The Chairman’s Report for August 23, 2019

In this issue of the newsletter:

New:       First crop at orphanage farm … Children now have Irish potatoes!
New:       Orphanage children receive reward for their work and gain experience
New:       Christmas for Refugees: How many children will celebrate Christmas?
New:      Diapers for Refugees program faces September and December deadlines

First crops harvested at Nigerian orphanage farm

I cried tears of joy when I saw the photos – In just a matter of a few months what was just a hopeful idea has become an incredible reality!

Volunteers and older students with potato harvest.

Bag after bag of Irish potatoes have been harvested from the orphanage farm we sponsor. Every dime of the money was worth it!

Next, the corn crop will be mature and be harvested as well.

I am receiving email after email of thanks, along with photos of the farm as the children work on it to help provide their own food. The land was barren except for weeds when it was first leased in April. When I saw the photos of children picking out the weeds by hand, I prayed that their hopes for the land would produce results. The first results of their hard work have arrived.

I received the proposal from the orphanage director just four months ago to help them rent two hectares of land and obtain supplies for a small farm so the older children could plant and grow some of their own food. A lot can be grown on two hectares (five acres) in America using modern farming, but I was unsure of what could be done in that area of Africa.

The proposed budget came to 2.5 million Naira, or $7,500 USD.

Preparing the first meal from harvested potatoes.

I prayed about participation in this brand-new program that was not in the ministry budget. There was no way to contact supporters in advance because the planting season for that area of Nigeria was at hand.

Even if the farm did not provide much, I thought, still it would help to teach the children self-responsibility as well as providing an opportunity to work together for a common goal.

One thing did really worry me.

I had visited several farms in the same area of Nigeria where the orphanage is located. All the farms I visited had been invaded by Muslim Fulani Herdsmen,  and most of the farmers murdered. From day one I had a great fear that the small orphanage farm would be invaded, but the orphanage leaders were confident in the Lord’s protection of the children.

I visited a farming community in 2018 invaded and destroyed by Fulani Herdsmen. Many were killed.

During the entire time of preparing the land, planting and now the harvest, I have prayed for the safety of the children and the success of the farm.

The orphanage kids, particularly those that are close to adulthood, have learned to provide for themselves and they will have the self-respect that comes with that success.

There is no way to gauge the real effect because the values that are learned will be passed on to their children and grandchildren.  The potatoes are in, but the rest of the crop is not. Please pray for a harvest from the crops of sweet potatoes, corn and soybeans. And above all, pray for the kids.

Protein for three meals a day: I was shocked to learn during a call on August 1st  that prior to the Religious Freedom Coalition sending money for food,  that the orphanage had been forced to go down to two meals a day for over a month due to lack of funds.

Photo of children holding up their bowls showing some protein with rice.

Because of the generous spirit of supporters such as yourself I was able to make a commitment of $3,700 a month for the rest of 2019.

With these funds, plus the harvest from the farm, the children will have three meals a day with protein. Children who were receiving only two eggs a week will now have one egg a day for breakfast with their gruel.

It is my hope and prayer that the news from the orphanage in Plateau State warms your heart as it does mine. Many Christian children are suffering in Nigeria. We have been able to help some of them.

While the situation is better for the children we are helping, the situation in Nigeria overall is growing worse for Christians.

More and more churches in the Christian south of Nigeria are starting to feel the sting of Islamic extremism the way the churches in the north have for decades. On August 3rd the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor Enoch Adeboye, announced that five pastors had been kidnapped on their way to a conference in Logos. There is no word of their fate so far. Please continue to pray for all the Christians of Nigeria.

Christmas for Refugees

Prayer is needed for Christmas for Refugees: Our fund raising for Christmas for Refugees is well below what it should be. The need for Christmas for Refugees this year is $300,000. The Christmas program in 2018 ended with a deficit.

The deficit has been made up during the year and the Christmas for Refugees program is back in the black — but by less than $10,000!

To carry out the exact same programs in Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and the West Bank as we did in 2018, another $290,000 must be raised during September, October and November. That comes to nearly $100,000 a month.

I prayed with the children at this event in Bethlehem in 2018. A translator stands with me.

You may have received a fund-raising letter from me giving details of the cost of the program last year and the need this year. Last year the Christmas program cost $286,242.

Last year for the first time, the Christmas programs were extended to the few areas of the “West Bank” that are still Christian. In 1948 when the State of Israel came into existence, the “West Bank” was 86% Christian. Now it is 2% Christian. The Christian community is no longer self-sustaining and as a result is a persecuted minority.

I cannot begin to describe the joy for the children and their parents as children from different denominations were able to come together and celebrate the birth of Jesus.

We also took the program to Syria in 2018. We actually held some of the Christmas programs in Christian towns that had only recently been liberated from extremist Sunni Muslim fighters by the Syrian government. (NOTE: It is not possible to hold the programs in the northeast section of Syria occupied by the United States. It is too dangerous.)

More than a Christmas party: The overall average cost of the program is about $30.00 per child, but the cost varies according to the area: Lebanon is very expensive, Syria is very cheap. In Iraq and the “West Bank” we are able to host more complex programs.

The cost includes the safe transport of the children to the rented hall or church we have arranged to use. Often they are picked up by buses at set locations. They attend a full program lasting several hours that includes the Gospel message in several forms including clips from the Jesus film. There are hymns and games that teach Christian truths. The children receive a hot meal and an age and gender specific gift.

Some of the cost is material aid for the families of the children — which varies from location to location. Most often the family gift is a hygiene kit, but in the cold mountains of Lebanon we have given blankets to the families.

In Lebanon and Jordan all the children are Christian refugees from Syria and Iraq. Now,  there are actually Syrian Christian refugees who have fled to the areas of Iraq we serve. In Iraq we are helping Christians who have been displaced and are trying to rebuild their lives. They returned to looted and burned out homes. A family that cannot afford to buy a washing machine or refrigerator cannot afford a Christmas for their children.

I do not want to leave out even one child this year that participated in our programs in 2018. I would like to be able to invite some of those we were not able to accommodate last year.

PLEASE PRAY: Please pray that over the next three months we will be able to raise the funds needed for Christmas for Refugees and at the same time have the funds for the Diapers for Refugees program for December!

Diapers for Refugees

December deadline: For the last three years I have made every effort to have the Diapers for Refugees program fully funded before starting the fund-raising program for Christmas.

We didn’t get that done this year. We have the $35,000 to send to Iraq for the purchase of 500,000 diapers in September, but I have not been able as yet to raise the funds for the December purchase.

Iraqi mother with infant picks up diapers.

We buy the diapers every three months to get the best price. If we buy less than 500,000 at a time, the price dramatically increases.

Our ministry partner keeps the diapers in the kind of steel containers that are used on cargo ships, and distributes them monthly for us.

One more chance! Next week I will send out a fund raising letter to those who have assisted with the Diapers for Refugees program in the past. I will attempt to raise the funds for December quickly so that I can spend all of September, October and November working on the planning of the Christmas for Refugees events, which will include Nigeria.

About our diapers — we are furnishing high quality disposable diapers to Christian families who are trying to rebuild their lives on the Nineveh Plain. Our office is receiving calls asking why we do not buy cloth diapers. The simple explanation is this: cloth diapers must be washed in hot water to be sanitary for reuse. Many power plants and water purification plants were damaged by war. Well water in the Nineveh Plain is as salty as sea water. It is not drinkable, and diapers washed in it cause too much irritation. Most areas we work in have no running water as yet, and bottled water must be trucked in for drinking.

Over 90% of the families still do not have washing machines; those that do have them have no hot water, and of course building a fire in most locations is not permitted. Our disposable diapers go to land fills just as they do in the United States. There is no better solution now, but as the situation changes, if we can offer some families cloth diapers, that will be done.

Please pray with me that we will be able to raise the funds for both the Christmas for Refugees and Diapers for Refugees programs in December. More importantly, please pray for the families and the children we are ministering to in homelands that are now hostile to them.

William J. Murray, Chairman

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