More than 80 men and women from Iran and Afghanistan converted to Christianity Thursday during a mass baptism in Hamburg, Germany.
Albert Babajan, the pastor who carried out the ceremony, has converted 196 Muslims in 2016. He expects the number to grow to 500 by the end of the year, and says the most common reason is disappointment in Islam.
“The motive for the change of faith is the same for many: they are disappointed with Islam,” Babajan told German magazine Stern.
One refugees said Christianity has liberated him from living in a constant fear of sinning. Iranian girl Shima said she’s been looking for happiness her entire life, and finally found it under the Christian faith.
“I’ve been looking all my life for peace and happiness, but in Islam, I have not found it,” Shima told Stern. “To be a Christian means happiness to me.”
But some question the real motives behind why the asylum seekers convert. German immigration authorities give preference to Christian refugees who could face prosecution and even execution if they return to their home countries.
Babajan said he has denied a large number of prospective converts for having ulterior motives.
“If I have the impression that someone doesn’t believe it from the heart, then I won’t baptize him,” he said.
Converting is still far from a guarantee that the refugee will be able to remain in Germany. Babajan estimates that 10 percent of the people he has converted have been deported.
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