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Muslim asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq are converting to Christianity by the hundreds, according to Evangelical Lutheran administrators.
Hundreds of asylum seekers in Finland are converting from Islam to Christianity
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.
Church sacraments such as the baptism are common queries among the new members of Finland’s Lutheran flock.