Check out Farah’s incredible story of faith, perseverance and courage. From Somalia and the son of a Muslim religious leader, he was just 8, when he heard God’s voice. He shouldn’t ever have heard of Jesus, but…
“When I was eight, I heard a voice that I could not recognise telling me to follow Him. After that I had a longing to know more about Jesus.
“At the time we had foreign Christian neighbours. I used to visit them. When my parents found out, they warned the Christians to not allow me to visit their home anymore, but I started (secretly) climbing over the fence to be with them.”
Farah is from the Somali community in the Horn of Africa. 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 by Islamic extremists.
When Farah first decided to answer the call of Jesus, he probably had no idea of the risks he was taking or the persecution that lay ahead of him. But he has stood firm in his faith through it all – and the support and prayers of his global church family have helped him to keep going.
As well as learning from his Christian neighbours, Farah also grew in his faith as a young boy by listening to the radio.
He says, “I listened to Christian radio programs in Somali and corresponded with them.”
Open Doors partners have been broadcasting Somali songs, poetry and preaching in the Horn of Africa for the past 19 years – it’s a huge source of encouragement for believers who are isolated or following Jesus in secret.
Farah soon began to share his faith with others. He says, “By the age of about 13 I had started preaching to my friends at school. There were 40 children in my class and I brought three of them to Christ.”
His bold faith was met with opposition. He says, “The school expelled me. Afterwards, some of my fellow students told my parents that I had become a Christian, and that is when persecution started from their side.”
But that didn’t stop him – he continued to share the gospel with others. Farah says, “When I was 17, I was imprisoned because I preached the gospel. At the time, my father announced that I had to be killed, but my mother and brothers were against his decision. Instead, I was kept in jail for six months.”
Even after his father had threatened to kill him, he kept preaching to the other prisoners. “Nothing could stop me from preaching the gospel, so the officers said I had to be kept alone.”
But he felt God’s presence with him, even in prison, alone and rejected by his family. “God spoke to my heart. He strengthened me all the time.”
Farah is now 43, but the persecution against him hasn’t ended. He recently had to flee his home to escape being imprisoned again – and this is how he first came into contact with Open Doors. He says, “I went to hide in a remote area. While there, I got sick. While I missed everything I had, I met Open Doors. They helped me with medication and often connected with me. They comforted me through my trouble and set my mind at ease.”
“People I did not know called and insulted me; I could not find a single job because everybody knew me. My entire tribe disregarded me. My family asked me to choose, but I told them I need the truth, not their wealth.”
Open Doors has helped Farah to start a small business, and Open Doors workers visit him to encourage him and show him that he isn’t alone and forgotten. “They showed me brotherly love. My flesh brothers persecuted me and left me, but my brothers in Christ helped me. In my suffering I realised there are brothers who prayed for me, showed concern for me and helped me. This increased my faith.”
Today Farah attends a secret church. He advises other new believers, “Always read the Bible and fix your eyes on Jesus. Pray fervently, and give all your anxiety to God. We must understand that our fate is God himself. When suffering comes to your life, be persistent.”
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imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.