In this issue of the newsletter
Update: Land purchase underway for permanent home for Nigerian orphanage
New: Nigeria responsible for 80% of Christians who die for their faith
Update: Our support continues for the summer camp for Christian children in Jordan
New: Mission trip to Iraq in July to assist Diapers for Refugees program
Moving forward to a permanent home
Just a few steps to go: I am in the process of transferring funds to Nigeria to purchase land inside Jos city.
Because of the reputation of Nigeria for funds vanishing, the money is being transferred in separate smaller amounts in case of some loss.
In previous newsletters the cost of the property was pegged at $125,000 that included two adjoining parcels. After some negotiation we were able to add a third parcel that would allow better protection and give us additional area for growth.
The total cost of the land, including the third parcel and government fees, comes to $161,000. That includes sufficient buildings for the children including separate quarters for the boys and girls. There is space for some farming, but not nearly at the level of the farm we had in Miango which is far more rural.
At the same time, we are working to legally change the name of the orphanage to better reflect the area. We have submitted several names to the state, but as yet have not received the official approval.
Death toll mounts: Our orphanage is turning away children, as one Christian is killed for their faith every two hours in Nigeria. Thirteen Christians a day and 372 Christians a month are murdered because of their faith in the Lord.
Open Doors International, a group that monitors worldwide persecution of Christians, published a report revealing that 80% of all Christians who are murdered for their faith die in Nigeria. In 2021 the total killed was 4,650.
Even with this ongoing incredible toll, Joe Biden’s State Department without any explanation, dropped Nigeria from the list of Countries of Particular Concern for religious freedom in October of 2021. Nigeria had been added by the Trump Administration in December of the previous year.
Tantamount to permission to persecute: The Biden Administration has in effect given permission to the Sunni Muslim led government to allow persecution of Christians in the predominantly Muslim areas of Nigeria. Since 1999 twelve northern states have instituted Sharia law, thus basically ignoring the secular constitution of Nigeria.
Murder of Deborah Emmanuel Yakubu: A Christian student at Shehu Shagari College of Education in Sokoto, the capital of Sokoto state, was beaten, stoned to death and then her body was set on fire.
Up to 80 Muslim students in her college participated in the murder. The attack was shown on social media with one of the murderers bragging in the Hausa language that he had killed and burned her body. The video appeared on May 12 and was not removed for some time.
The Rev. Kelvin Ugwu, a Roman Catholic priest, said in a statement that he had viewed a video of the assault.
“I can’t bring myself to share the videos of how they stoned and beat this young lady to death and subsequently burned her body,” Ugwu said. “It is very, very traumatizing.” He said the killers video-recorded the killing, shouting the jihadist slogan “Allahu akbar [God is greater].”
No arrests were made until there was international media coverage and condemnation from European governments. The Biden Administration ignored the murder.
Only two of the 80 students who in some way participated were arrested, and the result of the arrests was immediate attacks on churches.
The same day of the arrests three churches were vandalized and Christian owned shops were looted. Sunni Muslims succeeded in destroying the Catholic Cathedral and the ECWA church in Sokoto.” (Morning Star news)
St. Kevin’s Catholic Church was also attacked and partly burnt. Rev. Christopher Omotosho said that “Windows of the new hospital complex under construction on the same premises were shattered.” (Morningstar News)
This is Sharia law in action. Sokoto is a far northern state that has instituted full Sharia Law both in personal matters and criminal matters. The Quran is the law. Sokoto is overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim and of the Fulani tribe. The Christian and Shia Muslim minorities are persecuted. Christian girls are often kidnapped and forced into Muslim marriages.
There will be some kind of show trial, but in the end the perpetrators will be found to have been justified. The claim is that Deborah insulted Mohammed on Facebook. That is a lie. What actually happened is that Deborah refused a date offer from a Muslim student, so he accused her of blasphemy.
What is being held up as her “blasphemy” was a Facebook post she wrote saying that Christians at her college were receiving inferior assignments to those given to Muslim students. Does that justify a gruesome murder such as this?
Camp in Jordan
Over a period of 15 years the Religious Freedom Coalition has done much to improve the conditions at a summer camp for Christian youth in Jordan.
Camp *** (Camp name redacted for security) was founded by a good friend of mine more than 30 years ago, and this year one of the camp counselors is a grandson of one of the counselors at the very first summer camp.
Camp *** allows children of different Christian denominations to meet and to develop a closer relationship with the Lord.
During the time the Religious Freedom Coalition has been involved we have done a lot to help improve the camp, including installing a new water system. The state-of-the-art tanks we bought replaced old metal tanks that had rusted through.
During the years of threats by the Islamic State we repaired the fence that surrounds the camp and installed a video surveillance system. Other improvements and replacements included new refrigerators and a remodeled bathroom.
A few years ago we added playground equipment, and this year we added commercial grade canvas tarps to provide shade for children in the playground area.
Our support of Camp *** has lasted long enough that this year we are replacing mattresses for the second time. They will replace mattresses we bought about ten years ago that have aged out. Like those mattresses, these new ones are thin and useful for kids at a summer camp, but do not last for a long time. They are typical for this type of use.
I cannot emphasize the spiritual growth these children have at Camp ***. In Jordan, the religion of a newborn child is on their birth certificate. If the family is Christian, that is what is on the child’s official Jordanian records — even if the family never spent one day in church. The counselors are very well trained, and the entire camp is oriented to spiritual growth. Yes, there is play time, even laser tag and a bounce house. Most importantly, there are also Bible classes meant to help the children understand and strengthen a relationship with the Lord.
Often, children come to understand that they did not have an actual relationship with the Lord, and accept Him as their Lord and Savior at Camp ***. This camp has changed lives, and I have seen the results in adults I have met.
Diapers for Refugees
Iraq July mission: I have not been in Iraq since 2019. Although I have been to the Assyrian areas of Iraq before, I have not been there since we moved the Diapers for Refugees operation from Erbil to Duhok.
As of now I plan on visiting both Erbil and Duhok in July and of course will send a full report to you on what I find. In my past visits to Iraq I have reported on the damage done to Christian areas by the Islamic State invasion. Friends I have there lost everything, as their homes and businesses were destroyed. Rebuilding takes time and money.
On this visit I hope I will be able to report on positive elements of reconstructing the Christian society in the Nineveh Plain.
Another of my main interests in Iraq is visiting the centers that need adult diapers for special needs. While many in need are elderly, there are also younger adults who received severe injuries during attacks by the Islamic State and are now not able to care for themselves.
Wars may end, but the human cost can linger for lifetimes.
All of our efforts in Iraq have been in Kurdish autonomous areas. While the governorates are Kurdish, they all do fall under the Iraqi constitution. Still, they operate as a separate area.
Although leaning more secular, the Kurds are almost all Sunni Muslim. There are extreme elements of the Kurds who do want Sharia Law. The use of the Kurdish language in the schools is also an issue for Christians who are either Assyrian or Arab.
Putting it bluntly: The Kurds are no angels, and they want the area to be Kurdish — not Arab, not Assyrian and not Christian. Right now, Christians are for the most part left alone because of all the aid flowing in from the West. When the aid dries up, the niceness to Christians will probably also dry up. In the past the Kurds assisted the Turks in the slaughter of Christians.
Christmas for Refugees: While in Iraq I will also work on finding leaders and churches to help with our Christmas for Refugees program that has been so successful in the past. The Christmas programs in Erbil are now well managed without us. The goal now is to plant the programs deeper in the Assyrian areas.
Pray for Christians we assist in the Middle East. There is little in the news now, and that means that organizations raising funds for this area are seeing a drop in donations. That is also true of the Religious Freedom Coalition. Both the Diaper and Christmas programs have seen drops in revenue since the Islamic State has been out of the news cycle. All the programs are witnesses for the Lord. The help we give encourages Christians to strengthen their voices for the Lord and helps the churches in their outreach to those who have drifted away from Him.
(And please also pray for the Christians of Nigeria who suffer daily for their faith).
William J. Murray, President