Christians in Somalia face persecution and political upheaval but still remain strong.
Somalia (MNN) ― The country of Somalia is in a dire state. The terrorist group Al Shabaab, linked with al Qaeda, wants to overthrow the government there and become the most extreme version of Islam.
"Politically, it's still just an absolute vacuum. Anything that goes into Somalia, whether it's human aid or relief supplies or some attempt to provoke stability, just seems to get sucked up in chaos. And in today's reality, Christians are bearing the brunt of that," said Carl Moeller, president and CEO of Open Doors USA.
For the church, this has created intense persecution as many of the Christians in the areas, especially those from a Muslim background, take the brunt of this violence.
On July 10, members of al Shabaab beheaded seven Christian men in the town of Baidoa, Somalia. Just ten days later, they also hunted down another Christian and killed him by firing squad.
Sadly, the situation does not look like it will turn itself around in the near future. In fact, Moeller said, "It is the definition of a failed state. It's almost impossible to envision Somalia returning to any sort of national normalcy in the next decade or more."
Unfortunately, it seems al Shabaab and the other extreme groups in the area are the ones making progress. Yet, "At the same time, the church is expanding, and the church, because of the reality of Jesus Christ, is providing a measure of hope for some who are turning from Islam to Christ," Moeller said. He called these two forces in opposition a lethal combination.
Because of this extreme tension, Moeller said it is vital for organizations in the U.S., such as Open Doors, to recognize this strategic area of Africa and the danger of it becoming controlled by extremists. Then, organizations must take action.
The reality of the situation, however, is that persecution is something a person should face if he or she is a Christian, according to Moeller.
"If you follow Jesus, you will be persecuted," he said. And that is just how the Christians in Somalia are responding.
"Most Christians in extreme persecution are not asking to be permanently removed from persecution, to become refugees in some other country; but they are actually asking for the strength and the capacity to stand strong in the midst of that persecution," Moeller said.
Thus, the role of Christians in the U.S. and other free countries around the world should be to support these Christians.
"[We] need to use the freedoms that God has given us to speak out on their behalf, to pray on their behalf," Moeller said. He added that the role of believers in free countries should be to partner with organizations like Open Doors, so the organizations can provide resources and help the persecuted believers stand strong.
Even though the situation looks hopeless, Moeller said there is an upside.
"When the church is growing and the Holy Spirit is moving, the enemy is moving against it," he said. "When persecution comes, it is a sign to us that the church is growing, the church is strengthening, and it is becoming a target of the enemy."
Moeller then challenged free Christians to ask themselves, "What trouble have you been in for Jesus today?" He said if Christians are never getting in trouble, they may not be taking the Gospel seriously.
Do your part by praying fervently for the church in Somalia to continue to grow, strengthen and become encouraged by Christians around the world; standing with them hand-in-hand in prayer and support.
Also, pray for the church in America and other free nations to step up to the task at hand and not become complacent in their freedom.
To partner with Open Doors as they provide resources and encouragement to Christians in Somalia, visit opendoorsusa.org.