Somali Muslim refugee-turned-missionary: US churches must do more to reach growing Islamic community

Unsplash/Nico Smit
Unsplash/Nico Smit

RICHMOND, Va. – A Muslim Somalian refugee who later became a Christian missionary has stressed the need for churches to do more to evangelize the United States’ growing Islamic population.

Osman Jama of the group Mission to North America’s Refugee and Immigrant Ministry, was one of two speakers at a seminar held Tuesday afternoon at the Presbyterian Church in America’s 51st General Assembly.

Titled “From Islam to Christian Ministries: Journeys of Two PCA Men,” the seminar featured Jama talking about his Islamic upbringing and how he came to Christ in 2007 while living in Minnesota.

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Osman Jama, a Muslim Somalian refugee who became a Christian missionary, speaks at a seminar at the Presbyterian Church in America General Assembly held on June 11, 2024, in Richmond, Virginia.
Osman Jama, a Muslim Somalian refugee who became a Christian missionary, speaks at a seminar at the Presbyterian Church in America General Assembly held on June 11, 2024, in Richmond, Virginia. | The Christian Post

In an interview with The Christian Post, Jama explained that while Christians in America “really do well studying,” they must be more active in evangelizing nonbelievers.

“We take our personal discipleship and personal growth very seriously, but we are also commissioned to go make disciples of all the nations, and in that, we are called not just to study but to go,” said Jama.

“The go part is also important. I think we do a really good job of sending others, but my personal belief is that everyone is called to evangelism, there are just different talents and callings. Some are called to the Middle East, some are called to Europe, but others are called to be here, to do evangelism with their neighbors, and to go across the street as much as across the country or across the continent.”

Jama noted during his presentation that when his family learned of his becoming a Christian, they disowned him and effectively cut him off from all communication.

Jama told CP that, in the years since, his immediate and extended family continued to refuse to speak with him, one of the few exceptions being when one of his sisters informed him about the death of his parents.

The event was originally going to also feature Hamid Hatami, who, in February, became the first Iranian American from a Muslim background to be ordained a teaching elder in the PCA.

Hatami had to cancel due to health issues, with Iranian Pastor Ramtin Soudmand, whose family was Christian and his father was martyred in Iran years ago, giving remarks via a livestream.

Soudmand talked about the state of persecution in modern Iran, noting that the persecution of Christians increased considerably when the Islamic Republic took control in 1979.

When asked by CP if the recent political upheavals in Iran impacted his ministry work, Soudmand replied that “nothing changes for us” and that the government's reported reform efforts " were just for show.”

The seminar was one of many taking place during the PCA General Assembly, held June 10-14 at the Richmond Convention Center and championing the theme of “Knit Together.”

PCA Stated Clerk Bryan Chapell said in a welcome letter to General Assembly attendees that the gathering will “highlight the ways our denomination is knit together in our common beliefs in the authority of Scripture, the Reformed faith, and the Great Commission.”

“We will gather from across the PCA to hear what God is doing in the lives of our brothers and sisters in Christ — and to listen with humility, courage, gospel affection, and mutual honor for His corporate direction,” wrote Chapell.

When asked by CP about what he hoped seminar attendees would take away from the event, Jama pointed out that Voice of the Martyrs considers his native Somalia to be “one of the hardest places to reach” unbelievers in the world.

“That is tough soil,” Jama said, adding, “if God can reach me, He can reach any of them. The question I would pose to everyone who attended is how is God calling you to be a part of that?” 

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