“Iranians Are Converting To Evangelical Christianity In Turkey” by Fariba Nawa, National Public Radio, 12-/14/18.
…Sebnem Koser Akcapar, a sociology professor at Istanbul’s Koç University who has been studying refugees and their change of faith, says she has witnessed the rise in conversions.
“The numbers of Iranian refugees converting have grown tremendously over the years. A small church consisting of 20 to 30 families has become a much bigger congregation housing 80 to 100 people on a regular Sunday,” she says.
Akcapar believes only some of the refugees are genuine converts. Others are using religious persecution as a way to get to the West, which may be the only way for them to lead a normal life, she says.
With more U.S. sanctions on Iran, Iranians are facing economic hardships and political pressure.
The United Pentecostal Church in Denizli can’t keep up with the demand, says the church’s Turkey representative Rick Robinson, who has lived in the country for 13 years. It has churches in eight Turkish cities and refugees are calling on them to open more.
He says the church provides a spiritual outlet for refugees, not financial support, and that he welcomes anyone regardless of whether they are genuinely converting or not.
Robinson thinks many of the congregants may not be believers, at least not at first. “There might even be some who start with the help just for the refugee status and become sincere,” he says matter-of-factly.
Robinson, a tall pastor with silver hair, welcomes the Iranians into the church with hugs and laughter.
Farzana says one reason she converted was the way Iran’s interpretation of Islam treats women. When she divorced an abusive husband, she says, an Iranian court granted him custody of her older son and daughter. Under Iran’s Sharia Islamic law, fathers get custody of older children.
“Mostly because of this I became disillusioned with Islam,” she says. “That judge sitting there and giving orders was completely siding with men. Everywhere in Iran men come before women.”
Farzana says she was shattered and felt lost after her children were taken away.
But a year later, Farzana married her current Iranian husband and they had Andya. She hired a high school friend to assist her in her thriving beauty salon, and soon her friend, a Christian convert, began to recruit her to Tehran’s secret churches.
“Once she began trusting me, she gave me photocopied writings and said, ‘I’m giving these to you as a gift. Go read them. These are the word of God,'” Farzana recalls.
Read more at … https://www.npr.org/2018/12/14/669662264/iranians-are-converting-to-evangelical-christianity-in-turkey