In this issue of the newsletter
New: Christmas for Refugees matching challenge – How it began and how it works
Update: More Sunni Muslim violence in Jordan as Christmas approaches
Update: September distribution of diapers to Iraqi Christian refugees successful
New: Obama’s social radical pick for Supreme Court confirmation in January?
Christmas for Refugees now on countdown
Benefactor steps forward again with major challenge: For the second year in a row, one generous man has stepped forward to help fund the Christmas for Refugees program.
The benefactor’s help was not solicited, but rather his big heart and desire to see Christmas for Refugees not only fully funded but expanded in 2016, moved him to set an even higher challenge than he did in 2015.
This year the challenge from this one benefactor is $35,000 …. that is $15,000 more than last year. This is a great blessing to this ministry and to our program for Christian refugee children living in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. He said as soon as we raise $35,000 in smaller donations, the benefactor would then provide the same amount — bringing in $70,000 for the Christmas program.
The opportunity has been made even better: There are some conditions that had to be met, because the desire of the donor is to really increase the size of the Christmas program this year. One of those conditions was that I would encourage others to join the challenge with him prior to notifying all Christmas for Refugees supporters.
So, I wrote and called several other supporters of the Religious Freedom Coalition whom the Lord has blessed, describing the challenge and asking them to join in to make this year a banner year and to increase even further the number of children we can reach. Several supporters have stepped forward to join our major benefactor by also making pledges, or by sending funds to our escrow account, and they have made a real impact this year.
October 1st was our deadline to set up the matching gift program, giving us time to tell everyone about it. By that date, another $20,400 was pledged as matching gifts. That brings our total for the matching challenge to $55,400.
THIS IS AN AMAZING CHALLENGE FOR A MATCHING GIFT PROGRAM
If the challenge of $55,400 to the Christmas for Refugees program is matched by the deadline of December 1st, we will have $110,800 for the Christmas program!
As of October 1st we had raised over half of the funds needed. But we must still raise another $148,250 before Christmas! If the matching challenge is successful the Christmas program will have nearly all the funds needed by December 1st. Once the entire $110,800 is available from the matching challenge I have full confidence that we will be able to raise all required funds for Christmas 2016!
One Allah Akbar flag removed, another raised over church
This photo of the Iraqi national flag being raised over a church in the Christian town of Bartella, Iraq when the town was liberated from the Islamic State (ISIS) in October appeared in newspapers and major Internet news sites all over the world.
Many news agencies featured the photo at right and it appeared in many TV news reports as well. What is not reported is the symbolism of the Iraqi flag being raised over a church in Bartella, Iraq instead of over the town government center. Why was the church chosen to display the flag? To show that Allah is still master over the Iraqi government just as over ISIS.
Allah Akbar is still Allah Akbar. The Arabic text in the center of the Iraqi flag says “Allah Akbar.” The Islamic State (ISIS) flag that was removed said “Allah Akbar”
When the United States toppled Saddam Hussein, the new government which was installed received no guidelines to write a new constitution. As a result, Sharia was made the supreme law, just like in Iran. The Iraqi constitutions states in Article 2, “No law that contradicts the established provisions of Islam may be established.” The same article establishes Islam as the “official religion.” There are no real guarantees of freedom of religion for Christians.
Christians face greater oppression today than under Saddam Hussain. This is why Christians fled from Baghdad north to the Nineveh Plain and Kurdish areas. It is in these areas that our Diapers for Refugees and Christmas for Refugees program is operating.
First results for matching challenge Christmas program: After the current Chairman’s Report was printed, very encouraging donations were received to help meet the Christmas matching challenge. Remember: All gifts to Christmas for Refugees received by December 1st will be doubled, up to $55,400. That means if we reach that threshold the donations will be doubled to $110,800. What a blessing that would be to the children at Christmas.
To count as a part of the matching challenge your envelope must be postmarked before December 1st or your online donation received before December 1st.
Please pray for the Christmas program this year and the safety of the children. We charter only large safe, buses, the type you would ride on when taking a tour. The safety of the children is always my number one concern.
Large gatherings of Christians in one place in any majority Muslim nation can be problematic. The Kurds in northern Iraq are friendly now, but they assisted in the Ottoman Empire’s mass murder of Christians as recently as 1915. Islam is Islam.
Muslim “honor killings” make a comeback in Jordan
Sisters killed two weeks after prominent Christian leader assassinated: Just two weeks after Islamists murdered a Christian leader in Jordan, two Sunni Muslim brothers were charged with murdering their own sisters in an “honor killing.”
The brothers, aged 22 and 24, were looking for their older sister, 34, whom they found in the home of their 20-year-old sister, “who had married without the knowledge or consent of the family,” according to a Jordanian court official.
The brothers shot the younger sister twice and the older sister five times, including a shot to the head. The younger sister’s husband, who told the brothers where to find the sisters, was also arrested. The brothers claimed they killed their sisters “to defend the family’s honor.”
The prosecutor’s office charged all three of the arrested men with murder, which is punishable by death. However, courts in Jordan usually reduce sentences in “honor killings,” especially if the victim’s family asks for leniency.
This case is disturbing to me because it is one more ominous sign that once rare Islamic killings in the relatively safe, secular country of Jordan are becoming more common. Last year the 23-year-old son of a member of the Jordanian Parliament blew himself up in a suicide bombing on behalf of the Islamic State (ISIS). The father, MP Mazen Dalaeen said that his son was “deceived and tricked by Islamic State.” (Note: The Jordanian Parliament has no real power as the King can overrule or dissolve it at his will. But the members think they are important.) At least 3,000 young Jordanians have joined the Islamic State to do jihad.
The “honor killing” of the two sisters was also disturbing to me because it occurred in Naur, Jordan just 12 miles southwest of the capital Amman which is on the way to Mount Nebo. The Memorial Church of Moses is located at Mount Nebo. This is the location from which Moses saw the Promised Land, and is visited by many Christians each year. The location of the murders is also near Madaba where another ancient church containing a very famous Mosaic map is located. I have driven through Naur many times. On one occasion I rented a car when my wife Nancy was with me and drove to Madaba and Mount Nebo. A Christian village near there is planned for one of our Christmas for Refugees events in December.
A state of chaos has been brought to the Middle East by the involvement of the United States and other Western powers. Up until the invasion of Iraq in 2003, secular governments firmly controlled the Levant and north Africa. Since then almost every secular nation except Jordan and Lebanon has been overthrown with American and European support, or like Syria is in danger of falling to radical Islamist control.
Oddly, Hillary Clinton is now attempting to cast the blame on the Russians who only arrived in Syria in 2015. The reality is that it was Hillary Clinton’s “grand solution” for the Middle East of placing the Muslim Brotherhood in charge in these nations that has caused a great deal of the chaos and death.
The 2016 Christmas for Refugees program in Jordan should not be affected by the uptick in Sunni Muslim violence inside of Jordan. The stability in 2017, however, is in question. The only sure thing is that plenty of Christian refugees will remain in Jordan for 2016, as European nations and the United States continue to take 98.5% Sunni Muslim “refugees” into their countries. The Christians are screened out by the Sunni Muslim controlled United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR). Please pray daily for the health and safety of the Christian refugee children in Jordan as the Christmas for Refugees program gets closer.
Diapers for Refugees
New distribution of 180,000 diapers – Our September distribution of diapers was not completed until early October because of Muslim holidays that slow down commerce. This was the third delivery of 180,000 diapers in the Erbil area of northern Iraq for the Diapers for Refugees program. We have now delivered 540,000 diapers – more than half a million!
The program supports the needs of about 300 Christian refugee families with infants and toddlers who need diapers. Of course as toddlers are potty-trained some families leave the program and are replaced by those on the waiting list. I would love to supply diapers to every Christian refugee family in need, but that is just not possible. The need is too great. I thank the Lord that we are able to aid as many as we do.
At right is a photo of one toddler who took matters into her own hands and climbed one of the stacks of diapers to retrieve her supply along with a box of “squeezy fruit” in plastic tubes. Children squeeze out the mashed up fruit to eat. There are four snacks to a box.
We are praying to have 100% of the funds for the December diaper delivery wired to Iraq by mid-November. With that done, all of the concentration can be on the final effort for the Christmas program.
Next year the need for diapers will be greater as some Christian families try to move back to Christian villages on the Nineveh Plains that are being liberated by Christian and Kurdish militias. The Iraqi army the United States has spent billions of dollars to build, has done virtually nothing to help liberate Christian areas.
Return to the Nineveh Plains: The Nineveh Plain Protection Units (NPU) -an Assyrian Christian militia – has liberated Badaneh on the Nineveh Plain, where children once held captive now celebrate in the streets. Oddly some Christian leaders, even Assyrian church leaders such as Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako, have said Christian militias “are a bad idea.”
I actually don’t find this unusual. There are large numbers of Christians and church leaders who do not believe that Christians should defend themselves or even help their brothers and sisters in Christ who are persecuted. While attempting fund raising here in the United States for Christian refugees, I have actually been told there is no need to help Christians because they are going to Heaven, and that our relief efforts should go to Muslims to win them to Christ.
Christ told the church directly in John 13:34, “A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another even as I have loved you….” The Lord loved us so much he sacrificed his life for us on the Cross. We, as Christians, should be willing to sacrifice to help our brothers and sisters in Him. The idea that the Lord was talking about non-believers in the above passage, those sworn to kill Christians, is in my mind completely misguided.
There are numerous passages in the books written by Paul and other of the Apostles outlining the duties of Christians to those in the church who are in need, such as the widowed and orphaned. Our aid programs, such as Diapers for Refugees and Christmas for Refugees, are guided by Scriptures such as James 1:27.
No one is home on Capitol Hill
The Capitol Hill complex is like a ghost town. Congress held its last session on Friday, September 30th and nothing is scheduled again until November 14th. After the election, Congress will be in session a total of 16 days during November and December.
There will be no movement on any of the bills the Religious Freedom Coalition supports, including those such as HR-4017 and HR-5961 that would assist Christian refugees.
Those two bills, as well the Religious Persecution Relief Act (S.2708) introduced by Senator Tom Cotton, will all cease to exist at midnight on December 31st. These bills, which will have new bill numbers, will have to be re-submitted after the new Congress is sworn in on January 4th.
Normally about 20% of the 435 congressmen leave every two years, most by retirement (fed up with it) and the rest by loss of a primary or general election. This year we lost one of our greatest resources in a Virginia primary. Prayer Caucus chairman Randy Forbes lost his seat after being forced to change districts because of redistricting by a federal judge.
Postcard program suspended: Until we have the new names and all building number assignments of everyone in the 115th Congress, our postcards to Congress campaign to stop funding Sunni Muslim militias has been suspended. We should be able to resume distribution of postcards as soon as all names and addresses on Capitol Hill are known.
Obama may get his Supreme Court Justice: The 115th Congress of the United States will be sworn in on January 4th, 2017. The next president of the United States will not be sworn in until January 20th, 2017. A scenario is now emerging in which Judge Merrick Garland of the Federal Appeals Court — who is President Barack Obama’s pick for the Supreme Court vacancy caused by the death of Justice Anthony Scalia — could be confirmed regardless of who wins the presidential contest on November 8th.
In the current 114th Congress the Republicans control the Senate with 54 of the 100 seats. As a result, they have been able to refuse to confirm Judge Garland to the Supreme Court since his nomination in March, 2016. There are 24 of the 54 Republican seats in the Senate up for reelection including several won in 2012 in traditionally blue states. Some of these seats are in jeopardy, such as in Wisconsin where the Democrat candidate, former Senator Russ Feingold, now holds a lead of ten points over Tea Party incumbent Republican Ron Johnson. Just losing five out of 24 flips the Senate to Democrat control.
If the current poll numbers hold, the Senate may very well revert to Democrat control. Should the Democrats prevail on November 8th their party will take control of the Senate and select a new Majority Leader on January 4th — sixteen days before a new president can be sworn in, and thus give President Obama his going away gift of the most radically socially liberal Supreme Court since Roe v. Wade.
While the political year winds down, the Religious Freedom Coalition will focus through the end of December on the Christmas for Refugees and Diapers for Refugees programs.
William J. Murray, Chairman
Religious Freedom Coalition, 601 Pennsylvania Ave. NW #900, Washington, DC 20004 * (202) 742-8990