By Noel Mwakugu
In a secluded house just outside the Kenyan capital,
Their prayer session is simple and conducted in Somali. Elders take turns to pray or read verses from the Somali bible before a sermon is delivered.
There are dozens of Somalis living in
Some say they have been practising Christianity for more than 10 years.
But they live in constant fear of persecution from members of the Somali community, which is predominantly Muslim.
There is a sizeable Somali community in
Most of the community lives in
Many of the refugees fled the war in
For a few, it was the threat of religious persecution that forced them to leave their homes and seek refuge in
"There was a small fellowship that used to meet in my house, about 12 of them, six of them were killed " Michael, Somali Christian refugee
"There was a group of people who wanted to kill me, so I was one of the first refugees to leave
"The fundamentalists could easily attack me and kill me," he says.
Some of his fellow converts were not so lucky.
"They killed some of my friends. There was a small fellowship that used to meet in my house, about 12 of them, six of them were killed," he says.
Despite fleeing to
They say they have suffered at the hands of their families and fellow Somalis in
They have been targets of physical attacks and beatings. In other instances, they have had their wives and children taken away from them.
To ward off these reprisal attacks, many hold on to their Muslim names in an attempt to blend in.
Away from home and rejected by their community, the converts say they have been forced to live as outcasts.
The Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK) has rejected claims that the Somali Christians are facing persecution.
Some say they have suffered at the hands of fellow Somalis
"We are very saddened by these claims because Islam gives people the freedom to choose their faith," said Sheikh Hassan Omar, a CIPK official.
"I don't believe the stories by the Somali Christians that they have faced persecution because they converted to Christianity. These are lies," Sheikh Omar said.
He dismissed the claims as a ruse to get try to get asylum in the
"I would advise them, if they want to go [to the
But Khatazar Gondwe from Christian Solidarity Worldwide, which has been lobbying for protection for the Somali Christians, says there is a problem.
"We have been in contact with the UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) in
The Somali Christians living in
"According to the refugees, in some cases [the UNHCR] are very unsympathetic, if not hostile, and tell these poor people to go back to camps before they will deal with them," Ms Gondwe says.
"In those camps, these people are in greater danger than they are even in
The UNHCR office in
UNHCR spokesman Emmanuel Nyabera says the agency has responded to a few cases concerning Somali Christians, but adds that some cases were rejected after they discovered that they were not genuine.
Despite the hardships the face, this unique group of Christians says its numbers are growing.
In the late 1990s, there were barely 20 Somali Christians in
And they pray that one day they will be accepted by a society that jealously guards its religious beliefs.