The crisis in Somalia is deepening as attacks linked to the extremist group al-Shabaab in the capital, Mogadishu, continued this month, highlighting once more the country’s desperate need for prayer.
On Aug 8, al-Shabaab militants killed a member of parliament, Aden Madeer, in Mogadishu, blocking his car and riddling it with bullets. Madeer, who was chairman of the parliamentary finance committee, is the fifth legislator to be killed in less than four months.
Al-Shabaab, which advocates the strict Saudi-inspired Wahhabi version of Islam, is fighting against the government to create an Islamic state. They claim to have killed Mr. Madeer because he brought “Christian enemies” to Somalia, a reference mainly directed at African Union forces. Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, the spokesman for al-Shabaab’s military operations, said the rebels would kill lawmakers “one by one” if they continued to back President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s government.
Local media outlet Horseed reported that Amison (African Union) and Somali National Army troops received a tip-off that led to the capture of an assortment of heavy weapons and ammunition belonging to al-Shabaab on Sunday in Mogadishu. The Amison force commander, Lt. Gen. Silas Ntigurirwa, noted that some of the weaponry captured, which was already assembled and loaded for use, could have been used to cause extensive harm to the Somali people. They said the capture is a good sign that, “very soon [Somalia] will get peace and security”.
On the same day, at least three women died and seven others were injured when a bomb planted at a busy market in the capital was detonated remotely. Though no one has claimed responsibility, most assume that al-Shabaab orchestrated the attack. The victims were working as city cleaners.
The government sent a strong message to al-Shabaab on Aug 10, when it executed three al-Shabaab members convicted in military court of killing civilians in a series of recent attacks. According to Reuters, the men, who were hooded and tied to poles with their hands behind their backs, were executed by firing squad in a Mogadishu field while a crowd looked on. Though critics point out that international human rights standards largely prohibit trials of civilians before military courts, Somali authorities and judiciary have justified trials of suspected al-Shabaab operatives on the grounds that the regular courts are unprotected and vulnerable to attack.
“These are worrying reports. Somalia needs stability, but it cannot be at the cost of sound legal process. We continue to pray that the young and fragile government of Somalia succeeds in bringing stability to this nation while upholding human rights. Moreover, we pray for the Body of Christ in Somalia on whom the continued instability is taking its toll. We are encouraged to hear testimonies of sustained faith and boldness in sharing the gospel despite the dangers, but realize that they desperately need our prayers to persist,” commented Open Doors’ Regional Director for Africa.
Somalia is 2nd on the Open Doors 2014 World Watch List. Life is extremely difficult for Christians who worship Christ almost entirely in secret. A Christian wrote to an Open Doors partner recently, “We are experiencing horrible things here every day. People became numb because they witness lives being taken every day. That is why I think I feel numb, as well. Therefore, I need you prayers so that the Lord may rescue my life from this evil…I am struggling, and it appears that I live in hell on earth so I need your prayers…I wish I could just stand inside a church and cry out in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Hardened by decades of bloodshed, some feel that the value of human life in Somalia has become very low. As long as the wholesale destruction of the most important resource-people-continues, growth, stability and prosperity will be crippled for this nation. A Somali Christian said it well: “I feel sad when I see armed children being taught how to kill. Please pray for these young people so that God might bring them into His Kingdom. The only solution for them would be to [hear the gospel]. God himself came to His people and lived among them. This teaches us many things. First, God loves sinners without despising them, and secondly, he is an omnipotent God for whom nothing is impossible.”
The Christian testimony is almost universally rejected in this country, but there are those who still share the gospel whenever there is an opportunity. A Somali Christian told a partner recently that he has regular contact with camel herders who gather at night to socialize. They often heard him listening to radio programs, including one that focuses on sharing the gospel. The herders began listening to these programs with him. When the Christian had to move on, they asked him to leave the radio for them. He set it to the gospel station, and left it with them. He later heard that the herders listen to the radio every night. “Those camel herders are illiterate…Nevertheless, they are drinking from the spring of [life]. “I am not afraid of death because Christ is my life and death would be a benefit for me…still, I believe that I can share the gospel with many people; therefore, I need your prayers.”
Father, for so long the nation of Somalia has been engulfed in spiritual darkness and ruled by militant extremists. We pray for the new government; that You would empower it to rule with justice. We pray protection over the lawmakers who are being targeted by al-Shabaab. Pour out Your mercy and grace on Christians there who have become numb to hope. As we consider the massive destruction taking place in Somalia, we stand today in solidarity with the believers there, and in the midst of their hopeless silence, we cry out on their behalf in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. We pray for Your protection over Your disciples there who boldly share the gospel. We thank You for the testimony of their commitment to their Lord Jesus Christ in the face of death. We pray for the multitude of Somalis who do not know You, whether they are harassed citizens or al-Shabaab extremists; that You would do through Your Holy Spirit what man cannot do and bring them to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, and that this nation of darkness might become a beacon of light, lifting hands of joyous worship to Christ, the Lord of lords and King of kings. In the name of Jesus, our King, Amen.