How did you become a Christian?
Before I became a Christian, I believed in the God of Mohammed. Then I began to doubt the credibility of Islam and started to ask myself questions about the Qur’an. I couldn’t find anyone who satisfied my search for the truth. Then one day I met a fellow Somali, who was nearly an atheist. His neighbors told me that he was an unbeliever and that I was already on the way of truth, I decided to visit that man to see if I would find something new and different from the typical dogmas of Islam. He introduced me to some philosophical ways of thinking. He said some things that I had intuitively felt to be true. He also showed me another aspect of Jesus. He lived with poor people and, according to him, did not wear any shoes. At that time there was acivil war in Somalia, and as we were talking about war, he told me what Jesus said about turning the other cheek. That really affected me, as did other teachings of Jesus and His lifestyle. I started at this point to appreciate other religions.
In our discussions this man mentioned Somali culture, which is in a state of crisis. He believed that the collapse of Somali moral and cultural standards is caused by the Muslim religion. Initially I didn’t agree with him but gradually I discovered that the lack of love and peace in Islam plays a great role in our people’s way of thinking.
He introduced me to an expatriate believer who lived near my house. This man welcomed me and invited me to visit him and to ask any questions I might have. Three things struck me during my visits. Firstly, unlike my own people, he was ready to discuss questions about religion, which I had been afraid to ask the Muslim Sheikhs. Secondly, I noticed that he cared for and was interested in his wife and children, and thirdly, the way he prayed was completely different from the praying I had known. Through my Somali friend I got in touch with Christianity, but through this expatriate I discovered Christianity, and I began to compare the two religions. This man also gave me a Bible and I started to read it.
I was amazed to discover the similarities between the stories of the Old Testament and the Qur’an. I found the Bible contained a more historical, detailed account. I then investigated critically to find out the historical origin of Islam – something that my people consider an unthinkable thing to do.
I am not baptized yet because I have not felt in my heart that I am ready for it. I’ve read many books, which have people’s testimonies of a miraculous change in their lives, but I have never experienced that, although some things in my former behavior have improved. Now at least I have a support to lean on which is the Sunday night meeting, and the companionship of other born-again Christians, especially in our Somali believers’ meeting.
How do your people regard Christians and Christianity?
Somali people consider Christians as “gal”, the enemy of God. They see Christianity as something, which has been perverted. Their biggest obstacle to finding the truth is ignorance. Our society is largely illiterate and dependent upon the rumors they hear. The second obstacle is the campaign from Saudi Arabia, which seeks to purify Islam, and violently rejects all other religions. The biggest influence comes through students who graduate from their institutions. In the last ten years there has been a great movement in Djibouti to revive and expand fundamentalist Islam, and to preach against the Ideologies of “western imperialists”.
What is the best way for someone to show your people the truth?
Firstly there are a few Somalis who ask themselves questions and they would allow you to discuss and even debate with them. The second way is to communicate to the masses. That consists firstly in being a truly born-again Christian. I mean that you have the light of the Holy Spirit in you to attract them. One must be open about being a Christian and be willing to suffer the consequences. It means taking up his cross.
How do you see the church of Somali believers here in Djibouti, and what do think the church should be like?
We are very few and we are not a strong church yet. People are afraid because they live in an ocean of hostile Muslims. Islam still has a strong influence on the thinking of the believers. Because of this and the fact that the faith of the believers is too small to endure the pressures of the society. Unlike the west, people here live in a socially interdependent way. If there is a little mark on you, you will be excommunicated. I would like the church to be an example and to introduce respect for one another and democracy into our society. The church should show the way for people to personally experience the fellowship of God.
How can Christians best pray for the Somali people?
Pray that God would help them, as only He knows the needs of each individual. Pray that God would strengthen His church among them and pray also that Djibouti and Somalia would be a country of peace and democracy.