A movement from South to North
By John Stuart | North Africa
Representative image of North Africa.
Myriam* removed her religious head covering, revealing her hair for the first time to the group of local Christians gathered for worship.
“My brothers and sisters,” she said. “I am one of you and I want you to see me how God made me.”
This was Myriam’s moment of revelation. For weeks she had been the new person. Not even 20 years old, she was reserved and a seemingly apprehensive participant at the Christian gatherings in this North African city.
“We assumed she was a very devout person who followed the majority religion here,” said Joe*, who has called North Africa home for many years. “In the end, she understood the gospel and she started sharing with family members and got persecuted. But she never abandoned her faith.”
For years, Joe, a Sub-Saharan African worker, has been planting spiritual seeds. He has discipled and walked with believers into maturity in a country where only 0.4 per cent of the population is Christian. Today, Joe continues in this ministry, now partnering with Faithful Witness to see more workers strategically placed in the North Africa region.
Joe’s passion over the past decades has always been the same: to see more Christian workers, particularly Sub-Saharan Christians, serving in North Africa where there are numerous opportunities for ministry. Though there are very few Christians, the church is growing, and Joe highlights the historic roots of Christianity in the North Africa region and how God could again build the church there.
“North Africa has a rich history of Christianity,” Joe says. “God has put it on my heart to share more of the opportunities of what God is doing in North Africa. I want to remind people we can’t think that things will stay the same. The more we serve God the more we pray for wisdom to use our resources.”
There’s a need for workers from all backgrounds, and particularly those from Sub-Saharan Africa, Joe says. Some have French language skills already. He hopes more Sub-Saharan Christians will realise their ability to serve in several contexts, with unique freedom to minister among North Africans.
Being part of a team of workers is critical for success in ministry, Joe says. Over the years he has been able to see what approaches are most effective in building local churches. Ministry opportunities abound for workers in the cities and also the smaller towns and villages, where they can disciple and encourage young believers.
While the opportunities for ministry are abundant, it’s also a ministry with a long-term perspective, Joe explains. Workers need a mindset to build long-term friendships in ministry and bring an attitude of perseverance and faith to see God at work over time, even amidst some difficult times.
“You have to be patient,” Joe says. “That's why I advise people who come here … don't come for three years, come for three, four, five years. People will connect over time. Maybe after two years they start making strong connections. If we want to be wise, we have to give it time to happen.”
Today, Myriam continues to grow in her knowledge of Christ. Though once apprehensive, she’s now open about her faith with family members and classmates, even inviting a number of friends to their small fellowship.
Like many believers there, she still has challenges in her life and faces disapproval from some family and friends, but she faces these things with a community of believers and with the power of the Holy Spirit as she shares about the gospel, that has given her own life a new purpose.
How to pray
• Pray that God will send workers (both regional and from overseas) who can train and mentor those in North Africa sharing their faith.
• Pray about getting involved in mobilising SSA churches to pray, send and give or support churches directly in North Africa.
• Pray for the Faithful Witness initiative as we seek to witness among communities least likely to have heard the gospel.