Somalia (MNN) — The brutality of the persecution Somali Christians are facing has many fleeing across the border into Kenya. But even leaving the country does not always stop the Al-Shabaab, a radical Muslim group that is hunting down Christians in Somalia. The #1 country on the failed state list, in the throes of civil war, drought, famine, piracy; all these make living in Somalia very dangerous. A Christian in Somalia? Even more so.
In the midst of it all, Somali Christians are not alone. God is using Global Advance and Kenyan Christians to reach out to Somalis in their time of need. At the Global Advance Frontline Shepherds Conference in Kenya, God stirred the hearts of the Christian leaders in Kenya for their Somali brothers and sisters they see fleeing into their country and even those still in Somalia.
Jonathon Shibley with Global Advance says, "They've called their project ‘Road to Somalia.' They're targeting refugees that have come across the border into Kenya, and they are working with people who are living there in these [refugee] camps. They are discipling future leaders that are going to go back into Somalia with the vision to begin to plant churches and indigenous mission works throughout Somalia."
It is a huge risk they are taking. The name for the Frontline Shepherds Conference takes on a whole new meaning as these Christians–both Kenyan and Somali–will literally be in the "frontlines" of danger and persecution. But the call to minister and evangelize for the name of Christ is stronger.
"There's always a risk to taking the Gospel," admits Shibley, "especially in areas like this, and there's really no way to get around it. We need grace and wisdom on how to help them."
Global Advance has been conducting Frontline Shepherds Conferences since 1990 all over the world. It is shocking that only 8% of the 2 million pastors in developing nations have formal ministry training. As Global Advance seeks to equip the other 92%, those leaders armed with training in ministry can be more effective with preaching the Gospel.
According to the UN Refugee Agency, Kenyan refugee camps this year are receiving nearly 10,000 Somali refugees a month. This number is nearly twice the amount of Somali refugees per month in 2010. Political and religious persecution has increased. Somalis both in and out of the country are desperate for hope, and Kenyans are eager to share the hope we have in Christ. But it can't stop at the refugee camps. These efforts, while dangerous, must extend into Somalia.
The cultural and societal challenges in Somalia make the need for effective Christian leaders great. Kenyans hope that by working with native Somali Christians in Road to Somalia,' "these Somali Christians will be able to go back across the frontlines into their country and reach others with the Gospel.
Shibley asks of believers, "Pray that God will soften the hardened ground that's out there and that God will put Somalia on the hearts of many believers that are in east Africa. He has positioned millions of believers throughout east Africa, and there needs to be more indigenous efforts to reach Somalia."