Across the world, Christian persecution has grown at an alarming rate in the last several decades. According to Jesus and His disciples, persecution is not just a possibility for Christians, it is a given.
In James 1:2-3, it says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” Brian Kim, founder and president of the Antioch Center for Training and Sending, stated, “Yet popular teachings promise a life of health, wealth, and blessings—and one which is devoid of trials and tribulation. The Scriptures are abundantly clear that all believers should fully expect and embrace the prospect of experiencing persecution, suffering, and martyrdom for the sake of the gospel.”
During the first century, persecution and suffering were the norm for the Church. Why should it be any different today? In his book titled The Insanity of God, Nik Ripken, founder of Nik Ripken Ministries, wrote, “Perhaps the question should not be: ‘Why are others persecuted?’ Perhaps the better question is: ‘Why are we not?’” And in his book titled Unto Death Martyrdom, Missions, and the Maturity of the Church, Dalton Thomas, founder and president of Frontier Alliance International, stated, “The subject of martyrdom is more relevant now than it has ever been in light of the fact that it is now more prolific than it has ever been.”
Thomas quoted a staggering statistic, which was recorded several years ago in the Annual Statistical Table on Global Mission. He stated there were approximately 45 million Christians martyred in the 20th century, which means there were more martyrs in that century than all past centuries combined. Obviously, this statistic has increased in the past few years. Persecution is real and to be expected. We pray the American Church embraces this reality with us.
Open Doors has also provided some sobering facts, reporting there are over 260 million Christians living in places where they experience high levels of persecution. Within the last year, 2,983 Christians have been killed for their faith, 9,488 churches and other Christian buildings have been attacked and 3,711 believers have been detained without trial, arrested, sentenced or imprisoned.
And the statistics go on and on. In addition, each year Open Doors lists the top 50 most dangerous countries to live in as a Christian titled “The World Watch List.” Number three on the list is Somalia, a restricted country located in the Horn of Africa or East Africa. This country, with a population of approximately 15 million, is 99.5% Muslim, leaving only a few hundred Christians. Christian evangelism is outlawed along with Christianity itself. This nation is ravaged with severe poverty, drought, starvation, pirates, high crime, disease, war and militant Islam. Regarding Somalia, Ripken titled the first chapter of his book, The Insanity of God, as “Descent into Hell.”
In this desolate country, family and ‘clan’ are of utmost importance. When one turns from Islam and becomes a Christian, he is ostracized from his clan. New converts are intimidated, persecuted and killed. Conversion is considered a betrayal. Al-Shabab, a terrorist group in East Africa, has implemented Sharia Law throughout the land and outlawed Christianity in an attempt to rid the nation of all remnants of this faith. As a result, Somali Christians keep their faith a secret and practice underground Christianity. There are no above ground churches in the entire country.
Open Doors gives examples of the persecution Somali brothers and sisters have to endure. It has been reported that al-Shabab hunts down and kills Christians who are in leadership. In 2017, a church was planned to be opened in the city of Hargesia, Somaliland. However, in the end it was not permitted because too much pressure was placed on the government by the Muslim community. The Voice of the Martyrs stated in this article, “Therefore, any Christian missionary or Christian convert in a Somali community anywhere in the world faces severe persecution regardless of the national laws.”
Even though the Christian population in Somalia is small, the believers are faithful, knowing their country desperately needs the gospel despite the severe persecution and danger. Simply put, to be a Christian in Somalia is to invite death.
Therefore, please join us in praying for our brothers and sisters in this nation to stay strong and fearless. Please pray that God will raise up bold missionaries with a heart for Somalia who will enter the country without fear. Pray and believe with us that the name of Jesus will reign in this country and that we will see a movement of Christ followers in the near future.