Immigrants from Iran in Germany are showing a high level of interest in Christianity, despite the serious stigma attached to Muslims converting to another religion, reports Christianity Today magazine (July/August).
Journalists Matthias Pankau and Uwe Siemon-Netto report that the small yet growing movement of Muslims converting to Christianity in parts of the Middle East and the Muslim diaspora is being felt in eastern Germany—one of the most secular regions of Europe.
Many of these self-reports of conversions often involve visions and dreams where the convert sees Jesus and is directed to a Christian church (a phenomenon that has also taken place in the Middle East). Reports have circulated that an average of 500 Iranians convert to Christianity every year, with evangelical missions specialists estimating that the number may be in the thousands.
The recipients of these conversions are usually evangelical, fundamentalist and independent Lutheran congregations. The phenomenon is also present in mainline and Catholic churches, although, out of concern for building interfaith ties with Islam, such conversions are not publicized. Iranians are more likely to convert because this immigrant group in Germany (the largest such community in Europe at 200,000 members) is made up of young professionals who are rebelling against Islam and seeking alternatives, report Pankau and Siemon-Netto.
Some immigration officials suspect that immigrant are staging these conversions to stay in Germany, although the pastors interviewed discount this claim because of the danger Iranian Christians face in converting, as well as the rigorous catechetical process these inquirers are put through (often calling for public renunciation of Islam).
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