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Thread: At a Berlin church, Muslim refugees converting in droves

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    At a Berlin church, Muslim refugees converting in droves

    BERLIN — Mohammed Ali Zonoobi bends his head as the priest pours holy water over his black hair. "Will you break away from Satan and his evil deeds?" pastor Gottfried Martens asks the Iranian refugee. "Will you break away from Islam?"

    "Yes," Zonoobi fervently replies. Spreading his hands in blessing, Martens then baptizes the man "in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost."

    Mohammed is now Martin — no longer Muslim, but Christian.

    Zonoobi, a carpenter from the Iranian city of Shiraz, arrived in Germany with his wife and two children five months ago. He is one of hundreds of mostly Iranian and Afghan asylum seekers who have converted to Christianity at the evangelical Trinity Church in a leafy Berlin neighborhood.

    Like Zonoobi, most say true belief prompted their embrace of Christianity. But there's no overlooking the fact that the decision will also greatly boost their chances of winning asylum by allowing them to claim they would face persecution if sent home.

    Martens recognizes that some convert in order to improve their chances of staying in Germany — but for the pastor motivation is unimportant. Many, he said, are so taken by the Christian message that it changes their lives. And he estimates that only about 10 percent of converts do not return to church after christening.

    "I know there are — again and again — people coming here because they have some kind of hope regarding their asylum," Martens said. "I am inviting them to join us because I know that whoever comes here will not be left unchanged..."

    http://www.stripes.com/news/europe/a...roves-1.366321#

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