"So why Somalia?" is the question people ask me when they find out that I want to be a missionary there some day (Lord willing). I use to answer that with, "You know, I don't know really.", then after a little pause I would add, "I guess over time the Lord has given me a heart for them.". Of course that was never an exciting or satisfying answer. Well sure, it's great to know that the Lord has given me a heart for them, but normally when a person shares about their heart for a particular country or people group there some story behind it.
I remember my good friend Matt, back in the day, share stories he's heard of the turmoil and suffering Somalia. One I heard him tell at least twice, about how the state of Somalia is so bad that Somalia out of desperation try to swim across the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia, but only to have Saudis see dead bodies of Somalis wash up on their shores. Well, I don't know if that's a true story or not, but it was from hearing stories like that one that have opened my eyes to the physical poverty and state Somalia was and is still in. Decades of civil wars, famines, droughts, and the terror of Islamist extremism have plagued this nation.
So with this nation be 99.7% muslim and roughly 0.3% Christian, things are slowly and steadily starting to get better there though, with a recent inaugurated government, that has been dealing with Islamist extremists. Yet, the regions of Somaliland (in the north) and Puntland are semi-autonomous. According to Voice of the Martyrs there is a rough estimate of fewer than 200 Somali converts from Islam to Christianity, but in the past few years dozens of Somali believers have been executed by the radical Islamist group known as al-shabab, Although muslim conversion to Christianity not illegal in Somalia. In Somaliland it is said that believers have been imprisoned and even expelled. Other unspeakable acts have been inflicted on Somali believers.
My heart aches as I think about all these things, along with the deeper and more sober reality of the spiritual darkness and poverty this people are in! Following the lies of Islam, and their own cultural beliefs, they're rushing headlong towards hell. Indeed, for the 99.7% of the nation that are outside of Christ before a holy God; it's a terrifyingly dangerous place for them to be! Yes, even at this moment heart is torn up as I think about all this and Somalia. It's like I feel the same way the apostle Paul does, as he expresses in Romans 9:
"I am speaking the truth in Christ--I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit--that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh." ~Romans 9:2-3
Of course Paul is speaking of the Jews who are outside of Christ, but that's how I feel for Somalia at times. Just those moments when that burden for them weighs so heavy on my heart to the point where tears start coming from my eyes; to the point where there's this restless anxiety (so to speak) in my soul. Oh, how I wish that I could trade places with every single one of them! Where I can be accursed and cut off from Christ, and they in turn enjoy the rich grace and blessing that flow freely from the Gospel! Oh, how I'm willing to die, so that they may have life, and have it abundantly!
Lord send me! I'll go (Isa. 6:8)!