JOHN’S STORY – FULL TESTIMONY
My name is John. I was born May 13, 1990 in H District of MOG, during the SOM Civil War. My family left the civil war, like the rest of my people, and went to KY, TZ then eventually settling in YN from 1992 to 1998. In 1998 we returned to a city in the PL Region of SOM called B. B is where I grew up and went to school. I went to a school named HR. The school was built by the brother of a Dubai ruler. And was run by a Sudanese Institute that was funded by Dubai Royalty. Even though the school was funded we still had to pay school fees. We had 2 Sudanese teachers, the headmaster and the history teacher. The deputy head of schools and the Islamic Studies teacher were known members of the II. II was the Jihadi group that existed before Al-Sh in SOM. II ruled B in the 90’s and had major influence in the education and religious sectors of this region even after their defeat by Al-Sh. Mosques known to be run by II were still operating in the city in 2005 & 2006. My school, HR, like the rest of the city started a major funding campaign for the IUC which compromised Al Sh and other Islamist in southern SOM. The Islamic Studies teacher was recruiting youths, including my classmates, for the war between the PL Region and the Islamists in central SOM. Some of my classmates were killed during this conflict. The teacher was later arrested by PL forces for being part of Al-SH. Due to clan influence he was released and fled to MY where I saw him years later. I avoided him so he would not recognize me.
The huge campaign of supporting terrorism and installing hate in our hearts was very difficult for me. The social disarray of SOM, the unrest, the clan based system and the corruption made our lives a living hell.
My family is originally from YN but we lived in SOM since the days of my great grandfather. Even though we were minorities we considered SOM our home. There is no way we could survive with the clan based system. We lived poor most of our lives and had to live on what we could get.
At age 10 I tried to work whatever job I could find. At a young age my father abused my sibling and me. Between the ill treatment, beatings and the difficult social structure in B City; it was a very difficult upbringing.
In my imagination I always desired peace, respect and freedom. It was my understanding that religion should give you the purpose and goal for peace. Yet we were fighting in the name of Allah. Youths were sent to their graves for that name. Money was taken from the poor and given to groups in the name of Jihad. Those who weren’t in the “circle of trust” were attacked, humiliated and kicked out. Often I was seated at the last table in the class because I didn’t want to participate in the campaigns to recruit for the ICU. These injustices forced me to leave and search for a peaceful life. I also left to find a solution for my people. The believe that the root of the evil of my people, had everything to do with religion. This evil was in my ears day and night along with passages from the Koran, the Islamic Holy book, calling for violence and hate.
Finally, on April 14th 2007, at a young age of 16, I left my country. I called home and went to MY because it was the only country, at the time, giving free visas for SOM people.
MY although Islamic, was a more liberal country where different ethnicities lived. I cherished the experience and enrolled in an English Language school. Unfortunately, I ran out of money to pay the fees required by the school. By mid, 2008 at age 17, I was sitting at home without any finances. Although, disappointed, I was determined to make my own opportunities.
I went to UNHCR and received an asylum seekers card. I always had questions about faith and wanted to find peace. There were students in my class from different parts of Africa who always looked happy and cheerful. They were caring, polite and respectful. They often invited other students to join them for meals. The students always seemed to care about each others situation. After becoming close friends, they invited me to their church. I happily accepted the invitation. At the end of that day we were singing and praising the Lord in a church in the middle of KL. Shortly after that they invited me to their bible study. As my excitement and participation grew, my friends decided it was time to take me to the priest of the church to be baptized. Upon learning of being a born Muslim, the priest informed me that the law of MY did not allow his church to baptize people who were born Muslims. Although devastated and crushed I did not give up.
My African brothers and sisters advised me to look for other SOM Christians to be baptized within the community. I took their advice and started searching for SOM Christians. It was during that search that I came across SCM. In 2009 I connected with Pastor A from SCM. Pastor A is the most patient, kind and God-fearing man I have ever met. Many emails and hours of Skype, Pastor A explained everything to help me dismiss my doubts.
In 2010 Pastor A connected me to a brother from the U.S., who was working in MY. This brother took me to his church and gave me a bible. This brother eventually went back to his country. I spent many months learning and reading. I was also able to write and record voice for SCM website. I shared my experience on the website to help other SOM to find peace and the true Lord. Pastor A was the voice of an angel through my ears. He taught me to always hope for the better. His powerful prayers got me through difficult times. Pastor A daughter, L, although sick and unable to speak and not aware of her surroundings, prayed when anyone around her prayed. To me this was a miracle from God that we were able to experience.
This new change to my life gave me purpose. I continued to learn and take chances to make sure I never go back to SOM. The only way I would go back to Somalia is to teach my people about the word of God.
Pastor A introduced me to the 3 most wonderful Christians I could ever meet. They were 3 brothers from the U.S. that took me under their wings and invited me to their bible studies with their families. Eventually they took me to their church and baptized me. I was finally John and not A anymore. I was very proud, and I felt born again.
In 2012 UNHCR office in MY helped me find employment in a 5 star hotel in KL. I started working in the call center. I rose through the ranks until I was promoted to guest relations officer at the front desk. I won many awards from employee of the month to excellency in service awards. I received the MY Tourism Promoter Award and I was finally able to afford to go to a good university. I started working and studying and eventually earned my diploma in Information Technology in 2016.
In 2015 I changed jobs for a better opportunity that allowed me to work and train at the same time. After I graduated. I focused on my job and reached the level of Guest Service Executive. I was proud that I was in a good position and was happy I was able to voice my faith. Looking back, it might have been a little mistake to be so vocal regarding my faith, but at the time I thought it was my duty to carry out the Word of God by sharing with others. I thought I was doing my part in saving people from their own ignorance.
I joined an A missionary friend named C. I helped him organize and preach the word of God to the Muslims that dared to ask in MY. This made me feel wonderful. For the first time I was able to make a difference with the ability the Lord gave me, to help others.
I felt I was living as a hypocrite if I had to lie about my faith, so I thought it would be necessary to share my faith with my family. I shared my faith with two of my uncles that visited me in MY. My uncles told my mother along with my brothers and sisters. My father openly fought Christians and always accused normal SOM people of being apostates. My father believed that Muslims who lived by Islamic Sharia were the true Islamists. My father died in 2014. News of his death crushed me because I was not able to save him and he died in ignorance.
After my father’s death in 2014, my family (4 brothers & 2 sisters) argued about my faith and insisted I come home and repent of my sins before it was too late. So, feeling responsible for my family, I return home to B, SOM. For two weeks I tried avoiding arguments that would harm me. People in my family tried to intimidate me. They tried forcing me to stay in SOM and get married. The devil tried to use many circumstances to get me to follow my family’s wrongful ways. At this point, I thought it was necessary to go back to MY but thought that I would never be in a position where my faith could be used against me. The Lord was watching out for me and saved me from harm .
Once back in MY, my secret to my family was no longer a secret. They knew by then I left evil and chose the truth. I received very few calls from them asking for money. Most calls were threats saying that I had to “repent” for my new beliefs. I held the fort strong. I never gave them the chance to let me down. The story of Peter was my inspiration that gave me the strength to live alone without any support.
In MY I was at least safe as long as I kept my faith to my self. But in 2017, the government started to enforce strict laws relating to foreigner employment especially non manager positions. In March 2017 I was informed that my current visa was not going to be renewed. I had to leave MY by the end of April 2017
After research, I found JO to be the next and easiest option. I had friends that lived in JO. They were not aware of my faith but understood my current visa situation, so they recommend I give JO a chance. So I went and tried looking for employment and a place to study. After one year I found JO to be expensive to live in and employment was very difficult to find. With the reality of running out of finances, the reality of having to go back to Somalia loomed in the background but I was determined to find an alternative.
The PH was my next best option, so I went there. So once again I tried to find and employment and a place to study. The only jobs that seemed to be available were part time jobs in restaurants. After a year and a few months I was almost out of money, the Covid 19 lockdown was coming. The PH economy was not great and I was not able to pay for college. I applied for extended time on my current visa hoping that I would be able to stay longer. I was not able to seek assistance from anywhere. All the doors of options and opportunities were closing. I clearly understood that being stuck in the PH without a visa was not a good idea. I would probably be imprisoned for a few years and then deported back to SOM thus exposing my identity and faith forcing me to face persecution from my family and relatives.
I decided to leave the PH and go to SOM hoping to get help once I arrive back in SOM. The good news is I could go back quietly and anonymously and on my terms while trying to leave as soon as possible before being discovered.
On February 26, 2020 I arrived back in MOG secretly and avoided my family who live in B along with family members that lived in MOG in areas near the airport which included the M District and HA. These were areas of my biggest concern and where I faced serious consequences if I was to be discovered. The bad news is I had to live on strict budget, I could not look for employment because getting a job involved clan and family members. So, the whole time I was back in SOM was about not being exposed to family and those who know me. This was a very horrible experience that I do not wish on anyone. I kept my hope high and was inspired by those who were persecuted before me.
After 6 months of living in a hotel off the radar my visa was approved to go to another country and on September 3, 2020 I was finally able to leave SOM and go to there.
But, you would be mistaken to think my story is over, now that I left SOM to the illusion of safety, Nope!!!
Another mission started for me, The 6 months I have been in MOG has been very awakening to me. I felt born again. I am once again certain that my people need Christ in their heart. They need to know the love of Jesus and his sacrifice for us the believers. They need peace, unity and faith. I believe it is my responsibility to witness to them these great things about Christ. It is my responsibility to let them know the truth and to tell them they will die in ignorance and sin if they don’t accept Jesus Christ, Son of God and our Savior.
What I have seen in MOG during my 6 months has changed my perspective. I am no longer considering to give up on SOM. I am not ready to let terrorism, drugs, hunger, loss of morality among the society, unemployment, corruption, lack of compassion, lack of integrity and lack of empathy stop me from trying to change things on the ground. I am more determined to start making the changes in my people. I realized more than ever that Youths in SOM need a witness, guidance, They need someone to show them the way. They need an alternative to being brainwashed about terrorism and addiction. (Chewing Khat, Alcohol, Drug abuse, Pills abuse, weed, and all sort of addiction)
My mission is no longer to escape from persecution. My mission is to overcome the enemy and be in position to fight evil with love, by sharing the truth and by welcoming believers to the kingdom of our Lord.
This mission grew on me while in MOG, as I witnessed violence at an unprecedented level. Often I seen explosions, assassinations, Improvised explosive devices going off, attacks and so on in front of my own eyes for the first time in my adult life.
I saw Satan ruling over my people and guiding them into the darkness. More than ever I saw Youth following Satan without any hesitation. Youth in SOM are the most troubled among the society. The youth have a hunger for corruption. The lack of Morale in SOM has lead to serious consequences like the rise of violence against women & children all using the name of Islam as the reason behind terrorism and the violence.
All of this made me certain that I need to do something before it’s too late. I am one person, but I am more than confident that I have the will and the faith to make changes. God has called me to make a difference in the youths of SOM. In the past 4 months I have been mentoring to 5 youths. I have been showing them love and compassion and have been trying to steer them away from idea of radicalism & drug addiction. All I have is a strong will and the blessing of almighty God. I have no doubt that the Lord has called me for this mission. I believe it in my heart.
These 5 youths, let’s call them ( T, H, A, A, Z) have showed improvement after I was able to share with them the truth indirectly. By removing the doubts and the fake news they heard about Christianity. After spending many hours with them, they have agreed that they have misjudged Christianity and some of them even said that if they were independent from their family they would seriously consider accepting the truth. The others were open to hearing more. All of this was done in a manner that didn’t blow my cover as a believer, as it can be dangerous not only for me but for them. Here is one of the methods I used to mentor them and steer them closer to our Lords Kingdom:
QUESTION: Lets say you met Christian person, would you be open to talk to him about faith?
QUESTION: Do u mind him being friend?
QUESTION: Do u think if you are convinced you will leave Islam?
QUESTION: What you know about Christianity?
Mostly they answer wrong answers, misconceptions propaganda created by Islamist scholars
I then proceed to explain and talk about comparisons, especially talk about the love and care Jesus had for us and the fact that he sacrificed himself for us and for our sins.
I share stories about faith, neighbor, relationship between god and us.
The example above is a conversation between me and the Youth I mentor, me asking questions and them answering. This is one of the methods I used. The other methods include how Satan was able to use them being part of SOM youth to reach his goals of destruction using Islam, what I found is astonishing!!
Most people in SOM, especially the young which represent 2/3 of the population, believe that religion destroyed them. By religion here I mean Islam as they have not been told the truth. They only know what the elders have brainwashed them with while growing up. They are ready to accept Jesus, they just need a little encouragement.
Although it might seem easy there are challenges to this. One of the difficult things is to get these youths financially independent from their family because they already disagree spiritually. Another challenge is to establish a training school where youth can learn computer skills, painting, language and other skills. The youths learning these things would be one step closer to the independence previously talked about. Learning these things would also give them purpose and future. While the youths are learning these skills, I would also be mentoring them and sharing with them about the truth which would save them from hell and darkness.
Training the youths and other business ventures would help me stay under the radar so no one discovers my Ministry. By staying under the radar I will have access to youth in different parts of Somalia.
Right now I must equip myself with enough knowledge so I can be able to answer all the questions of those I am mentoring. Also, so I can tell the truth with the full confidence of someone who knows his faith and what he is talking about. For this reason, I left MOG few days ago. I did not necessarily leave Somalia to avoid persecution because I am not afraid to be a martyr. I left Somalia because there was little opportunity to equip myself as I discussed. By being here I can freely look for a good university where I can study the bible and be in an environment where I can be open about my faith and continue to learn. As of now I am still searching for the perfect university and environment that suits me.
I dream of a day where I can go to a church in MOG and the rest of SOM and being able to walk the streets as a proud Christian.
Please pray for me so I can find a theology college, wherever that is, so I can equip myself with knowledge to continue my mission to share the truth with SOM people.
Pray for the SOM Church, that Christians can someday walk around in Mogadishu without the fear of prosecution.
Pray for my ministry in Mogadishu, one day for it to be fully operational.
Pray for the SOM people, May the Lord open their heart to accept the truth.
Pray for Johns safety as well.
JESUS LOVES ME AND WILL NEVER ABANDON ME.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.