The area where two of our workers are based – once a stronghold of the early church and pivotal to the development of Christianity – was overrun by the Arab conquest of North Africa. They explain a bit more of the context they work in…
Ottoman rule through the middle ages was replaced by French colonial rule in the 1800s, and it wasn’t until gaining its independence in the mid-1900s that the country had the opportunity to begin defining its own identity. Though the nation is almost entirely Muslim, the seeds of secularism sown by the French were further cultivated by the administrations after independence, leaving the country today split in its identity by influences from both Europe and the Arab Middle-East.
Modern Standard Arabic is a written language, understood across North Africa. However, in many places locals speak unwritten Arabic dialects.
A revolt which swept across this region has seen the polarisation between conservative Islamists and secular moderates continue to grow – a likely significant future trend as turmoil and tensions continue to affect the region. The country is heavily reliant on tourism, but the tourist industry has been deeply affected by the unrest and terrorist acts in North Africa over the last few years.
Islam is the state religion, and indigenous churches here are not recognised, and generally not permitted, by the government. Nevertheless, we’ve witnessed a growing thirst for truth which is spreading, shown by the multiplying numbers of seekers in this period of new-found freedom following the Revolution. This is a land in transition.
Preparing the groundwork
Two people are already based in this location, preparing initially for a small team to join them.
A steep learning curve
Who are we looking for?
We are currently looking to set up a core team of workers who are committed to being here long term, who can help serve and support new team members as they arrive and go through their training. Our current prayer is for people who are hungry for God, who are passionate to grow in intimacy with him, and to model this growing intimacy to others. Beyond this, there’s a wide variety of skills that would be helpful to us as we prepare, from people who are passionate about discipleship, to people who are passionate and gifted at administration and accounts, and a range of others. If you feel called to serve others, are passionate about the long term development of God’s kingdom in North Africa, and you think that God might be calling you to go, you can find out more here.
Though there are many workers from different organisations who have ministered here for years, we’re the first people from our organisation in this city. We hope over the next few months to lay the foundations for the team the Lord will raise to join us in this location. The last couple of months have been a steep learning curve as we’ve been getting to know the culture and the city, looking for a place to live and get it set up, and seeking to meet other workers here. A big chunk of our time is currently spent in language learning, which has been so encouraging and has been opening doors to wonderful relationships. We’ve found so many here to be incredibly kind, open and hungry, and the biggest barrier to spiritual conversations so far has been our lack of language. So far, some of our attempts to sow seeds have led to deeper ongoing relationships, whereas others have led to much amusement or, sometimes, confusion!
Even as we get settled, realising that others have been here much longer and have so much more experience in this context, we’ve sought to get to know them and to learn as much as we can from them. We’re also always on the look-out for like-minded potential future partners. The Lord has opened doors for us, which has led to wonderful opportunities both to meet other like-minded workers, and to bring Jesus into many conversations with locals.