As a born again Christian, I always had a negative attitude against the Muslims. I thought that they deserve to die and that their place is hell with the devil, for they have refused the gospel of Jesus. I viewed anyone who practices Islam as unclean and who is not worthy being befriended. I lived in a Christian family and did not have chance to interact with them. All I knew was about church and preaching to other “Christians” who had not accepted Jesus as their personal savior.
God ways are mysterious but always perfect. I got a job opening in Somalia, where nearly everyone is a Muslim. I went to the country with my former attitude but this changed immediately. I realized that in my working place there was only one Christian who was not even born again. This meant that all the people I had to work with were to be Muslims. I had to eat their food, buy from their shops and even be treated by Muslim physicians. I wanted to know much about their religion and so I kept asking them endless questions. This is how I came to get the following revelations.
First, many Muslims are not Muslims out of their own will. In fact, I realized that many know very little about other religions, and in this case Christianity. Many of them were born in Islamic homes and they had to become Muslims. Once a Muslim, one is not supposed to convert into any other religion. If one does, he or she has two choices in order to survive; either go into exile or keep it a top secret. Several of them have already done that in the past. Otherwise, if one converts into Christianity and is found out, the sentence would be instant death. Therefore many have followed the religion without any questions. They have been told by their sheikhs that Islam is the only true religion and that they should not even mention other religions. Many are never allowed to know even the days when Christian holidays such as Christmas are held!
Another important fact I found out is that not all Muslims follow their religion faithfully. Some will pretend to do so in public so as to avoid any reprimanding from their fellow Muslims but in private, they do the same things that the Koran prohibits. Some do not pray as prescribed and some even engage in premarital sex which is regarded as “haram” (an abomination) in Islam.
Christians should realize that many Somalis minus their religion are very good people and will share out everything they have with a foreigner. However, when they realize that one is a Christian, they begin dealing with you suspiciously. In fact, it is not uncommon to get the question; “Are you a Muslim?” every time they realize one is a foreigner. Therefore, many of them are shaped by their religion and not by their ethnicity or nationality.
For Christians who have a desire to preach the gospel to the nations, I would suggest that they start considering Somalia as their next mission ground. However, this is only a call for those people who are ready to die for their faith in Christ. If one is not then he or she should just take some time to pray and fast for these people who Jesus loved so much that he died on the cross for their sins. My attitude against these people has changed and my heart yearns to see them receive the gospel of Jesus and being saved by grace.