Yes, I’m still sad for the people of Ukraine ….. and the many other countries in conflict. However, we spent last week in Sweden with Somali Christians living in Europe. Each one was a refugee from civil war at home and through hardship and suffering has put their trust in Jesus. Life is tough, but the praise was vibrant.
Somalis, themselves Sunni Muslims, have always been very strong supporters of Islam. Followers of Christ used to be rare indeed. Things are changing. With all the upheaval in that war-torn land people are moving and more willing to form new alliances.
Shino and Shania, leading members of this European network, have clear testimonies to God’s grace. They had come to Nottingham with their two children leaving their extended families back in Sweden. One day Shania was shocked to open a friend’s email attachment and watch a man being beheaded in Iraq. Horrified by what she saw done in the name of God, she cried out in prayer, but for the first time her prayer was in Somali, her mother tongue, not in Arabic.
“God, is this what you want? Is this what you’re like?”
God was quick to answer and that night she had a dream. A man in brilliant white shining like the sun was coming down from heaven and he was surrounded by throngs of worshippers and Shania, herself, was there among them. When she woke she knew she must find out who this man was, so she prayed again.
The following night she dreamed again. This time her mother was calling her to sit by her and read from the Qur’an. Shania often did this for the family. She opened the book and heard herself read in Somali, not Arabic, “Jesus said, ‘I am the way the truth and the life.’” Everyone was angry, realising these words were not in the Qur’an. Again she heard herself read these unfamiliar words. Just as she was about to be attacked, the figure in white came, scooped her up and she escaped. Now, she knew it was Jesus she must worship. She Googled the verse, bought a Gospel of John, found a church and believed.
Full of enthusiasm she shared with Shino and the family back in Sweden, but for them this was a shameful act. Apostasy means instant divorce for Somalis, and Shania’s mother said Shino must leave her and take the children. He was also angry, but he himself had been raised without a mother and couldn’t bear to see his children suffer likewise. As long as she didn’t make them Christian too, perhaps he could live and let live. It was too late! His son and daughter were already believers and wanted to attend the church Shania had found. They shared with Dad, “Jesus said, ‘If you disown me before men I will disown you before my Father in heaven'” (Matthew 10: 33).
Shino was challenged and secretly began reading John’s Gospel in his taxi between fares. When the threats from Sweden got stronger telling him he must kill his wife, he noticed it’s the thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy; Jesus, the Good Shepherd, brings life (John 10:10). Finally, one night he read the story of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11). It seemed similar to Islam, the punishment being stoning…..but the ending was so so different. The one without sin should throw the first stone. From his Muslim background and reading of the Qur’an Shino knew Jesus was sinless and that he, alone, had this right. And yet he didn’t. Deeply moved he read on and found Jesus speaking directly to him. “Unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins (John 8:24)!” Shino returned home literally trembling at the Word and was united to his wife in faith.
Now, they are sharing their stories over the internet with Somalis right across the globe. Through their YouTube channel and social media outlets they are helping Somalis understand the gospel, come to faith and grow in the Lord.