In this issue of the newsletter
Update: Christmas for Refugees continues to expand in West Bank and Syria.
Update: Christmas matching gift program better than expected!
Update: Final harvest of the year at Nigerian orphanage farm. A huge success!
New: Our Kurdish “allies” pelt our departing troops with rotten fruit.
Christmas in Bethlehem again this year
Two programs in the “West Bank”: The Christmas for Refugees program will hold two events in Palestinian Authority controlled areas this Christmas. One will be held in Bethlehem which is now a majority Muslim city. The other will be held in Beit Sahour which is the last town in the West Bank that is majority Christian.
In earlier newsletters I stated that we would also try to hold a Christmas event for the Christian families in Ramallah, the “capital” of the Palestinian Authority. For various reasons I can’t go into here, we will not be able to have a program in Ramallah. Because of this, the programs in Bethlehem and Beit Sahour will be expanded …. that is, if we meet our overall fund-raising goal of $385,000!
The deadline for Middle East Christmas programs: Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is the day most Americans start thinking seriously about Christmas (even though the Christmas decorations start to appear in Walmart in mid-October).
Thanksgiving is on November 28th this year. My wife Nancy and I leave for the Middle East shortly after Thanksgiving, and our first events in Lebanon will be held on December xth. The Christmas programs must be fully funded, and all funds transferred to the Middle East and Nigeria weeks before Thanksgiving, and weeks before we leave for Lebanon.
Because of the logistics and areas we serve, the Christmas programs for the children will be held from December xth to Christmas Eve. The events closest to Christmas Day will be held in Bethlehem and Beit Sahour.
I look forward to standing once more in front of the giant Christmas tree that is still allowed in Manger Square by the Palestinian Authority!
But before we get to those final days in Bethlehem and Beit Sahour, the Christmas for Refugees program must be fully funded a full month before Thanksgiving.
Where we are now: Back in June and July when almost no one was thinking about Christmas, some core supporters of the Religious Freedom Coalition pledged $97,225 to a matching gift fund for a challenge. In October I sent a letter to all Religious Freedom Coalition supporters saying that their gifts would be doubled by the matching gift fund.
By the end of October only $33,682 of the challenge had been met.
On November 1st a second letter was rushed out, reminding everyone of the matching fund of $97,225 and that less than half of that had been received.
Legally I must give back the original $97,225 if the challenge is not matched!
Praise God – The challenge was met!
As of today, November 15th we have reached the goal of $97,225 for the matching fund challenge.
With all Christmas donations including the matching gift challenge, we have received $316,649. That is still $68,350 short of the need and we have just three weeks before our first Christmas event in Lebanon.
I trust the Lord that all the funds will be made available. After much prayer I authorized the use of the Religious Freedom Coalition’s emergency reserve to transfer the remainder of the funds needed.
I believe in my heart that while I am in the Middle East the Lord, through His people, will make the funds available to restore the emergency reserve.
The final harvest: The final harvests of this year’s corn and other crops at the orphanage farm we sponsored in Plateau State, Nigeria have been completed. The results are spectacular.
Our total investment in the farm was $7,500. The orphanage leaders are estimating that $15,000 worth of produce will come from the farm. The estimate of value is how much the orphanage would have had to spend buying the corn, potatoes, etc. from the open market.
The farm was a great success for more reasons than just the savings on food, although that helps tremendously. Very importantly, the older children in the orphanage learned much, not only about farming but also self-responsibility.
Their food didn’t just magically appear when someone gave it to them … they worked hard to help plant it, cultivate it, grow it and harvest it.
Please continue to pray for these children in this very dangerous environment.
The Kurdish crisis?
Manjib: The city of Manjib in northeastern Syria has become a focal point for those who have attacked President Trump for pulling American troops from Syria.
Newspaper columnists, Internet bloggers and even Senators have accused President Trump of “abandoning the Kurds” and pointed to Syrian government troops moving into the city of Manjib as proof.
The city of Manjib is 80% Arab. It is not Kurdish at all. During the time American troops were in northern Syria the city of Manjib was given to the Kurds to administer. No Arabs were allowed in the city administration. The majority Arab population was informed that they had to learn Kurdish to do business with the city.
After the American withdrawal, people flooded the streets of Manjib to welcome the Syrian Arab Army waving Syrian flags and holding up portraits of President Assad. In the northern part f the city, Russian military police patrolled between the Syrian Army to the south and the Turkish army to the north of the city.
Videos posted on the Internet show the Arab population waving and cheering the Russian police. They viewed the departing Kurdish controlled SDF as oppressors not saviors. (The USA established the Syrian Democratic Forces or SDF. Besides Kurds, the SDF has Sunni Muslim units from Chechnya, Russia who fought the Russian government there in an uprising.)
In Christian areas controlled by the Kurdish led SDF the situation was extremely bad for Assyrian Christians. Christian schools were closed, and the children were ordered to attend public schools and to learn Kurdish. This was a huge issue for the Assyrian Christians whose primary language is ancient Aramaic and their second language is Arabic. The children were being forced to learn a third language.
This is not new. Kurds have historically repressed and even massacred Christians in Syria and Iraq. They participated in the Armenian genocide.
YES … The mainstream media (MSM) has for years portrayed the Kurds as angels who have never committed a crime at any time in history. Many American Christians honestly believe the Kurds are Christians when in fact they are for the most part Sunni Muslims, except for the PKK (Kurdish Workers Party) which is Marxist and on the U.S. terror list.
On the positive side, the Iraqi Kurds do, for the most part, currently lean to the secular. But the aid the United States sends directly to the Kurdish Administration in northern Iraq never trickles down to the Christian population.
Ministries we support in Iraq work out of Erbil on some of our projects. Erbil is under Kurdish control. New construction is everywhere, and the water and sewage systems are first rate thanks to American taxpayer money. That is not true in the Christian town of Ankawa next to the Erbil airport. The streets are bad, the water supply is not reliable, and the town has the odor of a poor sewer system. Power outages are the norm.
Bottomline: Christians in Kurdish areas are at best second-class citizens.
A reporter for Reuters interviewed me about the withdrawal of American troops. It was obvious to me that his agenda was to criticize President Trump and hold the Kurds up as heroes.
I told him the Kurds were a minority in the “Kurdish area” of Syria established by the United States and that their fighters were being paid by the United States to block oil from being pumped from the rich oil area of Syria to the area held by the Syrian government.
The reporter appeared shocked to learn that Kurds were the minority in the area east of the Euphrates River they controlled, and that the Syrian government had no access to their oil fields in that region.
The next day the article appeared nationwide and just one line was a quote from me. None of the other information I furnished to him was used.
For now, the Kurds in northern Iraq appear to respect our government. Of course, we give them hundreds of millions of dollars a year to pay respect to us.
The Kurds in Syria appeared to respect us as we were handing out cash and protecting them. As our troops pulled out of the Kurdish area in October they were pelted with eggs, rotten fruit and potatoes. The videos are on the Internet and they are genuine and mentioned by the Associated Press and other news outlets.
Too often, other countries’ respect for our nation and for our brave men and women in uniform lasts only while we are handing over cash to corrupt bureaucrats who make themselves rich first and then take care of those closest to them next. In Muslim countries that means the Christians get nothing that our nation intended for them.
Changes in the Diapers for Refugees program
No diapers this December: As I mentioned in the last newsletter the Diapers for Refugees program has changed the dates we buy diapers making December a lot easier to manage financially.
In September we were able to buy diapers for four months by setting up the next purchase date in January instead of December. That is good news … But we still need $28,000 to buy a three-month supply of diapers in January.
Please pray with me that provision will be made not only for the shipment of diapers in January but for all of 2020 as well. There is a huge need for adult special needs diapers for the elderly and those with severe disabilities. Please pray for all those we assist in Iraq and other nations with the Diapers for Refugees program.
William J. Murray, President