Authorities continue to harass the Christian community in Algeria. In the past year, four churches have been sealed by authorities; their congregations refused permission to worship. In this Muslim majority nation, churches must be government-registered. The government has refused to renew the registration of the Église Protestant d’Algérie (EPA - the association for Protestant churches in Algeria), making many existing churches illegal. Most EPA-affiliated churches have been visited by “building-safety committees,” which inspect buildings’ suitability to host meetings but also ask about licenses required under an ordinance regulating non-Muslim worship. However, the government has yet to issue any licence for a church building under this ordinance. Please pray that the authorities will end their systematic campaign to close churches and limit Christians’ freedom to worship.
Below what one worker recently wrote is a good reminder that, in a fast changing world, we need to make the most of every opportunity while it’s there. “There has always been some element of never knowing how long we’ll be allowed to stay in the country. However, in the last year that uncertainty has increased. A number of workers have been deported, and at least one now has a lifetime ban from the country. Pray for us, as a worker community, that we would have peace, knowing that God is sovereign and our times are in his hands, and pray too that we would make the most of every opportunity, while its there.”
"Women who convert to Jesus Christ face new challenges, which sometimes cost them dearly," says Djamila, a Christian woman in Algeria. Converted more than twenty years ago, Djamila lived her early years after her conversion to Jesus under pressure from her Muslim parents. She only found full freedom to live out her beliefs once married to a man who shares the same faith. She currently serves alongside him in a local church in Northern Algeria. Parents can force their Christian daughter to marry a Muslim, something that is contrary to the Word of God. When married, she suddenly finds herself in a situation of conflict and incompatibility, which sometimes ends in a divorce. The church offers a positive environment to women, providing opportunities for them to serve. Please pray, as women who leave Islam for Christianity are often divorced by their husbands; ask for God's provision and healing.
Using the power of media, believers from Muslim backgrounds are effectively sharing Christ across the Arab world. Today, more than 125 million individuals use the internet in the Arab world providing a platform for both men and women, with otherwise limited access to Christian resources, to study God’s Word. As a result, our media follow-up network encourages seekers to explore the gospel online and mentors believers through interactive Bible courses.
Many seekers in the Arab world are hungry for the truth of Christ but are held back by fear. The potential backlash from their family and society can keep them from taking concrete steps of faith. However, a combination of media outreach and face-to-face contact has helped to provide a safe place for those exploring the call of Christ. Hamdi’s* desire for fellowship and knowledge won over his fear, and he filled in the contact form on our Arabic ministry website. An Arab Christian volunteer - who used to be a Muslim himself - was given the responsibility to meet up with Hamdi. He had never met anyone with so much hunger to know everything about walking with Christ. He was so encouraged and began meeting regularly to study the Bible together. *Name changed
An Algerian pastor recently reported on the growth in the Church among the Kabyle minority (6 million people). “Today there are Kabyle churches everywhere, maybe 60 or 70. But the house groups are impossible to count. They meet, they sing and spend time with the Lord, worshipping in their mother tongue with the language they can express themselves freely in.” The growth is happening partly through personal witness - both in words and in miraculous answers to prayer. The pastor comments, “Last year I met a young man who had had a brain tumour. He had no hope but his sister-in-law said ‘this sickness is not unto death’. She laid her hands on him and asked the church elders to pray with her and he was healed completely. When I met him, I had never seen anyone so full of joy and he had led 27 people from his family and friends to faith.”
In schools in Algeria, children as young as 4 or 5 years old are taught the Qur’an with the aim of learning it by heart. On the other hand, children’s Bibles and other Christian literature can be confiscated. Pray for courage for Christian parents and ask God to move in power in this overwhelmingly Muslim nation so that the government will grant freedom to worship.
Population: 40,400,000 (2016)
Official languages: Arabic
GDP (PPP) per capita: $15,281 (2017 est.)
Life expectancy: 73 years
Religions: 95% Muslim, 4% Atheist or Agnostic, 1% Protestant