Christianity is making a comeback in Europe – and it’s mostly thanks to Muslims, say experts in Islam and faith leaders.
A soaring number of Muslims, many of them refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, are converting to Christianity, breathing new life into Europe’s once floundering Christian churches. The Muslims are flocking to various Christian denominations, experts said, including becoming Protestants, evangelical or Catholic.
As many parts of Europe are becoming more secular and houses of worship are seeing congregants leave in droves, it is Muslim converts who are reviving struggling Christian churches.
“European churches have struggled for decades to share the gospel with modern secular Europeans,” Matthew Kaemingk, a professor at the Fuller Theological Seminary in Seattle, told Fox News. “They have found Muslim immigrants to be much more open to the message of Christianity.”
Kaemingk, who has done research focused on Christian responses to Muslim immigration in the Netherlands, and has written a book titled “Christian Hospitality and Muslim Immigration in an Age of Fear” that will be published this fall, said secular Europeans rarely sense a deep need for the type of healing and salvation the church offers.
It’s illegal in many Muslim countries to convert to another religion. It’s safer to convert to Christianity in Europe. – Timothy Furnish, author of books on Islam
“Europeans are wealthy, comfortable, healthy, and powerful,” Kaemingk said. “In short, they don’t think they need God.”
But, he added, Muslim immigrants are quite the opposite – they are intensely spiritual. But they are leaving their own religion for a variety of reasons.
Some Muslim refugees settling in European counties may be converting on the assumption that their odds for obtaining political asylum will improve if they are Christian, according to the Guardian. Others may have had an earlier interest in converting but were unable to do so while they lived in the Middle East, where conversions are often prohibited and could make the family a target. Some jihadist groups, including ISIS, target Christians for murder in such countries as Syria and Iraq.
Others are turning to Christianity to assimilate in their new country.
“The average Muslim newcomer in Europe experiences a tremendous amount of societal pressure. They experience racism, poverty, exclusion, discrimination, language and cultural barriers, and a deep sense of displacement,” Kaemingk said. “Their sense of homelessness is not only geographical, it is spiritual. Churches who offer these Muslims real and meaningful hospitality are seeing some surprising results.”
Germany received nearly 900,000 asylum seekers in 2016; the majority was from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, according to published reports. Churches in Berlin and Hamburg were faced with so many asylum seekers wanting to convert that they held baptisms in municipal swimming pools.
The increasing number of asylum seekers in Germany prompted the nation’s evangelical church leaders to issue a handbook on baptizing the converts, reported The Independent.