Somalia gained independence in 1960 with the union of British and Italian colonies. Cold War rivalries provided Somalia with ample weapons for disastrous wars against Ethiopia and for clan fighting. These brought the country to destitution. Civil war in 1991 toppled the dictatorship, but no viable alternative emerged. In late 2000, the Transitional Federal Government formed (supported by Ethiopia and other democratic nations), and the Islamist group Union of Islamic Courts (supported by Islamic powers and jihadists) emerged as a national power.
In 2006, the Union of Islamic Courts took control of the capital, Mogadishu, along with significant areas of the country. Eventually Ethiopian and Transitional Federal Government forces were able to expel the militants from the capital, but more than 10,000 civilians were killed and approximately one million people displaced in the insurgency. Militant Islamic groups still control the majority of the south and centre of the country.
Sunni Islam is the official religion of Somalia. The Somali Church was driven underground in 1991 when the dictatorial regime of Mohamed Siyad Barre fell in a popular uprising. Most of the several hundred Somali believers went underground or fled, taking refuge abroad. There are possibly about 4,000 Somali Christians in Somalia and twice that in the diaspora. They practice their faith in secret under extremely dangerous conditions.
The murder of Christians and especially converts from Islam to Christianity is increasingly common. At least 10 Christians, including four teachers, were killed for their faith in 2008 and several others kidnapped and raped. A 17-year-old Somali woman who converted to Christianity from Islam was shot to death in November 2010 in an apparent "honour killing.” Muslim militants murdered a 21-year-old Christian man in April 2011 after someone allegedly informed the Islamic militants of his conversion from Islam.
- Pray for encouragement and strength for the Christians remaining in Somalia as well as for those who have been forced to leave their homes.
- Pray for a full and lasting peace in this war-torn country.
- Pray for Somali Christian families to be raised up—the great majority of Christians are men.
- Pray for strength, encouragement and sustenance for Somali converts who struggle greatly when cast out of their family and clan.