German pastor in LCC partner church honoured for work among Iranian converts
GERMANY – German Christian magazine ideaSpektrum has named Rev. Dr. Gottfried Martens “Pastor of the Year” for 2012, an honour given in recognition of his work over the past five years caring for Iranian converts to Christianity.
The growing number of Iranian converts to Christianity in Germany was highlighted in a 2012 article for Christianity Today entitled “The other Iranian Revolution.” That article, which featured Dr. Martens and his work, noted that Germany is now home to the largest Iranian community in Western Europe with approximately 150,000 Iranian immigrants. The January 2013 issue of SELKinfo further notes that dozens of Iranian Muslims in Germany are estimated to be converting to Christianity every month.
“These refugees are taking unimaginable risks to live their Christian faith,” says Dr. Martens in the article for Christianity Today. “Imagine! Of all places, God chooses eastern Germany, one of the world’s most godless regions, as the stage for a spiritual awakening among Persians.”
The article goes on to explain how numerous Iranian Muslims are reportedly receiving visions of Christ as a precursor to their conversions. “He always makes it clear that he is Jesus of the Bible, not Isa of the Qu’ran,” the authors write, “and He directs them to specific pastors, priests, congregations, or house churches, where they later hear the gospel.”
“As a confessional Lutheran, I am not given to Schwarmerei [ie, religious enthusiasm],” explains Dr. Martens in the article. “But these reports of visions sound very convincing.”
Dr. Martens’ congregation (St. Mary’s Lutheran, Berlin-Zehlendorf) has grown substantially from 200 to 900 members over the past twenty years, and is a congregation of Germany’s Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELK). SELK is a member of the International Lutheran Council, a worldwide association of confessional Lutheran churches bodies, of which Lutheran Church–Canada is also a member.