Churches, Christian leaders and movements supporting asylum seekers in the United Kingdom have said they will continue to welcome asylum seekers despite the terrorist attack on Sunday authored by a Christian convert.

The young man detonated a homemade explosive inside a taxi, killing himself and injuring the taxi driver. The attack was carried out on UK’s Remembrance Day and aimed to cause larger damage in Liverpool’s women’s hospital.

The attacker had arrived in the UK from a Middle Eastern country. According to several media, he converted to Christianity through the Anglican Church, after completing the Alpha Course, a well-known evangelistic material to introduce people to the beliefs of Christianity. The man even lived for eight months with a church family that offered him a place to stay.

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Police also say that the attacker suffered mental health issues.

Welcome churches: “Mental health challenges very real”

Among those who responded to the terrorist attack is Welcome Churches, a platform founded in 2018 to unite Christian communities engaged in welcoming and supporting asylum seekers.

The platform said it was “devastated” after the incident, adding that “we are grateful that events such as the one in Liverpool on Sunday are not the norm. The majority of people seeking asylum in the UK are peaceful and want to rebuild their lives here in peace. Those seeking refuge need to be included in community life so that love, not fear, will win.”

“Mental health challenges are very real for many seeking refuge in the UK,” they say.

“Churches across the UK, especially those who have welcomed and supported many people seeking asylum, will be struggling to come to terms with the events in Liverpool," they admitted. “Showing ‘welcome’ is not always easy. Following the biblical call to ‘welcome the stranger’ by definition means to welcome people we don’t know. We live in a broken world, and the people we welcome are broken people too (as are the rest of the people in our churches!).”

“The tragic events in Liverpool on Sunday remind us that the darkness is very real. However, God’s light is bigger than the darkness. Let us continue to shine His light in dark places, bringing hope and freedom to a broken world.”

The call of the church

Krish Kandiah, who is leading initiatives welcoming Afghan and Hong Kong asylum seekers, said on Twitter: “The church has been caring for the vulnerable for over 2,000 years and will always continue to do so. It is understandable that some fleeing war and terror will experience mental health problems. We will continue to pass on the grace and compassion of God to all those in need.”

“Of course, we want to be wise and good citizens, and when we notice things that look dangerous or worrisome, then we need to report those to the proper authorities, but our first and primary calling is to love our neighbour,” he added.

No widespread conversions to gain asylum

Meanwhile, the Church of England said “it is not the role of clergy to establish the legitimacy of asylum claims and to assess security implications,” adding that “we are not aware of any evidence to suggest a widespread correlation between conversion to Christianity, or any other faith, and abuse of the asylum system.”

The Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, where the terrorist confirmed his Christian faith, explained they had “robust processes” to confirm people taking Christianity courses are committing to the church community. “We would expect someone to be closely connected with the community for at least two years before we would consider supporting an [asylum] application.”

Hundreds of churches in the United Kingdom offer specific activities, social programmes, support groups and Bible studies for asylum seekers. Thousands of asylum seekers and refugees have been involved with churches and become part of the life of Christian communities in cities across the country.


This story originally appeared at Evangelical Focus and is republished here with permission.