in minneapolis / st. paul
To thrive is to “prosper,” to “flourish.” Some Somalis in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul) have thrived economically. Three Somali malls host numerous Somali-owned stores selling long skirts and scarves, henna tattoos, jewelry, handbags, rugs and Somali specialties such as savory sambusa pastries and camel milk. One mall has a three-story parking garage along with a 5,000 square-foot prayer hall. Other Somalis hold positions in government, from city council to the US House of Representatives. Ahmed Samatar, a professor at a local Minneapolis college, even ran for president of Somalia.
But with a population of roughly 60,000 Somalis in the Twin Cities and half of them under the age of 22, it is a youthful bunch and naturally mischievous at times, causing some to think they are not “thriving.” Their own population, however, with the help of city and religious organizations, continually seek ways to persuade these energetic youth toward positive, productive lives.
In the 1980s, Somalis began arriving in the Twin Cities as voluntary migrants. The numbers increased dramatically in the early 1990s due to the civil war in Somalia. The largest concentration of Somalis in the Twin Cities is in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, nicknamed “Little Mogadishu.”
Several factors contributed to Somalis, a coastal people accustomed to scorching heat, establishing their largest U.S. settlement in a frigid city far from the ocean.
- Minnesota has several refugee resettlement agencies, like Lutheran Social Services, Catholic Charities, and World Relief Minnesota, that actively welcomed and helped Somali refugees.
- Employers like meat processing plants in rural Minnesota, had many jobs available for unskilled labor.
- Somalis are historically nomadic. They were open to scouting out the “field” of Minneapolis, and when “fertile pasture” was discovered, they beckoned for their community to join them from Africa and other resettlement sites.
Over 150 Islamic mosques are located in the Twin Cities. As Somalis are almost 100% Muslim and one of the largest Muslim groups in the Twin Cities, they pray at dozens of mosques.
These mosques vary in size and style. One of them makes up the third floor of the popular Somali Karmel Mall. This mall mosque is ornate with rugs and chandeliers from Turkey and stained-glass windows salvaged from churches. The Darul Uloom mosque in St. Paul converted the sanctuary from a historic Catholic parish into a 15,000 square foot men’s prayer hall. Another mosque, the Islamic Center of Minnesota, provides a full-time Islamic school, a place for prayer, and youth-focused activities.
While a few Somalis have made decisions to follow Jesus in Minneapolis, they have often stayed private about their faith due to the fear of social pressures and persecution from their community. A healthy, mature Somali church is needed that will faithfully represent Jesus within the Somali culture.
Unreached people groups can also be viewed as "hidden" people groups (i.e., they are largely unnoticed and unaffected by the global Body of Christ). In the prayer gallery section below, as well as through the Google Earth prayerwalk tool, you can visualize these hidden people group communities. By doing so, we pray God gives you insight into how to pray through what you see. By scrolling through major points of interest in the prayer gallery section, pray for people you see, and pray that the peace and hope of Jesus will become known to people who frequent these places. Through the Google Earth prayerwalk tool linked at the bottom of the page, you can virtually prayerwalk through the community, praying "on site with insight." You could also take the route and points of interest from that tool and save them to your "Google Maps" to prayerwalk in person. Allow the following three steps to guide your prayers using these tools, and try prayerwalking with another person or small group! God hears the voice of His people, and He responds to our prayers!
Praise God for who He is. Thank Him for His blessings and salvation that is extended to all peoples. Praise and thank Him for appointing the time and boundaries of this people group's presence in North America so that they might seek Him and find Him (Acts 17:26). Pray Scriptures that come to mind about His glory being made known among all peoples and nations (e.g., Rev 7:9-10).
Luke 10:2 says “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest." Pray for God's laborers to share Christ's love through hospitality to this people group. Pray for laborers among this community to establish loving relationships and proclaim the gospel. Pray for Christians to emerge from within this people group who will reach their friends and family members.
Most members of unreached people group communities remain unreached because they have failed to hear the gospel in ways they can understand. Others have heard the gospel but have many barriers to overcome before receiving the gospel. Pray that this community will understand the gospel. Pray for God to draw them to Jesus and remove the barriers that keep them from salvation in Christ.
Dar al-Hijrah Mosque (Minneapolis, MN)
This mosque was founded in 1998 and it’s the oldest Somali mosque in Minnesota. Located in the main Somali enclave of Cedar-Riverside, it remains an influential institution in the Somali community. Its sister organization, the Islamic Civil Society of America, seeks to promote the compatibility of Islam with democracy.
Visit this page to learn general information about Somali communities in North America and their religious beliefs. Also, discover resources to help share Jesus with them in their language.
Prayerwalk through some of the main Somali restaurants, places of worship, and businesses in the Twin Cities using a tool we developed in Google Earth. You could also do a prayerwalk in person using the same points of interest.