The Church must be brave enough to embrace Muslims who turn to Christ

This website carries an interesting report from Austria that increasing numbers of Muslim refugees are seeking reception into the Church.

Apr 21, 2016

By Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith
This website carries an interesting report from Austria that increasing numbers of Muslim refugees are seeking reception into the Church.

This story, first carried by an Austrian news website, comes in the wake of other reports about Muslim refugees in Germany also seeking to become Christians in some numbers, as well as the recent interview in which Cardinal Schonborn says that he himself has personally baptised many Muslims.

What are we to make of this? All the evidence seems anecdotal, but this is hardly surprising, given the sensitivity of the subject, as the Austrian report makes clear. Converts to Christianity run risks, and not just in places like Afghanistan but also in Austria, and even in Britain.

As Cardinal Schonborn remarks, freedom of conscience is not something many Muslims accept. But one thing seems clear: people brought up as Muslims can and do convert to Christianity. This being so, we should not view the conversion of Muslims as an impossible task, or something beyond the reach of the Holy Spirit.

It is quite interesting to see how many Christian Iranian churches there are around the world, for example, all of which are full of converts from Islam.

All those who follow Christ must accept the seriousness of the Great Commission, given to us in the final words of Saint Matthew’s gospel: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

These words are non-negotiable, just like Jesus’ words on the inadmissibility of divorce: the ipsissima verba of the Lord Himself. Moreover, why would any Christian even want to ignore those words of the Lord? He desires everyone to come to knowledge of Himself. Not to take these words seriously is to put a barrier in the way of the Lord’s will being done.

The Austrian report cited above speaks of a single individual Afghan who became interested in Christianity while still living in his own country, but who only took the final step of baptism when he arrived in Austria.

There may be many others like him, interested in the Bible, but not able as yet to take the necessary steps to baptism thanks to social and familial pressure. It is the obvious duty of the Church to make known to such people that we are there to help them make those steps.

Let’s hope that these reports are not isolated stories but part of wider trend. The Church exists to make converts. Let’s hope too that we can be brave enough to share the riches of Christ with all who enquire. Meanwhile, it would be interesting to know of any stories of conversion in our own country.--Catholic Herald

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