Germany Penalizes Convert Cabbie for Bible Quote

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ESSEN, Germany (ChurchMilitant.com) – A former Muslim who converted to Christianity after experiencing a miraculous healing has been fined by the city of Essen for displaying a tiny Bible verse on his taxi’s rear window. 

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Jalil Mashali

Essen’s road traffic authority has accused taxi driver Jalil Mashali of illegal “religious advertising” for a sticker that has Jesus’ words from the Gospel of John: “I am the way, the truth and the life.” 

Mashali, who has lived in Germany for 22 years, was asked to remove the Bible verse in October 2023 and was threatened with a fine of up to 1,000 euros if he failed to do so, but he has so far declined to remove the sticker. 

The convert is insisting that the Bible verse does not constitute religious advertising due to the content, location and small size of the sticker. 

However, the authorities are now demanding a fine and fees of over 88 euros. Mashali is now challenging the fine, and he’s supported by the Alliance for Defending Freedom International

“Jesus is the best thing I could recommend to anyone because He changed my life. That’s why I have the sticker on my car for anyone who is interested to see. I’m not looking to cause trouble, but I haven’t done anything wrong,” the convert boldly declared.  

“I am grateful for this country where everyone should be free to share their faith. I hope to be able to continue to do so by appealing the unjust fine,” Mashali, who was born and raised a devout Muslim in Iran, added.

Jesus is the best thing I could recommend to anyone.

The convert was born and raised a devout Muslim in Iran. He had to undergo over 20 surgeries after losing his lower left leg in a traffic accident at the age of 13. The operations left him with chronic pain and wearing a prosthesis. 

At the age of 33, hoping to alleviate the pain in his leg, Mashali sought further medical treatment in Germany. However, the pain remained unrelenting and drove Mashali to consider committing suicide at the hospital. 

At this point, a Christian woman approached him and offered to pray with him. Although skeptical, he accepted. When the pain in his leg fully ceased following her prayer, he began reading the Bible and was later baptized as a Christian.

Mashali continued living and working in Iran and eventually married and had two sons. 

Our Iranian friends are starving for the gospel.

“In a free society, the government should not be silencing peaceful expressions of faith. Jalil’s actions are protected by the basic human right to freedom of religion, which includes the right to share one’s deeply held convictions with others,” said Dr. Lidia Rieder, legal officer for ADF International.

In comments to Church Militant, Dr. Christian C. Tiews, a missionary of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod in Germany, said he personally knew of Jalil Mashali’s conversion and Christian witness. 

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Bible sticker on Mashali’s taxi 

Tiews said he works on a daily basis with Iranian immigrants, alongside his colleagues from the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church and missionaries from the Confessional Lutheran Church of Finland. 

“According to Germany’s Federal Ministry for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), 36% of Iranian immigrants to Germany cite Christianity as their religion (Islam comes in second at 32%),” Tiews observed.   

“There seemed to be two reasons for this: many Iranians are aware of the ancient Persian king Cyrus who is mentioned in the Old Testament no less than 19 times,” Tiews explained.

“Secondly, the Ayatollah Khamenei is inadvertently driving many people from Islam because of that religion’s cruelty, treatment of women, etc., which he and the mullahs enforce. (Note the protests enforcing the wearing of hijabs in recent years),” he added.

“While a certain percentage of them may cite Christianity for tactical reasons, in order to be granted asylum, I can confirm that many Iranians are converting to Christianity because they have truly experienced Christ and the gospel,” he missionary said. 

The Ayatollah Khamenei is inadvertently driving many people from Islam. 

Asked why both the Catholic Church and Protestant state church were not attracting a high proportion of converts from Islam, Tiews said that “the Iranians shy away from the liberal Protestant state church in Germany because they find its views on sexuality offensive.”

“At the same time, Roman Catholic churches require at least a year of instruction before holy baptism can take place. While well-intentioned, Rome’s focus does not seem to be on Christ first and foremost,” the pastor argued.

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Pastor Gottfried Martens & Trinity Lutheran Church

“Our Iranian friends are starving for the gospel, hungry for Jesus Christ, and eager to receive the Holy Spirit in baptism as soon as possible. That is what conservative Protestant churches are giving them,” he emphasized.

A convert from Islam who requested anonymity told Church Militant that he had decided not to convert to Catholicism in Germany because the German Catholic Church was pushing homosexuality and the ordination of women, which “is haram (forbidden) even in Islam.”

Trinity Lutheran Church in Berlin, led by Pastor Gottfried Martens, currently has more than 1,400 converts who speak Farsi and Dari (a language spoken in Afghanistan).

“We don’t just baptize them and proclaim ‘Hallelujah!’ We really check them out,” Martens said in an interview. “Thirty percent of them fail.” 

“I make it very clear from the beginning, that conversion and baptism do not increase the chances of receiving asylum, rather, it could make it worse,” Martens emphasized. “The BAMF will hardly look at the application if they see it is a Christian from Iran.” 

Muslims who convert face the death penalty for apostasy and are attacked and persecuted by fellow Muslims even in a Western democracy like Germany, the pastor explained.  

“Many [of the Iranians who have fled to Germany] were also in private house-held congregations in Iran or were touched by the Christian faith during their escape journey,” Martens noted. Some of those Martens baptized have already been deported.

Several churches in Hannover and Berlin have opened special courses in Persian, Arabic and Dari to introduce asylum seekers to Christianity. The Persian Pentecostal “Alpha and Omega” congregation in Hamburg is also very popular with refugees from Iranian and Afghan backgrounds. 

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