Government orders changes at Christian camp: As I mentioned in the last Chairman’s Report I received an urgent call from Jordan, from the ministry we work with that runs a summer camp for Christian children and youth.
The camp was opened early this year to allow entire Christian refugee families to come and enjoy fresh air and Christian fellowship, away from their desperate lives in the slum areas of Amman, Jordan where entire families often live in just one room of a basement apartment.
It was after the Christian refugees from Iraq and Syria went back to Amman that the Jordanian Secret Police, General Security Police and Civil Defense officers showed up at the camp and informed the camp director that bringing the refugees to the camp had caused a security issue. The officers examined the camp and determined it was “unsafe for children” at the current threat level and ordered security upgrades. One of the reasons given was that it was more than 15 minutes from a security station.
These are the changes the authorities ordered:
- Flood lights that cover the entire camp in an emergency
- Security cameras to cover 15,000 square meters – a total of 15, all wired to a monitor
- Increase in the height of the fence around the camp in certain areas
- Hiring of another guard to assure 24-hour surveillance
- Building of a guard house for monitoring and security
- A landline telephone line that would not depend on cell service.
The demand had a high cost, and came at a time when repairs that were already needed to open the camp still had not been completed.
There is some good news — the Religious Freedom Coalition was able to supply $15,000 of the needed funds for the security work demanded by the Jordanian government.
I received the following email from the camp director last week:
Thank you very much for all the hard work you have been doing on our behalf my dear brother in the Lord.
We have been doing work at the camp site, an overhaul for the site; new electrical wiring, lights and camera security system. The Jordanian officials we are sure will approve the security work. When you come in June you will see all the work that has been done, you will be impressed with what we have been able to do with the funds you wired to us.
Thank you very much brother, we wouldn’t have done it without your help.
There are some things many who are receiving this newsletter do not know about the summer camp for Christian children we have supported for more than a decade. The camp is 30 years old and has been burned down twice by extremists, probably the Muslim Brotherhood which is very strong in Jordan. Now the Islamic State has a foothold in the country as well.
When I first became involved, the camp had fallen on some hard times because of the refugees flowing from Iraq after the Second Gulf War which began in late 2003. (Yes, we have had troops in Iraq that long and longer!) Ministries, including the one that operates the summer camp, had to move a large part of their funds to assistance programs for the refugees after 2003.
The first time I visited the camp, the water storage tanks on the roofs of buildings had not been replaced in 20 years. The metal had rusted through and bugs could fly in and out of the drinking water. The Religious Freedom Coalition paid to replace the entire water system at the camp before it opened the following year.
I have visited the camp numerous times and so has my wife Nancy when she has travelled with me. It is a joy to watch the Christian children be able to get together where they can freely express what they believe, in a nation where Christians are only 5% of the population. At the public schools, of course, they must take mandatory classes in Islam.
I have shared several different photos in the past, of the small amphitheater in the camp that sits at the rim of the Jordan Valley. When the children are in their seats they are looking at a large cross nearly fifteen feet high that is center stage. Behind that cross and across the valley is Israel. Most of the border between Jordan and Israel consists of the Jordan Valley. The Dead Sea is actually in shared territory with Jordan and Israel.
There are baptismal sites for Christians on both the Jordanian and Israeli sides of the Jordan River. Christians in Jordan boast that Jesus was baptized there by John the Baptist. I have been to both locations and I have had the privilege to participate in baptisms in the Jordan River.
Many children who arrive at the camp are marginal Christians, born into traditional Christian families but without a real, personal faith in Jesus Christ. Often they leave the camp with Christ at the center of the lives, and many later become leaders in the churches of Jordan.
To make a donation to help with camp security updates, click here and select “Christian Refugee Aid Programs” on the drop down menu.