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In African Horn, witchdoctor and Muslim sheik follow Jesus

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
EDITOR'S NOTE: The peoples of Ethiopia, northeast Kenya, Somalia, Eritrea and Djibouti number more than 100 million. Numerous people groups with no access to the Gospel in their heart language live in Ethiopia & northeast Kenya. Somalia currently has little or no Christian witness among its people. Believers are cruelly persecuted in Eritrea in an effort to stamp out any vital expression of faith. Islam among the peoples of Djibouti retains its stronghold. The following three stories, in conjunction with a month-long prayer emphasis set forth at, examine the Gospel challenge across the region.

HORN OF AFRICA (BP) -- It used to be a brothel, the sandy house where Mike and Abbey Nettles* are raising their children in the Horn of Africa.

When they arrived, their first act was to make the place a home.

The second was to learn enough local language to tell people how to get there.

"I can't tell someone how to make bread, but I can tell them how to get to my house, and when they get here, I can tell them about Jesus," Abbey said. "We didn't come to be masters of this language. We came to learn as fast as we could how to tell people about Jesus."

And tell people they have.

Over the past two years, the Gospel has swept through the formerly unreached and unengaged people group they live among.

"We don't have time to waste. The need is urgent," Mike said. "So we share as much as we can, and we spend our time investing in believers who want to learn how to make more disciples."

Berhanu* is among such believers. Though initially disowned by his family, he was later able to baptize one of his sisters -- along with 25 more new believers.

"Since I have believed in Jesus, I know my role is to share my faith with other people," Berhanu said. "Not everyone wants to hear, but it doesn't matter. I just need to share."

So he does, and when he finds people to believe, they start meeting in groups to study together. He finds that his people are seeking truth -- people like Sarah*, whose grandmother was a witchdoctor and father was a Muslim sheik.


"In my house, there were always animal sacrifices," Sarah said. "My grandmother would kill the chickens to see what the guts said. Because of the Satanic worship, it was a bad environment to grow up in."

But one day someone shared Jesus with Sarah, and she started to read what her holy book said about Him side by side with what the New Testament said.

"What the Bible said is true. I know this now," she said. "In the past, I was afraid and had trouble sleeping. Now I have peace in my heart."

But for a while, the decision didn't bring peace in her home. Her father beat her, knocking out some of her teeth and breaking her leg.

She fled.

But after years of hearing the Gospel, her father -- the Muslim sheik -- also came to faith in Jesus.

"Most Muslims think the story of Jesus is a lie, but more and more are coming to believe," Sarah said. "When I tell people the story of Adam and the story of Jesus -- that He healed people, died for our sin and was raised again -- some say this is bad, that it is a lie."

Those people, she said, have hard hearts. "But the ones with soft hearts, they listen."

She has a goal to share Jesus with four people a week. She knows she is to be about sharing Him no matter the cost.

"I feel I must tell others," she said.

Mike and Abbey say they are amazed but not surprised.


"We know God called us here because He was already working in the hearts of these people, so we came expecting that He was going to do something," Abbey said.

*Names changed. Ava Thomas is a writer/editor for the International Mission Board based in Europe. To learn more about how to pray for the people of the Horn and how to reach out to those same people groups living in your area, visit

Copyright (c) 2012 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press

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