You are here: Home Online Forms Fashion Stories Despite peril, outreach to Somali Muslims bears fruit

Despite peril, outreach to Somali Muslims bears fruit

Two years ago, Lutheran Hour Ministries (LHM) told the story of a Somali man named Abdi. He was a Christian in the primarily Muslim country of Somalia who had to escape after he confessed his faith to his coworkers when asked to pray before an afternoon tea.

Instead of saying the “bismillahi,” he said the Christian grace. He had found “a release” by explaining his faith in detail, while his coworkers wondered why he was committing suicide.

His wife secretly warned Abdi, through a messenger, of a plot to kill him if he returned home. He then reluctantly escaped from Somalia on a nearly 1,300 mile journey south to Kenya.

Abdi eventually found a home in a Kenyan Somali refugee camp as a Lutheran Hour Ministries (LHM) volunteer. He was eventually reunited with his wife there, and he has been instrumental in a Somali outreach program.

The LHM vision was to start an outreach program to the Somali community. The Somali people are the most widespread in the region, where large populations reside in Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya.

“In Kenya, our core target was not the Kenyan Somalis, but rather the refugee community,” said Paul Mbugua, Nuru Lutheran Media Ministry (LHM-Kenya) manager. “We have the advantage because the Somali refugee community numbers nearly 200,000 in the camps, which are under Lutheran World Federation administration.”

The ministry’s plan includes launching a radio program and distributing Bible correspondence courses (BCC) in Somali as follow up.

The BCCs are ready and the radio program has more than 16 programs ready for launching on the radio during a block of time known as the “Somali Hour.”

The problem was that LHM needed people active in contacting respondents for follow-up. These people would not only form a fellowship group, but also be a team to receive the new converts both in residential areas and in the Church.

“We were not fooling ourselves,” said Paul. “We knew that when you reached out to a Muslim you needed to be prepared for some reaction. And you needed to provide some support mechanism.”

Abdi was the point man since LHM had already used him as a translator for the BCC material. He had a proven record. Individuals who were contacted and who showed a keen interest were later incorporated into a Confirmation class. The plan worked even though the struggle was long. The new believers needed to be counseled and encouraged throughout the process, due to what they were going through.

In one situation, a new Christian family had to hide in one of the Lutheran churches for over a month, and recently, the Muslim relatives of one Christian man’s wife tried to force her to leave him. They beat her so badly that they knocked out a tooth, but she stood by her husband and her newly found faith.

Suleh, a young man and former Muslim, was stabbed in the arm. At least one convert has given in to pressure and returned to the Muslim faith, but others are not only still standing in their faith, they are also excited about it.

Paul said, “I asked one of them, ‘Why haven't you considered going back to Islam?’ This was after they had thrown him out of the house, and he had to sleep at the church. He said, simply, ‘Because Islam is a lie. It’s a clever lie, but it’s a lie.’”

According to Paul, a knife-wielding Muslim fundamentalist has attacked Abdi in the street twice. Abdi and his family were also attacked at home two times.

“In the end, I had to plead with him not to share his faith so openly,” said Paul. “Abdi, however, said that sometimes he could not keep quiet.”

Despite all his problems, plus the financial woes he bears as a refugee, he continues to flash a smile and project such peace in his heart that one can only be amazed at the work Jesus has accomplished in Abdi.