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Islam, Christianity, & Europe’s Future

Might the faith's revival in Europe come through converted refugees?
Islam, Christianity, & Europe’s Future

A decade ago, futurist Daniel Bodanis said his “dangerous idea” is that the “hyper-Islamicist” critique of the West as a spent and declining force is true. Excerpt:

The first generation of immigrants from farm to city bring with them the attitudes of their farm world; the first generation of ‘migrants’ from blue collar city neighborhoods to upper middle class professional life bring similar attitudes of responsibility as well. We ignore what the media pours out about how we’re supposed to live. We’re responsible for parents, even when it’s not to our economic advantage; we vote against our short-term economic interests, because it’s the ‘right’ thing to do; we engage in philanthropy towards individuals of very different backgrounds from ourselves. But why? In many parts of America or Europe, the rules and habits creating those attitudes no longer exist at all.

When that finally gets cut away, will what replaces it be strong enough for us to survive?

But now, there are reports of conversions to Christianity among Muslim refugees in Europe:

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 Hamburg reportedly 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.

An Anglican priest, once an Iranian Muslim refugee, says that yes, some are undoubtedly converting to make it easier to claim asylum. And the Anglican bishop of Bradford says:

“When we do confirmations, we work hard to make sure the person is serious. We all have mixed motives. But if someone says ‘I believe this’, who are we to make windows into people’s souls? The only thing I can do is see if people are still there a year later – and often they are.”

That was from The Guardian. This is from the Daily Beast:

The German pastor of the Evangelical-Lutheran church in Berlin calls the conversion phenomenon “a gift from God.” In his modest community a staggering 1,200 Muslims, mainly Afghans and Iranians, converted in just three years.

In Hamburg, where German ARD TV showed the Pakistanis and Afghans lining up to be baptized by the pastor of the Persian Church community, more than 600 people reportedly were received into the congregation.

There is no reliable overall figure for converts in northern Europe, but judging by reports from different media outlets, it is safe to assume the number runs into the thousands, maybe even tens of thousands who say they want the Gospel, “the good news,” offered by Jesus Christ.

One young Iranian woman convert told the German news magazine Stern, “I’ve been looking all my life for peace and happiness, but in Islam, I have not found them,” Another convert told Stern he had found in Christianity an element—love—that was missing from the faith he was brought up in. “In Islam, we always lived in fear,” he said. “Fear God, fear of sin, fear of punishment. But Christ is a God of love.”

Curiouser and curiouser. Who knows what God has planned for Europe. Wouldn’t it be astonishing if the revival of Christianity there came through converted Muslim refugees, who remembered the kindness Christians showed them?



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