Chairman’s Report for January 5, 2024

In this issue of the newsletter
New: Forced last minute changes to Middle East Christmas programs
New: Middle East church leaders “agree” to cancel Christmas celebrations
New: Nigeria Christmas programs expanded to location of massacre
New: Twenty-five years of live Nativity in the nation’s capital

Christmas programs changed radically

Back to Covid type programs: The planning was completed to once again have large gatherings of Christian children for Christmas in Iraq, Jordan and the West Bank. The large programs are more cost effective and provide a better experience for the children. During the Covid-19 lock downs the children suffered most.

Newly orphaned children in Mangu, Nigeria with bags containing gifts including Bible story books.

Due to the government-imposed COVID-19 lockdowns, many of our Christmas programs have consisted of the children walking through a hall as Christmas carols played and receiving a gift. In some areas the children were able to gather in smaller groups in individual churches.

Until October 7th it appeared that all this year’s Christmas programs would operate as they did prior to 2020. We were looking forward to the larger events the children enjoy so much.

Then came the Hamas terror attack from Gaza on Israel killing over 1,200, wounding more, and taking hostages.

Israel mounted a military campaign in Gaza to find those responsible for the attack.

The invasion of Gaza by Israel has been labeled by Arab leaders as the reason to seek the cancellation of Christmas celebrations in the West Bank, Jordan and Iraq. Why?

Explanation: Gaza is about the same size as Washington, DC. Gaza has a population of about 2,000,000, which is about 21,000 people per square mile. Regardless of where or how the Israeli army moves against Hamas terror sites, civilians are going to be killed because of the dense population.

Those civilian deaths became propaganda tools used by Hamas, and Muslim leaders around the world. Radicals in American universities supported the Hamas terror attacks on Israel and condemned the war in Gaza.

The war in Gaza became a weapon against Christmas celebrations in Middle Eastern nations that were majority Muslim.

Let’s get honest … Christians, as a small minority in Jordan, Iraq and the West bank had no choice but to agree. Many Christians received a pointed message that any Christmas lights or decorations would be met by violence.

Churches still held Christmas services, but nothing was visible to the public.

I could not risk the lives of the Christian children by holding public events. In the situation we faced it was best to reduce the profile of our events to protect the children.

The changes: Our Bethlehem programs were smaller.

Smaller events were held in Bethlehem where children received Gospel themed gifts.

The children were discreetly led to small gatherings. The events included prayers and hymns but no music or games. Children received age appropriate Bibles and Bible story books. The smaller groups avoided protesters or the danger of attacks.

Jordan and Iraq: I didn’t expect what happened in Jordan. Amman, Jordan has huge malls with very high dollar stores that sell designer brands.

During Christmas the malls in Amman play Christmas music including hymns such as O Holy Night, even though the Christian population hovers at around one percent.

This is why it was a surprise to me that Christian leaders were easily bullied into “cancelling” Christmas celebrations. Of course, normal Christmas services were held but there were no outward celebrations such as Christmas trees or lights in Christians villages.

I may have been surprised but I do understand. There have been massive anti-Israel demonstrations in Jordan. Jordanians have filled the streets calling for the nation of Jordan to go to war with Israel.

Christ-centered gifts were presented to all of the children in attendance.

In Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank the children dress up in red and white for Christmas. Mostly the outfits are styled in a Santa Claus look …. YES, I KNOW … Many evangelical Christians are horrified by the news that Christian children would dress as Santa. But this is the Middle East not Ohio. It is not the same thing.

The red and white outfits are a way of displaying their identity as Christians at a time of year they can get away with being overt about it. It is a means for them to proudly identify as Christians.

For our Christmas events, dressing up in red and white was discouraged because of all the threats.

Iraq faced the same problems as Jordan. Christian leaders were intimidated to sign decrees cancelling Christmas celebrations.

Because the Christian population in Lebanon is larger there were no cancellations.

Lebanon is as much as 40% Christian. Christians in Lebanon have political power and entire cities and regions are majority Christian. The constitution requires the president to be Christian and the Prime Minister to be Muslim.

In Jordan, Iraq and the West Bank the Christians have no political power and can easily become victims of the majority Muslim population.

Christmas in Nigeria

The Orphanage Christmas

A “Happy Birthday Jesus” party was held at the Jos Christian Refuge for Children. Programs included music and contests. The orphanage children then went to Mangu to present a program for IDP children.

There was no protein in the two meals a day the children received when I was introduced to the orphanage in 2018. That year we held the first Happy Birthday Jesus party for the children. By then we were providing protein in every meal for the growing children as they learned about Jesus and His faithfulness.

IDP Camp in Mangu, Nigeria

I visited the site of the Mangu massacres in August of 2023. Please pray for the widows and orphans.

Just like our Middle Eastern Christmas programs there are coloring contests with a Gospel theme. With 500 IDP children we could not provide chairs. The hot meals were provided in a container. Many of the children had not had any protein in weeks. Most of the 500 that attended our events were orphans. We have only 15 openings at the orphanage.

Helping the victims of Mangu

A broken heart: My heart was broken when I visited Mangu last year. The area just south of Jos was considered a safe area until it came under attack from Muslim herdsmen. The area is less than 50 miles from our orphanage.

There were 500 children hosted for the Christmas program in Mangu. Most of those children were made orphans during the attacks by Sunni Muslim Fulani Herdsmen. We only have slots at our orphanage for 15 of those 500.

There are another 500 children orphaned by the attacks in other IDP camps we did not have the means to provide Christmas events and meals for.

The attacks left hundreds dead, creating widows and orphans. Many others were left with life-changing wounds from high caliber weapons used by the Muslims.

Most orphanages in Nigeria are not like our orphanage. They are forced labor camps where the children receive a place to sleep and perhaps two meals a day with no education at all. Please pray for the newly orphaned children!

The attack clearly indicates that moving the orphanage from a rural area to Jos city was the right thing to do despite the higher costs.

Washington, DC

Peggy Neinaber (BOD Chairman), William J. Murray, and Nancy Murray can be seen in this image from the Live Nativity.

The Live Nativity: For the 25th year a live Nativity was displayed in front of the Supreme Court just across from the Capitol Building on 1st Street. The organizer is Peggy Nienaber who is the chairman of the Board of the Religious Freedom Coalition.

The sponsoring ministries have changed, but Peggy has been the organizer for all 25 years.

Scripture verses were recited from Luke of the Angel telling Mary of her blessing and the description of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.

To make sure people in the Capitol would notice there was a camel, goat, and sheep along with the characters dressed in period clothing. Photos of the Live Nativity appeared in several news services including UPI. Several people passing by stopped to pray with us.

Many of the participants in the Live Nativity were congressional staff members. Meanwhile a staffer in the office of Maryland Democrat Senator Ben Cardin was making a pornographic gay video inside the Capitol that was recently exposed in the media. The values of the liberals and conservatives on Capitol Hill are very different.

Finally … If you have a Facebook or Instagram account, please post one or more of the videos from

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