In this issue of the newsletter
Update: The hope that Muslims destroyed along with an orphanage in Miango
Update: Our farm was lost but the lives of the children were saved
Update: Adult special needs diapers in the West Bank and other areas
Update: Christmas program will help poorest Christian refugees in the Middle East
Orphanage in Nigeria
Recovering from disaster
Remembering Miango: We cannot rebuild the orphanage at Miango in Plateau State. That area, a center of Christianity in Plateau State, is no longer safe.
I tried several times to visit the orphanage this year, but each time airline flight cancelations forced me to change plans. The last flight I had planned on would have put my wife Nancy and I at the orphanage the day of the attack which destroyed it, on August 2nd.
Besides the total destruction of the orphanage, the Sunni Muslim attackers killed 70 Christians and seriously injured more in the area. More than 500 homes were destroyed, as well as 5 churches. In all, over 29,000 Christians were displaced.
Years of work lost: Between 2017 and the day of the evacuation, tens of thousands of dollars of Religious Freedom Coalition funds had been transferred to the Miango orphanage for various projects.
The very first expenditure was part of our Christmas for Refugees program. I had read about the children in the Miango orphanage, most of whom had lost their parents to Islamic jihad. Many had been injured themselves when Christian villages were attacked by the Sunni Muslim Boko Haram or Sunni Muslim Fulani Herdsmen.
I contacted someone who could help with communications, and that year a Christmas program was held for the nearly 190 children there at the time.
Our first Nigeria program: The Christmas for Refugees program provided hot meals and funds for costumes and games. Each child received a hygiene kit containing much needed items such as shampoos, soaps, toothpaste and other items.
Every child also received a pair of shoes expected to last at least through the next school year. For most, those shoes were the only pair they owned. The orphanage, as I was learning, was desperately underfunded and needed help.
Examining the orphanage: In March of 2018 I was finally able to travel to Nigeria to visit the Miango orphanage. The children were welcoming and outgoing considering what they had been through. Several showed me their bullet and machete scars.
It seemed that all the children loved the Lord and trusted Him above all. Most had lost both parents in attacks and had been moved around from place to place until they were brought to this orphanage as a final refuge.
I fell in love with these wonderful children who only wanted to grow and learn more about the Lord from those who were nurturing them.
But there were problems. The water system was a disaster and there was not a proper sanitation system. These children had nowhere else to go … Things needed fixed.
First major project: The first thing I determined should be fixed was the water and sanitation system. Some of the dormitory buildings’ toilets emptied into an open ditch just outside the back wall. These were gravity toilets; they did not flush. There was only one well and no water tower. Water had to be pumped as it was used.
In May of 2018, I received plans and estimates for a new water system and the initial funds were transferred. Over the following two months a water tower was constructed, a new well dug, and electric pumps installed. Water lines from the water tower were run to the kitchen and of course to the various buildings for sanitation purposes.
Next project – nutrition: The issue of proper diet was also raised. Funds for the orphanage were limited to those received from Nigeria, a nation in which the average monthly wage is supposed to be just $1,100 USD. In major cities such as Lagos, earnings could be higher. But in the area where the orphanage was located, many survive on as little as $200 a month.
I learned that the children were receiving just two meals a day, and those were mostly just gruel which is a kind of cereal. Fish meal was added to one meal a day for protein, and the children were having just two eggs a week.
I authorized a budget of $38,400 a year that allowed the children to have three meals a day and to receive a good protein meal once a day. That program continued until the day the orphanage was destroyed.
The Farm: Good food is a priority but children learning to provide for themselves is also important. Life is not just receiving gifts, despite what “progressives” in the United States believe. The idea of the children working their own farm to produce fresh vegetables was discussed and planned.
Land for the first farm was secured in 2019 and planting began. The older children did most of the work along with adult volunteers who taught them. Even the younger children “helped.”
The project provided much fresh food and gave the participating children self-respect. In a rural area, knowledge about how to farm is important.
At the end of the first full year of farming, 10% of the food was tithed to a much smaller orphanage near Jos city which had even fewer resources. Hundreds of pounds of potatoes and corn were harvested that year, along with peanuts and fresh vegetables.
Programs of these types continued through 2020 and 2021 right up until the destruction of the orphanage by Sunni Muslims.
The second year of the farming in 2020 was by far even more successful; however, the food and protein program costing $38,400 a year was continued. Raising needed farm animals such as chickens would not have been possible. Buying chicken and fish was a better option.
Again in 2021 the farm was planted and crops had begun to grow when Sunni Muslim Fulani Herdsmen ran their cattle through the fields on their way to destroy homes, churches and kill innocent Christian villagers.
Rebuilding: We are in the process of rebuilding at a new location. The Religious Freedom Coalition has supplied almost all the funds needed, including paying one year’s rent in advance for a large 14 room building for the orphans.
New bedding and clothes, including school uniforms have been provided, and classrooms are under construction. We have purchased just about everything including the kitchen sink. A used VW Transporter was purchased for city use. The new location is inside Jos City.
A new school at IDP Camps in Benue State
I was shocked in April this year to learn that an IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camp in Benue State — where I had visited before and distributed aid – had been attacked and seven Christians killed.
Although Benue State is 97% Christian, the Muslims from the north still mount attacks. There are tens of thousands of displaced Christians in Benue. Many of those are from the TIV Tribe which is almost totally Christian.
I spoke with the queen of the TIV, Felicia Ayatse in December 2020 about the needs of displaced Christians in Benue State. She is the wife of the Tor (king) of the Tiv Tribe. That tribe is predominately in Benue State.
Tor Tiv James Ortese Iorzua Ayatse was the first king of the Tiv Tribe to be sworn in on the Holy Bible. The Queen works to aid Christians who have been forced from their lands by Sunni Muslim herdsmen of the Fulani Tribe.
The queen told me during our nearly one-hour conversation that there was a great need for education of the children at the IDP camps. I promised to help with specific projects that would directly aid the children, as we had been doing with the orphans in Plateau State.
In January the queen sent me a proposal for the construction of one small school building for 120 students in the Daudu 3 IDP camp and the rehabilitation of two similar buildings in Daudu Camps 1 and 2. The funds for the construction of the building were forwarded to the TIV Tribe’s non-profit foundation in March and construction began in May.
Construction of the small school building was completed in July, and in August of this year funds were sent to fully outfit the new building as well as rehabilitate and fully outfit buildings in the other two camps. In all, the three buildings will provide classrooms for 360 students, 120 at each IDP Camp.
After construction was completed at Daudu 3 Camp in August the funds were forwarded to the TIV Foundation to outfit all three buildings.
As a Christian organization our purpose was not merely to furnish facilities, but to promote the Gospel. The foundation managed by the TIV King and Queen is Christian.
The Religious Freedom Coalition is not only constructing but also fully outfitting all three buildings for the TIV Tribe. We furnished desks, chairs, white boards and curriculum materials. We included bookbags, pens, pencils etc. for the students. We also supplied the teachers’ materials.
Each new student receives a Bible. Because the program is operated by the TIV Tribe and not the United Nations, the programs are all Christian based and include Bible studies. Had the United Nations or U.S. government funded the school, no Christian content would be allowed.
The Middle East and Christmas
Bethlehem: I can recall the very first time I visited the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in 1989, well before President Bill Clinton talked the Israelis into handing it over the Yasser Arafat in return for “peace” in 1995. As late as 1995 Bethlehem was still a majority Christian city and the vendors selling olive wood crosses and Nativity scenes made from Jerusalem Stone were all Christians.
When Israel became a state in 1948 Bethlehem was 85% Christian. Today under the majority Muslim Palestinian Authority Christians represent just 12% of the population. It is now unsafe for Christian women to be alone on the streets even during daylight hours.
Christians with enough money moved to Chile or Europe as the repression by the new Muslim government mounted. Because the Christians are considered Palestinians it is virtually impossible for them to immigrate to the United States.
The vendors in Nativity Square today selling olive wood crosses are for the most part Muslims. Beit Sahour and Beit Jala next door to Bethlehem are still majority Christian but Muslims are moving into those towns at a quickening rate.
It is in these three towns, Bethlehem, Beit Sahour and Beit Jala that the Religious Freedom Coalition helps the poorest and disabled Christians. We have a robust adult diaper program for those disabled by age or lack of proper medical care.
There is no “Social Security” or “Medicare” program in the West Bank, and any aid the Muslim controlled Palestinian Authority receives from the West does not trickle down to Christians.
In most cases families must bring the very expensive adult diapers to relatives in adult care centers. They are very costly as import taxes must be paid to both the Israeli government and to the Palestinian Authority. Everything entering Bethlehem is taxed twice.
Many times families simply do not have the funds for the medical needs of the elderly.
In the “West Bank” our programs are part of our Heart for the Persecuted Church program. Assistance also includes food for the poorest of Christian families.
Because the Religious Freedom Coalition “discriminates” by only assisting Christians, we are prohibited from receiving funds from USAID or from the European Union.
When a Christian day care center requested help providing air conditioning, they were turned down by aid agencies that received USAID funds. The Religious Freedom Coalition rewired the building and installed “split unit” air conditioners in each room for the children.
Each year our Christmas for Refugees program also provides annual programs and gifts for the children in Bethlehem and Beit Sahour.
Diapers for Refugees
The Religious Freedom Coalition’s Diapers for Refugees program operates in Jordan and Iraq as well as the West Bank. Until the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic over one million diapers were being distributed to babies, toddlers and adults in need.
Most were refugees from Iraq and Syria in Jordan and for Iraqi families who were displaced by the Islamic State or other Sunni Muslim terrorists.
Christians, who were just 3% of the Iraq population before the Iraqi Wars represent 20% of the Iraqi refugees in Jordan and Lebanon.
The Covid-19 pandemic changed but did not stop the program. The adult diaper program actually grew as we discovered even more care centers where poor Christian adults would be forced to sleep on rubber mats with no mattress because of their condition. Our infant and toddler program which was at one time centered in Erbil, a Kurdish area in Iraq, is for the most part now located in Duhok, Iraq and managed by Christian Armenians.
In 2020 and 2021 distribution became challenging and transportation and travel rules changed almost daily in some areas.
Three different inspection trips I had planned to Iraq and Jordan had to be cancelled.
Christmas for Refugees
Covid-19 problems overcome: In 2020 and again this year the Christmas for Refugees program has helped restore some joy to Christian children forced from their homes by Islamic terror. The children and their families aided are either refugees or Internally Displaced Persons.
In Lebanon about 4,000 children and their refugee families will participate in the program. In Syria 5,550 Christian children and their families who have been displaced by the ten-year conflict will be part of the program.
In all 12,500 children and their families will benefit from the Christmas for Refugees program. The children will have some type of event to go to and will receive food and gifts including spiritual materials. Parents receive items based on location which could be hygiene kits or even blankets in colder areas such as the Beqaa Valley.
And in Washington, DC
Efforts to assist persecuted Christians continue on Capitol Hill as well. Despite Covid-19 I have personally met with senators and congressmen in Washington. The Religious Freedom Coalition is part of the International Religious Freedom Roundtable and the Senate Values Action Team.
I have signed joint letters with other concerned groups to President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken as well as congressmen and Senators regarding persecution of Christians. I am particularly concerned about persecution in nations such as Vietnam. Persecution of Christians in Vietnam is worse than in China, but Washington turns a blind eye to that persecution to win Communist Vietnam over as an “ally.”
Please help me continue this work!
Year end donations to non-profit organizations such as the Religious Freedom Coalition are an important part of revenue for the coming year. The year end gifts received in December help me plan for the coming year, a year we pray, will see the end of Covid-19 restrictions and problems that have been costly and limited our ability to assist persecuted Christians.
Your generous year end gift will greatly help me in moving forward with relocating the orphanage Muslims destroyed in Nigeria to a new location. Your year end gift will also assist me in providing diapers to special needs adult Christians in poverty in the Middle East. You will also be helping me work to move the Biden Administration to assist Christian refugees rather than resettle Muslims in the United States.
All gifts received postmarked before December 31st will be posted to 2021 for tax purposes. Gifts for securities can be made directly to our E*TRADE account.
William J. Murray, President