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Algeria

The Church grew to be very strong in North Africa in the first six centuries after Christ, producing such famous figures as Augustine, Cyprian and Tertullian. Sadly after the Arab-Muslim invasions the Church was eliminated and disappeared for over a thousand years.

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Barnabas supports a kindergarten for
Christian children in Algeria

However, there has been a great work of the Holy Spirit over the last 25 years, and once again many thousands of Christians are to be found among Algeria’s 31 million population, though they are still a tiny minority in a country that is over 99% Muslim. There are no official records of the number of Christians, but it is thought there may be as many as 80,000.

Christians enjoyed six years of relative religious freedom following the end of the civil war in 2000, but in 2006 new restrictions were introduced by the government after pressure from radical Islamists.

Algerian law gives Christians the freedom to practise their faith so long as they respect public order and (Islamic) morality. Conversion from Islam is not illegal, but evangelism to Muslims is prohibited, and is punishable by a fine or imprisonment.

Mohamed Ibaouene, a Christian convert from Islam in Algeria, was convicted in July 2012 of allegedly pressurising a Muslim to leave Islam. Mohamed said that the Muslim had actually tried to pressure him to return to Islam and had made the accusation only when he refused. Although his jail term was rescinded on appeal, his fine was doubled to 100,000 dinars (around £800; US$1,300).

Other official restrictions on Christian activities include the requirements that all imported Christian literature be approved by the authorities, and that all denominations and places of worship be registered. Many church groups have had official approval withheld for long periods. 

Despite these limitations, many believers practise their faith openly, despite some concerns for their personal safety and possible legal or social problems.

The militant Islamist group al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is active in Algeria and was responsible for a siege at a gas facility in January 2013 in which 37 foreigners were killed. Its presence and influence threatens the long-term safety of the country’s Christians.

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Daily prayer

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  • Give thanks for the Christ-like responses of Christian leaders in CAR to the crisis that threatens them and their churches. They have distanced themselves from the anti-balaka militias, saying that these should not be labelled as Christian and that they hold no mandate from the churches. The leaders have also condemned the violence in the country, whatever its origin, and have called on Christians to pursue forgiveness, reconciliation and healing. Churches are hiding, defending and caring for thousands of Muslims endangered by the anti-balaka, and one of CAR’s most senior church leaders has invited the president of the country’s Islamic community to move into his church compound. Pray that this powerful witness to the grace and love of Christ will help to bring peace to the shattered country. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 5 hours ago

  • On this Good Friday, give thanks to God for the death of Christ and for His gift of eternal life. Praise Him too for the example of those Christians who have persevered in their faith at the risk of their lives and who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of Christ and the Gospel. Pray that their martyrdom will inspire their suffering brothers and sisters in Christ to endure whatever hardships befall them and will convince their persecutors of the truth and power of the Gospel. Pray too that their bereaved families and churches will not grieve without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Fri, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Cry out to the Lord for Christians in the Central African Republic (CAR) who have been driven from their homes by the violence that has engulfed their country. Attacks by Islamist Séléka militants and retaliation from “anti-balaka” militias has generated a huge humanitarian crisis in which around two million people, many of them Christians, are in need of emergency assistance. Give thanks for the work of Barnabas partners who have been providing food rations to hundreds of displaced believers in the capital, Bangui, and distributing food, medicines, clothing and seeds to thousands in various regions. Pray that the aid will reach those who need it most, and that the Lord will comfort the relatives and friends of the thousands who have been killed in the fighting. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Apr 2014 00:00

  • “Jesus Christ performed tremendous miracles in all our lives through this Shalom Camp.” A pastor spoke of how God had worked through a Barnabas-sponsored weekend Bible camp for persecuted Christians in Sri Lanka. The camp was attended by believers from five different churches that had been the target of threats or attacks by Buddhist or Hindu extremists. The participants heard teaching on the Biblical basis for persecution and took part in group discussions; they came away refreshed and encouraged, and for many the camp was a time of great spiritual renewal. Give thanks to the Lord for the peace He has brought to these persecuted believers, and ask that the weekend will continue to bear much fruit in their lives. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Pray for a church leader in Sri Lanka, S.S. Johnpillai, who was threatened at gunpoint by attackers who claimed to be Special Forces officers. The minister was in a hut next to his church building in Guadalupe, Trincomolee when, he said, the men “appeared out of nowhere”. The intruders put a gun to Johnpillai’s head and accused him of holding a Communion service in honour of the founder of the Tamil Tigers, the government’s opponents in the country’s long and bloody civil war. The government had that day made it a criminal offence to commemorate the group. The gunmen ignored Johnpillai’s protests that he had not dedicated Communion to the group’s founder, and they threatened to shoot him. Ask the Lord to support and strengthen Johnpillai as he recovers from this terrifying ordeal. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Apr 2014 00:00

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