August 7th, 2014
Son of missionary David Ortiz serving in IDF in Gaza Strip
I am sure that many of you recall the bombing of the Ortiz family apartment in Ariel, Israel in 2008 in which Ami Ortiz, the youngest son, was so severely injured that he spent over one year in a hospital. David and Leah Ortiz were born in the United States and immigrated to Israel as a young couple. Leah is Jewish, which allowed them to become Israeli citizens. David served in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF), as have four of their five sons and their daughter. Ami did not serve in the IDF because of the severe injuries he incurred in the bombing of their apartment.
Many of the supporters of the Religious Freedom Coalition helped with the large expenses of Ami’s treatment not covered by the “bucket” system of socialized medicine in Israel — which is very similar to ObamaCare in that citizens are required to buy private policies or have one furnished by the government. In all, the Religious Freedom Coalition donated over $20,000 to the Ortiz family to assist them through that period.
David and Leah are missionaries who have won hundreds of Palestinians to the Lord. The city of Ariel is considered a “settlement in the West Bank” by the United States even though it is a major town with one of the largest universities in Israel. The population is over 20,000 and there are an additional 10,000 students at the university. The city covers six square miles.
David and all of his children who have served in the IDF have been sworn in on the New Testament. It is not generally known that many in the IDF are Christians, including Arab Christians who are not required to serve but who have volunteered. Just this year several hundred Israeli Arab Christians have joined the IDF.
I received an email from David last week asking for prayers for his son, XXXXX, who is currently serving in the Gaza conflict. The photo of (NAME AND PHOTO REMOVED FOR SECURITY REASONS) with his platoon shows the group in obviously a happier time than facing combat.
David and Leah have another son, whose name is XXXXX, who is also serving in the IDF in the West Bank town of XXXXX near XXXXX. Being older does not exempt David from service, and from time to time he has been called up to act as a military policeman in their hometown. When he was on active duty as a young man, he served in the Golani which is the equivalent of our Marines, the “tip of the spear” of the IDF forces.
Of XXXXX, David writes that he “has had opportunities to witness about Yeshua” in his unit. Yeshua is of course the Hebrew name for Jesus. David asked that we pray that God would give XXXXX and his fellow Christian soldiers wisdom and divine protection, and that that they would serve Israel and the Lord with honor and dignity.
The Religious Freedom Coalition continues to support the Ortiz mission in Israel!
Christian IDF member killed in Gaza
Shortly after writing the above story about David and Leah Ortiz and their sons serving in the IDF, I received this notice from David about a Christian serving in the IDF who has died in the Gaza fighting:
“We are sending this announcement so you could be aware and pray for the family of Shai Kushner who was a believer. He was killed yesterday on the Gaza border. We would appreciate also prayer for all our soldiers, and also for two of our sons who are also serving.”
Sergeant Shai Kushner was killed along with four other members of his unit, including a captain, when a HAMAS mortar round hit their reserve position in the Eshkol Regional Council which is inside of Israel near the Gaza Strip border.
Two American citizens who serve in the IDF have also died in the Gaza fighting. They are Max Steinberg, 24, a native of San Fernando Valley in California, and Nissim Sean Carmeli, 21, from South Padre Island, Texas.
Saudi King Abdullah shows his real colors
America’s trusted ally, the man to whom President Barack Obama famously bowed, has declared his true allegiance. On August 1st King Abdullah made his accusation that “Israel is guilty of war crimes and state-sponsored terrorism” against HAMAS!
Such accusations are ridiculous, given Saudi Arabia’s long-time practice of spreading radical Islamic terrorism around the world – and persecuting its own citizens with beheadings, honor killings, and other atrocities against human rights. The schools from which the terror group Boko Haram recruits its murderers are financed by Saudi Arabia, as it continues to spread the notion of Islamic supremacy throughout the world. The current civil war in Syria began with Saudi Arabia supplying over $2 billion dollars to fund a mercenary army to oust President Assad’s secular government (which protects Christians in that nation).
It is clear that Saudi Arabia is the real state-sponsor of terrorism. This did not appear in the liberal controlled press in the USA nor on Fox News, a great part of which is owned by Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, a relative of King Abdullah.
Saudi money buys and buys – and Saudi Arabia wants to keep the price of oil up. The biggest non-Sunni oil producing states in the world other than the USA and Canada are Iran, Syria and Russia. Notice anything? Those are the three nations targeted for sanctions by Europe and the United States. There is no doubt that Iran is a sponsor of terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah — but Saudi Arabia also funds Sunni terror organizations, and prior to the 9-11 jihad attack on the United States was a sponsor of Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda terror group. Why does the West have sanctions against Saudi Arabia’s biggest competitors?
From King Abdullah’s words it is now obvious that Saudi Arabia could be as much of a military threat to Israel as Iran. But there is a difference … Saudi Arabia has the most advanced American weapons systems that money can buy. The Saudis even have an order in for the newest F-35 fighters, while Iran is still flying 30-year-old jet fighters that it has patched together.
The problem with Saudi Arabia is now far more than current oil sales; it is the vast wealth they possess from having been the energy king for decades. The Saudi royals can buy just about anything they want, including the armies of other nations to fight their battles for them. Somehow the West must get out of the grip of the murderous tyrants who rule Saudi Arabia.
Russia and the persecuted Christians of the Middle East
Next month in Moscow – In September I will travel to Moscow, Russia for two conferences. The first conference which is on the family, I had planned on for over a year and the second event I just learned about recently. I will be a speaker at both.
The Religious Freedom Coalition is a member of the World Congress of Families (WCF) along with dozens of other social conservative groups. The WCF promotes social conservative values throughout the world. As one example, recall that a Russian law banning distribution of homosexual literature to children under 18 years of age recently came under attack by the Western media and even President Obama; that law was written and sponsored by a conservative Russian organization that is a member of the WCF. My plans to speak at this conference were made long before the various controversies that arose around Russia, including its support of the secular government of Syria which Europe and the USA are trying to overthrow.
The International Forum on the Natural Family and the Future of Humanity will be held on September 10th and 11th. The first day of the conference will be held in a hall at the Kremlin, which is no longer the secretive place it was under the Soviet Union. Groups can use the facilities there, just as the Religious Freedom Coalition sometimes reserves rooms in House and Senate buildings on Capitol Hill here in Washington, DC. I will speak on the need for the United States and Russia to work jointly to defend Christian families under attack in the Middle East.
On the 11th the meeting will move to the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, which has quite a miraculous history. This is the main cathedral of the Russian Orthodox Church. It was seized when Lenin took over and used as a warehouse. Then, it was torn down by Dictator Joseph Stalin and the grounds used for a public swimming pool.
When the communist government of the Soviet Union was deposed and Russia once again had an elected government, the land was returned to the Orthodox Church. The Cathedral of Christ has been rebuilt to more than its original glory. This is the Cathedral that was invaded by a female nudist band called Pussy Riot and defiled in May, 2012. Then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton defended Pussy Riot, saying they were “empowered women” practicing “freedom of speech.” The Russian government had a different view and sent them to prison.
Back in the 1980’s when I operated tours for Evangelicals coming to the Soviet Union to witness and hold evangelistic events, I visited Moscow many times, including the site of the destroyed Cathedral. Now, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and his wife Svetlana worship at the Cathedral. I don’t normally care about where meetings are held, but I really look forward to seeing this Cathedral which represents the victory of the church over the tyranny of atheistic communism.
Most of the members of the World Congress of Families will be present at the Natural Family Conference, but some who are located in Washington and have close ties to the GOP have dropped out, which shocked and disturbed me. The head of one large social conservative organization said they would not participate, in order to “punish Putin.” Exactly how does refusing to represent the cause of Christ and the conservative cause at a conference punish Putin? I still have not figured that out, but then I am not in the pocket of John McCain and company.
World Russia Forum – I only recently learned about the World Russia Forum to be held in Moscow on the two days immediately before the Natural Family Conference. In last month’s Chairman’s Report I shared the story of meetings I attended in Washington on Capitol Hill and at the Russian Embassy to promote American-Russian cooperation. It was there that I learned of the second event in Moscow, from Dr. Edward Lozansky, President of American University in Moscow. After learning that I would be in Moscow, he was kind enough to invite me to speak at the Forum, on the Middle East Christians issue.
The World Russia Forum will be held at the President Arbat Hotel in Moscow and will feature many insightful panels with American and Russian experts in various fields, including former congressmen such as Dana Rohrabacher and Curt Weldon. I will speak on the need for cooperation between the United States and Russia in protecting the persecuted Christian communities in the Middle East.
The concept of the entire conference is to find some areas that Russia and the United States can agree upon, rather than having the two nations slip into another state of Cold War. Russia is not the backward communist nation I saw during the final days before the collapse of the Soviet Union, when the officially atheist government was so broke it would do anything for cash, even allow my Christian tour company to print Bibles on government presses. Russia now has the seventh largest economy in the world. Sanctions by the EU and the United States against Russia have already cost Western companies tens of millions of dollars and many jobs. Russia has canceled all pork purchases from Germany, which could put up to 25% of German pork producers out of business. In the USA, Boeing may have to lay off thousands of workers if it is not allowed to deliver planes purchased by Russian airlines. Much more is at stake than “punishing Putin.”
My goal at this conference of course has nothing to do with the Ukraine, sanctions or pork production in Germany. My interest is the Christians of the Middle East, who are being exterminated by the Sunni terrorists funded by Gulf oil states. It is my prayer that my appearance at these two conferences will bring media coverage to Russia and the rest of Europe about the true conditions of Christians in the Middle East.
Christmas for Refugees and Russia – I have one other reason for being in Moscow next month. The Syrian Orthodox Church has strong ties to the Russian Orthodox Church. Separately from the two conventions, I will be making contacts with Russian Orthodox officials about our Christmas program. With the support of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Christmas for Refugees program could be greatly expanded.
France and Iraqi Christian Refugees
To my surprise, the socialist government of France has begun a program to expedite immigration of Christian refugees from Iraq. This comes at a time when the United States has made it virtually impossible for Iraqi Christian refugees to come to the United States even if they have relatives here. About 85% of Christian Iraqis have relatives in the USA and their second language is English, not French. So the French are going to take in thousands of English speaking, well educated middle class Christians from Iraq that the United States does not want. While this will greatly help individual Christians, sadly the migration to France may hasten the disappearance of the church in Iraq.
Please continue to pray for the persecuted Christians of the Middle East.
William J. Murray, Chairman
Religious Freedom Coalition, 601 Pennsylvania Ave. NW #900, Washington, DC 20004 * (202) 742-8990