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Leader’s Edge: Missionary Biographies
As told to David W. Shenk
Herald Press, 2011
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Who is this person?
Born in 1953, near the end of the colonial era in East Africa, Ahmed Ali Haile was born in a Sunni-Musim home. Raised by pious parents in a dusty town in Central Somalia, he helped herd cattle, camels and goats, and minded the family general store. Educated in the town’s Qur’anic school, he memorized parts of the holy book which he read to his illiterate mother and taught her in prayers learned in the mosque. Ahmed longed to be righteous and know Allah as much as any mere mortals could know the Infinite One.
Sometime after his father died, he left his town for the sprawling capital city of Mogadishu, one-half million strong, just beginning to taste independence from foreign rule. He studied at a secondary school with the goal of graduating from university and becoming a leader in his country. On a visit back home, he contracted cerebral malaria, and at just fifteen, he was near death. Admitted to the Sudan Interior Mission (SIM) Hospital, he received excellent care, modern medicine and the selfless kindness of the missionary staff and regained his health. He wondered what motivated the “infidels” to show such kindness. Returning to Mogadishu, God gently nudged Ahmed toward other SIM workers as well as members of the Eastern Mennonite Mission (EMM).
For the next five years, as he finished his schooling, he drew closer to members of the two US missions, and gradually became interested in studying the Bible to compare it to the teachings of the Koran. He later realized that his early studies in the Islamic Scriptures had, in his own words, “prepared him for the gospel.” At twenty years of age, he “came home to Jesus” and became a Christ follower.
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