Media reports indicate that hundreds of Muslim refugees are converting to the Christian faith in Finland — a situation that has led churches to take action in an effort to help meet peoples’ spiritual needs.
The influx is apparently so stunning that the Evangelical Lutheran Church, one of the country’s national denominations, has launched special courses to help refugees understand the Christian faith, Christian Headlines reported.
“Asylum seekers began attending our services so we reacted by starting up the lessons,” Pastor Vesa Julin told Finnish outlet Yle Uutiset of the effort to help usher refugees into the faith.
Converts to Christianity can only enter the denomination after going through religious training and confirmation. Additionally, they must also be in contact with a parish for at least three months, according to the outlet.
No official figures have been kept, but Marja-Liisa Laihia, an administrator with the Evangelical Lutheran Church, told Finnish outlet Yle Uutiset that several hundred people are estimated to have renounced Islam and joined the Christian ranks in recent years.
Amid the slew of converts, there are some theories about what’s motivating it. While many might genuinely be looking to leave Islam behind, some conversions could also be driven by the fact that becoming a Christian might help protect refugees from deportation.
“I haven’t been in contact with my family in Afghanistan for a very long time,” one convert named Golamir Hossaini told Yle Uutiset. “If they find out I’ve converted, it would mean trouble for me.”
As Christian Headlines noted, Bible-believers are less likely to be sent back to the Middle East due to persecution.
As Faithwire previously reported, Muslim conversions to Christianity have been rampant in the Middle East and among refugees. There have been some pretty dramatic scenarios as well. From pastors leading an extremist to Christ to a “modern-day Paul” who terrorized Christians before becoming one, there are plenty examples of people coming to the faith.