One of the many Christian homes destroyed by Muslim Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria.

The Chairman’s Report for March 30, 2018

In this issue of the newsletter

New:      Attacks by Muslim raiders near orphanage we support

Update:  Values Action Team – The Senate VAT wakes up for religious freedom

New:       International Religious Freedom roundtable begins at the State Department

Update:  Post Card program on HR-390 continues – Did your Senators contact you?

March 30, 2018

Attacks in Nigeria near orphanage we support

          At least 25 dead – children evacuated:  There appears to be no let-up in the gruesome bloodletting in the Benue-Plateau region in north-central Nigeria where one of our Christmas for Refugees events was held at an orphanage.  At least 25 people were killed early on March 13th in an attack by Muslim Fulani herdsmen in Dundu village which is Christian.  The shocking part of this is that the capital of Nigeria, Abuja, is located in Plateau State where the attack occurred.

One of the many Christian homes destroyed by Muslim Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria.

One of the many Christian homes destroyed by Muslim Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria.

On Sunday, Abdu, the president of Irigwe Development Association (IDA) in the region, said Fulani herdsmen swooped into the community of Dundu and raided it for hours.

The 25 victims who were killed were buried in a mass grave in the village, but Abdu said the search for bodies was still ongoing, since some of the residents who tried to escape the bloody raid were killed in the surrounding area and may not have been discovered yet.

Rev. Jerry Datim, a local cleric who conducted the mass burial, lamented that the state government had abandoned the villagers to their fate.  He was critical of the state governor, Simon Lalong, saying that while he was “making merry” with President Muhammadu Buhari during the president’s visit, Fulani raiders were killing more people in the villages.

(Note: President Buhari is a Muslim and was born into the Fulani tribe.)

Rev. Datim called on the state government to stop giving false reports on the current  “peace” in the state when the reverse is the case.  Meanwhile, a mass burial for about 10 other persons who were recently slain in Miango village was being planned at the time.  Miango is a stone’s throw from Dundu.

The orphanage situation:  The executive governor of Plateau State, Simon Bako Lalong, imposed a dusk to dawn curfew.  As of the writing of this newsletter, the curfew was still in place.  Some roads are still blocked and as a result the kitchen workers from a local village have  not been able to get to the orphanage to cook for several days.  During that time volunteers prepared and carried meals to the orphanage.

More than 20 coffins lined up for those killed in Benue State by Muslim fighters who violently raided their Christian village.

More than 20 coffins lined up for those killed in Benue State by Muslim fighters who violently raided their Christian village.

In a nearby area, an American school was also attacked and a building burned.  The orphanage we support is operated by a local Nigerian ministry.

The same week, to the south of Plateau State, another Fulani attack occurred.  This time, disguised in military uniforms, they invaded a community in Benue State and killed more than 20 people.  The Fulani arrived in boats via the River Benue with firearms such as AK-47 rifles and machetes.  They went on a killing spree while looting homes and then burning them to the ground.

Why is there nothing in the Western media? Thousands of Christians die at the hands of Muslim terrorist groups such as the Boko Haram and the Fulani herdsmen each year.  The Western media reports major attacks in which 100 or more are killed, or when 100 or more young women are kidnapped – but does not report on the continued daily violence and kidnappings.

Not a week goes by that Christian girls are not kidnapped to become wives for Muslim fighters of the Boko Haram which is affiliated with the Islamic State.  The left leaning main stream media in the United States, such as the Washington Post, will report major attacks but often do so without stating that the attackers are driven by Islamic ideology.

What you can do:  Search on Google for attacks in Nigeria by Islamic groups.  One good place to find these is also at  Share the stories about the attacks on Facebook or Twitter, if you have accounts there.  You can also print them out and give them to members of your church or Bible study.  This will help increase awareness in the United States about the attacks Christians face in the north of Nigeria.

Easter program still planned:  Despite attacks in the area, the Easter program will still be conducted at the orphanage we support in Plateau State; however, additional security will be required.  Previously we had planned on hiring only one off-duty police officer to accompany our team to Plateau and Benue states.  For added safety, we will now hire a second armed off-duty police officer to accompany the team.

If our programs are cancelled the Muslim terrorists win.  There can be no backing down from standing for our Lord and Savior especially on the day we celebrate His defeat of death.

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Senate Values Action Team returns to its roots!

Senator Lankford is the new chairman:  The Senate Values Action Team (VAT) was originally chaired by Senator Sam Brownback who recently joined the State Department as  Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom.

My memory of the work of the VAT and Senator Brownback goes back to that horrible day of 9-11.  I was on my way to a press conference in support of the Sudan Peace Act sponsored by Senator Sam Brownback and Senator Bill Frist.  This bill, which the Bush Administration opposed, would have punished the Sudan for genocide against the Christians in the South.  The press conference was, of course, called off because of the 9-11 attack but my work with the Senate VAT continued.

Along with Peggy Nienaber, who was my Legislative Director at the time, we continued to work with Senator Brownback not only on the Sudan Peace Act but also on his other projects including funding carve-outs for the persecuted Christians of Iraq who had been forced to flee Baghdad after the failed American occupation of the city.

I was saddened to see Senator Brownback leave in 2010 to become governor of Kansas.  Looking for someone to replace him as chairman, I personally recruited Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri who had at one point in his career been the president of a Christian college.  I recruited him because I thought he would be the best choice to follow in the footsteps of the departing Senator Sam Brownback.

I felt betrayed when Senator Blunt took over as chairman of the VAT and promptly decided to drop the international issues that were so important to Sam Brownback and instead focused only on domestic policies such as education and abortion.

This year Senator Blunt made the decision to step aside as chairman in favor of Senator James Lankford who has a real interest in the persecuted church in the Middle East and elsewhere.  Lankford recruited Senator Steve Daines of Montana, a social conservative Christian, to be a co-chairman.

On Wednesday March 7th, the first meeting of the re-organized VAT under Senator Lankford met and the guest speaker was Ambassador Sam Brownback who spoke about the need to help the persecuted church in the Middle East and Nigeria.

Under Senator Blunt, the VAT meeting had dwindled to about 30 regulars who represented domestic groups at the monthly meetings.  On March 7th, however, more than sixty groups were represent!  The event was so well attended, twenty people had to stand in a reserved meeting room inside the Capital Building.

I had the opportunity to speak about the situation in Nigeria and Ambassador Brownback agreed on the need for action.

Now, once again the Values Action Team is a valuable asset for the persecuted church.

International Religious Freedom Roundtable at the State Department

Ambassador Sam Brownback initiates roundtable meetings:  In March, I attended the first roundtable meeting held by Sam Brownback, the new Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom.  He is the first Ambassador holding this post to schedule a weekly meeting at the State Department and inviting all parties interested in religious freedom to attend.

More than forty representatives of organizations representing the repressed from all over the world showed up.  Most represented Christians who suffer under Islamic ideology.

One of the presenters was from the Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations.  He represented the more than 100 million Christians in India who face daily persecution.  He gave evidence that seems to confirm that the Trump Administration has dropped the issue of violence against Indian Christians in favor of better relations with the Hindu nationalist party that now controls the government in India.

Another of the presenters was from the Hare Rama Foundation in Pakistan.  He focused on the persecution of Hindus in Muslim Pakistan.  One point he made was that Pakistan was founded as a secular nation, and the first chief justice of the Supreme Court was a Christian.

But in the 1980’s, (during the time the United States supported radical Muslims who were fighting the Soviet Union), the nation of Pakistan moved toward radical Islam.

Other important items on the agenda included the Christians of Syria and the continued suffering of Christians in Iraq because of the lack of government funds to assist resettlement in the Nineveh Plain.

Ambassador Brownback emphasized the need for the use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter to expose the injustices imposed on minority religious groups.

The roundtable group that Ambassador Brownback has assembled is bringing people together with a common cause, which has not been done before.  Over the next few years real change can be accomplished …. if Ambassador Brownback is not fired for trying!

Post Cards to Congress

Your help is needed:  So far this year we have mailed more than 300,000 personalized postcards supporting the original language of HR-390 to concerned Christians in all 50 states!

The original purpose of this bill was to aid persecuted Christians, but as I have mentioned in previous Chairman’s Reports, the language was changed by Senator Corker so that the goal is to form a committee to come up with a strategic American plan for Syria and shifting the blame away from ISIS and onto Russia in an attempt to score political points against President Trump.

The new post cards you received demand that the original language be reinstated.  I hope you have mailed them to your congressman and senators already.

Did your congressman and Senators respond?  I need to know if your senators or congressman respond to you.  It is important that I know their positions so they can be contacted. Please mail copies of any letters you receive in response to mailing the post cards to me at our street address in Washington, D.C.  The address is at the bottom of this page.

Other programs:  I do my best to try to report on all our programs each month but there is simply not enough space.  We could increase the size of the Chairman’s Report but that would increase the cost of printing and postage and take away from mission and legislative programs.

The funds for the Diapers for Refugees program for March have been transferred to Iraq. A distribution report should come from our affiliate ministry in Iraq by the time I return from Nigeria.  Because of the timing of the newsletters, I will be writing the next newsletter in Nigeria and sending it back to our office to be printed.  I will get as much as I can about the Nigeria mission in that next report.

Please pray for the children of Nigeria who have lost their parents to Islamic terror.

William J. Murray, Chairman

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