The Chairman’s Report for July 16, 2021
In this issue of the newsletter:
Update: Children return to orphanage near Miango – Calm has returned to area
Update: Nigerian orphanage farm planting continues — Irish potatoes bloom
Update: Diaper program – Many elderly in Bethlehem die from Covid-19
New: Congress is asked to address persecution of Christians in Vietnam
Orphanage Children Return!
Orphanage back in operation after evacuation: The Religious Freedom Coalition supported orphanage in Nigeria was evacuated on May 25th because of nearby attacks by Sunni Muslim Fulani Herdsmen and direct threats.
I will always remember evacuating the orphanage on that date because it is my birthday.
One video at our Internet site shows hundreds of people carrying their belongings and fleeing the area to safer locations.
How bad were the attacks? Between May 15th and May 25th, a total of 37 Christians had been killed in and around the Jos-Miango Road.
This is a description of just a couple of the attacks as reported by Morningstar News:
Fulani herdsmen on Sunday (May 23) killed 14 Christians in a village near Jos, Plateau state and eight others in another village, sources said.
Herdsmen attacked Kwi village, Riyom County, near Jos, at about 11 p.m., said area resident Solomon Mandiks, a Christian rights activist.
“Fourteen Christians were butchered to death, including children,” Mandiks told Morning Star News in a text message. “Eight members of one family have all been killed. This is beside an additional six other Christians killed by the herdsmen in the village.”
Earlier that night in Dong village, Jos North County, armed herdsmen attacking at 8 p.m. killed eight Christians, area residents said. Asabe Samuel, 60-year-old member of the local Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) congregation, said in an interview at her home that a large number of herdsmen invaded as residents were about to go to sleep.
Then: Closer to the orphanage, Fulani killed a Christian store owner and four customers. And a pastor and his nine-year-old son were hacked to death less than a mile from the orphanage.
The attacks by the Fulani herdsmen ended on May 29th after more murders. They backed off the area in June, since their goal of striking terror into the hearts of Christians had been achieved. The authorities declared that people could return to their homes.
We had no place for the children other than the orphanage. They had to return.
They are back home: In Mid-June most of the children returned to the orphanage from the temporary lodging that had been arranged. A few returned later in the month. I was surprised that all the children came home to the orphanage despite the trauma of the attacks in Miango. But there is a reality … these children have nowhere else to go.
There were some added costs, but for the most part the children were cared for free of charge by others until the crisis was over. The single biggest additional cost was transportation for returning the children to the orphanage in Miango.
All is well … for now!
Why did the Sunni Muslim Fulani Herdsmen attack Christian farming villages in late May? What caused them to attack then?
The attacks were to stop planting! The Fulani Herdsmen want to break the Christian farmers and force them to move away, so their land can be taken over for grazing cattle.
The attacks were meant to scatter the farmers at a critical time in the planting season.
Because of Nigeria’s location, the cooler months are May, June, July and August. Harvesting starts in September or October depending on the crop. The Irish potatoes at our farm are planted early and harvested to allow planting of a different crop that will be ready as late as November. After that it gets really too hot and dry to grow anything. December and January are the hottest and the dryest months in Nigeria.
Our farm now: Praise God that the orphanage’s farm financed by the Religious Freedom Coaltion was untouched by the Sunni Muslim Fulani Herdsmen.
The Irish potatoes had already been planted and volunteers were able to plant corn (maize). Some seeding was delayed, but we should still have a good crop.
The Irish potatos have already reached the stage of flowering.
The farm is esential not only for fresh food production but for the self confidence of the orphans who are being taught a Christian work ethic.
For the past two years the farm has been so successful that a tithe of fresh produce has been given to the much smaller Caring Mother orphanage that has only 35 children.
I am sure many will write me asking why the orphanage is not moved farther south. Farther south is Benue State, where we are building one school building in an IDP camp and outfitting two other buildings as classrooms. There have been attacks by Sunni Muslims in Makurdi, the capitol of Benue State.
In the June 25th edition of the newsletter, I wrote about a recent attack by the Fulani herdsmen at the Abagena Internally Displaced Persons’ camp in Makurdi, killing seven and wounding nine. I personally have delivered aid to the Abagena IDP camp.
The Diaper Program
In Jordan and Lebanon, where we are assisting Christian refugees from Syria, our diaper program is known as Diapers for Refugees. In areas where we are helping Internally Displaced or persecuted Christians, the same program is called Heart for the Persecuted Church. Regardless of what we call it, the people we are helping simply call it “The Diaper Ministry.”
Bethlehem and the West Bank: I have sad news from our diaper program in Bethlehem, Beit Sahour and other areas of the West Bank under Palestinian Authority control.
Over half of the elderly we were supplying adult diapers to at care facilities have died from Covid-19 complications in the last three months. All of those who died had medical issues that required the adult diapers.
Although vaccines have been available in the United States since January, none were available in the West Bank until May. In Israel 60% of the population was vaccinated by May 1st, but Bethlehem is not in Israel any more.
There is much demand for adult diapers for special needs in the West Bank among Christians. The funds not used for the two elderly centers because of the deaths have been moved to help special needs children who are too old for regular diapers.
Why are there so many Christians in need in the West Bank? The simple answer is most of the wealthy, healthy Christians have left. Many of the wealthiest moved to Europe, while the upper middle class for the most part have gone to Chile.
Get ready for the numbers! There are 500,000 Christian Palestinians and/or their decendents living in Chile! Chile is nothing like Central America – it is not a third world nation, and most who live in Chile have no interest at all in immigrating to the the United States.Chile has the atmosphere of a European nation.
Palestinian Christians are far better off in Chile than they would be living under the Muslim dictated Palestinian Authority.
There is a small Christian middle class remaining in the West Bank, and some of the wealthy Christian families who have left still have their youngest sons living there to watch over properties or businesses.
For the most part the Christians remaining in the Palestinian Authority controlled areas are not well off, and many of the most gravely ill have no one financially able to care for them. Our diaper program helps.
Our Heart for the Persecuted Church program is also distributing food parcels to the neediest Christian families in the Bethlehem area. Right now the program is reaching just under 100 families a month.
My wife Nancy and I have been visiting Bethlehem and other West bank towns for more than twenty-five years. We have not been tourists … we have been in the homes of Christians in the West Bank. We have visited churches of all kinds and talked to priests of Orthodox churches and pastors of evangelical churches. Nancy and I have even had breakfast in the home of a man who is the highest ranking Christian member of the Palestinian Authority.
Many American journalists and commentators who pontificate on CNN, FOX, MSNBC, and other mainstream media outlets have never been there. I honestly believe some of the main players on Fox News don’t even know that there are Christians in the West Bank. My reporting is far more accurate than anything you will get from the mainstream media.
Advocacy in Washington, DC
Viet Nam is a problem: Those nice sneakers you bought that were made in Vietnam–could they have been made by Christians and Buddhists in a prison camp?
Vietnam is run by the atheistic Communist Party, just like China is run by the atheistic Communist Party. The difference is that Christians suffer greater persecution in Vietnam than in China. The persecution of Christians and other religious peoples in Vietnam is overlooked by American officials because Vietnam is currently seen as an American ally against China.
The concept in Washington held by both Democrats and Republicans — that Vietnamese communists are better for American interests than Chinese Communists — is flat out stupid. But, it fits with the conventional view of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” We armed and trained what is now the Taliban to fight Russians in Afghanistan. How did that work out?
In June, as president of the Religious Freedom Coalition I signed a letter with numerous other heads of organizations supporting HR-3001, the “Vietnam Human Rights Act” authored by Congressman Chris Smith.
HR 3001 prohibits any direct or indirect funding for Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security because of crackdowns against churches and indigenous communities; denial of the right to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association; arrests, imprisonment, and torture of advocates for political and religious freedom. This is the third Congress the bill has been introduced in. It may pass the House, but the Senate will just sit on it. That is Washington!
William J. Murray, President
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