September 16, 2016 Update:
Back on track – but a long way to go: A great big thank you to all who have contributed to the Christmas for Refugees program during the last month! The Christmas program was seriously behind in fund raising during the summer months. The goal is to be able to serve even more Christian children and their families who are the victims of the Islamic State and other Islamist groups in the Middle East. The goal of the Muslims is clear – to cleanse the entire Levant (which is comprised of Iraq, Syria, half of Lebanon and Israel) of Christians.
We are closing in on the 25% point in our fund raising goal, which is very good considering that 75% of giving for Christmas programs comes in October and November.
The goal in Iraq is to expand the program from 300 Christian families in 2015 to 2,400 in 2016. That comes to an eight-fold expansion! Our ministry partner in Iraq has assured me that the volunteers will be ready. Room will be made in the shared ministry warehouse for the gifts and other supplies that will arrive in late November and early December. This is good news because new services that are a part of the program take up warehouse space.
We are praying for a very large matching gift campaign in October. A matching gift challenge will encourage supporters to help the Christmas program at that crucial time, as their donation will be doubled.
December will be a VERY expensive month for the Religious Freedom Coalition as the diaper delivery will be at the same time as the Christmas programs for the children.
An answer to prayer would be for 100% of the funds needed for the December Diapers for Refugees distribution to be on hand as early as October.
The full payment for the Diapers for Refugees distribution of 160,000 diapers in September has been transferred to Iraq … this was $18,000 for the diapers and for the actual distribution costs. The need now is to have the $18,000 for the December distribution in the mission escrow account as soon as possible.
I will be there!
This year I am really looking forward to being in Iraq for both the diaper delivery and the Christmas program!
Changes to the Christmas program: Because of the number of families served and the various places in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq, it is not always practical to deliver a food package to the families of the children for Christmas. In some cases, the need for other essentials is greater than the need for food, which families may be receiving from other ministries. In those cases, each family will receive a hygiene package equal in value to what the food would have been.
The hygiene packages will contain items the refugees have difficulty in getting such as shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, laundry and dish detergent, sponges, tissues, toilet paper and feminine hygiene supplies.
The Religious Freedom Coalition is one of very few groups supplying feminine pads, which are considered an unmentionable in Middle Eastern societies. Because feminine products were not mentioned to ministries, they were not supplied. The items in the hygiene package will of course vary depending on the location and the need stated by local ministries. The goal is to supply what is needed most while at the same time supplying the hope of the Gospel truth.
Please pray for the success of the program and safety of the children this year!