a 30-year-old student nurse and resident of Beira Rio describes how the State approached them in 2009: “They said that we have to leave, that we were invading the space, that the land is the state’s property and you have to leave for works to be done for the benefit for the general population. They went marking the houses and calling people individually to establish compensation.”


And on March 15th, hundreds of persons gathered to protest the privitazation that is in tandem with Rio’s preparation for the World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games, in a march from Praça Saens Peña in Tijuca to the Maracanã stadium. This march and event named, “The City is Ours!” was organized by the Popular Committee for the World Cup and Olympics, an organization created to chronicle and redress the violence, abuses and illegalities in the run-up to the events.


For the residents of Rio, their identity is at stake and so much more: for the livelihood, their homes, business, and families are torn apart. So, let us stand with our brothers and sisters in Rio, who are speaking out for their own life and equality of and for life. A shopkeeper from Vila Autódromo, a community under intense pressure and threat of removal, explains: “Favelas have less power with the government than other neighborhoods, and look what they are doing in the South Zone. Everyone’s interests are here together at the protest.”[2]



For a video on what is happening in Rio, and the destruction that is taking place, watch this: (To translate in Englsh click cc and “translate” and then scroll until you find English subtitles).





[1] Demolition in Beira Rio Manguinhos: Resistance Amidst the Rubble


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