19 June 2018 // Articles & Stories

How do you plant a church in North Africa?

Connected to prayer

This article was first featured alongside our Prayer Diary in July 2018. You can download the July 2018 prayer points here or sign-up to receive future editions by post or email.

Proclamation, persecution and planting

There is often a necessity for church planting in creative access areas to look different from what we might be used to. We asked a member of a team in North Africa what church planting might look like for them, and how they maintain their relationship with God in a spiritually isolating area.

Each morning, we spend time reading Scripture and praying for those God has brought into our lives. We often write down what we hear from Jesus. Five days a week our teammates join us to pray for other workers, unreached peoples, and those we will see that day or those we spoke with the day before. We also gather weekly with other workers in the city for a meal and worship, and with other organisations to pray.

On Friday mornings we go to an International Church, mostly made up of Nigerians, Pakistanis and Indians. Local believers are forbidden from attending. When two came for a time, the whole church changed. The church leader began to speak with fervency about proclamation, suffering and the worth of Jesus. Many said they had lived here for years and it had been their dream to meet a local believer. Several asked them how they could become effective witnesses.

Do you have what it takes?

This team is looking for people to join them in their vision to see Jesus increasingly worshipped in their location, through regular, intentional prayer, building relationships with local people, and sharing the gospel with them. Pray that God would call people to this team who linger in the presence of Jesus listening to his Word, who are willing to obey the voice of God, who are humbly repentant. People who are compelled by love to speak and live the gospel of grace, and who are hospitable, prepared to welcome people into their home. People who will work worshipfully in their professional identity, and will be flexible, persevering and uncomplaining. Business experience is helpful too. Do you know anyone who would fit this role?

Currently, there is no local church in this city of two million. For a brief period, a handful of local believers began to meet together for the first time. All but one were baptised. They broke bread together and read the Word constantly, seeing their own lives mirrored in the lives of the early church. They prayed with love and passionate hope to be joined by more. Difficult times have come but they continue to pray for each other. They are telling others the good news and several more have come to Jesus, but some have left the country and others are afraid to meet.

We would love to see groups meeting in local homes, led by local believers, reading Scripture in the local language, praying together, breaking bread, baptising one another, and writing and singing songs in their own dialect. We pray for husbands and wives to believe, so that their homes can be places that singles can meet appropriately. So far, the only believing couple is afraid to invite others, but they are telling their family about Jesus.

The three biggest challenges that we face when it comes to church planting here are unbelief, fear and people leaving the country. So many people hear and reject the grace of Jesus. Those who do believe have been threatened, tortured, imprisoned, even killed. Some have suffered well, others have lied about what they believe to stay alive; all face fear. These believers’ families are threatened and some are forbidden from meeting with other believers. Sometimes it is family who betrays. Some have fled. Some are afraid for their children to tell grandparents. It is difficult for the church to grow if believers are silenced by fear. When there is persecution, some people choose to leave. When people don’t get paid for jobs and there are increased kidnappings and militias fighting, people leave. It is difficult for the church to grow when people leave.

Pray for wisdom for us, and for boldness for new believers. We believe that God will show us how, when and where to gather when the time comes. God will build his church!