In this issue of the newsletter
Update: Christmas events held in Nigeria orphanage / Planning for food and farm
Update: Every child at the Nigeria orphanage sent us a thank you card
Update: Christmas for Refugees events in Jordan and the West Bank bring smiles
Update: Christian refugees live in the shadow of great wealth in Jordan and Lebanon
Christmas for Refugees program at Nigeria orphanage
Christmas in Nigeria: I was unable to attend the Christmas programs at the orphanage in Nigeria we support. This was a disappointment to me but my schedule that included Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and the West Bank towns of Bethlehem and Beit Sahour would not allow a visit.
A good friend of the Religious Freedom Coalition and Nigeria expert did fly to Nigeria to monitor the Christmas programs and to inspect the overall progress at the orphanage in Plateau State.
The Christmas program in 2019 was the third we have held at the orphanage in Nigeria. At all times we must be reminded that most of the children have lost both parents to Islamic groups such as the Boko Haram and Fulani Herdsmen.
In Plateau State most of the murders of Christians are by Fulani Herdsmen who drive them off their farmlands. Not much is done by the government to curtail the violence against Christians because the current president of Nigeria is a Muslim and a Fulani Herdsman.
Just as was done for Christmas in 2017 all the children received shoes again in 2019. The day long Christmas celebration included puppet shows and each age group performed in a celebration of the birth of Jesus.
Some age groups sang, and others performed dances. There were also Bible recitations and prayers by the children.
When the owner of a bakery in the nearby city of Jos heard about the Christmas program at the orphanage, she prepared a special cake for the children with the Nativity scene on the very top.
Every child at the orphanage sent a thank you card to us. The teenagers’ cards expressed gratitude and the youngest child drew a smiley face.
The cards were hand carried back to the United States by our friend who was kind enough to fly to Nigeria in my absence and oversee the events at the orphanage.
Looking ahead for the orphanage: I do not mention the name of the orphanage or mention the exact location in Plateau State in this newsletter for security reasons. Two years ago, there was a massacre of Christian farmers just a few miles from its location. The situation is dangerous enough and I do not want to make it more dangerous for the children or their care givers.
Because of the continued killings of Christians, the number of children at the orphanage has risen. Most of the children have lost one or both parents to Islamic jihad. Most are from further north in Nigeria where Sharia law is in effect and there is no justice for Christians. However, as the Muslim herdsmen expand south there are more and more displaced Christians in majority Christian states.
The meal situation at the orphanage: Last year when I learned that the budget problems had forced the orphanage to serve only gruel each day with protein being only two eggs per
week per child, I made a commitment to provide protein for three meals a day. The effect on the energy level and learning skills of the children was almost immediate.
The protein commitment was made for six months, July through December, at a cost of $3,700 per month. The cost of food has risen as has the number of homeless children because Islamic jihad has also increased.
To continue the commitment for the first six months of 2020 for 180 children will cost $4,041 per month, or a little over $24,000 for six months.
I do not want to make the commitment past six months until I hear from supporters in our annual supporter poll which will be mailed to you in February. Once commitments such as this are made to suffering children they cannot be withdrawn.
In a few months we must revisit the plan for the orphanage farm that succeeded in bringing fresh food to the tables of the children last year.
Please pray for these children who have lost their parents to Islamic jihad.
Christmas for Refugees program in the Holy Land
Holy Land?: Most American Christians think of Israel when the “Holy Land” is mentioned. On our last mission to the Middle East my wife, Nancy, and I visited Sidon and Tyre
which are mentioned in Matthew 15:21 as places visited by Jesus. Both cities are in Lebanon.
Often when I am in Jordan, I visit Mount Nebo in Jordan from which Moses glimpsed the Promised Land. (Numbers 27:12) It is very emotional to stand where Moses once stood.
The areas in the Middle East where the Christmas for Refugees programs are held are the same places visited by the Apostles of Jesus. Once I stood at the place in Corinth where Saint Paul stood to be judged.
The “Holy Land,” The birthplace of Christianity is not just Bethlehem and Jerusalem but many other locations where the Lord and his Apostles ministered.
My heart really goes out to the Christians of the part of the Holy Land that is now called the “West Bank.” The Christian community established in and around Bethlehem for the last 2,000 years was abandoned to Muslim control by the 1993 Oslo Accord agreed to by the United States and Israel. It may remain that way until the return of the Lord.
Christmas events in two West Bank towns
Bethlehem and Beit Sahour Christmas: After several Christmas events for the children in Jordan, I and my wife Nancy drove down into the Jordan Valley to cross over the Allenby Bridge to the West Bank.
Israel controls the border; however, it is not officially part of Israel. Benjamin Netanyahu, the current Prime Minister of Israel, has announced that he will annex the entire West Bank if reelected.
The leader of the Jordanian partner ministry came with us to the West Bank as he has some family there and has done ministry work there in the past.
Last year we rented a large hall for just one event. This year we moved the program to Christian school common areas which allowed us to produce much more organized events. The Christmas events were held in two different schools.
The center piece of our Christmas events in the two towns was a Christian theater ministry we hired that puts on Christian plays explaining the Gospel story using modern themes in a combination of puppet and live actors. The theater ministry tours in several countries including Jordan and Lebanon. We were fortunate to be able to book them for Christmas.
Our programs also had the traditional Christmas hymns, games and coloring contests as well. Next month when I send out the annual receipts for donations, I will send a sample of the
coloring the children did of a Nativity scene.
Please pray for the Christians of the West bank, particularly the children. As far as Israel is concerned, they are Palestinians and not welcome in Israel. They are unwanted by the Muslims that control the West Bank and unwanted by Israel. They are literally refugees in the land where their families lived long before the time Jesus was born there.
Some of these families literally have homes built on top of the caves their ancestors lived in thousands of years ago. That is a hard concept for Americans who live in a nation just a few hundred years old to understand. Since the time of the first Arab Muslim invasion the Christians have suffered persecution.
Because they are considered Palestinians they are not welcome in the United States. The people of the area are for the most part not Arabs, but a distinct people just as are those living in Jordan and Syria.
Christmas in Jordan: Several Christmas events were held in Jordan. Sadly, I was unable to attend two events that I really wanted to go to because our flight from Erbil to Amman was cancelled due to heavy fog. There are a limited number of flights to Amman from Erbil. Some days there are no flights scheduled at all.
In all, several thousand children attended Christmas for Refugees events in Jordan. None of the children were Jordanian. All were Christian refugees from either Iraq or Syria.
Often my favorite part of the Christmas events is a skit that we put on in which the story of the birth of our Lord is told with major mistakes such as Mary learning that she was with child on Facebook. The mistakes bring shouts and hollers from the children who correct the puppets or actors making the mistakes. In the end the children themselves have told the story of the coming of the Lord correctly.
The situations the children live in as refugees are just as bad as the worst inner-city slums we have in Detroit or Baltimore. At the same time, just as in our big cities, there is a flagrant display of wealth in opulent malls, restaurants and social gathering places. There is a three-story Starbucks across the street from the Taj Mall in Amman. The city is full of gleaming modern office buildings fifty stories or more high and many five-star hotels.
This kind of opulence is nowhere to be seen in the Christian villages.
Nancy and I sometimes visit the malls in Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan to get some exercise walking, as we are often stuck in cars for many hours each day reaching various events.
In December, the malls in Jordan and Lebanon are full of Christmas decorations, with Christian hymns playing as background music. It is surreal to be there, considering the constant threat against Christians throughout the Middle East.
Often the shoppers in those malls are Americans and Europeans on visits from jobs in other Middle Eastern nations where such displays are against the law.
Please continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ in the Middle East, particularly the children we bring aid to in Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and the West Bank. Let us put into practice Galatians 6:10 when thinking about the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ in the Middle East.
William J. Murray, President