As we’ve blogged about, large numbers of Muslim refugees are converting to Christianity. (Read Uwe Siemon-Netto’s compelling article on the phenomenon.) I knew this was happening in Germany and in France, though it is not happening everywhere. But it is also happening in Denmark, as I learned last week while I was there.
The organization Inner Mission, whose conference I spoke at, does much of the evangelism work in that supposedly secularist country. Staffers told me about how they are being overwhelmed by Muslim immigrants and refugees who come to them wanting to learn about Jesus and asking to be baptized.
I was told about a Muslim couple who showed up at a Mission House for the weekly Bible study. The next week, 14 Muslims attended. The next week, 50 crowded into the facility. This is happening in Mission Houses across the country.
The inquirers are told up front that their becoming Christians would in no way make a difference to the Danish government considering their applications. “We don’t care. Tell us about Jesus.” And if you get sent back, you would be in severe danger as apostates to Islam. “We know. Baptize us!”
Inner Mission staff encourage them to continue with the Bible studies. In the meantime, they are taken to a conservative Lutheran pastor for catechesis and eventual baptism.
They usually want to be baptized immediately, I was told, but the pastor first takes them through some months of intensive catechesis (using Luther’s Small Catechism). And then, if they still want to be Christians and if the pastor believes they understand the elements of Christianity, they are baptized, whereupon they become active members of the congregation.
A woman who works with internationals for Inner Mission told me that most of these converts are refugees from Iran. She said that many of the converts turned to Christ back home, but had to believe in secret and had no one to baptize them. (I was struck with the high view of baptism these former Muslims had. I remember years ago hearing about “secret believers” in Iran, some of them who lived outside the country, who did not dare to get baptized. That was the point of no return, the ultimate act of apostasy that meant rejection by family and a possible death sentence from the government. The article said that maybe Christians should not require baptism, under the circumstances. But these new believers crave baptism, despite all the risk.)
She also said that some had become Christians during their long journey from their homes, as Christians in the countries they were traveling through would give them Bibles. Most also have come to understand the connection between Islam and the oppression and violence they were fleeing. And, yes, some had dreams about Jesus. (Not a dream or vision of the type that Muhammed had, giving him a new religion. Rather, the type described in the Book of Acts, in which both Paul and Cornelius were directed to someone who would give them the Word and Sacrament.)
“For years we have prayed for revival in Denmark,” she told me. “We didn’t realize the revival would be among the Muslims!” But there is a connection. She said that many Danes are seeing the difference Christianity is making among the Iranian converts and are starting to take Christianity more seriously themselves. And the zeal of the new converts is inspiring the other members of the congregations they are joining.
The conversions of the Muslims would appear to be God’s work. It isn’t happening due to church programs or to outreach efforts (valuable as those may be). It isn’t that Christians are going to Muslims to try to convert them. Rather, the Muslims are coming to the Christians asking for the Gospel.
The revival in Denmark–as well as other countries–may just start with the Muslims and then keep spreading.