In this issue of the newsletter
Update: The situation for Christians in Bethlehem and the West Bank worsens
Update: Bethlehem has a great need for diapers for special needs adults
New: Supporter poll shows strong support for Nigerian orphanage programs
New: Advocating for persecuted Christians / The cost of not being woke
Christians starving in the Holy Land
By William J Murray
The situation is far worse than I have reported: There are still some middle-class Christian families in the Bethlehem area including some shop owners and craftsmen. But there are not enough to support the poor and elderly, especially those without family to help them.
The situation is bad and has grown worse during the decades that I have ministered to the remaining Christians of the “West Bank.”
In April of 2005 I wrote a report on a mission to Israel and the West Bank to supporters, and in that report I wrote about some of my work there:
Christians in the Bethlehem – Beit Jala area are being offered up to double the value of their homes by Muslim buyers. Saudi Arabia and other Islamic nations furnish the money because they want to make sure every Christian leaves.
Christian families dating back to the time of Christ are being forced to move because they simply have no work. Beit Jala, which was 100% Christian in 1995, was ordered by the Palestinian Authority to add three Muslim city council members. Bethlehem, which was 80% Christian at the time of the 1948 war that divided the land, is now only 20% Christian. As the Christian population declines the repression becomes greater.
Compare what I wrote in 2005 to this December 2022 article in the Times of London titled In Bethlehem, the Christian population is shrinking and afraid.
The city’s Christian population has dropped from 84 per cent of the total a century ago to about 20 per cent today, and is falling further in the face of discrimination and threats from elements of the Muslim majority.
“There is a campaign to buy Christian homes and businesses and on Friday you will hear the sheikh on the loudspeakers from the mosques speaking against Jews and Christians … it’s hatred you hear in their prayers,” one Christian leader told The Times on condition of anonymity.
“They are pushing us out. You live among a people who doesn’t want you,” he added. “Christians are afraid and if they have the chance to leave, they do.”
My reporting in 2005 is virtually the same as the Times of London in December 2022. Sadly this honest reporting was published in London, UK and not in the United States.
Bethlehem situation is getting worse: There are virtually no social service programs under the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. What services do exist are run by Muslims who somehow manage to live in large homes on the hillsides. Poor and disabled Christians must rely on NGO’s or what little the churches can still do.
The huge churches that dotted the predominantly Christian towns of Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Beit Sahour are now for the most part tourist attractions. With the tiny congregations that still exist, the churches depend on offerings from tourists.
All of the larger traditional Orthodox and Catholic churches have schools, but now more than half of the students are Muslims. Without the paying Muslim students, the schools would be forced to close. The Muslim students are not converts to Christianity. Their Muslim parents paid for them to go to Christian schools because the level of education is better.
Because of the number of Muslims in the Christian schools our Christmas programs cannot be held in them, we must use church halls or rent facilities.
The wealthy Christians have moved to Crete, Greece, Europe and Chile. The remaining “middle class” struggle with average incomes of less than $500 a month. (In the Times of London article the average pay was stated as $300 a month.)
Bethlehem Food program: Ahlam is a 63 year old Christian widow living in Beit Sahour. Ahlam means “Dreams” in Arabic, but her life is far from living a dream. Ahlam has recently become a widow. She has a mentally handicapped 40-year-old daughter living with her. Ahlam told our staff member, Yousef, “I suffer from high blood pressure and diabetes and there is no main source of income.”
Ahlam said “This food package covers the food needs of the family, so we thank the organization supporting us with this package every month. I pray that your generosity is blessed and expanded always”. Ahlam is one of several elderly or disabled helped each month with food.
Bethlehem Diaper Program: Linda is one of many special needs elderly who receive adult diapers from our Heart for the Persecuted Church program.
Linda is a 69 year old Christian woman living in Beit Sahour the village next to Bethlehem. She is in an advanced stage of Alzheimer’s Disease. Her condition leaves her totally unable to care for herself.
She is a single woman, and having never married she has no adult children to help in her care. There are no programs such as Medicare in the West Bank and without family members she is totally dependent on
The group home Linda is in provides basic care but cannot afford diapers for those living there. As Linda cannot walk, diapers are essential to her. Our Heart for the Persecuted Church program supplies her with diapers monthly.
The programs we have in Bethlehem, Beit Sahour and Beit Jala are small compared to the need of impoverished and increasingly harassed Christians. The Religious Freedom Coalition assists only Christians in Palestinian Authority controlled areas.
Early Results from Supporter Poll
Nigeria aid favorite of supporters: In February I mailed you and other supporters an overview of Religious Freedom Coalition programs and requested your advice on what areas to emphasize in 2023. Although the full response to the poll is not complete, there are some clear indications of which programs supporters such as yourself want me to emphasize in 2023.
There were six categories and I asked supporters to rank each from 1 to 5. The six categories were:
1.Increase aid to Nigerian Christian children orphaned by Islamic jihad.
2. Establish transition houses and job training for Nigerian orphanage graduates.
3. Continue Middle East adult diaper program and increase aid in Bethlehem area.
4. Continue and/or expand Christmas for Refugees at current refugee locations.
5. Work on Capitol Hill exposing persecution of Christians and promoting Christian values.
6. Mr. Murray, please trust God to guide you in how to use my support.
The rankings were: 5=Must do, 4=Very important, 3=Important 2=If possible, 1=Maybe) More than one program could be a “5”
Caring for Nigerian Christian children orphaned by Islamic jihad is clearly the most important aspect of ministry for Religious Freedom Coalition supporters.
The Diapers for Refugees program, that now assists primarily special needs and elderly adults is the second choice of supporters.
There is no clear trend as of now between the job training programs for Nigerian children graduating from our orphanage and the Christmas for Refugees program.
Because the rankings were 1 to 5 and all programs could be ranked there, it is clear that regardless of the aid programs supporters want the advocacy to continue on Capitol Hill to promote traditional values and promote religious freedom.
In the next newsletter I will report on the final results of the poll.
Advocacy comes at a cost: The Woke culture in corporate America has the goal of financially strangling anyone who does not promote radical social values such as sex change hormone treatments for children and LGBT promotion.
Assisting Christians rather than Muslims is a sin in the Woke corporate culture that shines in major media firms like Disney which released a children’s animated movie with a lesbian kiss. It is also producing a new “woke” version of Peter Pan, and the “lost boys” are now girls.
The Religious Freedom Coalition is a victim of the Woke Corporate Culture. The newest example is Microsoft. For our new data management platform, we need Microsoft Exchange. Normally non-profits receive licenses for ten people to use Exchange free.
Not us! Microsoft informed us that because we do “advocacy” we can’t have the free Exchange licenses. Every non-profit LGBT organization gets the free deal from Microsoft.
Amazon will not allow us to be a part of the charity give back program. Apple and Google have free services for non-profits that they will not extend to the Religious Freedom Coalition. Amazon refers to the Religious Freedom Coalition as a “hate group.” Please pray for the end of the “wokeness” that is destroying America.
Advocacy on Capitol Hill
The ruthless Sunni Muslims of Azerbaijan: The Muslim nation of Azerbaijan maintained an inhumane blockade of 120,000 indigenous Christian Armenians in Nagorno- Karabakh (Artsakh) since December 12, 2022.
The blockade has deprived the civilian population not only of freedom of movement, but also of food, critical essentials, gas, electricity, and internet connection. Among these civilians are 30,000 children, 20,000 elderly and 9,000 people with disabilities who remain under Azerbaijan government’s siege.
How much more must Armenian Christians suffer?
On February 22, 2023, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, ordered Azerbaijan to end the blockage of the Lachin Corridor. The order demands that Azerbaijan end the blockage in accordance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, of which it is a signer.
Of course the Muslim leaders of Azerbaijan are ignoring the order because they are sure the West will do nothing to aid Christians in the region.
Several organizations and individuals including the Religious Freedom Coalition worked on a letter sent to President Biden and Secretary of State Blinken. Most of the organizations that sign on to similar group letters did not participate because Russia has in the past assisted Armenian Christians who are predominantly Russian Orthodox.
In my opinion it is not OK for Christians to be starved and deprived of medicine because they are Orthodox instead of Catholic or Protestant.
Have Armenian Christians suffered enough? In 1915 and 1916 Turkey murdered over one million Armenian Christians in what was clearly genocide. The Muslims of Azerbaijan are trying to finish off the Christians left in this region.
I have photos of the heads of Armenian Christians put on spikes by Turkish Muslims that are so gruesome they can’t be added to this newsletter.
I signed the letter to Biden, he will do nothing. He is one of those woke politicians who goes to church a couple of times a year to claim Christianity, while doing his best to erase the very words of the Lord.
Please pray for the Christians of Nagorno-Karabakh and persecuted Christians everywhere. Persecution of Christians continues in communist Vietnam, North Korea and China. Muslims are killing Christians daily in Africa and Asia. Pray for intervention!