In this issue of the newsletter
New: Our farm for orphanage in Nigeria preparing to yield first crop
New: No longer just plain gruel for children at the orphanage – We supply protein
New: Our forum with Boko Haram survivor a success in Washington
New: What was the real impact of the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom?
The orphanage farm to yield crops soon
It was a horrible looking field of weeds – The idea of starting a farm to help feed the children at the Christian orphanage in Nigeria only came to light in March. At first, I was skeptical because the orphanage owned no farming tools at all. The older kids would have to farm the land literally by hand as has been done there for thousands of years.
The first thing I needed to know was the cost. The cost of the project had to justify the output of the crops to feed the children.
The estimate came in at 2.6 million Nira or about $7,000. This was surprisingly low considering rent for 1.5 hectares (almost 4 acres) for the farm. The funds would pay for:
- Manure: 20 bags of fouls’ dropping
- Fertilizer: NPK 25 bags and Urea 15 bags
- Herbicides: 20 bottles
- Hoes: 30 small and 20 big for planting, weeding and cultivating.
- Crops to Plant: maize, soya beans, Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes and groundnut.
Quantity: 50 measures of maize grain, 20 measures of soya beans, 2 measures of roundnut, 2 bags of Irish potato seedlings, 2 bags of sweet potato seedlings.
It was worth a try because the project would teach self-responsibility and feed the children.
When I received the first photo of the land that was rented, I was admittedly dubious of success. More than fifty of the older children and adult volunteers were clearing the land by hand. To put that in perspective, one of the supporters of the Religious Freedom Coalition farms 1,100 acres almost by himself with no hired help!
During the time I spent in Nigeria I never saw a single piece of modern farming equipment as is used in the United States. The farms where I visited (all had been invaded and the farmers killed) were all small, and farming was done with hand tools.
When I received the first photo of the crops coming out of the ground, I was elated. The goals for the farm were threefold:
- Help the children learn to provide for themselves and have self-responsibility.
- Teach them how to farm as best as can be done with the tools available.
- Supply fresh food for the late summer and fall for the children.
So far, the first two goals are being achieved and we are very close to the first harvest. The corn and potatoes alone will greatly reduce the cost of food, which is now purchased at market prices.
The products produced at the farm will also have a known quality. (Food safety is not very high on the agenda for markets in Nigeria).
The land will provide far more in food value than the cost, but there are real intangibles as well. The children are not merely sitting in an orphanage being taken care of. They are now providing for themselves in a very tangible way.
Prayer is needed for more than rain!
Just before my trip to Nigeria last year a village within a day’s walk of the orphanage was attacked and 26 farmers were killed. I visited that village. The irrigation system had been torn up and the pumps destroyed by Sunni Muslim Fulani herdsmen. The homes were in ruins, and at the village pastor’s home there were still burned pages of a Bible on the ground.
The herdsmens’ cattle had been allowed to feast off the farms before moving on.
Please pray that the children will remain safe, and pray that the Muslim Herdsmen will not run their cattle into the fields and destroy them.
The threats are real all over Nigeria. Plateau State where the orphanage is located is a battleground state, but now the threat goes even further south. In Benue state the number of displaced Christians in camps increases daily. I have been to these IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camps and they are overcrowded, with illness running rampant among the people.
Nigeria is the most populous nation in Africa, and now half of the states practice Sharia law — the law of the Koran. The Muslim president of Nigeria, who is himself a Fulani Herdsman, has stated that he wants to see Sharia law throughout Nigeria.
Kidnapping of Christian girls is a huge problem. Muslim men are allowed four wives, and Christian men take only one wife. In order to have four wives, the Muslim men will kidnap Christian girls as young as thirteen and force them into Muslim marriages. Just a few weeks ago, I spoke to a Christian woman who had escaped a forced marriage.
The story of Esther: I met Esther at the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom in Washington, DC the week of July 15th.
The Sunni Muslim terrorist group Boko Haram attacked the town of Gwoza in October 2015, and Esther was abducted with several other young women. Her Sunni Muslim captives bludgeoned her father in front of her eyes. She and others were carried away into the Sambisa Forest. Her father survived for a while, but died while she was a captive. Her mother had passed away earlier.
She was just 17 years old when taken.
The kidnapped girls were told they would be treated better if they converted to Islam, and some did. Esther refused. Because of her refusal, she was raped continually by countless men and became pregnant.
One day when she was five months pregnant, a fight broke out among members of the Boko Haram. During this distraction, Esther and some of the other women managed to escape. They walked with no food or water for three days until they came upon a military camp.
The Nigerian Army announced that they had “saved” the young women.
Esther was among many survivors of religious persecution that the State Department brought to Washington, DC for the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom.
Don’t trust the media coverage you may see or read about this event. Although Christians are the most persecuted group in the world today, the State Department brought in mostly “persecuted Muslims.”
Here is a fact: More Christians are murdered for their faith in Nigeria every year than all other killings based on religion in the entire world.
The show put on by the State Department was politically correct and found no fault with Sunni Muslims or Saudi Arabia.
That was not true of the “side bar” events. There were 80 “side bar” events conducted by independent groups such as the Religious Freedom Coalition. Most were honest, while some that were hosted by Muslim and Hindu groups were far from honest in their intention.
The Muslims in India want religious freedom for themselves, but not for the Hindus in Pakistan. The Hindus of Pakistan want religious freedom for themselves, but not for Muslims and Christians in India. Their programs were disingenuous.
The very first day of the three-day affair, I participated in three major events including the kickoff prayer breakfast for Sam Brownback who is Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom.
I have known Sam Brownback for decades, and we are on a first name basis. I worked on projects for religious freedom with him when he was a congressman, and then later as a senator.
Sam Brownback is doing his best in his new job with the State Department, but he is no longer a politician with free reign. He must follow the policies of his boss, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Sam is not used to that and it does weigh on him.
Our event: On the first day of the multi-day event, the Religious Freedom Coalition, in conjunction with the Africa Conference of Christians, held an event featuring the sole survivor of a Sunni Muslim Boko Haram attack. His name is Ike (short for Isaac).
The Boko Haram had given all the Christians of his village 72 hours to leave. Many were unable to leave and dozens were killed during a brutal attack while Ike was away at work.
The next day, while attending the funeral for those killed in the attack, the Boko Haram attacked the funeral! Every person there, including Ike, was shot in the head. All died except for Ike. He lost most of his teeth, his bottom lip, and part of his jaw but he survived.
NOTE: You can watch Ike’s testimony of the attack and his faith at our Internet site.
Ike was at our meeting with his son Little Ike. A second speaker was Solomon Asemota, who is a prominent octogenarian Nigerian Christian leader and chair of National Christian Elders Forum in Nigeria. He is also an attorney and former police chief. I spoke about my experiences in Nigeria and the work of the Religious Freedom Coalition.
We had a great turnout to our meeting including members of the Christian media such as Christianity Today. Several American church leaders were also present.
On the downside, a Muslim cleric showed up to try to disrupt the meeting with various lies about “moderate Islam.” He was ignored. It is typical for Muslims to show up to meetings in Washington that focus on terror and religious freedom, in hopes their presence will intimidate presenters and cause them to back down from being openly critical of Islamic practices. Often the clerics will send women wearing hijabs.
Esther, whom I mentioned earlier, spoke at an event held by Senator Lankford (R-OK). He is one of the chairs of the Senate Values Action Team and a co-chair of the Senate Religious Freedom Caucus. Those of us who know the truth, including Senator Lankford, did our best to make our case to help persecuted Christians.
The presence of some groups such as the Scientologists – who spent a ton of money on high dollar receptions – removed some validity from the overall events of the week. There are always those who follow a path away from the Lord that show up at these type of events as spoilers. All we can do is pray for their salvation.
Please pray for all the ministries who do their best to bring the light of Jesus Christ to the darkness that has descended upon our Congress and many of our federal institutions such as the Department of State. Please pray that Ambassador Sam Brownback can lift up the light of Gospel truth in the darkness of the halls of the State Department.
William J. Murray, Chairman