Relaymedia

Hundreds of Muslim Refugees Convert to Christianity at Church in Berlin, Pastor Says 'Whoever Comes Here Will Not Be Left Unchanged'

( [email protected] ) Sep 08, 2015 12:23 PM EDT
Hundreds of Iranian and Afghan refugees seeking asylum in Germany have converted from Islam to Christianity at an evangelical church in Berlin, a church leader has revealed.
Iranian asylum seekers Aref Movasaq Rodsari (left) and Vesam Heydari stand in the Trinity Church in Berlin
AP photo

Hundreds of Iranian and Afghan refugees seeking asylum in Germany have converted from Islam to Christianity at an evangelical church in Berlin, a church leader has revealed.

According to the Daily Mail, those seeking asylum in Germany are reportedly converting to Christianity at a dramatically high rate. Evangelical Trinity Church in Berlin has seen its membership increase from 150 to 600 within just a few weeks, with most of its new members being Muslim converts.

The AP notes that the local evangelical church has gained a reputation for reaching out to Muslims and offering a course in the basic tenets of Christianity. Church pastor Gottfried Martens told the news outlet that the new believers have been baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, and have expressed a desire to never return to their home country due to persecution from extremist groups such as the Islamic State. 

Some have questioned the motives of the converts, as professing Christianity may increase their chances at staying in Germany. In areas controlled by the Islamic State, converting from Islam is a serious crime, meaning Germany could be more likely to grant refugee converts asylum if they faced almost certain persecution if they returned home.

However, pastor Martens dismisses such speculation, telling the AP that just 10 percent of those who convert abandon the church after being baptized.

"I know there are - again and again - people coming here because they have some kind of hope regarding asylum," he said. "I am inviting them to join us because I know that whoever comes here will not be left unchanged."

Pastor Martens described the conversions as nothing short of a "miracle" and explained that at least another 80 people - mostly refugees from Iran and a few Afghans - are currently waiting to be baptized as well.

According to the BBC, asylum seekers in Germany are expected to number close to 800,000 this year, four times the 2014 figure.

Many of these refugees come from countries where radical Islam has threatened its citizens, including countries like Syria, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

On Tuesday, Germany's vice-chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said his country would keep accepting "a greatly disproportionate share" among EU members "because we are an economically strong country, without doubt."

Meanwhile, Britain, France and even Latin American countries have pledged to accept tens of thousands of refugees between them.

Venezuela has said will accept 20,000, the same number that Britain has promised to take over five years. Dilma Rousseff, the Brazilian president, declared migrants would be welcomed with "open arms", and Chile's leader, Michelle Bachelet, said it was "working to take a large number". Canada's Quebec province said it would take 3,650 this year.