Nazarene Fund, Going On Rescue Missions Saving Christians From ISIS: In this episode, we are talking with Michael Powell, the Director of Operations of The Nazarene Fund. For several years, ISIS has invaded peaceful communities in the Middle East and painted the Nazarene symbol on the door of people they seek to convert, extort, or murder. While ISIS uses the Nazarene sign to symbolize death, we use the sign to symbolize life.  The Nazarene Fund aids in the restoration of Christians and other persecuted religious minorities and their communities who have been targeted by ISIS for their faith. Tune in now to learn more.

Air Date:  08/29/201


Guests: Michael Powell, David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton


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Transcription note:  As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast.  However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers.  Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times.  We apologize in advance.

Faith And The Culture

Rick:

Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture, this is WallBuilders Live! We’re talking about today’s hottest topics on policy, faith, and the culture, all of it from a Biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective.

Here with David Barton, America’s premier historian and our founder here at WallBuilders. Also, Tim Barton, national speaker, pastor, and president of WallBuilders. And my name is Rick Green, I’m a former Texas state rep, national speaker, and author.

Find out more about us, and the program, and ministry at WallBuildersLive.com and also WallBuilders.com.

Check out those Websites today. Also, sign up for our emails so you can find out more on a weekly basis. We’ll send you a note once a week to let you know what programs are coming up in the following week. You can send your questions to us at [email protected].

David, Tim, later in the program we got Michael Powell coming on to talk about the Nazarene Fund and some of the things that are happening there and how folks can get involved but this is an area of Christendom that we too often in the American church seem to ignore. A lot of bad things happening to Christians around the world and it’s easy for us to be in our little cocoons here and in what is the freest nation on the planet.

What Christians Want To Hear From Their Pastors

David:

Yeah, we are aware of persecution generally. But I don’t think Americans are really aware of the scope of it. One of the things we saw when George Barna did a survey here about a year ago was, “What do Bible believing Christians want to hear from Bible Believing pastors in the pulpit?”

The second issue, 86 percent of Christians said, “I want to hear about religious persecution.” I want to hear about what’s going on, the conditions in the world, and the persecution.”

Then I think it was number 10 or 11, maybe 12 on the list, was that they also want to hear about Islam. I think it was roughly 72% or 74% said, “I want to hear about Islam. Tell me about what they do with Christians.”

So, it’s like we’re aware of it, but we want more information on it. They’re begging their pastors to talk about things like this. And this is a topic that most pastors have not talked about.

One of the things Barna did was look at what pastors do talk about, and religious persecution appeared nowhere on the list in the top subjects. So you have an 86 percent say, “I want to hear this.” Seventy-two percent say, “Tell me about ISIS and Islam.” And it’s just not coming out.

Tim:

I would point out that probably most pastors don’t know much more about this than most your average citizens. So you know you can’t teach what you don’t know. I would say that a large part of the problem is that pastors are getting the same information everybody else is. Whether it’s through the mainstream media, over Facebook, or Google, or whatever it is.

We really are just mostly ignorant in some of these issues. There are some things where we’re waking up and realizing that there are things in our backyard. People are now recognizing more with sex trafficking, that we’ve got to stop this, and things we want to do. But we really do forget the level of persecution of Christians around the globe. And most people just don’t know, including pastors.

How The Nazarene Fund Got Started

David:

Over the last 50 years or so, it’s like 97-98% of Christians have been eradicated out of the Middle East. It is unbelievable the genocide that is going there. Every year more Christians are now killed. I think it’s up to 90,000 Christians a year killed.

By the way, that’s more Christians a year being killed now than all the major persecutions that happened back in the beginning of the church. So, it really is a deadly situation for Christians, particularly in the Middle East.

For American Christians, you know, we get made fun of, there’s a little legal persecution going now, but nothing like what we see in the Middle East. That’s where really the Nazarene Fund got started.

As we mentioned, we’re going to have Michael Powell on from the Nazarene Fund. The origin of the Nazarene Fund was real simple. As ISIS was moving into these communities, they would go through with their scouts and their scouts would look at who the people were in the community whether they were Muslim, or whether they were Christian, if they were Christian they would spray paint on the side of the house, spray the mark of the Nazarene.

There is there is a symbol in Arabic for Christ, it is a symbol of a Nazarene. And so that’s where the Nazarene Fund got started was to be able to raise money to go in and help those who have been targeted by ISIS.

The reason they spray painted the side of the house was as the soldiers come through after the scouts they go and kill those people. They behead them, execute them, they impale them, they burn them, whatever it is.

If you’re in a house that has the mark in the Nazarene on it that is a death mark for you for ISIS. And that’s what the scouts were doing, they were identifying where the Christians were and putting the death markup.

So that’s where the Nazarene Fund get started about two years ago. And that’s why it’s called, “The Nazarene Fund” because that’s the mark that ISIS puts on the House of Christians.

Rick:

We’ve got to take a quick break when we come back let’s talk about what the Nazarene Fund is doing in response to this and the involvement that you and Tim actually have with it and the ministry that is taking place there in the Middle East and how folks will be a part of that. Stay with us folks, be right back on WallBuilders Live.

A Moment From America’s History

This is David Barton with another moment from America’s history. In several decisions, over recent years the Supreme Court has consistently ruled that it is unconstitutional for the government to encourage religion.

Did our Founding Fathers agree with this? Consider the words of Henry Lawrence, a signer of the Constitution, and a president of Congress. Henry Lawrence declared, “I had the honor of being one who framed that Constitution, in order effectually to accomplish these great ends set forth in the Constitution. It is especially the duty of those who bear rule to promote and encourage respect for God and virtue and to discourage every degree of vice and immorality.”

Founding Father Henry Lawrence believed that the goals of the Constitution could not be fulfilled apart from a fear and a respect for God and that it was, therefore, the duty of government to encourage this among the people. For more information on God’s hand in American history. Contact WallBuilders at 1-800-8-REBUILD.

Rick:

Welcome back, thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live. As we were headed to break, David, you were explaining where the name “The Nazarene Fund” came from. Tell us, this was I guess two years ago, when this was first launched.

David:

Two years ago, at an event in Birmingham Alabama, we were there doing a major event called, “Restoring unity.” Christians joined together and we walked the Civil Rights Trail that MLK had done. We went to the black churches there that were famous, where MLK had been, the church bombing that happened in Birmingham. It was about restoring unity. Black and white, getting people to cooperate and work together.

While we were there Glenn Beck was speaking and Glenn Beck talked about this persecution going on the Middle East, the mark of the Nazarene. He called on that crowd to over the next 12 months save 400 families, “Let’s find 400 families that we can save in the Middle East.” It’s not that much, but there are enough people there in that rally, in that stadium, to be able to do that.”

So that launched The Nazarene Fund. I’m the chairman of the board over that organization that runs the Nazarene Fund. So we’ve been intimately involved in this for two years.

Michael Powell is our director who heads and does all the all the operations. It really is very amazing what we’ve been able to do in that period of time. We’ve outperformed all expectations. The money has come in very well.

We now have governments across the world come to us and say, “We want to take some refugees in. Would you guys be the ones to help us find the refugees and screen them for us before they come to our country?”

We really have developed a reputation with other nations across the world as well as in the Middle East as being the go to group to be able to go and help extractions and help rescue and save people. So it is a big thing.

Nazarene Fund Rescues Missions 

Rick:

This isn’t just theory? This is already being done? There have already been rescues?

David:

Already been rescues. The stuff that we’re able to do is pretty unbelievable, Michael will cover some of that and then we’ll talk about that after Michael, anything that he doesn’t cover that we need to explain.

This is really eye popping to see what has happened in just two years with one organization. There needs to be a lot more like this but we’re kind of lonely over there in the Middle East right now.

While there are some great organizations, there’s nobody really doing what we do or filling the vacuum we fill in being able to go in and extract some of these folks that need extraction.

Rick:

Well, Tim, you mentioned that most pastors probably get their news just like we do and don’t know about a lot of this going on. As they listen to this program today, there’s going to be some things that they can do and can get the church involved as well.

Tim:

Yeah, hopefully, they’re very encouraged with this. Obviously, they can support the Nazarene Fund. But absolutely, this is going to be very informative to know some of the stuff that’s already happening, some of the stuff on the ground, some things that are working. Because at the very least it can be a great prayer point to know what’s going on and really even directions to pray, if not, financially and actively get involved in other areas.

Rick:

These are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Michael Powell will be with us when we return, you’re listening to WallBuilders Live.

Moment From American History

This is Tim Barton from WallBuilders with another moment from American history. Many today assert that religion is something private, that has no place in the public square, and that it is incompatible with government.

The Founding Fathers believed exactly the opposite. They held that religion was absolutely necessary in order to maintain our free system of government. For example, John Adams declared, “We have no government armed with power, capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion.”

And signer of the Declaration, Benjamin Rush, similarly affirmed, “Without religion, there can be no virtue and without virtue, there can be no liberty and liberty is the object and life of all Republican governments.” The Founding Fathers understood that limited government required public morality from the people. And that public morality was produced by the Christian religion. For more information about the Founding Fathers views on religion in public life go to WallBuilders.com.

Saving Trafficked Women From ISIS

Rick:

Welcome back, thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live. Michael Powell is with us, he’s Director of Operation for Mercury One’s Nazarene Fund. Michael, thanks for coming on, man.

Michael:

Thanks for having me. It’s a great honor, I appreciate it.

Rick:

You’ve got, in many ways, a dream job. Every day you get to impact lives in a powerful way. Y’all have rescued children that have been sold and bought by ISIS. You’ve gone in deep to rescue, you’ve impacted 25,000 people in a variety of ways, what a blessing.

David and Tim said, “We’ve got Michael on and get an update with what’s going on with the Nazarene Fund.” First of all, I just want to thank you guys for what you’re doing. Thanks to everybody at Mercury One for what’s happening through the Nazarene Fund. How can people help and what’s the latest?

Michael:

Sure, so thanks once again for having me on here. We’re so grateful and so blessed that we’ve have the people that support the work that we do. Our donors are just fantastic. And they are what make what we do possible.

We’ve had some really interesting developments this week. The most exciting I have to report is that we just crossed our 50th rescue on Saturday. So that was the 50th person that we’ve sponsored people to go in and pull a trafficked young women out of from ISIS and bring them back to their families.

Rick:

This is not, we have a lot of programs where we talk about human trafficking, we talk to groups who are doing rescue missions, God bless them all, we’re involved with a lot of those. You talk about dangerous, you guys are going into rescuing from ISIS. You’re going deep into where the fight is maybe the worst anywhere on the planet.

Getting The Refugees Back To Their Homes

Michael:

Yeah, we use a lot of locals on the ground who know the terrain, the turf. They are right there and we go in all the way into the ISIS territory. We’ve been doing that now for over a year. Just going in there, going in, finding these people and bring them out. It’s not exactly like the movie, it’s not door kicking and that kind of thing. It’s more of a go in quietly, get them out, bring them out quietly, and no one’s the wiser until it’s too late.

Rick:

And by the way, my numbers were old. I’ve got your Website pulled up now, 35,000 impacted through the humanitarian aid you guys are doing, 8,200 evacuations, over 5,400 housing provided, these are significant numbers. How do you get people to recognize there are still thousands, millions, to help?

Michael:

You’re absolutely right. That’s the thing, we are at the tip of the iceberg.  As the tactical situation changes there, it’s not going to get any better anytime soon. The military has made some amazing strides in pushing ISIS back into their own territory.

I think within a year there won’t be a caliphate left, which is great, but that region is going to be really destabilized because of the vacuum. Those Christian populations, especially in Nineveh, are incredibly vulnerable right now. We don’t know what is going to fill that vacuum.

We are looking at the future right now. We’ll continue doing the rescues. We’ll continue doing these rebuild projects. But we also need to talk about stabilizing these populations and getting them out of their refugee situation and back to their homes and to a place of safety.

How We Nazarene Fund Has Made A Huge Impact

Rick:

Let’s back up. Let’s talk about the original vision of the Nazarene Fund and the Christian population, what a small minority it is in these areas, and how much more likely they are to be persecuted. Give us just a little bit of history there and how that created this vision.

Michael:

Sure. So, I don’t want to go too far back. At one time there were 30 million Christians living between Syria and India. That population has dwindled down to less than 200,000. That is from conversions, to evacuating, to leaving, that kind of thing. They were already on they were already an endangered species before the ISIS war happened.

In 2014-15 when ISIS came across Nineveh then put all the population onto the road basically. The indiscriminate killings, the slavery, the torture, it really put these people on the precipice.

When we first went to Iraq to get involved-and this all comes from Glenn Beck our founder, he was on the first to recognize that there was a holocaust going on and no one was paying attention to it.

Glenn gets a lot of credit for being one of the first guys to say, “Hey, there’s a problem. We’re going to try to get Mercury One to help.” So we went over there looking for a way to get involved. And it just became a really big thing.

We went initially to rescue and or to evacuate some families from Iraq to Europe. And it became something much bigger after a while. We’ve been very effective through listening to what’s going on and we work with a lot of the local groups there. We sort of bypass governments, we go to the churches and the people on the ground. We do work with some NGOs but mostly the faith community who really knows what’s going on and through them we’ve been able to do a lot of great work.

Rick:

That may be the same answer to my next question which is, how do you decide what to do? There is so much out there. How do you decide where to go and which mission to go after? Not even just a singular girl or family, but man, there’s so much there. You only have so many resources and that’s part of why we encourage people to help so you can do more but how do you decide where to go?

How Nazarene Funds Uses Their Resources

Michael:

We try to find the places where we can move the needle. We could get involved with the United Nations and some of the other large global agencies. But they’re looking at a much bigger picture and they have limited resources. If we work with them what we do would just be folded into what they do.

So we try to find some very specific things that we can really move the needle on. Where can we help the most people, being mindful of our budget and what our donors have committed to. We just want to make sure that we’re spending those dollars in the right way and find the products where we can do the most good.

The rescues are that’s decided. That’s such a serious need. And yes, those are more expensive per person but we can’t turn away from that. People’s lives are on the line. The horror stories that we’ve heard coming back from these trafficked victims, it is the stuff of nightmares. It is the stuff of the abyss.

I am always unpleasantly surprised, every time I talk to someone there’s a new horror that I haven’t heard about. When I think I’ve heard it all, I haven’t. So we are really trying to find those where we can save people’s lives and help people where we can be the most effective.

We’ve just been very fortunate. We’ve put a focus in on Christians and persecuted religious minorities. Typically that’s not who’s being helped by the big agencies. So we’ve been very effective in that regard.

Rick:

It looks like you’ve got some great measuring sticks, if you will, in terms of saying, “Ok, are we getting the best bang for the buck in terms of where we’re going and what we’re doing with the funds that have been given. You even report that on the Website and show how many lives have been changed. I just think it’s a great way to show that this is effective.  

Michael:

Well, thank you. I think we’ve been very very effective. We’re coming on our two year anniversary. We’ve only been doing this for two years. It feels like we’ve had much more experienced.

Rick:

That’s because you slept more before this all started.

How You Can Help

Michael:

I think so. We’re just taught we’re just toddlers right now. We are looking to see what’s the next big chapter for us. And we are now talking to people and potential partners to really expand the Nazarene Fund, to let it go so we can launch it in perpetuity, that we’ll be there for the long haul. That we can expand the operational profile maybe outside of the ISIS war, and help persecuted Christians and religious minorities around the world, as opposed to just in this war. So we are we’re not looking to shrink, we’re looking to grow.

Rick:

That’s awesome. Michael, God bless you guys! Real quick for our listeners, the Website the NazareneFund.org. You can watch the videos there, the NazareneFund.org. You can keep up with the latest missions and all the different things they’re doing.

Michael, as I let you go, the best way for people to help? Obviously, go there and find out more about how to donate and fund these missions, how to pray for you guys, what’s the best way? I’m assuming wisdom in which mission is to take as well?

Michael:

Oh absolutely, we need all the help we can get. And we love getting the prayers from people we feel very blessed working here. We know that this is a higher calling, what we’re doing. It’s not just us doing the work. We cannot do it without help from the man upstairs and from everyone. Just seeing their support and seeing their prayers, we love it. Thank you to everyone who is doing that.

Rick:

As John Hancock said, I urge you not only to pray but to act. So folks don’t just pray, go donate and help. These guys are going into the heat of the battle and they deserve our help and our support. God bless you man, thanks for coming on today.

Michael:

Thank you so much.

Rick:

Stay with us folks, be right back with David and Tim Barton.

Biographical Sketches

Hi, friends! This is Tim Barton of WallBuilders.This is a time when most Americans don’t know much about American history or even heroes of the faith. I know, oftentimes as parents, we’re trying to find good content for our kids to read.

If you remember back in the Bible, the Book of Hebrews it has the Faith Hall of Fame, where they outlined the leaders of faith that had gone before them. Well, this is something that as Americans we really want to go back and outline some of these heroes not just of American history, but heroes of Christianity and our faith as well.

I wanted to let you know about some biographical sketches we have available on our website. One is called, “The Courageous Leaders Collection” and this collection includes people like Abigail Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Francis Scott Key, George Washington Carver, Susanna Wesley, even the Wright brothers.

There’s a second collection called, “Heroes of History” in this collection you read about people like Benjamin Franklin, Christopher Columbus, Daniel Boone, George Washington, Harriet Tubman, the list goes on and on.

This is a great collection for your young person to have and read. And it’s a providential view of American and Christian history. This is available at WallBuilders.com.

Congress Declared This Is A Genocide

Rick:

Welcome back to WallBuilders Live. Special thanks to Michael Powell and the Nazarene Fund. Thanks to Michael for coming on and first worked with the Nazarene Fund. David, Tim, we talked specifically about how that people just don’t know this is going on and there is a way to make a difference.

Of course, Michael couldn’t tell some of the more intimate details and security details. But this is true, they’re saving lives. I mean literally rescuing families.

David:

Rick, you read numbers off the Website and unfortunately, the Website has not been updated fast enough. But it’s now about 9,300 refugees that have been relocated. By relocated we mean those who are being displaced, threatened, or hunted by ISIS. These are people who have ISIS in their face. We get them out and relocate them.

Sometimes we move them around in Iraq or somewhere else, we get them out of the ISIS held areas and get them to safety.

But sometimes that means, as we’re doing right now, we’ve sent I think almost 2,000 to Australia. Brazil takes all we can send, Canada, we have all these countries that take them in.

The United States under Obama would not take any of these guys. The Christians were not welcome there. If you were if you were a Muslim, great, come on in. But not Christian. So we had to send them everywhere else.

Hopefully, that’s going to change. We’ve had the Congress give a declaration of genocide, that this is genocide. Because as Michael pointed out, you had 30 million Christians, you’re now down to 200,000 in the region.

By the way, that means that ninety-nine point three four percent of Christians are now gone. So over the last 50 years, you’re down to roughly less than one percent. You’re two-thirds of 1 percent, that’s how big this has been.

Something that probably most folks may not have caught. He says, “We just did our 50th rescue.” Well, that doesn’t sound that impressive, 50 rescues. No, when he says rescue what that means is that really is like a military extraction. We have gone in 50 times and taken people away from ISIS that ISIS is holding at that point in time.

We’ve gone in and rescued them directly out of the hands of ISIS. Sometimes as sex slaves with the young girls and we find out about it and we have a lot of folks on the ground over there. There’s a lot of the militias and military guys that are over there that just hate ISIS and are willing to go in and they risk their lives. A matter of fact, some of these guys have actually been killed in these extraction operations.

They go in to save people. We had one that just happened. ISIS had taken the * family, we were able to go and rescue those folks and get them back out.

That kind of stuff is going on. It is not a small thing that’s happening. When he says 50 rescues those are the high danger, high operation. This is the stuff movies are made of. And so we’ve done 50 of those in addition to the 93 hundred that had been relocated to safety elsewhere.

What You Can Do To Help Nazarene Fund

Rick:

What is an action item for people at home that hear this and say, “Ok, look, I am moved. I do know these are my brothers and sisters in Christ. I want to be able to help. ”  What can they do?

David:

Right now they can do several things. They can work to get Sam Brownback approved as the ambassador over religious liberty. Sam will make a huge difference on this. He was governor of Kansas, Trump just appointed him. We’ve got to make sure he gets through the Senate, that’s one thing.

Second thing is to get your pastor to talk about this stuff. We have a lot of information on MercuryOne.org. There’s also places to contribute. As Michael said, we’re partnering with Operation Underground Railroad right now. They’re wanting to really blow this up and make it even bigger which is great.

So there’s lots of stuff to be done. Of course, Paul says, “Don’t forget your brothers in bonds.” And that’s those folks over there. So praying for those folks over there. Their lives have been ravaged. So many of their family have been killed. It really is serious stuff and we need to be aware of what’s going on with Christians over in the Middle East.

Rick:

Thanks to Michael for joining us today. Going to have links today at WallBuildersLive.com so you can get involved, so you know how to pray for them, so you can donate, so you can be a part of this very important process. Thank you for listening today, you’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live.