When President Ben Ali fled Tunisia the news quickly spread throughout the Middle East that unpopular governments can be overthrown. Many leaders of neighboring countries wondered if their regime would be next. During this time of uncertainty Christians living in these countries also are concerned about their future. The Middle East is home to a Christian minority population of over 14 million people, most of them living under severe restrictions, if not under outright persecution. What would a political reversal in their country mean for them? This week we explore this question in the country of Tunisia.
The presence of Christianity in Tunisia became almost nonexistent many centuries ago. Just a small remnant of mainly Roman Catholic believers, with links to the colonial past of the country, remained. The Ben Ali regime took a harsh stance towards this tiny community of Christians. Import of Christian materials was not allowed. During 2010 even tourists, travelling with a handful of books with Christian content had them confiscated by custom officials. Only in recent years, the interest in Christianity has grown. Christian ministries, active in outreach via satellite television and internet, report a remarkable increase in the number of responses and webmail as a result of their activities. Muslims however who convert face interrogations and are put under pressure to give up their Christian faith. The number of Christian converts remains low; estimates are between 1000 and 1500.
The desire for freedom of expression and jobs is what started the revolution in Tunisia. With a relatively young population, the youth will determine the future government of Tunisia. Fortunately, Islamists groups are not strong or well organized possibly paving the way for a liberal reform movement. Under a liberal government regime the rights of the Christian minority, as well as other minority groups, may be protected. For now Christians in Tunisia are dreaming of a brighter future.
Father we lift up in prayer this tiny group of Christians in Tunisia who have remained faithful in spite of the oppression and persecution that surrounded them. Also we pray for those who hear the gospel on the radio and TV, may they be filled with the desire to know You. And for those who have already accepted You in their hearts give them the boldness to share Your love and grace with others. Bless this nation with the hope of a brighter future filled with freedom to openly worship You. Amen
Next week we will continue this series on the revolution in the Middle East and what this means for Christians.
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Additional Prayer Alerts
Nearly 99% of the voters in the January referendum were in favor of dividing Africa’s biggest country. By July the world’s newest nation will be created and Africa will gain a 54th state. Christians in Sudan voiced their relief and gratitude over the successful completion of the long-awaited referendum. “We wish to deeply thank Christians across the globe for their prayers and our God for answering those prayers.”