Instead of retiring in his homeland, a 50-year Missionary veteran in North Africa put it this way: “What an honor it is to serve in a region where many of the theological giants were born and ministered. Augustine, for instance, hails from modern-day Algeria, while Tertullian and Cyprian devoted their service to Tunisia. Victor I, also had his roots in present-day Libya.”
Regrettably, the Christian influence in this region faced periods of decline, even extinction, with the emergence of Islam. However, a resurgence commenced during the early eighteenth and nineteenth centuries with the onset of European colonization in the area.
Today, there’s a unique beauty in the nations that were once a wellspring of spiritual enrichment for the entire Christian world.
Which North Africa?
The countries typically encompassed by North Africa include Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco. However, some may also include Sudan, Mauritania, and the Western Sahara to distinguish this region from other African nations where the Christian population exceeds that of the countries mentioned earlier. In these Muslim-majority countries, the Christian population is often below 1% of the total population.
In these Muslim-majority countries, the Christian population is often below 1% of the total population.
In the scope of this article, our attention is directed specifically to countries like Tunisia, Libya, Algeria, and Morocco. Notably, Egypt will be excluded due to its distinct characteristics. The decision is grounded in the fact that the Christian population in Egypt accounts for approximately 15-20% of the total, and unlike the other North African nations, Christianity has maintained a continuous presence in Egypt.
Christians have frequently been perceived as troublemakers, untrustworthy, and potential threats to the stability of ruling regimes. Thus, before serving as a missionary in North Africa, be prepared to endure hardships. Suffering persecution for the sake of Christ is considered a gift and an integral part of the Christian calling (Philippians 1:29–30). Persecution should not dissuade us from sharing the good news; instead, it calls for perseverance through challenges, even when immediate results may not be apparent.
Persecution and dispersion did not deter the believers in Jerusalem from actively spreading the word, as described in Acts 8:1, 4. Likewise, Paul demonstrated unwavering resolve in his preaching despite facing stoning and hostility (Acts 14:19–21). In the early church, persecutions were seen as significant privileges and blessings. When the chief priests summoned the apostles, flogged them, and commanded them not to speak the name of Jesus, the apostles rejoiced upon their release that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name of Jesus (Acts 5:41).
Perseverance in enduring hardships is not a simple task achievable through mere positivity; instead, it is a manifestation of grace by the Holy Spirit within us, kindling our hearts to willingly invest ourselves for the sake of Christ. Therefore, before you serve as a missionary in North Africa, it is crucial to possess the determination to persist in sharing the gospel and recognize that enduring suffering for the sake of Christ is a profound privilege. Avoid seeking painless ministry, and do not be deterred by potential social rejection or the pain associated with standing firm in proclaiming the good news. The challenges that Christians in North African countries face closely mirror the persecution that the Church often endures throughout its history.
The challenges that Christians in North African countries face closely mirror the persecution that the Church often endures throughout its history.
Understand the Context
Serving as a missionary in North Africa demands a profound understanding of the region’s intricate tapestry of challenges and opportunities. The historical context, intricacies of linguistic and cultural diversity, and the complex situation of Christians underscore the gravity of this calling. The narratives of perseverance, drawn from both biblical accounts and the contemporary experiences of believers in North Africa, serve as compelling reminders of the enduring spirit required in this noble endeavor.
The missionary’s commitment to endure suffering for the sake of Christ is not only a privilege but a crucial aspect of the Christian calling. As missionaries face the formidable challenges ahead, the resounding message is clear: be prepared for hardships, yet embrace them as pathways to profound blessings and opportunities to share the light of Christ in this dark region of the world.