Matching gift program for Christmas established!

New matching gift program:

by William J. Murray, program director

Seventy-six supporters of the Religious Freedom Coalition came forward to pledge $77,031 for this year’s matching gift challenge fund.  That means that gifts sent specifically to the Christmas for Refugees program — up to $77,031 — will be doubled!

The red and white is NOT about Santa Clause. These are the traditional colors for Christmas in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. Christians dress their children in red and white as a proclamation that they are Christian. Imagine the challenge of gathering this many children in one place, feeding each of them, entertaining them, and handing each a gift as they leave.

If we can raise the $77,031 needed to use the full matching gift fund, we’ll have raised $154,062 toward fully funding the 2018 Christmas for Refugees program.  By completing the matching challenge, we will be close to reaching our goal of helping almost twice as many  children in Lebanon — and also adding children in Syria and Jordan.  Plus, the Christmas for Refugees program can be taken into the Bethlehem area to help the beleaguered and outnumbered Christian families who still remain there to have a better Christmas.

The total budget for Christmas for Refugees this year is $380,000 to reach at least 8,300 children and their families.  Christmas for Refugees does more than provide a Christ-centered Christmas program and meal for the children.  The family of each child receives a Christmas gift as well, tailored to meet the particular needs in the area where they live.

Most of the children’s families will receive a boxed hygiene kit that includes much needed articles for the whole family — toothpaste, tooth brushes, shampoo, body and hand soaps, disinfectants, bandages and more.

The retail value of the hygiene kit is between $30 and $50 depending upon the area and currency values.  Some families in colder areas receive blankets along with a smaller hygiene kit.  At each Christmas for Refugees event we take the advice of our ministry partners who work with the displaced and refugee Christian families year-round.

Each child receives a Christmas gift that consists of a toy or a craft that is gender specific when possible.  In some areas, we distribute boxed games because they can be used by all the children in the family.  Children’s books that are Gospel centered are also distributed when possible.  In some areas, if available, we also give picture Bibles to the younger children.

Christ is the center of the Christmas for Refugees program and He is present at each event.  The coloring books used for contests during the programs for the children present the Gospel story and the skits and puppet shows are also Christ centered.

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Keeping the programs Christ centered is important, as every one of these children have suffered some kind of trauma — from losing family members to Muslim terrorists, to being forced from their homes and schools, then living in conditions that are sometimes worse than those for prison inmates in the United States.  Often an entire family was forced to live in one room or in one tent.  The term is overused in the United States, but these children and their families all suffer to one degree or another from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

On average, Christmas for Refugees costs $45 per child.  Often this includes chartered buses to transport the children to where the Christmas celebrations can be held.  That cost includes planning and logistics.  In Lebanon, we must hire someone for three months to plan and provide for up to 20 different programs for about 100 children each in different locations.

Is it worth the cost?

Christian children enjoy a hot meal at a Christmas event in Iraq

If you could  see the smiles on the faces of the children and hear them laugh and sing Gospel songs, you would say the cost of the program is worth every cent.

That is why it is so important to me to reach the 2018 goal of $380,000.  Our partners who set up the Matching Gift Challenge fund have helped put this goal within reach; now if we can raise the $77,031 needed to equal the full matching gift fund, we’ll have raised $154,062.  That brings us very close to the $170,381.55 still needed to fully fund Christmas 2018!

Please pray the Lord will touch the hearts of those whom I have asked for help and that by the beginning of December we will have all the needed funds for this year’s Christmas programs.

We are committed!  By November 1st we will already have transferred over $100,000 to our ministry partners in the Middle East to make deposits on halls and buses and buy supplies such as staple foods, Bibles, games and toys in advance.  While some of the individual programs are small the finished product is very large.

Imagine putting on a party for 8,300 kids!

My wife, Nancy, and I will travel to Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq to supervise the programs.  This year it will not be possible for us to attend the new celebrations in Syria because of security issues.  Our presence in Syria could endanger the children even more.

Thanks to those seventy-six supporters who built the Matching Gift Challenge, this can be our best year …. IF …. we can raise the funds to match the $77,031 challenge quickly.  All gifts to the Christmas for Refugees program up to that amount will count toward the challenge and can be sent online at

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