Somalia Lawless Like Wild West, Says Ministry

While media attention on Somalia has ebbed, a ministry working with the persecuted church continues to encourage prayer for the tiny Christian community there that suffers from social chaos, tribal conflict, and religiously motivated violence.

Jerry Dykstra, media relations coordinator at Open Doors USA, calls Somalia a "tough, tough place to be a Christian."

"There's so much danger there and there is not an established government there," he told The Christian Post last week.

Somalia, which has been called the most lawless place on earth, was described by Dykstra as the "wild west."

"It's just a humanitarian disaster," he said. "They need all kinds of aid, food, and of course they need spiritual nourishment as well.

He added, "When you hear about the pirates, I also encourage people to think about the Christians that are there."

Open Doors estimates there is about 4,000 Christians out of a population of about 10 million people in the predominantly Muslim country. Most of the Christians in the country are from a Muslim background, Dykstra said, and because of their conversion these Christians face the double threat of being targets of random acts of violence as well as religious extremists.

The ministry does work in Somalia, but the Open Doors spokesman said he could not reveal what exactly it does in the country.

Somalia is ranked No. 5 this year in Open Doors' World Watch List of countries with the worst records of Christian persecution. Somalia is ranked below North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Afghanistan, respectively.

Also this past week, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) recognized Somalia's religious intolerance problem and placed it on the group's watch list of countries that should be closely monitored for severe religious freedom violations.

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