Somalia (MNN) — Nearly a third of Somalia’s population needs relief aid to survive, the UN reports. That’s primarily due to a neverending conflict between the makeshift government and armed radicals.
The latest round of al Shabab attacks in Mogadishu exemplifies Somalia’s ongoing instability. Suicide and car bombs killed more than 30 people between March 21 and 28, Breitbart News reports. An aggressive air campaign led by U.S. military is helping – air strikes have killed more than 200 militants since January – but it’s not enough.
Christians aren’t immune from Somalia’s instability. In fact, it’s a contributing factor to their persecution.
According to Open Doors USA’s David Curry, “You don’t have a strong, central, united government. And even if you did, some of these extremists would fight it. That’s why it’s also been a good spot for terrorists to set up their training camps.”
Around the world, 11 Christians are killed every day for their faith in Jesus. In Somalia, where 99-percent of the population is Muslim, Christians are considered a “high-value” target. More about that here.
“If you’re suspected – not even proven, but suspected – of being a Christian there, they will behead you. They will kill you.”
Why is Somalia so dangerous for Christians?
On its website, Open Doors USA describes what believers face in the world’s third-most dangerous place to follow Christ. Islamic extremist groups are one of the driving forces of persecution:
Al-Shabab regards Christians with a Muslim background as high-value targets. Believers who left Islam to follow Jesus are often killed on the spot when discovered. Al-Shabab has continuously expressed its desire to eradicate Christians from the country.
The shame culture inherent to Wahabi Islam also poses a threat, Curry adds.
“To convert to Christianity from Islam creates a system where anybody – for any reason – could have vigilante justice against a Christian.”
A nation without government lacks organizational structure and law. Somalia fell into the “failed state” category when a coalition of armed groups overthrew the sitting president in the early 90’s. More about the connection between failed states and Christian persecution.
Various parties have struggled to control Somalia in the two decades since, and that battle continues today. Read a full history of Somalia here. With no law enforcement, “order” is mostly maintained by tribal leaders and Islamic militants. “It creates an environment where people feel they have the right to do whatever they want. No one stops them,” says Curry.
In this context, claiming the name of Christ is literally a life-or-death decision.
“Those that share the Gospel in Somalia are true heroes of the faith. Their lives have been transformed by the understanding of who Jesus is and what He said.”
Now that you know, what will you do?
“What we must do when we look at situations like that is be prayerful for them, because their lives are on the line every day,” Curry responds.
“We need to pray for solid leadership; pray for peace. Pray for the underground Church there – for their safety against all odds.”
Somalia might be too dangerous to enter as a Christian missionary. However, you can financially help Somali believers by donating to Open Doors. Since the 1990s, Open Doors and its partners have focused on finding the few pockets of severely persecuted Christians and helping to meet their most pressing needs.
Header photo courtesy Open Doors USA.