Somali pastor in Kenya seriously wounded after beating for leaving Islam

Originally published in Christian Headlines

A Somali pastor of an underground fellowship in Kenya is still recovering from an infected wound after attacks on him, his wife and child for leaving Islam, he said.

The 33-year-old pastor, who was still in pain this week as he received medical treatment for wounds on his hand and shoulders from an August 10 assault by his father-in-law, remained under pressure to recant from Muslims in Wajir County, north-eastern Kenya. He has lived in Kenya since 2014.

He developed an infection that left his hand numb and without circulation after his father-in-law beat him with a thorny stick, and Muslims visiting and praying with him told him the infection was punishment from God as they pressured him to return to Islam, said the pastor, whose name is withheld for security reasons.

“This is a curse from Allah – if you return to Islam, then Allah will heal you,” they told him, the pastor said.

“All these three weeks while I’ve been sick, they have been pressuring my wife to divorce me and return to Islam,” he told Morning Star News. “But my wife has stood with me. We really need prayers so that God will miraclulously heal me and get me out of the hospital.”

His father-in-law and another relative of Somali descent last month stopped him outside his home and began reviling him for “converting his daughter to a bad religion,” he said.

“He was furious and took a thorny stick and hit me on my hand and shoulders, and I fell down screaming and wailing, calling for help,” he told Morning Star News. “When they saw neighbours approaching, they left. The pain was too much, and I was rushed to a nearby clinic.”

By August 16 his left hand was swollen with intense pain that lasted for two weeks, he said.

“I became restless – I felt like my heart was going to stop,” the pastor said. “I was in a state of restlessness, and the doctor suggested that the hand needed to be amputated.”

The hand showed improvement by August 30, but there were signs of serious infection in his blood, he said.

“The thorny stick used to hit part of my hand and shoulder could have been a poisonous one,” he said. “At the moment, the part of my hand is numb and the veins are inactive.”

In May, Muslim women beat his wife as she was returning from a market, she said.

“Two Muslim women stopped me while coming from the market near our house and slapped me and caused some bruises on my face,” she told Morning Star News. “When I screamed, they ran away.”

Muslim women visiting their home in 2021 had found a Bible on their bookshelf and began questioning her, and since then the family has been monitored and received threats, the pastor said. The first of their four children, 8 years old, was soon beaten by boys of Somali descent and received hospital treatment for injuries to his knee and foot, the pastor said.

After fleeing strife-torn Somalia to Kenya in 2014, he married a Kenyan of Somali descent and later met Christian workers who shared the gospel with him. He put his faith in Christ, and a year later his wife also converted.

In 2015 he began pastoring an underground fellowship that met in a secure place, and two years later Muslims began questioning him and his wife about why they were missing Friday mosque prayers. He told them he was busy studying computer lessons while his wife looked after their small children, the pastor said.

The family has yet to decide on whether they can safely report the August 10 assault to police, especially if officers will not provide security or they are unable to relocate to another area, he said.

Somalis generally believe all Somalis are Muslims by birth and that any Somali who becomes a Christian can be charged with apostasy, punishable by death. Somalia’s constitution establishes Islam as the state religion and prohibits the propagation of any other religion, according to the US State Department. It also requires that laws comply with sharia (Islamic law) principles, with no exceptions in application for non-Muslims.

While Kenya was not on the worst 50 countries on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2022 World Watch List of those where it is most difficult to be a Christian, Somalia ranked 3rd.

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