Somali Muslim refugees turned missionaries: American churches must do more to reach a growing Muslim community

RICHMOND, Va. – A Muslim Somali refugee who later became a Christian missionary emphasized the need for churches to do more to evangelize America's growing Muslim population.

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

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

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In an interview with The Christian Post, Jama explained that while Christians in the United States “study really well,” they need to be more active in evangelizing unbelievers.

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

“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 evangelization with their neighbors, and go across the street as much as across the country or across the continent.”

Jama noted during his presentation that when his family found out about his conversion to Christianity, 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 to him, one of the few exceptions being when one of his sisters informed him of the death of his parents.

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

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

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

Asked by CP if the recent political upheavals in Iran had affected his ministerial 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 from June 10 to 14 in the Richmond Convention Center and promoting the theme “Knit Together”.

PCA Stated Clerk Bryan Chapell said in a welcome letter to the attendees of the General Assembly that the meeting “will highlight the ways in which our denomination is bound together in our shared 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, evangelical affection and mutual honor for His corporate direction,” Chapell wrote.

Asked by CP what he hoped seminar attendees took away from the event, Jama pointed out that his native Somalia is considered by Voice of the Martyrs to be “one of the hardest places to reach” unbelievers in the world.

“That's hard ground,” Jama said, but then added that “if God can reach me, He can reach any of them. The question I would pose to everyone in attendance is how is God calling you to be a part of this? ”

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