RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Franklin Graham plans to rebuild hundreds of burned churches and maintain a hospital in Sudan despite the anti-Christian violence that's occurred during his years of ministry there.
"There's a war taking place against the church of Jesus Christ in Africa," he said, noting that the battle pits Muslims against Christians in countries such as Sudan and Ethiopia.
Graham, who heads Samaritan's Purse, the international Christian relief organization based in Boone, N.C., said he wants to rebuild every church that the government or its militias have burned in Sudan. He has identified 226 destroyed churches and has completed or is now building 34.
Graham estimated the cost of the rebuilding at $5 million, which includes bringing in Christian pastors from Arab-speaking countries for one-month stays. The Winston Joseph Foundation, a Raleigh-based organization that has supported economic development projects in Africa, is helping.
In recent years, Sudan has been wracked by the Darfur genocide, in which Arab militias financed by the Sudanese government have killed or displaced hundreds of thousands of Africans in the northwest region.
Graham, 54, son of famed evangelist Billy Graham, has grabbed headlines in recent years with his tough talk on Islam, which he doesn't back away from.
"It's the teaching of Islam that is not tolerant of any other faith," said Graham, who will speak Tuesday in Raleigh at a fundraiser for Samaritan's Purse's work in Sudan. "It's world domination. When they dominate an area, they'll let other belief systems exist, but they'll persecute them so that (people) convert to Islam and there's total domination. Once you're in Islam you can't get out of it. If you leave Islam you have to be killed."
Ebrahim Moosa, a professor of Islamic Studies at Duke University who grew up in South Africa, said the issue is not as stark as Muslim vs. Christian. He said portraying it that way only stokes more hatred.
"There are intractable political problems in which religion becomes a language to express political grievances," Moosa said. "It's an abuse of religion."
Joe Farrell, executive director of the Winston Joseph Foundation, said Graham's outspokenness isn't a concern for him.
"I think his issue is with the radical Muslims," Farrell said. "I know he's a godly man, and he wants to lead people to Christ."
In the Sudan, Samaritan's Purse has a staff of 21 plus 100 Sudanese who help their efforts. The organization plans to use many materials from Kenya and Uganda to build 2,500-square-foot churches.
Food and other supplies also are brought in to thousands of people. In Khartoum, Sudan's capital, Graham said he provided a pediatric intensive care unit for a Muslim hospital.
"As a minister," said Graham, "I love the Muslim people. I see what's done in the name of Islam and think it's my responsibility to speak out. I think God loves them as equally as He loves me. I think He wants them to know the truth."
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