Hundreds of Muslim refugees who hail from Iraq, Iran, and other parts of the Middle East and have fled to Finland have embraced the Christian faith in the last couple of years, officials of the Evangelical Lutheran community said.
Based on a report by Finnish media Yle Uutiset, several hundred Muslim refugees from Middle Eastern countries that include Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq have converted to Christianity. Finland's Evangelical Lutheran church has conducted special confirmation classes for immigrants who wish to embrace the Christian faith, The Christian Post relayed.
In addition, the Finnish report said there are presently 20 Afghani men attending the church's pre-confirmation classes in Eastern Finland. They are using a New Testament in the Afghan language Dari.
Sputnik News said there are some Muslim immigrants who leave Islam because of their disillusionment with their old faith, but there are also others who reportedly think that becoming a Christian will help them better adjust to the culture in Finland. Still, there are those who are convinced with Jesus' teachings.
"I found that the history of Islam was completely different from what we were taught at school. Maybe, I thought, it was a religion that began with violence," a 32-year-old Iranian convert was quoted by The Guardian as saying. "A religion that began with violence cannot lead people to freedom and love. Jesus Christ said 'those who use the sword will die by the sword.' This really changed my mind."
In May 10, Patheos blogger Gene Veith talked about his experience when he witnessed the dedication of the Afghan converts in learning about the Bible in Finland. He said the people he saw had been catechized and baptized already but still wanted to know more. He mentioned that if they were only converting to Christianity for the sake of their permanent residence application, they would not have bothered undergoing weeks of intensive Bible study.
In the end, Veith said he found the experience very meaningful, especially the time they got to worship with the new Christian converts. He also noted that these immigrants have revitalized the Evangelical Lutheran Church, which had suffered from poor attendance.