Faith

Christian Converts in Middle East Under Death Threats

Thousands of former Muslims have risked everything, yet still they cling to Jesus as their Savior

Some Syrian Muslim refugees in Lebanon have converted to Christianity, according to a report from a journalist based in the country. But their decision does not come without considerable risk.

“I started going to the church,” Abu Radwan, a Syrian refugee in Lebanon, said. “I believed that Jesus was coming to help us, to save us.”

“There are thousands upon thousands coming to Christ.”

Abu Radwan and his wife and children converted to Christianity from Islam.

Abu Radwan’s story was reported by Rebecca Collard, a journalist based in Beirut. The article appeared on multiple news sites.

Bishop George Saliba of the Syrian Orthodox Church, who baptized Abu Radwan, claims to have baptized 100 converts since 2011, at the start of the Syrian Civil War. Turmoil in the country has displaced more than 11 million people, according to the Migration Policy Institute. The think tank also notes that between Oct. 1, 2011, and Dec. 31, 2016, more than 18,000 Syrian refugees were resettled into the United States.

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Related: Where Can the Persecuted Christians in the Middle East Go?

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Monday that placed a temporary travel ban on Syrian refugees, as well as refugees from several other countries, who want to come into the United States. The U.S. will not give religious preference when admitting refugees to the country.

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Christianity and Islam both trace their lineage back to the patriarch Abraham.

The Christian Post reported in January that thousands of Muslims in the Middle East have converted to Christianity.

“Some of our Middle Eastern broadcasters have shared testimonies with us (which they hear directly from listeners when visiting there),” The Voice of the Martyrs Canada announced in January. “They are sharing exciting news of what God is doing in the Middle East. There are thousands upon thousands coming to Christ.”

The Beirut-based journalist reported that it’s hard to estimate how many Muslims have converted to Christianity in Beirut. Collard noted that along with Bishop Saliba’s church, another church in Beirut has Christian converts. This church and pastor asked not to be identified. “They fear reprisal from radical Islamist groups like ISIS,” Collard reported.

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The threats have not stopped Abu Radwan from going public about his faith in Jesus Christ. The conversion, however, has put Abu Radwan at risk; he was even stabbed on the streets last week by Syrians from his tribe, Collard noted. Because of the opposition, “his wife still wears a hijab outside of church,” Collard added.

“It has also made going home to Syria almost impossible,” Collard wrote. “His tribe, he says, has issued an order to kill him.”

In spite of all this, Abu Radwan said he was “relieved” when he was baptized into Christianity.

While Abu Radwan and his family may be waiting to find a more permanent home, what’s clear is they have taken refuge in their newfound faith.

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