The Chairman’s Report For April 27, 2018

Apr 27th, 2018 | By | Category: RFC Newsletters

April 27, 2018

In this issue of the newsletter
Update:  Inspection of Christian homes destroyed by Muslim raiders – 26 dead
Update:  Easter celebration at Christian orphanage in Nigeria – Much help needed
New:       Easter morning service held at bombed church / Meeting with victims
New:       Visit to church where 113 murdered during service by Muslim invaders

Nigeria mission trip success as attacks continue

          Death next door to orphanage:  I had more than a bit of concern about the Easter program at the orphanage the Religious Freedom Coalition has supported in Plateau State, Nigeria.  Just a little more than a week before I was scheduled to leave for Nigeria, there was an attack just a few miles from the orphanage.  Twenty-six Christian farmers were murdered on their own property.  The Nigerian government claimed the deaths were a result of a “clash.”

A Christian farming family was killed in this home I visited just after the attack by Muslim herdsmen. The attack occurred just before Easter.

I visited the small village where the so-called “clash” occurred on the land of Christian farmers next to the Gil-Gal International School of Evangelism. Twenty-six Christians were killed — some shot, and others hacked to death with machetes.

I saw for myself the remains of a pastor’s parrish home that was destroyed. The Muslim herdsmen also destroyed the homes of the farmers they slaughtered and destroyed irrigation pumps.

Only one young man had returned to the site while I was at the village.  He showed me his home and told me how his father had tried to make it out as well but could not run fast enough.  Pregnant women and children who could not flee fast enough also died in the attack.

The farms are nothing like American farms which are sometimes so vast that drones are needed to survey them.  These farms are small plots of land that barely allow the farmers to feed their families.  Most of the homes are rather close to each other in a village setting.

I stood in the houses where the murders occurred.  Later in my mission to Nigeria, I would have an ambassador from a European nation tell me that he had talked to “officials” and that he had “an understanding” of the events.  His “understanding” was from a nice air-conditioned room with a glass of champagne, not a single personal visit with the people affected.

The European and American diplomats in Nigeria want “stability” and a “strategic alliance” with the Muslims of Nigeria, particularly their Muslim president.  They cannot see nor hear of any evil behavior or else they would be forced to be critical of the federal government.

This attitude is typical of American State Department officials who arrive in Nigeria (or Iraq or Jordan) and talk to their fellow bureaucrats, or go to carefully scripted showcase meetings at refugee centers.  Their lie is always the same — that Muslims suffer more from Muslim attacks than do Christians!  ow

There were no Muslims among the dead when pregnant women were slaughtered inside their church on a Sunday morning.

In the village I walked through, my reality was the blood on the ground from those who had been hacked to death by the long blades.

Some will argue that the Muslim Fulani herdsmen are not responsible or that it may even be radical Muslims who have invaded from Cameroon.  Regardless, once the Christian farmers are gone, the cattle of the Fulani herdsmen soon begin to graze on their once fertile farmland.

Our Easter event at the orphanage had to be cut short to move children out of the camp for safety.  My heart was touched by how much the children truly appreciated the

Some children at the orphanage hold up some of the 150 Bibles I delivered

Christmas program we organized in December.  They proudly wore the shoes we gave them for Christmas, although one younger boy apparently had been carrying his shoes around because he wanted them to last longer.

Different age groups did Bible recitations and sang. Most of the program was organized by “house,” and the houses are organized by the age of the children­.  Being a witness of this program is an experience I will cherish for the rest of my life.

The “houses” or “hostels” are perhaps not what you have in mind.  Twenty or more children have mattresses on the ground that literally touch each other.  Each child has a personal space of maybe 12 to 15 sq. ft. — or about 3 feet by 5 feet.  Still, they are better off than in a state institution.  They receive a good education along with the good news of the Gospel.

There is, however, a serious lack of protein.  While in Benue State, I stopped at the home of the chairman of the board of the school and gave him a donation of $2,000 for protein rich foods including soy and fish meal for soups.

The orphanage is under constant threat as are all Christian institutions in the “Middle Belt.”  The “North Belt” is overwhelmingly Muslim and the “South Belt” is overwhelmingly Christian.  The Christians are under attack in the North and Middle Belts.  All we can really do is show love and support by helping wherever we can — for example with sanitation for the kids.

As I mentioned above, there are over 20 children per building. Each building has a “squatting toilet,” and as the name implies there is no seat.  Not so long ago in rural areas of the United States, families had facilities not far removed from these types of “toilets.”  2008 presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee, who was governor of Arkansas, grew up in a home with a dirt floor and a similar outhouse.  But having over 200 kids using these facilities is not healthy!

This is the squatting toilet in a girls’ group house. The boys’ toilets are further away from the water tank. Proper flushing to the septic tank is needed.

This is the squatting toilet in a girls’ group house. The boys’ toilets are further away from the water tank. Proper flushing to the septic tank is needed.

There is a means to flush to a septic tank, but this is not done under pressure as are the toilets in your home. There is also just not sufficient water for the toilets to be properly flushed.  What is needed is a second water tower and PVC pipe nearer to the buildings furthest away.  The water tower is not a major undertaking; it is merely a 100-gallon tank raised up about 15 feet off the ground on a platform.

Of course, for any of this to work, a new well and well pump is needed.  Thankfully we will not be dealing with American price structures. I expect a reasonable budget, and I am currently awaiting estimates for a new well and holding tank.  I will first look at the estimate and then at our current budget before moving forward.

Some of what is needed is not available in their area and it may be a little longer before I have the information on costs to share with you.

By now you are asking yourself … Can the situation get any worse?  The answer is yes.  I have seen things that no human being should see, much less suffer.  I must filter my reports to you for fear you will be so horrified that you will not open any more mail from me.

Help persecuted Christians provide diapers for their families.

Visit to a bombed church

On Easter Sunday, I attended one of the churches that had been bombed in 2012.  That was a bad year for church bombings in Nigeria; many hundreds died and thousands were injured while in worship services at their churches.

Fourteen people, including young boy scouts, were killed at St. Finbarr’s Parish Church in Makurdi, Benue State on March 17th, 2012.  Five of those killed were boy scouts who had volunteered to direct cars entering the church grounds.  Also killed was an adult advisor to the boys and other adults near the main gate.

At the service I attended, the Easter homily offered by the priest centered on the sacrifice and Resurrection of our Lord, and was very appropriate to the losses at the church.

Car the suicide bomber drove on the grounds of the church as a reminder.

Car the suicide bomber drove on the grounds of the church as a reminder.

Remarkably, the church has grown in membership since the suicide bombing.  The car the suicide bomber drove — or, rather, what is left of it — sits on the grounds of the church as an awkward kind of reminder of the tragedy.

In speaking with the church officials, my Nigerian ministry partner,  and I recommended that the victims be memorialized with something permanent.  Temporary cardboard memorials placed on anniversary dates had not lasted and were gone.

We requested of the priest, Father Peter Zakka, that we meet with the families of the victims to discuss a memorial that our organizations would finance.  We also requested that family members bring pictures of those they lost to the meeting for us to give to an artist.

Early Monday morning we met with the relatives of all fourteen victims including parents of the boys who died; wives and husbands of those lost; and children of those martyred.  I spoke briefly to the assembled group about the forces that are encroaching on a once thriving church in Nigeria and told them of the similarities to the persecuted church in the Middle East.

I promised the families that we would do something to memorialize the martyrs of the church.  In a closing prayer, I assured them of the message that we receive in the Word of God of everlasting life through the resurrected Christ.

When I am on mission trips, I visit the services of all denominations, whether Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant or Evangelical.  All of them are equally attacked and persecuted by Islamic terrorist organizations such as the Boko Haram.

113 killed in their church – including pregnant women

Nigeria’s Benue State is 99% Christian:  There are 175,400 Internally Displaced Persons (IDP’s) in Benue State now living in camps.  This is staggering considering that the state in 99% Christian!  Entire villages have been destroyed by gangs of roaming Muslim terrorists.  After they leave, the land somehow always stays in the hands of the Muslim Fulani herdsmen who have moved in their cattle.  The state police try but they are outgunned and have no support from the federal army which is now controlled by a Muslim president.

While in Benue State, I visited the few parishioners left at a church where 113 members were murdered with machetes during a service.  I also visited an IDP Camp of 34,500 the next day.  Because of the urgent need, our team stopped at a wholesale market and bought sanitary supplies for those suffering in the camp.  Three vehicles in all were needed to get the supplies in.

I spoke to the IDP’s that gathered around and hope to have video of our time there on our website soon.  I also have video from the orphanage which I hope to share as well.

In the next Chairman’s Report, I will continue with the situation in Benue State and report on my meetings with officials including the Lieutenant Governor.  I will also report on my meetings with various European Ambassadors while I was in Nigeria.

Please pray for the children and all the persecuted Christians of Nigeria and the Middle East.  Please pray for guidance in what we should do and can do to help.

Help persecuted Christians provide diapers for their families.

 

William J. Murray, Chairman

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