Hundreds of asylum seekers in Finland converting from Islam to Christianity
Muslim asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq are converting to Christianity by the hundreds, according to Evangelical Lutheran administrators. A parish in eastern Finland is organising additional religious teaching for the new converts.
Iraqi Christians pray during Easter Mass at Baghdad’s Christian Union Evangelical Church, in Iraq, Sunday, March, 27, 2016. Christians across the world are celebrating Easter, commemorating the day followers believe Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem over 2,000 years ago. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim).
Finnish Evangelical Lutheran parishes have begun organising confirmation schooling for Muslim asylum seekers who want to convert to Christianity.
Although no exact figures on converts are kept, even careful estimates put the number of emigrants who have renounced Islam in favour of Christianity in recent years at several hundred, according to expert Marja-Liisa Laihia from the church’s central administration.
Some twenty young Afghani men are currently enrolled in pre-confirmation teaching at the Tainionkoski parish centre in Imatra, Eastern Finland, where they have copies of the New Testament in the Dari language at their disposal. The teaching itself is in English, with a Dari interpreter on hand via Skype.
The need for special religious education first arose a year ago, coinciding with the establishment of the Imatra reception centre.
“Asylum seekers began attending our services so we reacted by starting up the lessons,” says pastor Vesa Julin.
Why Al-Aqsa Mosque is so important to Muslims? All Muslims must know these reasons.
Church sacraments such as the baptism are common queries among the new members of Finland’s Lutheran flock.
“I haven’t been baptised yet, but I’m looking forward to it and I’m sure I will be a good Christian,” Aliraza Hussaini says.
Many of the new confirmation school students cite a dissatisfaction or disillusionment with the Islamic religion as the reason behind their conversion. All are essentially in exile from their homes countries and have been through a harrowing asylum process.
“I haven’t been in contact with my family in Afghanistan for a very long time. If they find out I’ve converted, it would mean trouble for me,” Golamir Hossaini says.
Many of those who have renounced Islam say they are treated as infidels in their home countries, and all of them say they do not believe they will ever return to Afghanistan.