In this issue of the newsletter
Update: Christmas for Refugees successful despite Covid-19
Update: The cause of the suffering of Syrian Christian children
Update: Heart for the Persecuted Church – Unification of our programs
New: Working with the Tiv Tribe in Nigeria to help displaced Christians
Biden turns blind eye to killing of Christians in Nigeria
Nigeria removed from list of “Countries of Particular Concern”
A “liberal” president and the killing of black Christians: On November 17th of last year President Biden’s State Department removed Nigeria from the list of “Countries of Particular Concern” (those nations allowing persecution of individuals because of their religion). This was in spite of the fact that during 2021 an average of 17 Christians in Nigeria were murdered each day because of their faith.
Biden then added Russia to the CPC list, in spite of the fact that not a single person in Russia has died because of their faith due to government actions or negligence since the fall of the Soviet Union. The primary reason given to add Russia to the list was that the mostly Christian nation refused to recognize Scientologists and Jehovah’s Witnesses as official religions. But the murder of Christians in Nigeria is OK with the Biden Administration!
Former Ambassador for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback said, “Just when we should be doing everything possible to stop the relentless violence that’s targeting Christians and others, we do the opposite.” Brownback is now a senior fellow at Open Doors USA, which ranks Nigeria ninth among the world’s top 50 persecutors. He said, “This rewards the Nigerian government for tolerating severe religious freedom violations and sends a message to extremists that their actions will continue to go unpunished. People of faith in Nigeria will bear the fallout of this decision, and that’s unacceptable.”
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said it was “appalled” at Nigeria’s “unexplainable” removal from the CPC listing. Immediately after the State Department announcement that Nigeria was being removed from the CPC list, Sunni Muslim Fulani herdsmen attacked and killed more Christians in Plateau State. And more attacks were also reported in Kaduna State.
Group letter to Biden: I was one of the primary signers of a group letter to President Biden calling on him to restore Nigeria to the CPC list. The numerous acts allowed and perpetrated by the Nigerian government against Christians and the Shia Muslim minority were listed in the letter.
The letter closed with this request: “We, the undersigned, are writing on behalf of the communities in Nigeria where more Christians are currently being killed than anywhere else on the face of the earth. We implore you to immediately re-designate Nigeria as a Country of Particular Concern. Failing to do so rewards the Nigerian government for tolerating and engaging in egregious, systematic, and ongoing religious freedom violations and sends a message to extremists that their actions will go unpunished.”
Christmas in the Middle East and in Washington, DC
Our Christmas for Refugees programs were underway in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the “West Bank” towns of Bethlehem and Beit Sahour the entire month of December. This year over 12,500 children have celebrated the birth of Jesus because of our programs.
Capitol Hill needs a Christmas reminder of Jesus as well. That is why I participated in the live Nativity on Capitol Hill again this year.
The Religious Freedom Coalition was one of several groups participating in the live Nativity program that was sponsored by Faith and Liberty in Washington DC. Faith and Liberty is associated with Liberty Counsel, which brings legal actions on behalf of Christians in this nation who are denied their religious liberties under the First Amendment.
The live Nativity is actually a march from the Faith and Liberty headquarters on 2nd Street to the steps of the Supreme Court. The Nativity this year included 47 costumed volunteers, including baby Jesus, and live animals. The camel really is a traffic stopper. I have participated in this program for the 18 years it has been in existence.
In a real first, the Chaplain of the House picked by Speaker Nancy Pelosi participated in the event. She is retired Navy Rear Adm. Margaret Grun Kibben and is the 61st Chaplain of the House of Representatives. Considering that all the groups participating in the live Nativity were pro-life conservative organizations, I was surprised but pleased that she participated.
In past years the organizers and pastors of the Live Nativity would have had breakfast together in the Supreme Court cafeteria, but as part of “security” the cafeteria is still off limits to the public because of the disturbances last year.
No … not because of the BLM riots in Washington that destroyed property, but because of the pro-Trump supporters that stormed the Capitol Building. BLM riots (called protests by the media) are not a problem according to the far left that rules Capitol Hill right now.
Almost a full year after the January 6th incident at the Capitol Building, Speaker Pelosi has turned the area around the building into an armed encampment. The number of Capitol Hill police has nearly doubled, and honestly, is now at what I think could be a dangerous level. Having so many armed men and women on Capitol Hill as there are now, could very well lead to a costly mistake.
The Capitol Building is the people’s House and should never be a closed off place like Queen Elizabeth’s Buckingham Palace. Nancy Pelosi is an elected official, not royalty. Being an elected official comes with risk. To stay in office, elected officials must be in touch with the voters, not hidden from them. The far left does not understand that concept.
The Christmas programs begin
Lebanon: In Lebanon the Christmas programs will reach over 4,000 children, of which 2,435 are Christian refugees from Syria.
Other children are from Iraq, and there are also some Lebanese children affected by the large explosion in Beirut and the collapse of the Lebanese currency.
The chart at right details programs just in Lebanon. I have placed it here to demonstrate the detailed reporting we require in order to make sure that the programs are carried out according to our specifications.
We know the church name and location, and the name of the pastor or main organizer of each event for the children. I also receive details of what occurred at each event, along with photos. We have trusted ministry partners in the Middle East who furnish me with detailed information on the progress of our programs, even with Covid-19 and the restrictions it caused.
Despite the collapse of the Lebanese pound in 2021, we were still able to provide meaningful gifts to the children. Of course there were Christian coloring books and Christian educational materials as well.
As can be seen in the photo at right, the children did their best to participate in singing and praising the Lord despite local requirement for masks!
Please note that the children are wearing coats. There is a misconception among many Americans that all of the Middle East is desert. The Bible though, speaks of the Cedars of Lebanon, where in higher elevations it is bitter cold during the winter. This is also true of Israel, next door to Lebanon. I have been in Jerusalem when it snowed, was bitter cold and the roads were covered with ice.
In fact, I had to cancel the very first Christmas for Refugees event in Amman, Jordan because of a massive ice storm that closed roads and took down power lines.
Fortunately the weather was overall good for all of our events in the Middle East this year. Events were successfully held in Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and the West Bank towns of Bethlehem and Beit Sahour. I will have more photos and reports about Christmas programs in the next newsletter.
Nigeria Orphanage: Our supported orphanage in Jos, Nigeria produced an invitation for adults to attend and watch the Christmas party for the children.
Our Christmas programs are Christ centered — something that perhaps I do not emphasize enough. Look how Christmas was spelled on the graphic that was sent out.
One of the main features of the day was the cutting of a birthday cake to celebrate the birth of our Lord. The drama presentation was of course Christ centered
This was the program presented:
1. Opening prayer- (5min)
2. Hymn- (5min)
3. Brief meaning of Christmas/opening address
4. Nativity drama presentation- (15min)
5. Memory verse recitation- (20min)
6. Song presentation by staff-(10min)
7. Carol songs-(15min)
8. Puppetry/clown ministration-(1hr 30min)
7. Cutting of Jesus Birthday cake- (10min)
8. Father Christmas crew/presentation of gifts- (1hour)
10. Closing prayer
The only secular time during the Christmas parties will be the gift distribution by Santa Claus and the serving of refreshments. There is a powerful connection in Nigeria between Christians and Santa. Don’t ask me to explain this; I can’t.
What comes next?: We have just about fully outfitted the new location for the orphanage in Jos. All furnishing is complete, and the orphanage now has a transport van. Classrooms on the grounds are in the final construction phase.
The building we paid one year’s rent in advance for may be for sale!
When the building was located it was empty and needed plumbing repairs which we completed. We got a great deal on rental because it was empty.
Will we buy the building? This is Nigeria and safeguards must be taken before even entertaining an actual purchase. What is the building really valued at? Are there any encumbrances or leans? Are the taxes paid up to date? There is a lot to consider.
Unless transportation is shut down to Nigeria again, this time by the Omicron variant of Covid-19, I will be in Jos the last week of January to examine the building and all the circumstances around it, and will send you a full report.
William J. Murray, President