At 21 years old, you can graduate from college. You can drink alcohol. In 21 years time you can raise a child. You can retire from some professions with pension. You can vote in up to five election cycles.
After a 21-year reign, President Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown. During his time as President, many human rights abuses took place in Somalia. Since his era, there has been no central government. That was in 1991… 21 years ago. During those 21 years, a series of transitional governments have traded hopeful control of the nation, but with such unsteady leadership civil war among militia groups such as the Islamic extremist al-Shabaab and the temporary governments has abounded.
In the Bible, numbers are significant. A few stand to those of us who are familiar with Scripture. Three, 7, 40, 12, 10, etc. The interesting thing about the number 21 is that you can factor it by three and seven, if you reverse it it’s 12, and if you add the numerals it equals three. I think there is a pattern in Somalia that has spiritual significance, not only for its governmental cycles of 21 years in the past, but also because this year, last month in fact, a new government headed by Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has been ushered in by a free election. As long as we’re talking numbers, did you notice that the country is geographically shaped like a 7?
Somalia is number four on Open Doors’ watch list. According to the U.S. State Department’s 2010 Human Rights Report:
Human rights abuses included arbitrary killings, kidnappings, torture, rape, amputations, and beatings; official impunity; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; and arbitrary arrest, deportation, and detention. In part due to the absence of functioning institutions, perpetrators of human rights abuses, mostly in al-Shabaab controlled areas of Central and South Somalia, were rarely punished. Denial of a fair trial and limited privacy rights were problems, and there were restrictions on freedoms of speech, press, assembly, association, religion, and movement. Discrimination and violence against women, including rape and female genital mutilation; child abuse; recruitment of child soldiers; trafficking in persons; abuse of and discrimination against clan and religious minorities; restrictions on workers’ rights; forced labor; and child labor were also problems.
Basically every right that Americans hold dear, right of conscience, information, property, safety, freedom itself is denied the Somali people. So where do the martyrs come in?
According to Voice of the Martyrs’ Be-A-Voice prayer bulletins, in 2010, a young Christian woman was abducted by al-Shabaab and never seen again. In August of 2011, a Christian convert from Islam was kidnapped by al-Shabaab militants and executed by beheading. His body was found nearly two weeks later. He had converted three years prior. This January, a Christian man who had been sharing his faith was beheaded by al-Shabaab. The following May, only five months ago, a late-20s Christian man was shot to death. He converted three years ago in 2009.
In America, unless you convert in your old age, you probably expect to live longer than three years after getting saved. People in Somalia accept Christ knowing that they may only have three more days, weeks, or months. I suppose we can look at this one of two ways. It’s tragic to die so early in your walk before having the chance to develop a long-standing relationship with the Lord. On the other hand, to get to meet Him face-to-face so soon…
Please pray for Somalia. Pray for the government officials to build a country based on the freedom that comes from the presence of the Lord (1 Corinthians 3:17). Pray for the Islamic extremists to put down and for peace to take the high ground and prevail throughout Somalia. Pray for a strong Constitution to be established and for martial law to be demolished. Pray for an end to civil war and de facto persecution of Christians and police brutality. Pray for international support for the Somalians as they rebuild. Pray for their national stability. Pray for the Lord to lead and direct President Mohamud, first of all to Himself and then to the good of his people.
Pray for our brothers and sisters in Somalia, few in number among the nine million people, most of whom are Muslims. Pray for their faith to encourage and embolden them to share the love of Christ with those around them, their neighbors, their family, their jailers, their persecutors. Pray for the glory of our God to be revealed in their faithfulness.
Thank you for your prayers and support.