Excerpt from "The Insanity of God," by Nik Ripken, missionary to Somalia:
The morning was like so many others. I sat in a briefing room listening to a military commander describe the current situation in Somaliland. Conditions changed daily, and these updates were a regular occurrence. The meeting was drawing to a close when a colleague burst into the room. Normally, it would not have been proper to interrupt this kind of meeting, but he was obviously shaken by something that had happened. Interrupting the military commander, this is what he said:
"Most of you know that our organization has worked in Somaliland for decades. I have just been informed that, this morning, four Somali believers we have worked with have, in separate incidents, been ambushed and killed on their way to work. Our office has already received an ultimatum telling us that if our organization doesn't pull out of Somaliland immediately, everyone who works for us will be killed." With tears running down his face, he added, "We have no choice but to leave!" With that declaration, he turned and left as quickly as he had come.
. . . As I thought about my murdered friends, I suddenly became so angry at the evil that I cried out to God like an Old Testament prophet wanting to call down destruction from on high.
"Why don't you just destroy these people, Lord?" I demanded to know. "They have already killed almost all of your children in this country. Not one of these people deserves your salvation or your grace!"
The Spirit of God spoke to my heart in that instant: Neither do you, Nik! You were no less lost than they are - but, by my grace, you were born in an environment where you could hear, understand and believe. These people have not had that opportunity.
God reminded me of a truth from Scripture, "Even while you were still a sinner, Christ died for you." Then another thought came to mind: And Christ died not only for you, Nik, but for every Somali in the Horn of Africa.
. . . [talking to the Muslim militants] When I turned to leave, I stopped, looked back, and inquired, "Can you tell me, why would you publish a list of one hundred and fifty names when you know that there aren't that many Christian believers in the entire country of Somaliland today?"
I realized immediately how stupid that comment was. I should have just kept my mouth shut.
But they went ahead and answered my question anyway. "You're right," they admitted. "We believe that there are probably no more than forty or fifty Somali Christian traitors left in our country. But we also know that if we list the Christians that we already know about and add to the list those that we are suspicious about, then we have a good chance of getting everyone."
It was a cold and calculating strategy! And it was a strategy that was confirmed by a chilling exchange that I read in a local newspaper a day or two later. A militant Islamist had written a letter to the editor asking: "Why bother killing Somali Christians - wouldn't it be a more effective strategy just to kill the Westerners that they associate with who might convert them?" The editor responded this way:
"Killing Westerners," he wrote, "might turn them into martyrs. So it is not cost effective to kill western Christians whose deaths might possibly inspire additional committed believers to come to our country and take up each martyr's mantle."
"If, however, we kill off their converts," the editor predicted, "the western Christians will be afraid and they will go home." The editor's conclusion was chilling: "These western Christians will not be able to watch their converts be killed. When their converts are killed, the western Christians will leave."
As much as I wanted to object, I knew that there was truth in the editor's words. At the time of those four assassinations, there were approximately seventy committed western workers serving with relief groups in and around Somaliland.
Two months later, there were four of us still working with Somalis.