In Somalia, Books Go Where Missionaries Cannot July 31, 2019

Somalia, in northeast Africa, is one of the world’s most dangerous places to be a Christian.

Over 99 percent of the country’s population identifies as Muslim, and it’s not hard to see why. Sharia law is enshrined in Somalia’s constitution, and anyone who expresses doubt about Islam or even curiosity about another religion faces intense persecution: harassment, property damage and physical attacks.

Religious leaders speak openly about eliminating Christianity from Somalia, and any Somali who is found to worship Jesus − or worse, shares the Good News with others − risks immediate execution.

Despite the dangers, a small community of Christians (probably fewer than 10,000 people of the country’s 8 million inhabitants) perseveres.

Where does a believer turn when there are no churches?

The isolation felt by the one-in-a-thousand Somali Christian is significant. Though it is a dangerous proposition − and some have died in the process − small, secret groups of Christians have formed, including a Somali Lutheran Church.

With no known trained pastors inside Somalia’s borders, LHF’s catechisms and devotions published in the Somali language bring answers to questions, comfort and a sense of belonging to a larger church family.

Rev. Warsame (names are changed for their protection), a Lutheran pastor and evangelist, is passionate about sharing LHF publications with his Somali people. Though he himself has suffered physical attacks and threats of death, Rev. Warsame is determined to share LHF books inside Somalia’s borders. And now, he writes, he may have found a way:

“Greetings! I have traveled to Ethiopia…[and met] Brother Diric, a young man who graduated from Mekane Yesus Seminary a few years ago. He requested that LHF books be delivered to a group of believers in Somalia. He said that even though the number of those who attend his Friday service is small, there are many converts and seekers there who would very much like to receive and read the books by themselves, as they fear persecution if their Christian faith is exposed. He said that LHF books are a great source for teaching and learning the Christian faith.

“Since the Somali border police will not permit Christian literature into their country, he suggested that we smuggle about 100 books every month, and he promised to distribute them immediately. My church elders and I applauded his proposal and assured him that we will start the process of smuggling as soon as the books arrive.

“Two weeks ago, I met a trader of my clan who regularly smuggles contraband goods, and I asked about the possibility of delivering three boxes of Christian books to someone in Somalia. The trader said, ‘That is not problem at all. We don’t care about the contents; just pack and seal them well, and we will take them to anywhere you want in Somalia.’

“Brother Diric also proposed that his congregation, which currently has about eight members, become part of our Somali Lutheran Church, which the elders and I welcomed.

“Additionally, one of the elders and I traveled to a camp of internally displaced people to visit some converts there and to deliver Somali Bibles. We met five believers in the camp and three in town. They told us that there are more believers and seekers in their areas and they requested for teaching and Christian literature. We spent two days in each location, during which I answered their questions about Christianity, Islam and the difference between the two faiths, and I instructed them on how to pray and how to read the Bible.

“Finally, in my own city, I have been teaching five new converts (three women and two men), separately at different hours and in different venues, to make sure that before they are allowed to join the fellowship, their conversion is genuine and they are reliable people.”

Only with your help can this important work continue. Prayerfully consider how you can help support LHF projects.

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