…5,000-year old paintings proliferate inside caves thirty-four miles outside Hargeisa, Somaliland, in an area called Las Geel. Some paintings are possibly as old as 7,000 years. Who painted them and why is unknown. Exactly what they represent is unknown. Who will protect them is also unknown.
Fear of jinn, or mischievous little demons, protected these paintings for centuries as people feared becoming cursed or possessed. Some people said the paintings were drawn with human blood. Goat herders avoided the caves unless sudden thunderstorms drove them inside for protection.
I grew up believing fear was a sin. I was also afraid of everything, which left me in a constant state of guilt. God told Joshua, “Do not be afraid.” Almost every time an angel spoke with a human, the angel first said, “Do not be afraid.” What was I supposed to do with my fear of heights, fear of adults, fear of talking to a stranger on the telephone, fear of a bad grade? My fears were trivial, not like the fears Somali herders felt about jinn, but they were still damning.
As an adult, a longing to be free from fear pushed me toward scary things and I moved to Somaliland in 2003. This felt like one way my faith could work itself out in action and with trembling. What I didn’t yet understand is that facing fear gives faith the opportunity to actually be faith…