By Victor Ochieng
Over the past few years, churches in Europe have baptized hundreds of Muslim refugees who choose to surrender their lives to Christ. Several church leaders have reported a rising number of refugees abandoning Islam for Christianity.
In Australia, for example, Catholic churches have seen an influx of former Islamic adherents joining their congregations and getting baptized. The numbers got so high that the churches decided to introduce new baptism guidelines to ensure that those going through the water are persons of genuine faith. The same trend is reported in churches in Lebanon, England, and Germany, with the churches mainly receiving converts from Eritrea, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, and Syria.
Bishop George Saliba of Beirut, Lebanon, disclosed that over the past 6 years, he’s baptized close to 100 Muslim refugees from Syria. In another church in Beirut, the church leadership took note of the unusual numbers and organized training sessions for Syrian refugees. Several Bible study groups targeting Syrian refugees have also been set up in Lebanon.
Although there are no national statistics to back up these assertions, many churches in Europe report the trend. Nevertheless, the number of Muslims converting to Christianity is proportionately low considering the total number of Muslims living in Europe.
According to a news report published by The Guardian newspaper, many Muslims are joining Christianity because Mosques in Europe failed to offer them support during their time of need. To their surprise, they received warmth and support from the church.
Admittedly, not everyone is converting because of the same reason. While some are converting to Christianity because of genuine faith, others are doing so as a way to show gratitude for the support and hospitality accorded them by the church. Then there is the lot that believes Christianity would boost their chances of settling in Europe. There is one Muslim refugee in Germany who said he was considering converting to Christianity to avoid being deported back to his home country of Afghanistan, where his life would be in danger.
While it’s difficult to know the truth about each and every convert, some of them appear like they’re truly moved by the gospel. One 25-year-old Iranian Kurd, who changed his name to Silas, told NPR that Islam simply brought disillusionment. He, however, says that Christianity prompted questions when he first read the Bible while at a camp in Germany-Poland border.
“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.”