|Leader||President Ismail Omar Guelleh|
“I want to be a witness to others, but I don’t always know how to share my faith with them.”
Being a Christian in Djibouti means a life of restriction and persecution. People are meant to have freedom of religion, but are still ruled by sharia (Islamic) law. The state religion is Islam and anything outside of that is unacceptable. This means Christianity is treated as if it is illegal. Persecution is severe for those who leave Islam to follow Jesus. Djibouti’s population is 90% to 95% Muslim, making Christians the minority. The government tries to control churches and make sure Christianity doesn’t grow.
Owning a Bible is dangerous in Djibouti. Even a church building is a huge insult for non-believers. Church events, youth groups and speaking out against persecution are all very difficult. For those who come from a Muslim family, becoming a Christian is almost impossible to keep a secret. Communities live close together and believers are frequently monitored. If someone converts from Islam, family rights are stripped away. Some lose their inheritance and even the custody of their children. Finding a job is nearly impossible and persecution is a daily part of life.
Open Doors supports partners whose main goal is to strengthen the local Church in Djibouti. The development of leaders has become a key part of reaching non-believers. Many are learning to understand the purpose of persecution and how to strengthen their faith during hard times. Local partners are also empowering families in areas of business. Persecution is expected to continue, but despite this, believers are being equipped to share their faith in Jesus.