For the last few decades, churches have been almost empty on Sunday mornings. But congregations that have evangelized Muslims are coming back to life. For example, theTrinity Lutheran Church in Berlin, which we have blogged about, used to have 150 parishioners. Now they have 700.
The phenomenon has spread to England. One Anglican bishop says that one out of four of the confirmations he performs are for Muslims converting to Christianity.
Two stories from British sources after the jump. They give some inspiring testimonies about how some of these immigrants came to Christ. A common theme: the realization that Christianity is “the religion of freedom.”
I suppose there is a connection between the freedom of religion and the religion of freedom!
A growing number of Muslim refugees in Europe are converting to Christianity, according to churches, which have conducted mass baptisms in some places.
Reliable data on conversions is not available but anecdotal evidence suggests a pattern of rising church attendance by Muslims who have fled conflict, repression and economic hardship in countries across the Middle East and central Asia.
Complex factors behind the trend include heartfelt faith in a new religion, gratitude to Christian groups offering support during perilous and frightening journeys, and an expectation that conversion may aid asylum applications.
At Trinity church in the Berlin suburb of Steglitz, the congregation has grown from 150 two years ago to almost 700, swollen by Muslim converts, according to Pastor Gottfried Martens. Earlier this year, churches in Berlin and Hamburgreportedly held mass conversions for asylum seekers at municipal swimming pools.
The Austrian Catholic church logged 300 applications for adult baptism in the first three months of 2016, with the Austrian pastoral institute estimating 70% of those converting are refugees.
At Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral in the UK, a weekly Persian service attracts between 100 and 140 people. Nearly all are migrants from Iran, Afghanistan and elsewhere in central Asia.
One in four confirmations conducted by the bishop of Bradford, Toby Howarth, over the past year were of converts from Islam. Most were Iranian and most of those were asylum seekers.
Countless Muslim refugees in Europe have also converted to Christianity as gauged from rising attendance in Christian churches all over Europe, according to The Guardian.
For instance, Trinity church in the Berlin suburb of Steglitz saw new Christian converts boosting its congregation numbers from 150 to 700.
In Austria, the Catholic Church reported that applications for adult baptism increased by nearly 70 percent in the first three months of 2016, with many of those baptised coming from the ranks of Muslim refugees.
The Independent said the Muslims who have turned to Christ, especially Iranians, are seeing Christianity as a new chance at freedom.
“A lot of them come to Germany and think, here I can choose my religion and I want to choose a religion of freedom,” said Matthias Linke, a priest from the Evangelical-Freikirchlichen Gemeinde in Berlin. “For many Iranians that I’ve baptised, Christianity is the religion of freedom.”
Terence Ascott, the founder and CEO of the SAT-7 Christian satellite network, which reaches out to refugees fleeing Syria and Iraq, said Muslim families turn to Christianity after being drawn by Jesus’ message of peace and love, according to Mission Network News.
Photo by Erik M. Lunsford, “Refugees gather for communion and blessings as the Rev. Dr. Gottfried Martens leads worship” at Trinity Lutheran Church, Berlin-Steglitz, LCMS, News & Information.