“One plants, another waters, but God gives the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:7).
What a difference a decade makes. On the one hand we can see the complete collapse of western imperialistic interventions in the Middle East with the resurgence of brutally extremist Islamic militants, and on the other we see the amazing birth of Christianity across the same geography.
Today I will focus on the country of Algeria in North Africa (map is at the bottom of the blog).
After putting up fierce resistance, Algeria was made to convert to Islam in the wars of expansion during the Seventh Century. More recently it has endured 132 years of colonial French occupation. This has led to a marked westernisation of parts of the Arab population.
After a bloody war of liberation from the French, the country entered a civil war between the more moderate, liberals who controlled the machinery of state and fundamentalist Muslim militia pushing for a louder voice in the running of the country. Hundreds of thousands of people died in both conflicts. Though defeated in the political and military sphere, the Islamists continue to grow in power at a grass-roots level, taking control of mosques, schools and neighbourhoods.
Into this volatile climate God has begun to do something special. The sharp growth of the church in the last decade has been the result of fearless evangelism, a Berber language New Testament, Christian satellite TV and an answer to decades of tearful intercession. While impossible to accurately estimate, most insiders believer the indigenous, Islamic-background church now numbers well over a hundred thousand and is growing at around 10% compound a year. While still only 0.3% of the population, this will change quickly if current growth rates continue. By 2030 it will be 2.5% if current trends continue.
This movement has been spearheaded by the Kabyle Berber people, who acknowledge themselves to be “sword Muslims” or people who were originally forced into Islam. They are 23% of the population, have a non-Arab in culture and history, and therefore more open to their pre-Islamic past. The new-found faith of this people group has been accompanied with great unity and a missions vision to reach out to the Arabs and Bedouins. Berbers are hard working and they do everything with a 100% effort. This passion has resulted in a mushrooming of fellowships all over the country.
The church in Algeria is very indigenous, with its own culture and culturally sensitive ways of working with the majority population.
This is also a suffering church. Islamic militants are growing increasingly hostile to this interruption to their draconian, satanic vision. New believers will usually lose their jobs and face severe pressure from family. Conversion to Christianity and evangelism are now a criminal offence. Fellowship has been driven underground. As usual, such strong opposition is being met by an outpouring of the super-natural by our Lord. Jesus is doing something very special and neither Satan or man have been able to slow it down so far.
The following link will give you more detailed and first-hand information on what is happening in Algeria:
Pray for the church in Algeria.