During the 40 days of Lent I’m committed to praying each day for Christians in the 40 countries where the cost of being a follower of Christ is highest. I invite you to do the same. The information on the prayer needs of each country comes from a combination of Open Doors, Barnabas Fund and Operation World.
Answer to Prayer
The growth of the Algerian Church over the past decade is an answer to prayer. A long road of tearful sowing by a tenacious succession of missionaries and intercessors is bearing beautiful fruit – while impossible to assess accurately, some believe that the number of believers far exceeds 100,000. The large majority are Kabyle Berber in background, but faith is growing among Arabs and almost every other people as well. New fellowships are popping up all over the country. This is in part due to the commitment of Berber believers to move into unreached, Arab areas in order to sow the seeds of the good news.
Challenge for Prayer
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. Freedom for the evangelical church in Algeria is very limited. A restrictive religion law introduced in 2006 prohibits efforts to convert Muslims and gives the government the right to regulate aspects of Christian practice. Active application of the law seemed to decrease in 2009, but last year the church faced several setbacks. In September four Christians were put on trial for ‘creating an illegal place of worship’. In January a church in Tizi Ouzou was attacked by Islamists and church material was burned.
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.
- That the church will continue to grow, despite ongoing opposition
- Thank God for many new believers. Pray that they will become a firm foundation for the future
- That the restrictive law of 2006 will be abolished.