The Chairman’s Report for June 2, 2017
In this issue of the newsletter
Update: Christian summer camp in Jordan will meet government deadline
Update: Religious Freedom Coalition pays for camp fencing, floodlights and cameras
Update: America’s plan to defeat ISIL: Give weapons to the enemy of our enemy
Update: Still no vote on HR-390 and Leadership stalls bill in the House
A disturbing situation in Jordan for Christian children
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, which is some distance from Amman, is located on the rim of the Jordan Valley overlooking the Jordan River.
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.
[su_button url=”http://diapersforrefugees.org/helping-christian-refugees/”]Christian refugee mothers desperately need diapers for their babies – Please help[/su_button]
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.
Conversations with a Senator
“We have no one else to fight the Islamic State”: I cannot report the name of the Senator this column concerns, because all comments recorded here were made “off the record.” I attend many “off the record” meetings on Capitol Hill which are meant to give those invited “background” information, but names of those making the comments cannot be used.
During the course of one such meeting a Senator gave a short briefing on the situation with American troops in Syria. (Although it is against all international norms, the United States has established two air bases and a command camp inside of Syria. In the last two weeks U.S. troops have twice fired on Syrian troops who were fighting our common enemy, the Islamic State. The reason given was that a Syrian Army column had entered into a 50-kilometer zone we deem as American territory — although it is located in the nation of Syria.)
The Senator made the point that we must arm the Peshmerga, the Kurdish armed forces in Syria, because they are the only dependable fighting force and have been making headway against the Islamic State despite being bombed occasionally by our NATO ally Turkey.
At the conclusion of the briefing, questions were allowed. My question contained an opening statement, and this is what I said:
“Senator, in the last century the Kurds participated with the Turks in the mass murder, the actual genocide of Christians. The grandfather of one of the men I work with there was murdered along with other men in his village by Kurds who wanted their property. Since the first Gulf War, the funds we have given the Kurdish Authority for rebuilding have been withheld from Christian areas under their control. Sewers are backed up and the water supply does not flow in Christian areas, while the Kurds build five star hotels and modern malls,” I said.
Then I gave a firsthand account, “Sir … an aid convoy I was leading to Qaraqosh, a Christian town in Iraq, was blocked by the Peshmerga because they are trying to starve out the Christian militia. We armed the Taliban to fight the Soviet Union, just like we are arming the Kurds to fight the Islamic State. The Taliban used the arms against us. What happens to all these weapons and who will they be used against once the Islamic State is defeated? Will they be used against Christians in Iraq and Syria to run them out of areas the Kurds want for themselves?”
The Senator listened patiently to me and replied in a soft voice:
‘Bill, I have heard this before from you and other aid groups and ministries working in Iraq. These facts are not new to me, I know this … BUT … for now, it is in our strategic interest to stay with the Kurds since they are the only effective fighting force against the Islamic State. Without them we would have to use our own armed forces.”
This Senator is a good man, a Christian, who has acted as a missionary to non-Christian leaders in developing nations. Sadly, he was backing the same Deep State logic of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” that has in the past caused the United States to give weapons and money to people who hate us and want to kill us. The bare truth is that at one point we assisted what is now the Islamic State because we thought they were more moderate than the al-Nusra Front which was part of al-Qaeda. Last year the al-Nusra changed its name so it could once again obtain weapons from the United States. The truth is we have armed just about everyone involved in these conflicts except the Syrian Army, which is the most effective fighting force against the Islamic State.
HR-390 is still stalled in the House
GOP leadership could move the bill forward anytime but doesn’t: I have been working on Capitol Hill for decades and I really do understand the game the political parties play. Before I explain the game, let me make one thing clear about political parties – the same thing is true of all of them all over the world – and it is true of the GOP and the Democrats.
Political parties are about one thing and one thing only: POWER. Their main goal is to either stay in power or to attain power. There is no group that a political party would not sell out to stay in power. Often in our Congress the parties play a game with groups they can’t (or don’t really want to) help, but they need the support of these groups and their voters.
This is the game … keep the groups busy working for their party by keeping legislation they want alive in the House. Just before an election, pass the legislation in the House to get the group to work even harder to keep them in power. After the election, the same party leadership lets the legislation linger or die in the Senate. The truth is they never had any intention of passing the legislation in both houses of Congress — because Washington insiders who support the party would be offended by the legislation.
I have seen the exact same pro-family legislation introduced in the House every two years under different bill numbers, for sometimes a decade or more. Often there was never a vote in the previous Congress. Sometimes there was a vote, and then it was allowed to die in the Senate with no real push to get it passed. That is just one of the many games used to stay in power.
I don’t want to believe that the Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act of 2017 (HR-390) is in this category of “lead them on so they continue to support us for office” bills I have seen in the past. There are congressmen who are passionate for HR-390 – but they are not the game masters! The game masters are the members of the leadership and those who finance them. While our footwork and door knocking are important to these political parties, the real power remains with those that deliver hundreds of millions of dollars to them every election cycle. They have the real power.
Saudi Arabia is not on our side in this, and that is our big problem because most of the big dollar guys who support the GOP have financial interests in the Muslim Gulf States, and they want no bills passed that would offend the Muslim families that rule over the Middle East oil states. The money men demand that Saudi Arabia gets what policies it wants from the USA.
Social conservatives and Christians are not the only ones the game masters in Leadership treat this way. The animal rights folks on the left are treated the same way by the Democrats. And only the big money guys on social issues, like the abortion industry for example, have power with the Democrats. Those of us that understand the system do our best to game it and that is why we are using the post cards and phone calls to the leadership to move the bill. I understand that they will shuffle this bill around to make me and a few other activists on Capitol Hill happy. But they will do nothing to pass it unless they think they will lose voters like you.
William J. Murray, Chairman
Religious Freedom Coalition, 601 Pennsylvania Ave. NW #900, Washington, DC 20004 * (202) 742-8990
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