Nazarene Fund Saving Lives In The Middle East: Ephraim Mattos, former Navy SEAL, is with us from the Nazarene Fund today. We’re talking about the work that the Nazarene Fund has done, and continues to do, helping persecuted Christians around the world. New efforts are being focused on helping persecuted Christians in Burma! Join us now to learn more!
Air Date: 09/03/2018
Guest: Ephraim Mattos
On-air Personalities: 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. Transcription will be released shortly. 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
Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. This is WallBuilders Live! Where we’re talking about today’s hottest topics on policy, faith, and the culture. Always from a biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective.
We’re here with David Barton, America’s premier historian and our founder at WallBuilders. Tim Barton’s with us, national speaker and pastor, and president of WallBuilders. And then my name is Rick Green, I’m a former Texas legislator.
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We’ve got a great guest coming on later in the program. Ephraim Mattos is with us who we’re going to be talking about some of these rescue missions that are taking place. Well, David, Tim, Nazarene Fund is doing some incredible things. We’re going hear about some of these missions. But Ephraim himself, amazing story right there and glad to have him on the team.
Yeah Ephraim is a great guy and we’re going to hear more about his story as a former SEAL team member. Nazarene Fund, for people who don’t know, this guy started just a few years ago as chairman of the board. And Nazarene Fund was when ISIS was overrunning so much in the Middle East, when ISIS was at the height of their– that Arab Spring as it was called under Obama where that so much turmoil happened in Muslim nations. So, ISIS really came to the forefront and they were just slaughtering Christians everywhere.
The Mark of the Nazarene
As they were overrunning Syria and going into parts of Iraq, what they would do is their scouts out front as they would get in front of the lead forces coming in, they would go through and look and if they saw home where a Christian lived, or they found out where a Christian lived, what they would do is on the side of the home they would put the mark of the Nazarene in their own language, the sign of the Nazarene. And that told the following troops coming behind, “Kill these people they’re Christians. Get rid of them.”
So, the butchery was unbelievable – whether it was beheading, or impaling, or slaughtering the children in front of the parents, and parents in front of the children then killing the kids. Just unbelievable stuff. So, we took that mark of the Nazarene that ISIS was using on the side of houses, we made that the logo of the Nazarene Fund, and we started moving Christians out of those persecuted areas. Literally, we have moved tens of thousands of Christians out of there. We have moved them all over the world. There are so many nations who have worked with us to receive these persecuted Christians. It is a terrific effort that’s going with the Nazarene Fund.
And by the way, it has been a very costly venture as well. And I don’t mean economically. The Kurds who hate ISIS, Kurds partnered and they were willing to go in and literally extract people who were being held captive by ISIS. Whether it was sex slaves, or other type of slavery, or families held, they would go in. And in doing we would work with the Kurds, hired the Kurds to be our partners in this. And literally we’ve had guys shot and killed by ISIS going in to rescue these people.
So, it is not something that is without risk and danger, definitely has danger. What’s happened now, Nazarene Fund is– as ISIS has been pretty much beat back in Syria. They’re still there -20 percent of Syria is controlled by ISIS forces. But as ISIS has been beat back largely they’re reappearing other places, but there’s still Christian persecution going on across the world.
A New Focus Area
Burma is a great example of the persecution of Burma. This is an area where that Nazarene Fund is now focused is in Burma area and looking at what is going there. So, Ephraim Mattos is one of the guys who works with Nazarene Fund. He was recently in Burma looking at the condition there and how bad the persecution is and what we can do to help there.
So, Ephraim, former SEAL team member, great guy, but this is the story of the Nazarene Fund. And let me tell you – if you’re concerned about persecuted Christians, Nazarene Fund is where you put your money. Because we are recognized across the international community as being the most effective group in moving persecuted Christians out, and saving them, getting them to other places.
So, this is a thing that when we started this fund we made sure that 100 percent of all donations went to the task. We do fundraisers on the side to pay for the staff, and pay for administration, etc, we want that money be donated to go completely down range to help persecuted Christians and not go to– like so many groups do, to have overhead and staff. We just don’t do that with Nazarene Fund, we hold separate fundraisers for that and separate fundraising.
So, this is the story of what’s going on right now in Burma. But it’s an opportunity for Christians to get involved in helping their brethren across the world that are being persecuted. So, a great work. You want to give, give to the Nazarene Fund. But here’s a story of what’s now happening in Burma.
Hey, David, as we’re going to break, what’s the Nazarene Fund website?
Alright, TheNazareneFund.org. We’ll have a link today at WallBuildersLive.com to make that easy. Stay with us. Ephraim Mattos our guest today. You’re listening to WallBuilders Live.
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Welcome back. Thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live. Ephraim Mattos is with us, former Navy SEAL and heads up the East Asia operations. And actually, works now with the Nazarene Fund, but heads up East Asian operations for White Mountain Research. Ephraim, thanks for your time, man. Thanks for coming on.
Yeah, thank you so much for having me. I appreciate it.
Setting Up Operations in Burma
Hey, you just got back and some of our listeners will be familiar with you from the viral videos where you guys were rescuing that gal and the guy, and you got shot, and just all these different missions. You’ve gone in even after being out of the Navy SEALs. But you just got back from Burma and you guys are setting up some operations for the Nazarene Fund and finding additional folks that need to be rescued. There’s no shortage of rescue missions. What you need is for people who know how to help you guys.
Absolutely, absolutely. So, I’ve done some stuff, like I said, in the SEAL teams, and then I did some stuff in Iraq volunteering and now working with the Nazarene Fund. Right now I actually just got back from a trip into Burma.
And right now what’s going on in Burma is there’s a civil war that’s been happening for 69 years. Most people don’t even know about it. It’s sort of this slow ISIS like genocide of ethnic minorities. A lot of them are Christian. For example, one of the tribes, the Kachin, they’re 90 percent Christian. The tribe that we’re working with right now, the *Qur’an, they’re about 30 percent Christian and all of their leaders are Christian. So, what’s happening right now is the Burma army– the Burma government is run by basically the army and the army is attacking all the ethnic minorities because they want their land for the resources and all that sort of stuff.
Filling A Humanitarian Gap
So, right now we’ve just started setting up operations and we have a couple of things that we’re doing. Right now, one is we’re filling a humanitarian gap, right, we’re trying to stop that bleed. Because what’s happened is over the course of this almost 70 year long war a lot of organisations are kind of getting fatigued with it and they are pulling their funding.
So, what the Nazarene Fund is doing it right now is we’re getting in there we’re trying to fill some of these funding gaps, in the refugee camps there’s hundreds of thousands of refugees and we’re trying to get in there and make sure that these people have enough food, and water, and stuff like that. So, that’s the basic humanitarian thing.
But the other aspect of what we’re doing, which is more along the traditional role of the Nazarene Fund in rescuing people, is we’re setting up an early warning system, a communication system, that allows the *Qur’an people to know when the Burma Army is about to attack them and where to go when the Burma Army does attack. So, this is a system that’s kind of been in place for a while. But again, there’s a lot of holes in it and it’s very old and rudimentary.
So, right now, what we’re doing is we’re setting up these communications systems. But right now it was the rainy season inside Burma, so nobody is doing anything. The Burma Army is not really attacking the Qur’an, the Qur’an just sort of wait out the rainy season. So, what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to get in there and get this early warning stuff set up so that way when the rain stops around October-November time, and the Burma army attacked again, the villagers and the people will know where to go. And the first responders, humanitarians, can get in there to sort of fill these gaps.
And from now, when you talk about them being attacked by the army, most of our listeners, and even myself, I have a hard time even imagining what life is like outside the U.S. and living in these kind of conditions. When they’re attacked, this is literally, sometimes, if I understand right from what I’m reading, villages at a time fleeing for their lives. And we’re talking about Christians that have been repeatedly singled out, you’ve been quoted as saying, “For rape, torture, and death” over the course of this war. This is serious stuff and it’s not one or two people. We’re talking sometimes hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people at a time.
What The Attacks Look Like
Yes, absolutely. So, right now we’re looking at– there are hundreds of thousands of refugees. Not to mention those who are internally displaced people inside Burma who can’t go back to their homes.
So, what these attacks look like is the Burma army will come out of nowhere, come out of the jungle, and they’ll just start shooting up a village and they’ll drive the people out. Their goal is to push the people out. It’s not so much genocide as long as they leave, but they will shoot everybody in the meantime. With that, also, if you’re caught and they catch you you’re looking at you’re definitely gonna get murdered, if you’re a woman you’re probably going to get raped, and they do not discriminate against men, women, kids, old, young, nothing like that at all.
We have some photos of babies, they shot babies, women with kids, young children shot. And it is hard to describe because it’s hard to imagine. It’s so surreal. Like, who would do this? It just seems like some something fake, but it’s very real and their reality. And what we can do is we can save a lot of lives.
What we’re trying to do with the Nazarene Fund is get in there so that way these people will know before the attacks happen and then they can respond properly when the attacks do happen. Because what happens is these people start running, they run away, and they try to go to the next village, right, for safety, for security. And what happens thought is sometimes that village is also under attack, so they run right into the trap. Then you have these people sort of running through the jungle trying to get out of there–
–and it just– it’s a big mess. So, what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to make sure that that doesn’t happen. And that’s our way, right now, of getting in there and helping keep these people safe.
In Terms of Scale
Yeah, in terms of scale, something like 60 churches. And just the– how do you say it–is it Cashon state?
Okay, so in the Kachin state, some 60 churches bulldozed by the army in the last five months alone. There’s been roughly 7000 villages in the Christian stronghold that have been up ended in just the last week. This is on a large scale and from what– one of the interviews I saw you on it sounds like it’s not getting better, it’s getting worse. Almost even spiraling out of control. So, you guys setting up the systems now before this rainy season is over is critical. How can people help? Obviously we’ve talked on our program about the Nazarene Fund and its efforts. So, when people donate to that, how does that equip you guys and help you accomplish the mission?
So, our biggest thing right now– obviously, donations and funding is the best way that people can help. And I did interview the other day with Glenn Beck. We were talking about how I want to enable the *Qur’an themselves to sort of stand on their own.
So, what that means is every dollar you donate goes farther because you’re not having to hire westerners to come in and do all this work. It’s not like that. We’re having the *Qur’an do it and teaching them how to set the things up on their own. So, that’s the first point is your dollars going to go a lot farther with the way we run things with the Nazarene Fund.
Such A Small Thing, Yet Dozens of Lives
The second thing is that we’re in the process of purchasing radios, batteries, and solar panels that can be put out in these random jungle villages and they can be maintained by people that are there. We also go in and do some training, make sure that they know how to use these systems, they’re very simple systems. There may be three or four hundred dollars max for a solar panel, battery, and a radio, for a village. And that can save dozens of lives. It’s such a small thing, such a small investment, and every dollar goes as far as it can possibly go, like I said. Because, again, we use the locals to do this, we enable them. It’s sort of– it’s charity with dignity.
We’re not sitting there trying to be their rescuers. We’re going in there and saying, “Hey, we’re going to help you guys to help yourselves.” And that’s a much more sustainable, long term effect.
That’s incredible. You literally equipping them, as you said, for the long term effect as well. We don’t have time today to go too far into, but I definitely one to mention your book, City of Death: Humanitarian Warriors in the Battle of Mosul. This is– I think it’s hard for people to imagine that you got out of the SEALs and then you turned around and volunteered for, basically, serving with these free Burma Rangers going in back into war to help rescue folks. What motivated you to go back? Especially now not as a Navy SEAL, and not with all the equipment, and the backing of the American nation. Something had to really prick your heart to make you want to go back and do this?
Something had to really prick your heart…
Yeah, absolutely. I joined didn’t join the Navy for very idealistic reasons I wanted to serve my country, I wanted to fight on the side of good in this constant war and in this world of between good and evil. I was very idealistic and I wanted to go to war and help protect people. Not to kill people, not to blow stuff up, which is– don’t get me wrong – blowing stuff up and shooting guns is fun, right, for young men. But I wanted to serve others. That was what truly– that’s where my heart was truly at. And when I was in the Navy I got to do a lot of really great things, great units, great folks. But I felt like I could do more.
And I actually got out with the express desire to go and do humanitarian work in war zones. So, I linked up with this group of guys called the Free Burma Rangers and I flew to Iraq on my own dime – no money, no income, no support, just went and volunteered. I thought I was going to be handing out water bottles and doing medical stuff in the middle of this war zone.
Well, when I got on the ground, that’s how it was for about a month. But then things suddenly changed. The unit, the Iraqi army unit, that we were attached with and sort of helping as they cleared villages, we helped with the humanitarian side of things. They were ordered to hit west Mosul. Now, at the time, West Mosul was *seething with ISIS fighters who had been cleared out of East Mosul and other parts of Iraq. And they all sort of congregated into West Mosul. And we were ordered to– our unit there, the Iraqi army unit we were with, was ordered to go hit this group, to go hit West Mosul.
So, we went along with them just to provide frontline medical care for these soldiers and and for the civilians fleeing. And what I saw and what I experienced, something just unbelievable. I’d seen some stuff during my time as a Navy SEAL, but I had never seen anything like this. It was a World War II style tank battles, street to street fighting. And then we started seeing ISIS slaughtering people as they ran to us for safety, shooting into crowds of people. We saw kids being shot in the head, we were firing back at ISIS through crowds of civilians. It was just absolute insanity and the carnage and death that ISIS weaved in that area was something like I’d never seen.
“You’re On Your Own”
And then at the end there you mentioned that video that had gone viral and all that. We came across a group of people, folks that had been killed, there was about 150 bodies in the streets. And there were still several children and adults alive in these piles of bodies. We put together a mission there– the Iraqi army wouldn’t send in their ground forces. They gave us one tank and then they said, “You guys are on your own other than that.”
So, a group of five of us, we ran out there under fire. Actually the American forces dropped a smokescreen for us so ISIS couldn’t see us. They were shooting through the smokescreen. But anyway, we made it up there, we were able to rescue two of the people. I was shot in the leg on the way back, but I’m alright. It’s just an incredible–
Oh, it’s an incredible video too. I’ve watched it and people don’t normally see real live war-torn situations. And you guys are literally running from behind this tank to– no nice way to say it– to a pile of bodies where a couple of people are still alive and rescuing them with fire going all around. People need to go watch the video just to know what you guys were up against and understand the kind of courage and the heart that you must have to go back in, like I said, not only on that particular mission, but now the things you’re doing with the Nazarene Fund.
Yeah absolutely. And the Nazarene Fund was a natural, was sort of a natural fit for me. The mission works perfectly with my background as a Navy SEAL and I couldn’t be happier to be working with the Nazarene Fund. It’s just been unbelievable.
Check Out This Book!
As far as the book, I sent the book proposal, the idea, to Scott McEwen, the guy who wrote American Sniper with Chris Kyle and he loved it and thought it was amazing. And then it’s blowing up into this big thing that I never imagined it would be. I sort of wrote a memoir to sort of get those things off my chest and talk about what I’d seen over there, right, to heal in some sort of way.
And yes, now it’s blowing up into this big thing. We have a Facebook page right now, The City of Death. If people want to go there they can check out the book. It’ll be coming out October 23rd. And I really want sort of this buzz from the book to be an opportunity for people to go and support the Nazarene Fund. That’s really my main goal. Because the need is there and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of it.
Well, and this is almost real time. This stuff just happened just last year. So, excited that the book is coming out this quick. It’s called City of Death: Humanitarian Warriors in the Battle of Mosul. Now, can you order it now? Is it available now on Amazon or do you have to wait? You said it’s coming out–
Yeah, you can order it now. Yes, you can preorder it now. And we’d appreciate anybody that preorders it. That helps all of our numbers and all that and getting the message out there.
But it will be delivered October 23rd if it’s going to your Kindle. Or they’ll ship it out on October 23rd if you’re buying a physical book and having it delivered to your house.
Well, man, just so thankful for you. I know our listeners appreciate what you’re doing and want to help. So, I really encourage them today to go to TheNazareneFund.org, make a contribution that helps Ephraim and his team get out there and make these kind of rescues. And I know you’ve got a lot to do even in the meantime in this short window that you’ve got. So, man, we’ll be praying for you and hopefully sending you a lot of support.
Much appreciated. Thank you so much.
Stay with us, folks. We’ll be right back with David and Tim Barton.
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We’re back on WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us. Thanks to Ephraim Mattos for joining us as well. Just incredible stories and I’m just thankful to have somebody like that on our team and for us to be able to support them.
We’re back with David and Tim and, guys, obviously the best way to support guys like him– we can’t all go down range, but we can all make a contribution to Nazarene Fund to help these guys do what they’re doing.
How to Make An Impact
Yes, making a contribution is a huge deal. It makes such an impact because we do put everything down range. But I’ve got to say, I knew we were going into Burma, but I had no clue of what the condition was. A civil war that’s gone for 69 years? Are you kidding me? I’ve never heard that. And hundreds of thousands of refugees? Haven’t heard anything about that.
So, the Burma situation– this is brand new news to me as well.
Well, even hearing that when they flee one village, going to the next village, and that village is actually where the ambush is waiting. Just so many details to this. Obviously, their intel is so good, what they are doing is so important. And actually, guys, during the break I actually got an e-mail from one of the guys involved running the Nazarene Fund and he says, “Things are going extremely well. We just need to keep fundraising.” He says, “There’s lots of disease and Christians still waiting for help. I’m estimating another 19,000 people will need us this next year and that doesn’t even tell us–”
Now, that’s in the Middle East. That’s just in the Middle East.
Yes. He says, “That doesn’t even take into account other areas of the world that we’re tackling like Africa.” Which Cameroon, Nigeria, Sudan, Burma, etc.. So, obviously, we were just talking about Burma. He says, “Look, just the Middle East, there’s 19,000 * and Christians that are going to need to be relocated.” This is such a significant deal.
It’s interesting looking historically. We can look back specifically in American history and you take an issue like slavery. And we look back and go, how did people think it was okay to enslave other people? Why weren’t the people standing up? Why weren’t there more people doing something?
Well, what’s going to happen in 40, 50, 60, years when people look and they see what’s happened in human history and say, “Wait a second. Why weren’t the good people standing up? Why weren’t there people doing something to make a difference? Where was America when this happened? Where were the Christians around the world when this was going on?”
An Opportunity to be Part of the Solution
This is where we have an opportunity to be part of the answer and the solution where we can financially help the people that are actually going physically on the ground rescuing, saving. Rick, as you talked about even in that video where you see him get shot in the leg. And I love that he just blew it off like no big deal, right, like that–
Like that’s the ultimate thought I have of a Navy SEAL when he gets shot in the leg he’s like, “Yeah, I’m fine. Just a flesh wound. It was no big deal.” Right? No, if I get shot in the leg I can only imagine the tears, the drama, the emotion. Like, I’m probably ridiculous at that moment. And Navy SEALs like, “No big deal”.
But the opportunity we have to help support and sponsor these guys to go and do something this significant, this is something we need to make sure that we are a part of. And as we talk about with even WallBuilders. Five dollars a month you can help partner with us and what we are doing to get the word out. Well, for five dollars a month, this is another area where I would say, yeah, take another one of your coffees for the month, right. Take another five dollars a month and become a monthly donor to the Nazarene Fund where you can help save Christians, save oppressed minorities around the world, from a literal execution. We can be part of that solution.
Yeah, we can be part of the solution and this is a way that you can help others there. You may not travel there, you may not go there, you may not be able to physically help, but I guarantee you – helping folks like Ephraim, helping folks like the e-mail we just got from Rudy. These are the kind of guys that are on the ground, they’re willing to give their own life, they’re willing to risk, they’re willing to be shot if need be, to save these folks and they’re certainly worthy of our support. This is a great organization.
Again, 100 percent of your money goes downrange. This is a really effective organization, a great opportunity to give and make a difference – not only now but for eternity as well.
Nazarene Fund Saving Lives In The Middle East
That website again, TheNazareneFund.org, TheNazareneFund.org. You can go to NazareneFund.org or TheNazareneFund.org – they’re both going to get there. You can get on the e-mail list to stay updated. And they’ve got a store where you can get some coffee mugs and t shirts to help advertise what they’re doing so that other people will donate as well. But make sure, even as like Tim was saying, even if it’s five bucks a month, whatever you can do to help to fund these efforts.
It’s literally saving lives. That’s not a saving lives in the future, that’s not an exaggeration. That’s saving lives day to day that are in the heat of the battle.
So, make sure you check that out at The Nazarene Fund. Thanks so much for listening today. You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live.