Most Somali Christians keep their faith completely secret. Islam is an important part of Somali identity, and for a Somali person to decide to leave Islam and follow Jesus is seen as a huge betrayal – and one that could lead to immediate execution.
Where the Middle East has the self-proclaimed Islamic State, the Horn of Africa has the militant Islamist group al-Shabaab. This group has stated publically that it ‘wants Somalia free of all Christians’, and they have intensified their search for Christians in the last year. If they find someone who has become a Christian, the militants will often kill them on the spot. At least 23 suspected Christians were murdered in Somalia last year.
Aaden* was a Somali herdsman with little education – he couldn’t read or write. But when he was out herding his animals, he had visions of Jesus. His son, Hassan*, tells us, “In these visions, Christ appeared to him and said, ‘It’s me, Isa. Do not be afraid, for I am with you.’”
When Aaden decided to follow ‘Isa’, the Arabic name for Jesus, he faced horrific persecution. Hassan says, “My father was beaten and even slashed with a panga (a tool similar to a machete). He has scars all over his body from that persecution.
“When the attacks did not work, the community offered him money to return to Islam. He never gave in to their pressures. This is when his family and the community rejected him, pulled away from him. Nobody wanted to talk to him and when they did, all he got was verbal abuse. Eventually we were thrown out.”
When Hassan* decided to became a Christian, he didn’t experience the levels of violent persecution that his father did, but he still faced rejection and insults. “People told me that I had become like my father. They told me, ‘You are a ‘kafir’ (infidel)! You don’t deserve to be among us!’” Watch an interview with him below.
“I did not have any friends. I was very lonely. I had no one to talk to. Although I want to tell the world that I am a Christian, I don’t because I fear for my life. But God makes it possible for me to survive this isolation.”
One of the ways that Open Doors works to support isolated believers like Hassan is through the radio. Open Doors has been partnering with others to produce radio programmes in the Somali language, and our partners have been broadcasting Somali songs, poetry and preaching in the Horn of Africa for the past 19 years! And it’s the faithful prayers and long-term support of people like you that are making this work possible, bringing light into the darkness of isolation faced by believers like Hassan, and helping them to keep going.
These programmes are also bringing the gospel to those who may never have heard it before, even in parts of the Horn of Africa where evangelism should be completely impossible. Thank you for giving lost Somali people the chance to be found by the love of Jesus.
Hassan says, “Please pray for Somali believers everywhere. Pray that Somali believers will stand strong in the faith and not be swept away by the big waves of persecution. The pressure on them is very intense.”
Hassan and his father are living out their faith with guts, passion and courage. How can we be bolder, braver and more passionate about sharing our faith with all the freedom we have? Can we get inspired by your persecuted family to share our love of Jesus? To help, make sure you get our free ‘Guts and Courage’ devotional and explore more stories of passion and boldness from young, persecuted Christians!
*Name changed for security reasons…
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.