Why are Hundreds of Muslim Refugees Converting to Christianity Across Europe?
Europe’s churches have baptized hundreds of former Muslims in recent years.
Hundreds of Muslim refugees have converted to Christianity across Europe in recent years, according to church leaders, but motives vary.
In Austria, the rolls of Catholic churches swelled with Muslim immigrants, leading to new guidelines for baptism to ensure sincere faith. Other churches in Lebanon, Germany, and England also report growing numbers of Muslim refugee converts from Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, Iraq, Bangladesh, and Eritrea.
Bishop George Saliba of Beirut, Lebanon, told PRI he has baptized about 100 Syrian refugees since 2011. In another Beirut church, a pastor meets with Syrian refugees to teach them “Christian doctrines” from Scripture. He requested anonymity out of fear of Islamist reprisals but said dozens of Bible study groups for Syrian refugees now meet in Lebanon.
No national statistics exist, but many local churches across Europe attest to the influx of Muslim refugees seeking to become Christians. Still, they remain a small fraction of the millions of Muslims in Europe.
According to The Guardian, European mosques turned away many homeless and impoverished Muslim refugees seeking assistance. They found help and a warm welcome in churches.
Reasons for conversion vary, from “heartfelt faith,” to gratitude to the Christians assisting them, to hope that it could boost their chances for gaining asylum, The Guardian reported. One Muslim in Germany admitted to NPR he might convert in order to avoid deportation back to Afghanistan, where his “life will be in danger.”
But others appear sincere. A 25-year-old Iranian Kurd now called Silas told NPR studying Islam brought disillusionment. Reading the Bible for the first time in a camp on Germany’s border with Poland prompted questions.
“When I started to read The Bible, it changed me,” Silas said. “I had a lot of questions and Pastor Martens said I should come to class and ask my questions. At first, I didn’t want to be a Christian, I just wanted to understand it. But the more answers I got, the more I wanted to stay, and I realized I was finding God.”
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