Written by Reverend Mahad Birik
The Somali Believers Ministry Network is a network of minority Somali Christian house churches, from Muslim background believers of Somali ethnic group from the Horn of Africa. Since there is not religious freedom in their home country these house churches come together to form an underground movement who worship Jesus Christ, their Lord and Saviour, in secret. The public opening of churches would lead to serious persecution from both governments and communities.
The network began in Ethiopia when our brother Ali returned from preaching the gospel in Sudan after several years. When he moved back to Ethiopia he opened a law firm office, but when the Muslim community in the region learned he was a Christian, his business left him and he had no other choice but to close the law firm. Throughout this time, he was preaching the gospel and met other brothers in Christ who were reaching the Somali community with the good news of the gospel in the same locality, specifically a young man called Osman.
These two men came together and evaluated their individual efforts of reaching the community and the fruit of their labour. They agreed to work together because they saw unity makes the work lighter, just as the scripture says “two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to life him up” [Ecclesiastes 4:9-10]. These brothers also joined hands with other brothers who become instrumental in the growth of the spreading of the gospel in their region.
The network of these individual Somali Christians grew outside of Ethiopia due to the relationship built with Hassan from the Hargeisa region. As this movement was gathering momentum, we were introduced to Pastor Martyn Dunsford and Pastor Simon Fry who were burning with a zeal to reach the Somali community, feeling led by the Holy Spirit to go to Ethiopia through a connection of the mission. They came to Addis Ababa to hold a conference and during this meeting Osman proposed that Ali should lead this baby network of believers. During this time, the network moved from a group of individuals believers to a network of house churches.
As the years went by, more and more house churches began to join the network and the number of believers began to grow. In 2014 the Lord led me (Rev. Mahad Birik) to travel to Ethiopia to attend Camel Milk Partnerships, this was during the height of my persecution after a video of my testimony was put on YouTube. During this meeting I met Ali who invited me to the conference and without thinking twice I accepted to attend. At the end of the conference I travelled back to Kenya, consulted the other leaders and all the house churches in Kenya and joined the network as one unit.
Pastor Simon and I had a vision for more house churches to join the network and met with Somali Believers in Uganda as we were attending the East African leaders conference. The brothers wanted to organize the believers in Uganda and the Lord led us to the brother who now leads the work and since then we have seen the house churches in Kampala grow.
We praise the Lord; today Somali Believers ministry network is constantly growing, with house churches all over the Somaliland, Puntland, Southern Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya. Our aim as a network is to see Christ glorified in Somali and Muslim nations. We are working toward depopulation of hell and populating heaven, the Kingdom of God. Over the two years we have seen growth in online media ministries, viewed by over 10,000 people. In Ethiopia they have shared the gospel with over 1500 people, seen 170 Somali’s make a response to Christ and seen 37 baptised (which is when they are really counted publicly as Christians to the community). In other countries we have seen baptisms and sharing of the gospel along with vandalism and persecution growing. We have started building safe houses across the Horn which are making a huge difference, it is important for people to have a place to flee to or move their family to when persecution ramps up for a season. We now pray for more to be built.
With the help of ChristChurch Hailsham and the Catalyst family of churches, this network has sent a missionary among the Somalis people group in diaspora (Sweden). The network has developed an able leadership team representing the native house churches headed by Rev. Mahad Birik as it’s coordinating chair. This could not be possible without the support and prayers of ChristChurch Hailsham and the Catalyst network of churches; whom we are so grateful to God and to them.
- Persecution is really in our line of calling please pray for the safety of believers in grassroot areas.
- Pray for the growth of new house churches.
- Pray for more Godly labourers.
- The need for financial support is great, please pray for God to provide so that we may become interdependent.
- Pray for second generation Christians, that they will be able to penetrate more unreached areas.
All names, apart from the authors, have been anonymised for the security of those involved