Farah was the son of an imam, but amazingly, he heard the voice of Jesus calling to him at a young age.
Farah says, “When I was eight, I heard a voice that I could not recognise telling me to follow Him. After that I had a longing to know more about Jesus.
“At the time we had foreign Christian neighbours. I used to visit them. When my parents found out, they warned the Christians to not allow me to visit their home anymore, but I started (secretly) climbing over the fence to be with them.”
Farah is from the Somali community in the Horn of Africa, a region that includes Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and Kenya. Most Somali Christians keep their faith completely secret. Islam is an important part of Somali identity, and for a Somali person to decide to leave Islam and follow Jesus is seen as a huge betrayal – and one that could lead to immediate execution by Islamic extremists.
When Farah first decided to answer the call of Jesus, he probably had no idea of the risks he was taking or the persecution that lay ahead of him. But he has stood firm in his faith through it all – and the support and prayers of his global church family have helped him to keep going.
Bold faith and big consequences
As well as learning from his Christian neighbours, Farah also grew in his faith as a young boy by listening to the radio.
He says, “I listened to Christian radio programs in Somali and corresponded with them.”
Open Doors partners have been broadcasting Somali songs, poetry and preaching in the Horn of Africa for the past 19 years – it’s a huge source of encouragement for believers who are isolated or following Jesus in secret. Give a gift to support outreach to believers in the Horn of Africa.
Farah soon began to share his faith with others. He says, “By the age of about 13 I had started preaching to my friends at school. There were 40 children in my class and I brought three of them to Christ.”
His bold faith was met with opposition. He says, “The school expelled me. Afterwards, some of my fellow students told my parents that I had become a Christian, and that is when persecution started from their side.”
But that didn’t stop him – he continued to share the gospel with others. Farah says, “When I was 17, I was imprisoned because I preached the gospel. At the time, my father announced that I had to be killed, but my mother and brothers were against his decision. Instead, I was kept in jail for six months.”
Even after his father had threatened to kill him, he kept preaching to the other prisoners. “Nothing could stop me from preaching the gospel, so the officers said I had to be kept alone.”
But he felt God’s presence with him, even in prison, alone and rejected by his family. “God spoke to my heart. He strengthened me all the time.”
'My brothers in Christ help me'
Farah is now 43, but the persecution against him hasn’t ended. He recently had to flee his home to escape being imprisoned again - and this is how he first came into contact with Open Doors. He says, “I went to hide in a remote area. While there, I got sick. While I missed everything I had, I met Open Doors. They helped me with medication and often connected with me. They comforted me through my trouble and set my mind at ease.”
Farah’s condition worsened, so he returned to the city for treatment. It was four months after he had fled and he knew the authorities had given up on their plan to imprison him.
He is safe from arrest for now, but continues to experience rejection from his community and his family. It’s a lonely existence. “People I did not know called and insulted me; I could not find a single job because everybody knew me. My entire tribe disregarded me. My family asked me to choose, but I told them I need the truth, not their wealth.”
Open Doors has helped Farah to start a small business, and Open Doors workers visit him to encourage him and show him that he isn’t alone and forgotten. “They showed me brotherly love. My flesh brothers persecuted me and left me, but my brothers in Christ helped me. In my suffering I realised there are brothers who prayed for me, showed concern for me and helped me. This increased my faith.”
Today Farah attends a secret church. He advises other new believers, “Always read the Bible and fix your eyes on Jesus. Pray fervently, and give all your anxiety to God. We must understand that our fate is God himself. When suffering comes to your life, be persistent.”
Every £68 could train two secret church leaders to find and care for believers facing persecution.
He is really thankful for the support and love of his global church family. “Thanks for all you do. Open Doors was the first to visit and support me. It’s your prayer that sustains me. It is God’s Spirit who even led you to come here today. He used you to strengthen me. I will never in my life forget your support that continues even today. Thank you. May God bless you! May God reach others too through you! May God bless all the people who are serving persecuted believers such as me!”
STAND WITH YOUR SOMALI BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN THE HORN OF AFRICA
The prayers and support of people like you have made it possible for Farah to support himself and find fellowship with other believers – thank you! And thank you for being family to many Somali believers like him.
Please pray for Farah. Pray that he will be reunited with his wife and children – when Farah recently had to flee to escape imprisonment, his wife was beaten and attacked by their community for being a Christian. She took their children and went to live with her parents. Pray for healing and comfort for her and the children, and for restoration for the family.
Pray also for protection for Farah and other Somali believers, and that God will continue to give them boldness in sharing their faith and provide for their needs.
You can also support the work of Open Doors partners in the Horn of Africa. Every £68 could train two secret church leaders to find and care for new believers facing persecution.