NC: CHRISTIANS, MUSLIMS TEAM UP
When it comes to international humanitarian relief work, North Carolina offers two models.
In the western part of the state there's the Rev. Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan's Purse, the international humanitarian relief organization. Graham has sometimes had harsh words about Muslims. After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, he called Islam "an evil and wicked religion."
In the eastern part of North Carolina, a Christian lay leader is offering a different model.
Cashar W. Evans Jr., the vice chairman of the United Methodist Committee on Relief and a resident of Kitty Hawk, helped broker a new partnership between his international relief organization and Muslim Aid, a British charity that works in many of the same hot spots across the globe.
The group Evans is a part of, known for short as UMCOR, hopes this new model of cooperation will set an example for ways that people of different faiths can work to relieve the effects of natural disasters, war and poverty.
"Muslims and Christians are not adversaries but teammates who can work together toward peace," said Evans, a retired restaurant owner and the only North Carolinian on the 17-member UMCOR board.
The two organizations first got together after the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, when both worked to provide shelter and employment for people in Indonesia and Sri Lanka. More recently, they helped provide food and other relief to Sri Lankans affected by the upsurge in violence between the Tamil rebels and government forces. The new agreement, it is hoped, will allow UMCOR and Muslim Aid to raise $15 million in additional funding for projects around the globe.
Evans said one of the advantages of working together is the expectation that the two groups can speed up response times in countries where religion can pose a barrier.