In this issue of the newsletter
Update: Safe, permanent site for the orphanage children may have been found
Update: Owner wants outrageous price for current building that needs repair
Update: Diapers for Refugees program continues in Iraq and West Bank
Update: Final results of supporters’ poll ranking our mission programs
Temporary orphanage facility not adequate
It just will not work: There are two major problems with using the facility we rented in Jos as a permanent orphanage home for the children:
1: The owner wants to sell it for twice what it is worth.
2: It requires costly repairs and the construction of additional buildings.
The owner wants $250,000 for the property. The survey we paid for said it was worth about half of that amount. The structural engineer estimated thousands of dollars of repairs, and the cost for additional covered space would be more than the school building we built at the IDP camp in Makurdi, Benue State.
When my wife Nancy and I visited the rented site in January, I became aware of some troubling issues and ordered a full inspection. In my mind I had limits as far as cost that would make it worthwhile to buy the location. I prayed that we would find a solution to properly house the children.
Then a much larger, two-acre site was offered to us. The price is $125,000, which is half the cost of buying the building we are now in.
That $125,000 is not in our budget. The Board of Directors of the Religious Freedom Coalition set the budget for 2022 at a Board meeting in September of 2021. The budget is based on the expectation that income will be the same as it was in 2021.
To buy the land I would need $125,000 more than the ministry budget for 2022.
If the Lord directs us to buy the Land then He will provide!
“And my God shall fulfill all your necessities through His riches with glory in Jesus Christ.” Philippians 4:19 (Geneva Bible)
The current location of the orphanage is leased until September 2024. Until then, a new site would have to be upgraded, and several smaller buildings would have to be constructed.
But none of this happens until I stand on the land and ask the Lord if it is the location He wants for the orphanage. It is a difficult trip, but I will travel to Nigeria in April to look at conditions and to pray for an answer.
Security: Several supporters have called, written, or sent emails with questions about security in Jos for an orphanage and asking if we should move it to Benue state. The short answer is that all the dedicated staff would be lost, and the children would be cared for by strangers. It is a five-hour drive to Makurdi, and Jos city is just as safe.
Jos is a city of 900,000. The rented compound and the proposed new site are central to Jos city. The Sunni Muslim Fulani herdsmen cannot hide amongst cattle and drive them through the city.
Regardless of the security, no place in Nigeria is totally safe. That is why I have armed police with me while I am there.
The real reason for the orphanage
Winning the lost to Jesus: The orphanage is not just a place to house and feed children who have lost their parents to Islamic terror and hatred. The orphanage is about nurturing and training young people to grow in the Lord and take His word to the lost.
Everything about the educational programs is in some way about Jesus, and many who leave the orphanage as young adults will become pastors and evangelists.
The children participate in numerous events that take the Gospel to the lost now, including witnessing to others in the community. The children also participate in contests of Bible knowledge and memorizing verses with other Christian schools. That is one reason we bought the minibus for the orphanage.
We are preparing young people to win the lost for the Lord.
Please pray with me that the means may be found for a permanent home for the orphans, and that they can escape their fear of Islamic terror and be grounded in the Gospel.
Diapers for Refugees
Iraq: Dohuc Iraq is currently our diaper program center.
Until the whole Covid-19 uproar, Erbil was the center of our work with the diaper program in Iraq. Erbil is also the center of Kurdish administration of their sector of Iraq.
This is an autonomous region in Iraq comprised of four Kurdish-majority governorates, or states. They are Dohuk, Erbil, Halabja, and Sulaymaniyah.
The Kurds are 97% Muslim, with the vast majority being Sunni Muslim. The Christians and the Shia Muslims in the area are mostly of Arab descent. Many in this area share DNA with Europeans from the time of the crusades.
When the Sunni Muslim Islamic State invaded the Kurdish area in 2014 to rob and kill Christians, they thought the Kurds would welcome them. But the ethnic solidarity of the Kurds brought them together to fight the Islamic State.
The displaced Christians fled to Erbil, and most of the work we did in Iraq centered around the Christian IDP camps there. I started the Diapers for Refugees program after seeing the horrid cases of diaper rash at a mobile medical facility. At the time, tens of thousands of Christians were IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons), with many living in unfinished buildings.
During that period, we delivered hundreds of thousands of disposable diapers because there was no hot water and no way to wash cloth diapers at IDP camps.
As Christian families moved back into their destroyed homes in the Nineveh Plains, we moved the program to their villages. Hundreds of thousands of diapers for babies and toddlers were distributed to take the financial burden away as families tried to rebuild. At the same time, the adult diaper program grew by assisting the needy elderly and those with war injuries or disabilities.
In Iraq our main distribution center is now Dohuc where there are many impoverished Christian families who were financially unable to return and rebuild their homes. We continue to distribute both infant and adult diapers in the Dohuc area, the home of what is left of the Assyrians.
Unlike the Kurds who surrendered to Islam and gave up their faith when Muslim invaders took over the last of what is now Iraq back in 638, the vast majority of Assyrians kept their faith. In Dohuc, the diaper program is administered by an Assyrian aid society and various evangelical churches.
Although most Assyrians have migrated away from northern Iraq, they still have a strong presence there, and virtually all are Christians.
The West Bank: The Diaper program supplies mostly diapers to the elderly in the “West Bank” towns of Bethlehem and Beit Sahour. There are many impoverished Christians families living in the place of the birth of our Lord, as the area is now controlled by the Palestinian Authority. Again, I remind everyone that Bethlehem is not in Israel now.
Religious Freedom Coalition supporters respond
The Response: Neary two months has passed since supporters of the Religious Freedom Coalition received a questionnaire asking them to rank missions programs by importance. The answers help guide me in what direction to take throughout the year. Sometimes I become so involved in a program that it becomes difficult for me to see the drawbacks.
In the last newsletter I listed the two Nigeria projects as first and second, and for individual mission projects they still are. “Increase aid in Nigeria to help Christian children orphaned by Islamic jihad” received the most support.
That poll item included building a permanent home with the same attributes as the one destroyed by Sunni Muslim Fulani herdsmen and providing it for the orphans who had lost their families to Islamic terror.
“Expand presence in Nigeria’s Benue State to help Christian IDP families” came in as second after a full tally. This included projects such as the school building, we built for displaced Christians at a camp for internally displaced Persons (IDP camp) in Benue State. There are several IDP camps in northern Benue State for Christians driven from their homes.
When number one is not number one: Supporters of the Religious Freedom Coalition were asked to rank each of the six categories from one to five with five being the most important. “Continue or even grow a larger ministry area.” There were two mission projects in Nigeria plus the Christmas program, the Diaper program, and Advocacy on Capitol Hill. That’s five!
Number six in the poll or survey was: “Mr. Murray, please trust God to guide you in how to use my support.” That option received more ‘votes’ of support than any of the other five. I greatly appreciate the trust of all those who gave that option the highest support.
The Lord directs each of us. When He first called me to travel to Nigeria, I could not have imagined that in a few years I would be directing the building of a Christian school at an IDP camp, but the Lord did know. No need to ask the Lord why, just follow and all will be well. I give thanks for the direction he gave me that led me to each of the ministries we now have.
In all things, give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus toward you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (Geneva Bible)
The Christmas, Diaper, and Capitol Hill advocacy programs remain so close I cannot really give a rank for each, even as I write this newsletter. The three programs are too close to list separately, but the strong opinions about advocacy work on Capitol Hill remain.
I received many notes on the reply form about the ranking of advocacy work on Capitol Hill. Many of the opinions were very strong.
Many long-time supporters of the Religious Freedom Coalition wrote in a “zero” instead of checking off one of the numbers from one to five to rank the work on Capitol Hill. As I mentioned in the last newsletter those who wrote in a zero also wrote me saying Capitol Hill work was a lost cause with Nancy Pelosi in charge.
Diapers for Refugees and Christmas programs remain important to most supporters. Most who support the diaper programs also support the Christmas programs. There is, however, stronger support for the adult diaper program among those who write notes to me.
Pray for Christians we assist in the Middle East and Africa. All of them are witnesses for the Lord. The help we give them strengthens their voices for the Lord and for the churches that reach out to them.
Please also pray for my upcoming trip back to Nigeria to visit the orphans and to inspect the land that we may (or may not) purchase for the orphanage. Once in Jos and on the land, I will get down on my knees, touch the earth and ask the direction of our Lord. Only when I can feel His approval will I feel like I can move forward on such a large undertaking.
William J. Murray, President