Somalia: A Fiery Furnace, yet Christ is there

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Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | No. 504 | Wed 12 Nov 2008

It is very easy to despair over Somalia as being no more than a
land of war, chaos, lawlessness, hopelessness, tribalism, barbarism
and Islam. The international community and the mainstream media
seem to have largely abandoned Somalia, not least because it is
simply too dangerous to visit. But Christians must in true counter-
cultural fashion see Somalia through spiritual eyes. Yes, it is a
fiery furnace but Jesus is there within and for his Church.
Actually there is nothing the Church can do but pray. Praise God
that his power is made perfect in our weakness! (2 Corinthians

Until the early 1960s, northern Somalia (Somaliland and Puntland)
were British protectorates while southern Somalia was colonised by
Italy. After independence, tribalism and the differences that had
evolved between north and south made reunification difficult.
Governance issues were further complicated by famines and by wars
led by irredentists* seeking to establish a Greater Somalia
encompassing the Somali-populated regions of eastern Ethiopia
(Ogaden), north-eastern Kenya and Djibouti. From the mid-1960s to
1978, Somalia was allied to and funded by the Soviet Union. After
losing its Soviet patron, Somalia descended into dire poverty.
Then, when clan-based warlords overthrew the socialist dictator in
1991, Somalia became captive to warlordism. While self-declared
independent Somaliland and semi-autonomous Puntland have found some
degree of stability, southern Somalia has remained wracked by
devastating conflict.

In mid-2006, Somalia's UN-appointed Transitional Federal Government
(TFG) was forced to flee the capital, Mogadishu, for Baidoa (near
the Ethiopian border) after a union of Islamist groups (ICU) seized
power in a coup. The ICU is led by Sheik Aweys, an al-Qaeda-linked
designated terrorist, irredentist and veteran of the failed 1977
Ogaden War against Ethiopia. In December 2006, Ethiopian troops
entered Somalia to protect the TFG and crush the Islamists who are
a real threat to Ethiopian national security. The Ethiopian victory
was swift and some 3000 militant Islamists took off their uniforms
and melted back into the civilian population. However, the
Islamists are in the ascendant once again due to the lack of
international and regional military assistance to maintain

Today the southern port city of Kismayo is controlled by the
Taliban-style Shabaab group. Earlier this month, Aisha Ibrahim
Duhulow (13) complained to a Shabaab-run Sharia court that she had
been kidnapped and gang-raped. The court found her guilty of
adultery and sent her to the local stadium where she was buried up
to her neck in sand and then stoned to death before a 1000-strong
crowd. As reported in RLP 503 (IDOP updates), Shabaab militants
recently publicly beheaded a humanitarian aid worker named Mansuur
Mohammed (25) in a village near Baidoa because he converted to
Christianity in 2005. This was shown by mobile phone video across
the region. Early on Sunday 9 November, armed Islamic militants
conducted a cross-border raid into the town of El Wak in the
Mandera District of north-eastern Kenya and kidnapped two Catholic
nuns. The Italian nuns -- Maria Teresa Olivero (60) and Caterina
Giraudo (67) -- were working on hunger and health programs with the
'Contemplative Missionary Movement of Father de Foucauld'. The
gunmen are holding them captive in Somalia.

[* irredentist: n. One who advocates the recovery of territory
culturally or historically related to one's nation but now
subject to a foreign government.]


* the ever-present Christ (Matthew 28:20; John 14:16,17) to build,
sustain and sanctify his Church in Somalia by his Spirit, and
protect her with his authority over all earthly and spiritual
powers (Ephesians 1:22; 1 Peter 3:22).

* the martyrdom of Mansuur Mohammed to be used by God to achieve
exactly the opposite planned by Islamists: may many be repulsed
by their hatred and barbarity and attracted instead to the grace
and inner peace displayed by the Christian martyr named

* the two Catholic nuns and other aid workers presently held in
captivity; may the Spirit of the Living God comfort and encourage
all national and expatriate Christians in Somalia, so they
experience his fellowship and protection amidst this fiery
furnace, and may all the people see it. (Daniel 3)

* the God of creation, who created light, order and beauty from
darkness and emptiness (Genesis 1), to bring transforming light
and harmony to Somalia.

'And God has put all things under the authority of Christ, and he
gave him this authority for the benefit of the church. And the
church is his body; it is filled by Christ, who fills everything
everywhere with his presence.' (Ephesians 1:22,23 NLT)




Hundreds of thousands of Somalis have died in famine and conflict
over recent decades as the country has suffered under a belligerent
Soviet-backed dictatorship, poverty, famine, clan-based warlordism
and now militant Islam. In December 2006 Ethiopia invaded Somalia
to protect the UN-appointed government and to crush the threatening
hard-line militant Islamists who had seized power in a coup just
months earlier. However, lack of international and regional
military assistance to help stabilise Somalia has allowed the
Islamists to be in the ascendant once again. Attacks on
humanitarian aid workers and Christians are escalating in frequency
and barbarity. In recent weeks Mansuur Mohammed (25) was publicly
denounced and beheaded for his conversion to Christianity and two
Catholic nuns were kidnapped. Only God can bring light and peace to
Somalia. Please pray.

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RL Prayer is moderated by Ron Clough, a commissioner
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Elizabeth Kendal researched and authored this message.