For more than two decades, Somalia has suffered from civil war. Unsuccessful treaties and resolutions among vari- ous warring factions have rendered the nation a “failed state” in the eyes of the international community. Ninety- nine per cent of the population is Sunni Muslim, and Christians are targeted by all of the factions fighting for control. The most dangerous of these groups is the militant Islamist group known as al-Shabab, which controls much of southern and central Somalia.
Al-Shabab, which means “The Youth” in Arabic, has sworn to rid Somalia of Christians and impose its strict interpretation of Shariah law. In February 2012, al-Shabab leaders announced that the group had joined al-Qaida.
Somalia’s tiny community of Muslim-background believ- ers is estimated at fewer than 200 people, and all are viewed as apostates by the Muslim majority. Every church building in the country has been destroyed during the civil war, so believers meet for fellowship in small home groups. When Christians are discovered by al-Shabab, they are sometimes beheaded on the spot, as occurred with a 17-year-old boy last year in Mogadishu. Al-Shabab agents have also murdered Christians after following them to refu- gee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya.
Many Somali Christians desire to grow spiritually by studying God’s Word, but simply possessing a Bible can lead to their imprisonment or death. None of the four believers whose testimonies appear on the following pages owned a complete Bible. But their hearts were so taken by the love of Christ that they were willing to suffer for the hope He gave them.
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