Centuries ago, the once blossoming Church almost vanished from North Africa. Centuries of Islamic domination passed by with almost no visible presence of the Church.
Almost nothing happened. Until now! The Church in North Africa has taken root again and is starting to grow, most notably in Algeria.
Mustapha Krim, pastor of one of the churches in the country and former president of the Protestant Church of Algeria (EPA), shares about the growth:
“The Church started out very small. In the beginning we saw very little growth, but then the growth became like a rolling snowball, growing bigger and bigger. Now, there are zeros at end of the growth numbers.
“For example, in my city of Bejaja we originally had 10 believers; now there are at least 500. It has been a privilege to see the birth of many more groups.”
He explains that the growth followed the persecution of the 1990’s which prompted the start of Christian radio broadcasts, and later, showing of the Jesus film.
“The media is the most important tool for bringing people to the Church. I give thanks to the Lord because every day new people are joining,” states Krim.
About persecution, he says: “The people in the northern part of the country are less opposed to Christians than in the southern Arab region. I imagine that the pressure in the south can be incredibly strong. Even in our part of the country, people sometimes call me to insult me. That is part of being Christian. But even when we are mistreated or insulted, we end up winning the confidence and respect of the people.”
Krim talks about the discipleship program that Open Doors has developed: “There are Bible study groups in the church and we offer discipleship training. But for some people, this means they have to travel many miles to get to the nearest church.
“Open Doors has invested in the discipleship training program, called the ‘Talmatha Training.’ Almost half of the churches in Algeria use Talmatha as their discipleship program for new believers. The good thing about Open Doors is that you don’t only give donations. No, Open Doors works together with us. That is what is best for the Church.”
What could the rest of the world learn from Algeria? “You, the Church in the West, could use a little persecution. I think Christians in the free world are not disturbed enough in their faith. Otherwise, they would act. They would act differently.”
Algeria is ranked No. 34 on the Open Doors’ 2015 World Watch List of the 50 worst persecutors of Christians. Ninety-seven percent of the country is Muslim. There are an estimated 35,000 Christians in Algeria.
Compiled by Jerry Dykstra. For media inquiries, contact Christine Cape at 404-545-0085 or Christy Lynn Wilson at 770-401-9842.