Middle East (MNN) — A report launched by Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) reveals that 75 percent of religious persecution is against Christians. Evangelist Franklin Graham says the Muslim Brotherhood's influence in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and other countries will make it even worse.
"We need to take a stand and tell our leadership–whatever government we're under–that it's the 21st century. Enough is enough. No one should die because they're carrying a Bible or they're investigating a religion," says Fouad Masri, president of the Crescent Project.
As disturbing as the numbers and the actions are, however, Masri points out that Christian persecution has always been an issue. Despite Graham's claim that moderate leaders have protected Christians in the Middle East in the past, Masri says that's not necessarily the case.
"When we had moderate presidents, we were still persecuted. When we had oppressive leaders like Muammar Gaddafi, we were persecuted. So, either way, the church is being persecuted," notes Masri. "The only hope is for people to become believers."
The Crescent Project encourages everyday believers to make the most of their friendships with Muslims and learn how to have a productive conversation about faith. Masri says persecution is actually making Muslims more open in some ways.
"All this persecution is backfiring on Muslims because Muslims want to make Islam look peaceful. And they're struggling with that. And that's opening the door for the Gospel."
Muslims may be even more open to the Gospel as they watch political Islam fail. Muslim leaders of countries like Egypt, Libya and Tunisia have all been devout Muslims, and yet have brought dissatisfaction and inequality to their people. Masri notes that Muslims are seeking to change the system for freedom, even if the ones who can deliver that change are "infidels."
Christians have a prime opportunity to tell seeking Muslims about the true freedom they will find in Christ. As Masri mentioned, the only hope for persecution to end and for true freedom to begin in Muslims is to bring people to Christ.
"If we have the cure for sin, it is not right that we keep the cure. We have to share the cure," says Masri. "If we don't speak now, who's going to speak for us?"
With this in mind, the Crescent Project's Sahara Challenge will train believers serious about reaching out to the millions of seeking Muslims across the globe. The week-long training conference will take place in Chicago from May 28 to June 4. The conference will cover cultural issues, spiritual issues and more, to prepare believers to have intelligent and effective conversations with Muslims about Christ and Christianity.