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Situation for converted asylum seekers intensifies

February 9, 2018 No Comment

Rev. Dr. Gottfried Martens

BERLIN, Germany – The situation for former Muslim asylum seekers who have converted to Christianity has dramatically deteriorated in Berlin and Brandenburg reports Rev. Dr. Gottfried Martens pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Berlin-Steglitz. The pastor serves the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELK) congregation which has more than 1,600 church members, many of whom are refugees who converted to Christianity. He has baptized more than 1,000 former Muslims, especially Iranians and Afghans.

Martens told a Protestant news agency “several hundred” refugees from his community have already been rejected because they have become Christians. According to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) converting to Christianity is a tactic to prevent their deportation. “I see the suffering of these people who have been Christians for many years, who want to be involved in church services and work with children and then be deported” Martens said.

According to the pastor, the situation has become increasingly difficult since the summer of 2016 when the government rushed to hire many new “decision-makers” and “auditors.” In addition, the positions were separated so that decisions were made solely based on protocols. Even with the interpreters, there were problems in translation. Since many communities are affected, Martens calls on the churches “to speak with one voice against the injustice.”

“This situation calls for concerted prayer from our Canadian church members,” encouraged Rev. Timothy Teuscher, president of Lutheran Church–Canada. “It is not the government’s responsibility to decide who is and who isn’t a Christian.”

Rev. Martens has served as pastor of the church in Berlin-Steglitz since 2013. The Trinity congregation sees itself in a special way as a mission church. Regular baptismal instruction with translation into Farsi is offered. There are also Persian Bible studies, prayer services, and community outreach.

Based on a report from SELK News Service