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GROWING IN FAITH

Your support is helping Somali Christians in Kenya to stand strong, despite oppression and the risk of attacks by militants.

When Hawa became sick and went to hospital, little did she realise the impact this would have on her life.

Hawa’s life was changed when she met a Christian nurse in hospital (Stock photo)

There she met a Christian nurse, Elizabeth, who showed her kindness and developed a close friendship with her. Due to the high rate of illiteracy in Hawa’s community, many of the women had no education. They were largely unaware of their rights and were often treated badly as a result.

After several conversations, Elizabeth shared with Hawa details of how she had become a Christian and what difference this had made in her life. Intrigued, Hawa wanted to find out more – and the nurse suggested she could discretely visit the small Christian fellowship she attended.

Because Hawa came from a strict Muslim family, Elizabeth realised that this could be dangerous, so she took great care to make the arrangements. During this visit, Hawa committed her life to Jesus.

When Hawa’s family discovered what had taken place, they told her that she had brought enormous shame to them and their community. Her husband was put under great pressure to divorce her.

‘They constantly feared for their lives’

She was called names when she walked through the town, and even had stones thrown at her. Her two children also suffered abuse, which progressively grew worse. On one occasion her home was nearly burned down – but thankfully a police officer discovered the impending attack and warned her so that she and her children could escape.

They constantly feared for their lives and could not trust anyone in their local community. Attempts were even made to poison their food. In these distressing circumstances, Hawa’s church became her family and her lifeline.

‘We want to give people hope that there is life after Covid’

In the end, with help from the church, her two children were sent to a Christian boarding school in a safer region – but even so her son, Yusaf, still feared for his mother while he was away. Today though, she can testify to God’s goodness and blessing.

After his schooling, Yusaf went on to study theology at university and trained in media and digital work. He is now married, a father of five children and a church leader. He serves God, his community and disciples believers from a Muslim background, most of whom face the same pressures experienced by his own family.

In recent months Yusaf, with support from Release, has helped the community learn about Covid through radio and the internet, showing them how they can take action to minimise infection. ‘We want to give people hope that there is life after Covid,’ he said.

Please thank God for Yusaf and the courage of his mother Hawa. Pray that God will protect their family, church and life-giving ministry to their community.

Names have been changed.

To be a Christian in Somalia is to live under constant threat. Believers cannot freely practise their faith, and must follow Jesus in secret.


CONSTANTLY ON THE MOVE

As a Somali Christian, living in Kenya, Pastor Ethan knows that he must watch out each day for signs of danger.

When Ethan left Islam, he was rejected by his wife’s family, who stopped him from seeing both her and their children. In fact even today, some years later, the family still prevents him from seeing his older child.

Moving to another region for safety and to look for work, Ethan grew in faith with the help of our ministry partner. Eventually he started to lead a congregation of believers. He also married again, to Ruth, and together they now have two young children.

However, they remain constantly on the move, and at night Ruth sometimes wakes to look out of the window. Just recently, for example, she noticed that she was being followed home. Ethan knew it was time – again – to move home to avoid a potential attack by militants.

Today a small cell church of about ten people meets in their home each week, where they study the Bible, share communion and enjoy fellowship. He also travels to different villages in the area to comfort and disciple new believers.

‘At school his children have sometimes been called names.’

Pastor Ethan leads a small cell church in his home. Stock photo.

Ethan is prepared for the long haul, knowing that his family faces many other pressures. For example, at school his children have sometimes been called names because their parents no longer follow Islam.

Ruth sometimes suffers anxiety, and says she would like to move to another country to avoid the constant threat of persecution. However, their small congregation is growing, and, by the grace of God, Ethan now has a small business that helps to support their ministry.

Please pray

  • that God will comfort Ruth, filling her with hope. Pray for restful sleep at night.
  • for guidance for Pastor Ethan as he secretly visits other believers.
  • that the children of converts can go to school, without being ostracised.
  • that Ethan and Ruth will remain steadfast in their pursuit of God’s love and His presence.

Names have been changed.


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