On 21 March 1994, the Codka Nolosha Cusub [Voice of New Life] broadcast office in Nairobi received the news that Liibaan Ibraahim Xasan (born on 12 December 1968) had been shot and killed that morning in Muqdisho, Somalia. After years of correspondence, one of the CNC staff had finally met Liibaan in person in 1993, during a visit to Muqdisho. It is hard to summarize all the memories of this martyr into a few pages. The contact with Liibaan came with a letter he wrote to CNC on 17 February 1990. He mentioned that he had visited a friend who had received a New Testament in Somali from CNC. He requested that a New Testament be sent to him and he closed his letter with the statement: “Please be aware that if you send me [this book] you will be sending me the greatest gift that can be given to a human” .
Several months later, CNC received another letter from Liibaan, thanking them for the Somali New Testament they sent. “This is the most precious gift I have ever received.” He quoted some verses from the Beatitudes [Matthew 5], saying that the CNC staff would be blessed because of the mercy shown him. For the rest of 1990, the CNC office exchanged letters and corrected correspondence courses he had completed. These letters showed that Liibaan was a Christian and that he had a good knowledge of Scripture. In one letter, he asked for the “Christian perspective on inheritance, on doing business, and marriage.
In another letter, he said the following:
When someone wants to believe in a religion, he must know it so that he can answer when questioned. Do not be surprised if I say that I believe that Jesus is my Savior…it is not mandatory for someone to be born in a Christian country to be a real Christian. A Christian is someone chosen by God…Truly I have received faith, talents and joy…do not be surprised that someone who lives in Somalia believes in Jesus, because someone who is really a Muslim cannot dare say that he trusts in Jesus. Truly, the Gospel has enlightened my new path of faith better than anything else has, even if other people do not understand. Truly, I have a thirst to be quenched…please send me a book to teach me about prayer.
In the last letter the CNC broadcast received from Liibaan in December 1990. Before postal service inside Somalia was permanently disrupted by the civil war, he wrote the following request: “There are lots of deceitful people who pretend they want to learn the Gospel. In order that I not be confused with these faithless people, please write me a letter of recommendation to the church of God; it is the only place I can increase my knowledge.”
The reply from CNC never reached Liibaan, as Muqdisho was engulfed in four weeks of heavy fighting in January 1991. However, three months later, by a providential meeting with a foreign nurse who was a Christian, contact was restored with Liibaan. Colleagues of this nurse noticed the attitude and behavior of Liibaan was very different from that of the other hospital workers. That attracted her curiosity. When she asked Liibaan about why he was different, he told her that he was a listener to Codka Nolosha Cusub. Not only was this nurse able to forward mail between the CNC office and Liibaan, but she was able to introduce Liibaan to some of the Somali Christians who used to meet for worship before the war.
During the next year and a half, the CNC staff was able to remain in close contact with Liibaan. He sent letters asking for extra Scriptures and correspondence courses for his friends. The CNC never asked Liibaan to do this work of spreading the Gospel, nor did he ever once request payment for his labors. From 1992-1994 over 80% of all communication from CNC listeners in Muqdisho came through Liibaan.
Liibaan desired baptism and traveled to Ethiopia in order to be baptized. He returned to Muqdisho by mid-1992. When a CNC staff worker met Liibaan in January 1993, he told of his pilgrimage to faith.
In 1982, Liibaan had been reading Sigmund Freud’s book Dreams and that disturbed him greatly, resulting in insomnia. Traditional solutions—visits to sheikhs, reading of the Quran, did not cure him. A foreign Christian gave him an English New Testament and suggested he read the first letter of John. During the mid-1980’s Liibaan struggled over deep theological and spiritual issues as he read the Bible in Italian and English. He also read devotional books on the epistles of Paul in Italian…and he prayed for God to show him the right path.
Even before this time of spiritual crisis, Liibaan had listened to Codka Nolosha Cusub, as well as other Christian broadcasts in English. When the CNC staff worker was invited to his Liibaan’s house, Liibaan pointed to the radio in his room and said: “That has been my teacher,” he said. The radio was his main link to what he called “the global culture” .
Liibaan had become dissatisfied with Islam for a variety of reasons. He wondered why it was necessary to always pray to God in Arabic, a foreign language. “Why do we have to face Mecca when we pray?” Ethical issues also disturbed Liibaan very much. “If God created only Adam & Eve, why then are men allowed four wives in this life and an infinite number of virgins to enjoy in Paradise?” For Liibaan, the Quran sanctioned polygamy and abuse of women and this troubled him.
A fundamental issue in the conversion process was the one of authority. “In 1984 and 1985, I struggled with which was the real revelation of God: the Bible or the Quran?” Finally, in 1985, Liibaan decided that only the Bible could be true. He decided the first thing he must do, as a follower of Jesus was to practice humility. Liibaan’s friends began to notice the change in his life in 1986, and he began to share his new faith with them. Finally, in 1990, he wrote to Codka Nolosha Cusub requesting a Somali Bible.
For Liibaan, Christianity had two equally important dimensions–the theological [or intellectual] and the practical. Liibaan was a person who thought deeply about matters of faith and was not easily satisfied by shallow/superficial answers. At the same time, Liibaan was very concerned about putting into practice the commands of Scripture–to show love to those around him.
The civil war provided many opportunities for him to witness. While working in the hospital, the European doctors [who were irreligious themselves] noticed he had a totally different attitude than the other workers. He did not differentiate between patients based on their clan. He showed sympathy and concern for people; working as a nurse’s aid in the operating room was not just a job for Liibaan. For example, once he had religious discussions with a sheikh who had been badly wounded. Later, he donated blood for this man, and after he recovered, Liibaan told the sheikh to listen to Codka Nolosha Cusub. The CNC office later received a letter from this sheikh asking for Scriptures and a correspondence course.
On the morning of 21 March 1994, two gunmen were waiting for Liibaan on the road near his office. At 7:30, as he walked to work, they ambushed him and shot him at close range. He died a few minutes later. His death was witnessed by his Christian friend Xaaji Maxamed, who was martyred two years later. See Here
Only a few people attended his burial. After his death, the CNC broadcast received many letters from listeners mentioning Liibaan and the influence he had on their lives. To see such a young, gifted and faithful believer like Liibaan be killed caused much grief among fellow-Christians all over the world. A Somali Christian refugee in Rwanda remembered meeting him and the encouragement he had been. Another Somali Christian serving a prison sentence in Egypt also sent a letter full of warm memories.
Eighteen years after Liibaan’s death, an expatriate nurse who had worked with him wrote:
My life has been forever changed because of some profound interactions with Liibaan. The last time we talked was on the steps of the Waaberi Clinic. He proudly reported that there had been 12 (I believe I am remembering that number correctly) believers at his home the night before. I cautioned him to be careful and he took a step backwards from me and said words I will never forget: “Don’t you think I have counted the cost? There is no greater treasure for me than knowing the truth about Jesus!” He went on to talk about how we could not tell which way the wind of Holy Spirit would blow but we know that it will blow. I also recall him sharing a dream that he had in great detail. It was a barrel tilted on its side in the sky and droplets of honey were coming out of the holes on the side and falling down to curious, hungry people on the ground. He said to me, “The honey is the Word of Truth. I do not think in my lifetime that it will be tipped over and poured out but I believe in the lifetime of my daughters that it will be poured out on this land.” I long and pray for that vision to become a reality! Has there ever been any news from his wife or daughters?
Unfortunately, no information is available about the current situation of Liibaan’s widow Ruqiya or their two daughters. The dream mentioned above is also referred to in Teatime in Mogadishu by Ahmed Ali Haile and David W. Shenk. See English link Here
Ben I. Aram
Read Libaan’s story Somali HERE.
CNC staff member living in Nairobi, Kenya.
Testimony of a Christian nurse from Dronten, The Netherlands.
Information from an expatriate nurse from Richmond, VA, USA.
Letters on file at New Life Media office, SIM Media, Addis Abeba, Ethiopia.
Haile, Ahmed Ali, and David W. Shenk. Teatime in Mogadishu: My Journey as a Peace Ambassador in the World of Islam. Christians Meeting Muslims Series. Harrisonburg, VA: Herald Press, 2011.
“Somali Working for Relief Group Killed.” UNOSOM newspaper Maanta, 24 March 1994 (Page 1).
Translation of an article from the UNOSOM newspaper Maanta, 24 March 1994 Page 1
“Somali Working for Relief Group Killed”
Mr. Liibaan Ibraahim Xasan, aged 25 years and a worker for the relief organization *** was said to have died after being shot near his office on 21 March.
Two men shot Mr. Liibaan as he went to work at 7:30 AM. Cali Maxamed, the owner of a small teashop at the site of the shooting, told that two men sat at the shop for about 30 minutes without drinking anything. Mr. Maxamed said that when the two men saw Liibaan, they left the teashop and shot Liibaan.
The family of the dead man took the body and buried him the same afternoon.
The father of the man who was killed, Mr. Ibraahim Xasan, said that his son was killed because of his beliefs. A wife and two daughters survive Mr. Liibaan.
This article, received in 2022, was written by Ben I. Aram, who is Director of The New Life Media, a multi-platform social media/website ministry that communicates the Gospel in the Somali language. Ben I. Aram served seven years inside Somalia, then worked in media with Somali refugee Christians in Kenya and Ethiopia for fifteen years. This article was written and translated to Somali as part of the New Life’s website “Somali Church History” section, Somali Christian biography subsection, with the aim of encouraging Somali Christians and enlightening Somali Muslims.