Yusuf (17) is a Somali Christian living in the Horn of Africa. He heard the message of Christ through fellow Somalis. For now he remains a secret believer because among his own people there is no room for Christianity. But Yusuf dreams of becoming an ambassador for Christ to his fellow Somalis.
From a young age he did what every young Muslim boy should do: go to the mosque 5 times a day to pray, attend madrasa and learnt to recite the Quran. “Whether you are clever or not, you just had to memorize the Quran – we went through hard times. I never enjoyed my childhood because sports like soccer were considered satanic because the players wore shorts. When the neighborhood children went out to play, we were forced to go to the mosque to memorize the Quran or stay in the house.”
Yusuf tried to be the perfect child, and from a young age learned to hate Christians, believing that they had corrupted and changed the Word of God. He was proud of being a Muslim.
Later he left his home town to continue his education in a city. “I found people from many different religions in one school. We Muslims saw ourselves as superior.
A short while later, Yusuf fell sick and was admitted to hospital for a month. Because of the distance to his home village, his father reached out to what he thought was a normal Somali family living in the same area. They took Yusuf in as he recuperated. What none of them knew was that all the members of this family were followers of Isa (Jesus).
Yusuf recovered, went back to school, but stayed with the family again during a school holiday. This is when he noticed that things were different. “I saw memory verses stuck onto the walls and learned that they were from the Bible. I wondered how Muslims could have words like that on their walls. Then I also noticed the Bible and some other Christian books around the house.”
Three days into his stay, his host family had a gathering of other Christians. “Afterwards one of the brothers took me out for a drink and shared with me about his faith in Christ. Without arguing we discussed religion for three solid days. Before I returned to school, he gave me some verses from the Bible to read and some information on the difference between Islam and Christianity.”
Yusuf is surrounded by Muslim young people whose views are becoming increasingly radicalised Islamic views. “I had to make an extra effort to read the Bible and the Quran late at night. I noticed that there was a big difference. I read different things by Muslim and Christian scholars. I looked at Mohammed’s life and his character and compared that to the life of Jesus. I asked my friends many questions about the Bible and even tried to defend the Quran, but found that I could not. After six months, I realized I had no more answers. I had to admit that the Bible was the true Word of God.”
The next school holiday, when he visited the Christian family again, Yusuf became a Christian. “I told them I don’t have any other option but to join them in their religion, the religion that gives us hope, the religion that shows us the mercy of God. They were so happy and celebrated loudly. They told me that the way they were celebrating at that moment was the same way that God and the angels were celebrating! They showed me from the Bible how welcome I was in the family of God. And they told me that several people around the world had been praying for me!”
After three months Yusuf was baptized along with a few others who had come to Christ from Islam. All of this happened in secret.
“Not even my parents know that I have become a Christian. When I go back home, they treat me as a Muslim. It is hard to tell them because it will shock them. It will also embarrass them. They’ll be neglected by the community. It’s not my intention to bring this kind of trouble for them. It will be dangerous for me and the family that helped me if I made my conversion known… Where I am now, I can at least meet other Christians in secret. When I am with them, I can read my Bible and I can sing.”
Despite the dangers and difficulties that have come with his new life, Yusuf won’t change a thing. “Previously I used to stress so much about my future, but since I believed in Christ I realised He has a good plan for us. Now I work hard, and trust Him with the rest. The future things, I have left with Christ. God has elevated me from where I used to be.”
“My vision is to become an ambassador of Christ to my community, to those who have never heard the Word of God. Muslims like public debates, but if we can debate with people discreetly about the faith, intelligently asking them questions and giving them a good understanding of the Bible, God will give them understanding.”
“Pray for me. I know God is there for me. I know that there’ll be many difficulties in front of me but I know God will fight for me. Your prayers also will ease the problems in front of me. Also pray for my family to see the light. Two of my sisters got saved, and I believe the others will come to Christ too because God is working in them. So pray for my family, the whole community. Maybe there are others who are secret believers.”
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