The growth of the Algerian Church over the past decade is an answer to prayer! Many years of hard work by missionaries and praying people produced beautiful fruit. Most believers come from a Kabyle Berber background, but faith grows among Arabs and most other people groups as well. The Christian community enjoys a spirit of unity, which stands out from the long history of conflict among ethnic groups. Some received supernatural visions of Jesus, but most came to Him through personal evangelism. New fellowships began throughout Algeria, partly because Berber believers moved into unreached Arab areas with the Gospel.
Algeria has suffered deeply in the past. From French colonial exploitation to the war of liberation to the more recent brutal civil war that cost over 100,000 lives, its people are familiar with violence and loss. Pray for the following issues:
- The spiritual and psychological legacies of a land fraught with bloodshed. Fear of murderous attacks by terror groups has lessened, but the violence has never ended. Many people are war-weary and wish for the upheaval to end, but that seems a distant dream.
- Democracy is enshrined in the constitution but struggles elsewhere to hang on. A single-party state more or less remains, and the freedoms promised on paper rarely materialize.
- Human rights abuses are widespread. Change to some laws opened the door for further abuse. The Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation is more lenient to the perpetrators of civil war crimes than to the victims; few will be brought to account for the terrible crimes committed (by both terrorist groups and state security forces), and the media will be subject to greater state control. Most vulnerable are non-Muslims.
The Berber peoples comprise 23% of the population, although the dominant Arabs may be largely an ancient admixture of Arab and Berber. Domination by Arab language and culture spawns Berber nationalism, a significant force as they seek to reaffirm their identity and return to their cultural roots. Their forebears were once Christian, and now many thousands have turned to Christ among the Kabyle, some through supernatural revelations of the Lord Jesus, but mainly through personal evangelism.
Persecution of Christians is intensifying as a reaction to unprecedented church growth; the future of the Church in Algeria hangs in the balance. Legislation passed has made proselytism a criminal offence. A law forbidding the "practice of non-Muslim worship" outside of pre-approved buildings was cleverly followed by a spate of church closings. Believers face threats and intimidation by family, friends, employers, Muslim extremists and now the government. The Algerian Church has grown due to bold witness and evangelism. Pray that they will respond to these pressures with faith and perseverance.
The Algerian Church faces many other challenges outside of persecution. Pray for the following issues:
- Unity between the few Christian associations with a public presence. Officially this constitutes the Catholics and the Protestant Church of Algeria (EPA). The Assemblies of God also formed a new association. There is some disagreement between Christian groups on the best way to share the good news in this heavily Muslim nation.
- A strengthening of Christian families. Religious and social pressures usually force Christian girls to hide their faith and marry Muslims. Pray for the few Christian couples, for their strength and endurance, and that they may minister to the Church.
- Unemployment among Christians from a Muslim background is as high as 90%. This creates financial burdens for churches, the inability to support pastors and many temptations and complications for those seeking to follow Jesus. Pray for micro-enterprise schemes that create jobs for believers, such as the House of Hope and the EPA programmes.
The unreached comprise virtually the whole nation.
- The growing cities - the educated elite, the middle class and the teeming slums. Algeria rapidly urbanized as people fled into the cities to escape the violence of civil war.
- Young people are frustrated and disillusioned. Many attempt to move to Europe (often illegally) in search of more freedom and a better life. Those under age 30 make up 65-70% of the population, and this generation comprises the large majority of the Christians in Algeria.
- The Berber peoples of the Atlas Mountains. Apart from the Kabyles, the other 13 groups are among Africa's least evangelized. But there is now a Christian witness in the midst of all these, and possibly groups of believers as well.
- The Tuareg and Bedouin peoples. Only a handful of believers were known just a few years ago. They are now rapidly responding to the gospel. Creative strategies will be required to effectively reach those who maintain the traditional nomadic lifestyle.
- The Mzab oasis towns in the Sahara. Even these tight-knit and deeply religious communities are being reached by Algerian believers; a very small but growing number have come to Christ.
Algerians in Europe exceed four million; many are there illegally. They are more accessible to the gospel in Europe, but also to Islamic preaching. Pray for the network of agencies and churches seeking to reach them (AWM, WEC, Avant and others). Pray for discipling of individuals and planting of Arabic- and Berber-speaking congregations that can then be channels for the gospel to their homeland.
Christian media are vital in this internally restrictive situation. Pray for:
- Radio. Both AWM and Avant have a comprehensive strategy of preparing radio programmes, evangelistic and discipleship literature and follow-up programmes (radio, satellite TV, personal counselling, magazines and BCCs). Arabic, Kabyle and other languages have broadcasts mostly through TWR and HCJB; pray for more broadcasting hours. Several thousand are reported as having found faith via this medium.
- Satellite TV is the medium of greatest fruitfulness and even greater potential. About 85% of homes have satellite dishes and thereby full access to the good news. About 20 channels are reaching Muslims, and CBN, Life TV and CNA develop programmes specifically for Maghreb peoples. Pray for even better use of this powerful means of witnessing, teaching and encouraging.
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Content taken or adapted from Operation World, 7th Edition (2010) and Pray for the World (2015). Both books are published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.