Gods Solutions Help the Algerian Church Grow

December 4, 2012 by Open Doors in General

Algerian Men standing outside the Algerian Church

The number of Christians in Algeria, especially among the Kabyle, a Berber ethnic group of over 5 million living in northern Algeria, is steadily growing. Although they speak their own Kabyle language, the gospel is being spread in this region by using satellite television.

Ordinance 06-03, established in March 2006, restricts the exercise of religions other than Islam, and prohibits discrimination based on religious affiliation, but conditionally affirms the freedom to exercise religious worship. The law, in essence, hinders or stops evangelism, but does not prevent the practice of Christianity. Open Doors spoke with an Algerian Christian about how Christians continue to reach out to others in light of this law.

Open evangelism is forbidden, with a prison sentence of up to five years for preaching the gospel to Muslims. Since 2006, Christians have been brought to court, either for practicing non-Muslim worship without authorization, or for trying to convert Muslims by offering CD’s or Christian books. The government uses the law as an instrument to “intimidate Christians through justice and to stop the work of evangelization.”

Given this situation, how is the gospel spreading, especially in the Kabyle regions? God’s solutions have been evident, the Algerian Christian points out. The 1995 development of satellite TV has provided amazing inroads for spreading the gospel in Algeria. Today the majority of people can be reached through this medium. The Jesus film has consistently been a powerful tool, because the film is translated into the Kabyle language. “Even people asked where in the Kabyle region the film was shot; the movie is very topical and adapted to the local culture.”

Viewers are presented with the gospel message and challenged to make a decision at the end of the Jesus film. In 2003 evangelists began to develop other programs in the Kabyle language-biblical films, testimonies and round table discussions dubbed with the Kabyle language. Through this non-aggressive, positive method of proclaiming Christ, Kabyle Algerians have access to the gospel and are able to understand the message. They can listen in their own homes and reflect on the messages, deciding to follow Christ on their own.

At the end of the satellite programs, viewers see a local telephone number displayed on the screen. The callers are directed to places where they can find a church, or receive Christian books and CDs.

According to our contact, there are about fifty Protestant churches in Algeria. Twenty-seven are affiliated with the EPA (Association of the Protestant Church of Algeria). Some churches are going through the process of becoming part of the EPA, while others are independent. Protestant churches generally range in membership from 50 to 200, though the largest, in Tizi Ouzou, has some 1000 members attending the services. It is estimated that there are 30,000 Protestants in Algeria, but the actual number could be as high as 60,000 to 100,000.

The Algerian Christian explained that persecution in Algeria followed soon after the 2006 law went into effect. There have been prison sentences and fines, mainly due to governmental intimidation to please the Islamists. Persecution within families exists as well. Some who are converted to Christ are sent away from homes or suffer persecution at work. “All kind of pressure is put on Christians.”

Lawyers are sometimes hired to help Christians in these situations. Open Doors supports the Algerian church by supplying literature and Bibles, by offering training to the leaders of churches, and by providing social and economic help.

Father God, we thank You for the faithful Christians in Algeria. And we praise You for the means of satellite TV being used to reach a multitude of people that have been called to worship You in Spirit and in truth. As Your Word goes forth through the airwaves, we turn to Your Spirit to work in the hearts of the listeners to turn their hearts toward Christ. We lift up those facing persecution of various kinds that You would sustain them, and that they might remain faithful and even be used to lead others to Yourself. In the name of Jesus, the object of our faith and worship, Amen.

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