Refugees from countries like Syria and Iran are escaping to various countries in Europe, leading to all sorts of logistical and ethical questions.
But here’s a point that I haven’t heard addressed much in the media: With Muslims flocking to Germany in particular, should we be concerned that so many are converting to Christianity?
Maybe it’s genuine, but more likely, the refugees feel it’s a point in their favor when applying for asylum. (Chancellor Angela Merkel says such conversions won’t make a difference. However, as converts may be subject to the death penalty back home, the government may be less likely to send them back if they profess a new faith)
At the same time, it’s possible some pastors taking advantage of the situation to notch a few more tally marks in the converted column and increase their church membership.
Congregation member Vesam Heydari told AP, “The majority of Iranians here are not converting out of belief… They only want to stay in Germany.”
Martens acknowledges this possibility, but says once in church, most people do engage and that around 90 per cent of converts continue attending after they have been baptised.
“I know there are — again and again — people coming here because they have some kind of hope regarding their asylum,” Martens said. “I am inviting them to join us because I know that whoever comes here will not be left unchanged.”
I don’t think the high attendance rates necessarily means they found Christ. They’re probably just playing the part. You have to wonder, though, what the churches will do with members who don’t accept Jesus. Will they just turn them away?
Here’s a situation where I hope the pastors continue to take them in, regardless of their actual faith. If the pastors just play the game along with the new parishioners, so be it. Any safe community is a welcome one for the refugees right now, and churches are better situated than most places to handle the influx of people. The religious backdrop matters a lot less to me when there are so many other important factors at play.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Jen for the link)