In this issue of the newsletter
New: Our ministry partner in Iraq visits congressional and Senate offices.
New: Meeting the Speaker of the House – Telling the Speaker the truth
Update: Postcards to Congress campaign expands -No more guns to Islamic fighters
Update: Diapers for Iraqi Christian refugee babies and other aid program updates
Truth about Christians in Iraq brought to Capitol Hill
During my December mission to Erbil, Iraq to help the displaced Christians who have fled ISIL and poured into Erbil for refuge, I learned from the leader of our partner ministry there that he was planning a trip to the United States in January to plead for help with the current crisis. Mahir is a born again believer who has been invaluable in organizing the Christmas for Refugees events for children which we held in the area of Erbil. When he told me of his plans to visit several U.S. churches and ministries which have shown a desire to help the persecuted Christians of Iraq, I told him that we would arrange meetings for him on Capitol Hill as well.
Because of commitments in Lynchburg, Virginia, Mahir was only able to be present on Capitol Hill on Friday, January 29th, which made it somewhat difficult to arrange appointments, because most congressmen leave on Thursday nights to work in their districts. In addition, I was scheduled to be out of the country on another mission while Mahir would be in Washington in January. Fortunately, Religious Freedom Coalition Legislative Coordinator Alyssa Mitchell was able to make appointments with staff members in one Senate office plus two House offices.
The first meeting arranged by Alyssa was with Lena Smith, the Policy Advisor for Congressman Trent Franks. Congressman Franks is the co-chair of the International Religious Freedom Caucus. The Religious Freedom Coalition’s Deputy Director, Jeremy Hodes, also attended the meeting in Congressman Franks’ office. Mahir provided some new insights to help with the Congressman’s efforts to get the Congress to label the genocide of Christians in the Middle East for what it is – genocide.
Lena Smith, who has visited the Erbil area of Iraq herself, was easily able to relate to the information furnished by Mahir about the continued persecution of Christians in that area. Also, when Mahir told how the Kurdish government had confiscated an entire shipping container full of medicines and medical supplies bound for his ministry, Lena Smith quickly offered help. It turned out she has some contacts with the representative of the Kurdish Regional Government in Washington. Hopefully, a possible direct inquiry by a Member of Congress will result in these badly needed medicines reaching the refugees in Erbil.
Alyssa also arranged meetings the same day with the Legislative Council for Congressman Randy J. Forbes, the co-chair of the Congressional Prayer Caucus. Later, they met with the Policy Advisor to Senator Roy Blunt, chairman of the Values Action Team. The Values Action Team consists of a group of social conservative Senators and leaders of social conservative organizations including right to life and pro traditional marriage groups. The Religious Freedom Coalition is a part of the Values Action Team (VAT).
At all three meetings, Mahir described the awful conditions that Christians in Iraq are facing as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Iraq, including poor housing, poor nutrition, and lack of education for their children. Internally Displaced Persons are actually refugees who have not left the borders of their own nation.
Mahir emphasized that when the conflict commenced, these Christian IDPs believed their towns and villages would be liberated from the Islamic State and that their displacement would be temporary. With that hope, the miserable living conditions they faced were bearable; however, it has become painfully clear that there is no quick solution to end the reign of terror by the Islamic State. Mahir described how his ministry is working to support the suffering Christians of Iraq, but emphasized that the need is so overwhelming that neither his ministry alone nor all of those operating in Iraq combined can cope. He urged that Congress move to assist the displaced Christians in Iraq.
Lauren McCormack, Policy Advisor to Senator Roy Blunt, explained the ways in which the Senator has been proactively working to protect religious minorities in the Middle East. She noted that Senator Blunt fought to establish a Special Advisor on religious minorities at the State Department and sponsored a resolution to declare the crimes against Christians in the Middle East to be genocide. She additionally provided helpful contacts in the office of International Religious Freedom at the State Department, the Nineveh Council and at other Senate offices that will be useful in obtaining assistance to Christians made homeless by the Islamic State.
On February 11th Mahir returned to the Washington area for less than 24 hours before flying back to Erbil, Iraq. Since I had returned to the United States, I was able to meet with Mahir for a few hours to discuss the continuing situation in the area of Iraq he serves. We discussed not only the future of the Christmas for Refugees program in his region but also our efforts to deliver a container of diapers despite the massive backlog of containers at the Turkish border. We at the Religious Freedom Coalition look forward to expanding our efforts to help Christians in desperate need in Iraq.
Meeting with the Speaker of the House
I have met with Paul Ryan on several occasions when he was a congressman and chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, as well as when he was the nominated Vice Presidential candidate in 2012. Shortly after Mahir’s visit to Washington I was invited to a birthday party for Congressman Jim Jordan, and at that gathering Paul Ryan, now Speaker of the House, was present. I spent some time speaking with him about the situation of Christians in the Middle East and about our Christmas for Refugees program.
Speaker Ryan is a solid social conservative and practicing Catholic, but he is principally an economic conservative with a strong tilt toward the Austrian School of economics. As the subject of socialism did arise in our conversation, I gave him a copy of my newest book, Utopian Road to Hell, which has just been released. In Utopian Road to Hell I detail the destructive nature of utopian schemes including atheistic Marxism.
Stopping Saudi Evil – No more guns to Islamic fighters
Postcards to Congress program expands: Thousands of people receiving this newsletter have mailed postcards to their Senators and congressman demanding that Saudi Arabia be treated just like every other nation in the world that abuses human rights, such as North Korea for example. The very sad truth is that even Iran treats Christians better than Saudi Arabia does, and we must pressure Congress to make decisions accordingly.
The record of the Saudi royal family is despicable.
One young blogger, Raif Badawi, was sentenced to ten years in jail and to be flogged with a leather whip 1,000 times (basically a death sentence). His wife and children have fled to Canada because of threats she received for speaking out on his behalf. His “crime” was questioning the human rights record of the Saudi regime – the same regime that the United States and European nations arm with the most modern of technology to suppress their own people.
King Salman kicked off 2016 by executing 47 Shiite Muslims for the “crime” of a public demonstration against the oppression of minorities in Saudi Arabia. The mass execution occurred in one day, with most hanged and others beheaded and butchered. Saudi Arabia has a population of 28 million, not even one tenth the size of the U. S., yet executed more people than the U.S. did in 2015. Saudi Arabia’s royal family ordered the execution of 158 people, one execution almost every other day. Most of those executions were for non-violent offenses that would not warrant an execution in any Western nation. A startling 75 of those executed were visiting workers.
Visiting workers are often treated like slaves by the Saudis. It has gotten so bad that the nation of Chad banned women from taking jobs in Saudi Arabia as housekeepers. Christian workers from Nigeria have been arrested and tortured just for praying together in a private home. The religious police, or Matawan, even beat a British man for using an ATM designated for women. Foreign couples have been attacked or arrested for showing affection in public.
The Saudis’ brutal use of weapons manufactured in America and Europe is astounding. Immediately after taking over last year from his deceased brother, King Salman began a bombing campaign in Yemen. He has destroyed virtually every school and hospital in the Shiite controlled areas of Yemen, in an attempt to install a Sunni puppet government which he could completely control. The United States and the UK supply satellite photos and other intel that assists in the brutal bombing attacks in the name of helping “our Sunni allies.”
The Saudi Arabian royals first funded and armed the vicious Sunni Muslim thugs who slit the throats of Christian men and then wash their hands in “infidel blood” to be assured their place in what they believe will be “paradise.” These murderers will eventually spend eternity in hell watching the torment of King Salman and the other “royals” of Saudi Arabia that Western “leaders” such as Barack Obama and Angela Merkel pay homage to.
The RFC is expanding the educational postcard program to let congressmen and Senators know that there are Americans aware of the brutality of Saudi Arabia and the “free Syrian Army” of Sunni mercenaries they support in Syria who kill Christians on a daily basis. In the last thirty days we have mailed more than 100,000 letters to social conservatives like you, telling them of this brutality. Each letter contains postcards to sign and mail to their congressman and Senators, demanding America sanction Saudi Arabia just as it would any other human rights abuser, and asking Congress not to fund the Sunni fighters in Syria who murder Christians. This postcard program to educate the public and pressure Congress will continue as long as funding allows.
(More at our Saudi Evil page)
The Diaper Program
Turkey Delays Humanitarian Aid: During the Christmas for Refugees mission to Iraq in December, the need for diapers for babies was made very clear to us. At the warehouse constructed from sea-going containers, I was shown many stacks of children’s shirts, pants, and dresses that had been donated and were being organized for distribution. Often those donating clothing sadly forget that babies need diapers more than they do clothes.
I promised that the Christmas for Refugees program would deliver a shipping container of diapers. We received an offer of some donated diapers but not enough to fill a container. Shipping would cost us $8,000 to get to Erbil, plus there was the extra cost to fill up the container. While the container was waiting in Norfolk, Virginia to be filled, I learned that there was a backlog of thousands of containers on the Turkish border headed to the Kurdish region of Iraq. We saw the possibility of spending $8,000 on shipping, and then not having them delivered for months.
The Turkish government claims they are holding the containers because of “hostilities.” Turkey, which is run by the Muslim Brotherhood, seems to have no problem getting arms to Islamic terrorists who kill Christians in Syria and Northern Iraq. It’s apparently just food, medicine and basic necessities for the Kurdish region of Iraq that can’t seem to get through.
To make a long story short, we bought a truck load of 160,000 diapers in Iraq from a commercial wholesale supplier for 10 cents each. The overall cost of $16,000 plus some shipping is substantially more than planned …BUT…I promised those diapers to the refugee families and I am going to deliver them. These are disposable diapers. Many refugee families have no access to a washing machine and often have no hot water, and having enough soap is another issue. So, disposable diapers are the best alternative right now. Cloth diapers are better in many ways, but they are expensive to buy, so we are helping to set up a sewing center in Erbil, Iraq where volunteers can make diapers for those families that have the ability to wash them.
UPDATE – We will deliver diapers in March: We are being forced to buy diapers in Iraq. The plan to move donated diapers from Virginia through Turkey to Christian refugees in northern Iraq is just not going to work right now. More than 40,000 containers of goods are stuck on the Turkish side of the border of Iraq. The container of donated diapers would have cost us about $8,000 and may not have been delivered for months.
So, we bought a truck load of 160,000 diapers in Iraq from a commercial wholesale supplier for 10 cents each. The overall cost of $16,000 plus some shipping is substantially more than planned … BUT … I promised those diapers to the refugees families and I am going to deliver them. These are disposable diapers. Because most refugees families have no washing machines and often no hot water the disposable diapers are the best alternative right now.
Cloth diapers are expensive to buy so we are helping to set up a sewing center in Erbil, Iraq to make them for those families who have the ability to wash them. Donate now for our missions programs to help with diaper delivery.
More on missions: Is Dohuk next? We are currently in discussions to expand the Christmas program in Iraq to Dohuk, which is north of Mosul. Many Christians from the Mosul area fled to Dohuk, which itself was then almost overrun by the Islamic State (ISIL). Christian and Kurdish militias have since moved the lines back so that Dohuk is now out of artillery range. We hope by Christmas it will be even more secure and we can work with a local ministry to help some of those Christian children have a Christmas in 2016.
Our year round mission work in Jordan has not been forgotten. Tens of thousands of Christians from both Iraq and Syria have fled to Jordan and live in horrid conditions, sometimes several families in just one apartment. Many live in basements because United Nations camps are just not safe for Christians. Funds are wired on a monthly basis to our ministry partner in Amman, Jordan to keep the warehouse operational and continue food and clothing distribution.
The Christian summer camp for children that we have supported in Jordan for a decade still needs assistance. In past years we replaced the water system and kitchen appliances. This year the greatest need is scholarships for refugee children. The needs are so great! Please help today!
William J. Murray, Chairman
Religious Freedom Coalition, 601 Pennsylvania Ave. NW #900, Washington, DC 20004 * (202) 742-8990