Tag Archives: Somalia

World Watch List #2 Somalia

This is the second in a series of weekly posts highlighting the 50 most dangerous countries in the world for Christians.

Somalia Flag

The Constitution of the African nation of Somalia says in Article 1:” After Allah the Almighty, all power is vested in the public and can only be exercised in accordance with the Constitution and the law and through the relevant institutions.” Yet Somali government can hardly be said to exist by the standards of most nations.

Article 2 is the article that dominates all other elements of what passes for government in Somalia. It says:

(1) Islam is the religion of the State.
(2) No religion other than Islam can be propagated in the country.
(3) No law which is not compliant with the general principles of Shari’ah can be enacted.

Islam has dominated this country for so long that the only Christians in the country today are Muslim background believers. Shari’ah law provides for extreme punishment for people who propagate other religions and for leaving Islam.

The government of Somalia is disorganized and corrupt. It is, for all practical purposes, non-functional. Its officials rely on corrupt practices to support themselves and their official duties. The government, predominantly adherents of sunni Islam, makes little headway against the depradation of Al Shabaab, an insurgent Islamic group which wreaks violence and destruction throughout Somalia in the furtherance of its goal to gain power for wahhabist Islam.

In Somalia, both the government and Al Shabaab want to eradicate all evidence of Christianity. Christians are in great danger. They must gather in secret and are always at risk of arrest for even mentioning Christianity.

Article 17 of the constitution claims to protect religious liberty in section 1, and puts an end to any such notion in section 2:

(1) Every person is free to practice his or her religion.
(2) No religion other than Islam can be propagated in the Federal Republic of Somalia.

The internal violence between government and insurgent militant Islamists does not distract either force from persecuting Christians when they find them.

Pray for Christians in Somalia:

  • For the small number of Christians who have come to Jesus from the Islamic faith
  • For restoration of a functioning government which will give freedom to all faiths
  • For an end to the civil war, famine and drought which has plagued the nation since 1991

By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at Amazon.com.

Image:Flag of Somalia
Courtesy of Nicolas Raymond
Source: http://freestock.ca/flags_maps_g80-somalia_grunge_flag_p1138.html
License: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0

 

 

Advertisements

Do Christians Hate Anyone?

If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

Luke 14:26 NIV

 

These verses from Sunday’s gospel are just a little bit off-putting if taken seriously. The word hate has special political meaning these days. There is a cultural momentum to punish hate speech and hate crimes as if it were appropriate to apply more severe punishments for those who are insulted or murdered due to hate while other people murdered or insulted without legally-definable hate do not deserve the same level of justice. To read that Jesus actually demands that his followers hate the people in their closest relationships sounds quite outrageous to contemporary ears.

Of course, Jesus was not advocating a life of hatred. Jesus taught us to love everyone, even our enemies. His message in these verses does not contradict his teachings about love. This message is about priorities.

Contemporary readers should certainly recognize the importance of priorities, but contemporary Christians often do not apply this teaching, even if they acknowledge its real teaching. Jesus is stating his expectation that people will put their relationship with him above everything to such a fervent degree that, by comparison, all other relationships would be like hate. Is it even possible to live this way?

Muslim background believers would say with conviction, “Yes. It is not only possible, but it is quite necessary.” In countries around the world where Islam is dominant, people who choose to leave Islam to follow Christ know exactly what Jesus meant. When Muslims hear the good news of Jesus Christ and receive him into their hearts, their family and friends, and often their government, declares that they are traitors to Islam and to their country. What happens?

Here are a few examples:

In Iran, an American citizen visiting the country to work with a team building an orphanage was arrested. His crime: being a threat to national security. He was born in Iran and reared Muslim, but he converted to Christianity, moved to the US, and became an American citizen. Iran, an Islamic republic, does not recognize his American citizenship and considers adherence to Islam to be necessary for the well-being of the country. This man has been sentenced to eight years in prison, and is tortured daily for his faith. His appearance is so thoroughly altered by the torture that his own mother did not recognize him on one of the rare occasions when family was permitted to visit him.

In Indonesia, another Islamic republic, a pastor and three members of his church were arrested for baptizing two Muslim converts. The police alleged that they had “rescued” the pastor, since the families of the converts were planning to ambush the pastor when he went home. However, the pastor and his fellow church members remain in custody. There is no record that they have been tried; they are simply in prison.

In Somalia, a Christian woman was kidnapped by Islamic militants. Her captors threatened her husband and her two children, demanding that the family return to Islam. Her husband is in hiding with the children, and neither family nor friends have received any word from the kidnap victim. The government of Somalia is either unable or unwilling to take any action against this or other similar crimes.

In Egypt, most Coptic Christians are not Muslim background believers, but to militant Muslims, they are a blot on a culture that should be 100% Muslim. The very existence of Christians is viewed with the same outrage as an infestation of roaches. News reports occasionally notice it, and the turmoil following the removal of Morsi from office in Egypt has called attention to the plight of Christians whose presence in Egypt dates from the time of Christ. It is being reported that “Syrian rebels went into a Christian man’s shop and gave him three options: become Muslim; pay $70,000 as a tax levied on non-Muslims, known as jizya; or be killed along with his family.” It is also reported that when Copts or Coptic church buildings are attacked “police have never come to protect the churches or to respond after the attacks.”  A caller who reported the torching of a church in a suburb of Cairo said that the police informed him they simply could not be expected to protect every little church with a problem.

 

13   For I hear the slander of many;

there is terror on every side;

they conspire against me

and plot to take my life.

14     But I trust in you, O Lord;

I say, “You are my God.”

15     My times are in your hands;

deliver me from my enemies

and from those who pursue me.

Psalm 31:13 NIV

 

This psalm prayer could well be the prayer of persecuted Christians around the world. American citizens who feel safe from persecution should take this prayer to heart. It is true that to date, slander against Christians in the USA has not turned into mob violence, torture or beheadings. Secularists, who dominate the US culture, are more subtle in their attacks than Islamic militants.

Secularists in the US have been largely behind the campaign to make hate a politically-defined crime. They slander Christians by accusing them of hate when they classify homosexual behavior as sin. Secularists reject the Christian teaching that demands Christians refuse to participate in sin while continuing to love those who do participate in sin. Christians know that all humans are sinners, but secularists regard this as an insulting slur. Secularists become verbally aggressive when they read or hear things such as “all are sinners” or “hate brothers and sisters,” because they refuse to allow the words to mean what Christians understand them to mean. Christians confronted by militant secularism may not be at risk of physical beheading, but they are constantly pressed by culture and by an increasingly secular government to betray their faith and to stop living for Christ when it conflicts with secular views.

Anyone who believes, however, that secularists only attack verbally should look at countries such as Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Kazakhstan where secular governments routinely imprison and torture Christians. In those countries it is a crime to invite an unbeliever to an authorized prayer meeting. In fact, it is a crime to hold an unauthorized prayer meeting with only Christians present. Simply possessing a Bible in an illegal translation can result in beatings, arrest and imprisonment. In a secular nation, Christians are viewed with distaste by the culture and treated with disdainful cruelty by their governments. Christians in the US must learn all they can about existing secular governments in order to be prepared to stand firm in the US when similar tactics are tried.

The world at large seems unconcerned about the Christians in any of the countries where they are persecuted. The world at large frets over political agendas and balance of power and whose prestige suffered on public. Religious liberty is supposedly protected by people like Eboo Patel who advocates we all stop focusing on our individual beliefs and only talk about the spiritual realities that makes us all alike. The world at large does not like to encounter a Christian who refuses to “go along to get along.” Christians who do not go along will find themselves fined or perhaps even jailed for their “hate” speech and their “hate-filled” unwillingness to participate in behavior that the Bible calls sinful. Christians really do risk losing everything, but Jesus had an answer for that problem.

“I tell you the truth,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.”

Luke 18:29-30 NIV