Conversions from Refugees
With recent wars such as those in Syria that has been increased refugee intake across Europe. An interesting outcome of this is the growth of the Church, to the point that some churches are seeing doubling of congregation sizes.
There is debate about how much of this growth is genuine – some may be 'converting' for enhancing their refugee claims, others may be existing Christians. However regardless of the proportions, there appears to be some genuine conversions of Muslim refugees.
I believe the question we should asking ourselves is, why are we not seeing larger church growth from our own nations?
"If they aren't from here, why should I care?"
I believe that Westerners have forgotten what has made our nations so successful – a Christian history and moral tradition. We have not arrived at our current liberal ideals of equity, equality and free speech from a secular tradition. Throughout our history it has often been Christian ideals (but not always the Church) that has pushed for human rights.
For me, it is my relationship with God, and the understanding that God values everyone which is at the heart backbone of my idea of human rights. The idea that human rights are a secular notion I find strange – there is no secular reason why we should value another person as we value ourselves.
Without this understanding a pure secularist has a strong argument against refugee intake with a view of self-interest. Refugees can be an economic and social burden.
God loves us all – Despite our "Otherness"
Many people fleeing conflict are fleeing persecution because they are treated as 'other'. Another faith, another sect, or another belief. And this is where I believe the growth in the Church from refugees stems – the recognition that the Church is loving them for no other reason than God loves them.
This kind of transformative love is at the heart of every Christian faith – that God loves us, and that in itself is special and has meaning. We are special enough that Christ would die for us. We will love another purely because of this demonstration of God's love for us. To God we are all 'others', yet still loves us.
Lest we Forget
What we have had as a society is the respect and tolerance of otherness. However, we must be careful that we remember why. Without an appreciation of why we value others, God's love for us, we risk the erosion of a society which accepts and values human rights.
If Western society continues to forget its roots in Christian tradition we may continue to see the growth of aggressive and uncompassionate policies and governments across the world.
Nathanael Yates is a Neuroscience Researcher from Perth, Western Australia. He is constantly inspired by his astonishingly wise and beautiful wife and his adorable daughter.
Nathanael Yates' previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/nathanael-yates.html