International (MNN) — It's
amazing how God uses simple conversations to reach lost souls. Crescent Project sent short-term mission
teams around the world this summer to build relationships with Muslims and
share the Gospel.
Fouad Masri, founder and president
of Crescent Project, traveled to Lebanon with one of the teams before visiting
Damascus, London, Paris, and Marseilles. He talked with many Muslims who had questions about religion,
like one man in Beirut.
"He said something to the effect
that, 'It is not fair for Christ to die; He shouldn't lose,'" Masri related. "And we said,'No, no, Christ is not dead. He
rose from the dead. Jesus didn't lose:
He won, because He was resurrected. And that
is something that no other prophet has done.'"
Masri had another conversation
with the owner of a baklava store who expressed his belief that the Bible has
been changed over the centuries. Masri asked the man, "If all the Christians
got together to change the Bible, who would win? God? Or the Christians?" The man responded, "God would win." Masri then asked, "Who can change God's Word? The Bible cannot be changed by humans."
Masri concluded, "And
that sentence, just over the baklava purchase, led us to talk about God and
led us to talk about the Bible. The conversation ended by the man asking for a
Crescent Project teams seek to
create opportunities for conversations like this, "building an environment
where nobody's criticizing anybody," Masri said. "We don't believe in criticizing people or
being offensive but just creating this environment of talking."
Crescemt Project often responds to
requests for Bibles. Masri believes in
the power of the God's Word to respond to people's questions about religion.
"There's a thirst and hunger to
see what Jesus taught," he said. "I
believe that as people read the words of Jesus–'love your neighbor as yourself,
love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you, ask and you shall receive'–these
are concepts that they don't have in Islam. And these are concepts that really
quench the thirst of many Muslims."
In the past several years, more
Muslims have been questioning their faith, Masri said. The younger generation, in particular, wants
Islam to be a more peaceful religion.
"Since September 11, it has been
one mess after another in the Muslim world," he explained. "An imam said, following September 11, that this
is the day of Islam, that because of September 11, many will convert to
Islam. But in reality, September 11 made
Muslims question their faith."
Younger Muslims have a different
attitude toward their faith. They are no
longer willing to simply accept Islam the way it is.
"This was really surprising for
me, because I grew up there," Masri explained.
"But no more this idea that you take things without thinking, or take things
without questioning. Jesus welcomed questions. For us in the Christian faith, we want people to ask questions; we want
people to think. In Islam, there was no questioning of the prophet
Mohammad. But the new generation of Muslims are asking to change that part of Islam."
Many fear the rising population
of Muslims in Europe, but Masri said he keeps his focus on the most important
"Population growth and statistics
will change," he said. "My concern is
with the Gospel; my concern is that everybody hears the Good News. Whether they say 'yes' or whether they say 'no,'
that is not the point. My role is to be an
ambassador. Whether Muslims are going to
take Europe or they are not going to take Europe, that's not the point. Right now, they are there, so let's tell them about the Lord."
No matter where Muslims populations increase,
Christians have a responsibility to give them the opportunity to hear the
Gospel. Crescent Project has put
together BRIDGES, a small-group, DVD-based Bible study, to prepare people to
build relationships with Muslims. Since
the study was made available about a year ago, almost 9,000 people have gone
"We're finding that as people go
through it, they start reaching out to people across the street," Masri
said. "It's easy to say, 'I'm going
overseas' but fail to cross the street and welcome the new people,
internationals, who move to our country. The majority of Muslims today never
visit a Christian home. Let's change
that! Let's invite them into our homes,
and tell them that we love them, and discuss what we believe. And if they join us,
hallelujah. If they say no, hallelujah. We're motivated by the work of Christ on
As Muslims fast during the month
of Ramadan in August and September, many of them will sense a hunger and thirst in
their hearts that can only be satisfied by Jesus Christ. For a gift of any amount, Mission Network News will send you World Christian's 30-Days Muslim Prayer Guide to help you pray for Muslims during
"Ramadan is a time where Muslims
are expected to fast as a way to show God that they are doing good works, and
these good works are to be used on judgment day to erase their sin," Masri said. "In the Muslim mind, during Ramadan they're
trying to cover their sins by doing more good works. And the message of Jesus is that no human good
work can overcome the sin against God Almighty. That's only possible through a Redeemer."