September 28, 2018
In this issue of the newsletter
New: Helping Syrian Christians rebuild, beginning with a Christmas celebration
New: Two million diapers will be distributed to Christian refugee families this year
New: Christmas planning moves forward, first funds sent for preparations
Update: Washington: Letter to Trump from 20 groups on persecution in Nigeria
Religious Freedom Coalition, our first mission to Syria
First Syria mission: In just a few weeks, I will leave for Syria to explore areas recaptured by the secular government from jihadist forces. While there, I will speak to Christians who stayed in Syria during the seven-year-long war sponsored by Saudi Arabia. I will also meet with Christians who were forced to flee Syria as refugees and who have now returned.
As more and more territory in Syria is taken back from the “rebels” supported by Saudi Arabia and the United States, civilians are moving back — and not just a few. By the end of 2018 at least one million Syrians will have returned.
I have been told by others who have been to Syria lately that the church is growing drastically in Syria after Sunni Islam showed its true face in the form of the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, and al-Nusra. There were NEVER any “moderate” rebels who desired a secular government. The rebels were trying to overthrow the secular government.
Many Syrians who turned away from Islam because of the terrorism have turned away from all religion and desperately need to hear the Gospel message now. I am told that in Damascus many bars are opening as former Muslims want to show their rebellion. They need to hear that Jesus — not alcohol — is the answer.
We can start with our Christmas program in Syria. The Christmas for Refugees program gives us an entry point. The established churches in Syria are rebuilding, not just repairing church buildings, but helping the faithful as they return. In some areas, it is still dangerous for them to welcome Muslim converts. There is always a fear that new converts are not real and just want to be present to do harm. This, sadly, has occurred before when someone claiming to be a convert walked into a church with a bomb strapped on and killed many, including children.
It is a time to look past the physical danger and view the good that can be done by taking both material and spiritual aid to a nation torn apart by a war sponsored by Saudi Arabia and Sunni Muslim terrorist groups from all over the world. Sunni terrorists from as far away as China and the United States have gone to Syria to fight the secular government of Syria. Unfortunately, they have been assisted by numerous nations including the United States.
Do I face danger in Syria? The only thing that concerns me about being in Syria are drone strikes by the United States or missile strikes from other Western nations such as France, angry that Saudi Arabia’s mercenaries did not win the war and establish a Sunni Muslim State. The despotic Saudi monarchs have the money and the willingness to do evil to establish Sunni Islam everywhere, even by bombing school buses, wedding processions, and funerals.
Two million diapers this year
I first visited the town of Qaraqosh shortly after it was liberated from the Islamic State (ISIS) in 2016. The battle for Mosul was still ongoing and the front line was close enough for me to hear artillery fire. A Shia militia was using the Christian town as a staging area before moving to the front lines to fight along with the Iraqi Army against the Sunni Muslim Islamic State which still held Mosul.
No civilians had returned, and the only Christians present were members of the Nineveh Plain Protection Unit (NPU) which is a Christian militia that fought with the Shia Muslims to liberate the area. I met some of these Christians when I led a convoy of three trucks and vans to Qaraqosh to take food and water to the NPU, as they had been isolated by the Kurds.
Our convoy was initially blocked by the Kurdish Peshmerga, who are viewed in the United States as the great heroes of Iraq. In reality, the Kurds were attempting to cut out a piece of Iraq for their own nation and wanted to take most of the Nineveh Plain for that purpose.
The Kurds are not America’s helpers in Iraq; they are helping themselves with American funds and arms. I wrote a column when I returned to the United States about the Kurds stopping our convey from reaching Qaraqosh. It was entitled “Iraqi Palace of Mirrors” and was widely published. It can still be found at WND.COM and other news outlets.
Since my first visit, I have returned to Qaraqosh several times most often to watch the delivery of diapers to the families who have moved back. The real name of the town is Baghdadi. Baghdadi was the Assyrian name before it was renamed by Muslim Arabs after their expansion out of what is now Saudi Arabia.
As far as the Christians who live there are concerned, the name of the town is still Baghdadi. In June of this year, when I visited Baghdadi I was given a shirt with the ancient name of the town on it.
The entire Nineveh Plain region was Assyrian Christian before the invasion by Muslims. It pretty much remained Christian despite persecution by Arabs and Kurds — until the American intervention in Iraq. Since that time, most Christians have been forced out. There were two million Christians in Iraq when the United States invaded in 2003. Today there are only about 200,000 Christians left and most of those would escape if they could.
The few Christians who remain need our help. The Christians of the Nineveh Plain are returning to homes that at best have been looted and at worst completely destroyed. “The diaper ministry,” as we are called there, brings some sunshine to the bleak existence in the devastated towns of the Nineveh Plain. There is no cable TV, no high-speed Internet. There is not even any water pressure. Worse, the well water is as salty as the sea and drinking water must be trucked in. What water is available is too valuable to wash clothing with.
The Christians returning to the towns of the Nineveh Plain find few jobs and have the great expense of rebuilding their lives. Those with babies and toddlers cannot wash cloth diapers because of the water situation. All power is still only by generators as power lines are not up yet. The cost of disposable diapers is a real burden but one that keeps infants free of severe diaper rash infections. Our program removes that burden form these desperate families.
Our Diapers for Refugees program will distribute 500,000 diapers during September, October and November thanks to the generous gifts of the supporters of the Religious Freedom Coalition. The mothers of each of those children also receive feminine sanitary pads for themselves.
We don’t stop there. We also distribute adult diapers for elderly and handicapped who have special needs. We transferred the funds for the September purchase of high-quality diapers made in Turkey and the diapers have been delivered to our associate ministry’s warehouse in Erbil and to a distribution facility in Qaraqosh (Baghdadi).
The families are in great need and we work to make sure those in the greatest need are assisted. We work with pastors and priests of all denominations to obtain lists of those in the church who require diapers. Although the volunteers work off those lists to help distribute the diapers, we still require the ID of both the parent and the infant to make sure the diapers go to help those most in need.
Our commitment to the Diapers for Refugees program in Iraq calls for a December distribution of an additional 500,000 diapers, along with sanitary pads and special needs adult diapers. We are very close to achieving that goal at the same time we are ramping up for the Christmas programs in five nations including Syria.
Please pray that whatever funds may still be needed for the Diapers for Refugees program will be raised quickly, allowing us to concentrate on providing Christmas events for thousands of displaced Middle East Christians. Please pray for the children and their parents, that their lives can reach some kind of peace in the middle of the chaos of the Middle East.
Our ministry partner in Jordan has called me several times, pleading for the Diapers for Refugees program to help Christians families there. The small pilot program he envisions would cost only $7,500, but I will not make a commitment until I am sure that every dime needed for the program in Iraq is available. The commitment in Iraq was made for four distributions in 2018, and that promise must be kept.
If current price of diapers stays the same we will distribute 500,000 again in December!
Christmas for Refugees
Support growing but still short: When I last wrote to you about the Christmas budget, we had less than $1,000 on hand. Because of the generous gifts of supporters since then, the Christmas for Refugees program has raised $105,000 of the $380,000 budget for Christmas 2018. That was a wonderful response, but we are still short $275,000 of our budget this year.
Please pray with me that hearts will be opened, and the funds will be raised to bring a true Christ-centered Christmas to refugee children.
Funds have already been forwarded to our ministry partner in Lebanon, as the program is extremely complicated there. Large events cannot be held because the families are scattered. We must work church by church from the far north to the south of Lebanon. In all, this year there will be at least fifteen separate events.
By the end of October, we will need to wire-transfer over half of the required funds to Lebanon and Iraq. In November and the beginning of December, the remainder of the funds must be delivered and funding for Jordan and Nigeria must be addressed.
Bethlehem: There is also a desperate need to help the remaining Christians in what is referred to as the “West Bank.” Most Christians in the United States do not understand that Bethlehem is officially no longer in Israel. It is part of a special protectorate under the PNA (Palestinian National Authority which is actually the PLO or Palestinian Liberation Organization). President Trump recently cut off all funds to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank which includes Bethlehem.
If the funds can be raised to help the beleaguered Christians of the West Bank, I will drive from Amman to Bethlehem to help implement the Christmas program in the Holy Land. Please pray that this part of our Christmas for Refugees program can be implemented this year.
[su_button url=”https://christmasforrefugees.org/donate/”]Please help Christian refugee families[/su_button]
Nigeria special envoy needed: On September 10th, a letter signed by me and leaders of 20 other organizations was sent to President Trump proposing a special envoy. Other signers included Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and Nina Shea of the Hudson Institute. The special envoy would coordinate efforts to assist 2.2 million people who have fled Islamic terror in Nigeria and would work with the Nigerian government to help stop Fulani herdsmen from stealing Christian farmlands.
The Religious Freedom Coalition is not only working to directly assist Christian orphans in Nigeria but also to call the attention of Capitol Hill and the Trump Administration to the terrible ongoing persecution and outright murder of Christians in Nigeria.
Please pray for guidance in what we should do and can do to help in Nigeria!
William J. Murray, Chairman
[su_button url=”https://christmasforrefugees.org/donate/”]Please help Christian refugee families[/su_button]