Somalia (MNN) — In parts of Somalia, bombings are becoming a near-daily occurrence. On Wednesday, an al-Shabaab suicide bomber drove a car into a hotel, while gunmen disguised as military officers held people hostage at an adjacent restaurant. The attack left at least 31 people dead.
The group is trying to overthrow the UN-backed government, and recently declared a new offensive. Though al-Shabaab targets anyone who disagrees with its ideology, Voice of the Martyrs Canada’s Greg Musselman says Christians are especially in danger.
“Attacks like the ones we’re talking about today, while maybe not directed at Christians, it still instilled fear into the whole culture beyond Christians, but specifically them because al-Shabab has made it a part of their mandate and mission to eradicate Somalia of Christians,” Musselman says.
The increase in attacks comes during Ramadan, the holy month when many Muslims strive to draw closer to God. While many do this peacefully, some see violence as their spiritual duty.
“Of course, most Muslims are peaceful about Ramadan, and they do their fasting and they just have their time of seeking Allah,” Musselman says. “But then there are those that are in these militant Islamic groups like al-Shabaab, ISIS, [and] al-Qaeda that see Ramadan as a time to please their view of God, and part of that is with violence, unfortunately. They go through these attacks and they cause all sorts of difficulty for those that don’t go along with their ideology.”
Believers in Somalia have long faced extreme persecution. Open Doors USA lists the country at number two on its World Watch List for countries where Christians are most persecuted.
“Somalia has one of the fewest Christians in the world in numbers and also in percentage,” Musselman says. “We do know that there are believers there and they are meeting in secret, and it is very difficult for them. We have reported many stories over the years of Christians that have come from Islam…and if they leave Islam and become a Christian and it’s found out, they can be killed.”
Voice of the Martyrs Canada advocates for these believers by telling their stories, and introduces them to the Gospel through radio ministry. Musselman asks that you pray for the Christians in Somalia as they seek to practice their faith under constant threat.
“I think the big thing we need to pray for is the safety of the followers of Christ,” Musselman says. “There’s not an open church, so these folks are meeting in secret in house churches. That’s how most of the Christians do it, and they have to be very careful [by meeting] in small groups, not drawing too much attention. So we need to pray that the believers in Somalia would be wise in how they gather together, not put themselves in unnecessary risk, but also be willing to share the Gospel.
You can learn more about Voice of the Martyrs Canada’s work in Somalia and how you can support it by clicking here.