Published: 00:01 GMT Standard Time - Tuesday 23 March 2010
Praying for the Persecuted Church in Lent - Somalia
Somalia is an extremely high-risk context for Christians. The number of Somali Christians is very small, and many of them have been murdered by Somali Muslim radicals because they are viewed as traitors for having left Islam. In recent times Somalia has veered between harsh Islamic rule and utter lawlessness. In either of these situations Christians are extremely vulnerable and can neither worship nor share their faith without extreme danger.
Most Somalis take for granted that a true Somali is a Muslim. Christianity is often associated with the European colonial rulers. Also there is a long history of conflict between Muslim Somalis and Ethiopians, who are viewed as Christians and have also intervened in the Somali civil war. Islamist radicals vowed a few years ago that they would kill all Somali Christians in the capital, Mogadishu. More extreme and conservative forms of Islam are entering the country through teaching at externally funded Islamic schools and universities, and their growing influence is enabling Islamist militias to thrive. These groups impose a strict interpretation of Islam wherever they have control and are seeking to establish an Islamic state under the rule of sharia law.
Apostasy (leaving Islam) is officially prohibited only in the autonomous region of Somaliland and the semi-autonomous Puntland, but it is effectively considered a monstrous crime by most of society in the rest of the country.
Support for Somali Christians in another country (Ref. 47-452)
On 27 July 2009 four Somali Christians, all of them converts from Islam, were kidnapped by Islamists from the militant Al-Shabaab organisation. A week later their families were told that the four had been beheaded for apostasy, having refused to return to Islam.
- Praise God for the faithfulness of these believers even to death, and pray for the families and churches of all Christians who have been martyred for their faith in Somalia during the past year.
- Pray that order and good governance will be restored throughout the country, without the imposition of sharia, and that the progress of Islamism will be arrested.
- Pray especially for the safety of all Somali converts from Islam.