Persecution, prayer and fasting

Nicole James | Algeria

Prayer and fasting have been part of the Algerian Church’s lifestyle since the beginning of the Kabyle area revival in 1981. After two years of non-stop fasting and praying, believers saw an incredible move of the Holy Spirit sweep across the region, resulting in tens of thousands of people coming to faith.

As churches began to pop up in the towns and cities throughout Algeria’s Atlas Mountains, believers continued to fast and pray. “God answers through prayer. It’s very natural,” explained Hee Tee, who with her husband, Youssef, established OM’s ministry in Algeria.

“We have seen the power of prayer,” Youssef agreed. “We have seen God inspiring believers with true vision from heaven. We have seen people getting released (from spiritual bondage) and signs and wonders….People expect God’s going to move.”

Nonetheless, this faith has grown under fire. From the inception of the Algerian Church, Christians faced opposition, Youssef and Hee Tee shared. Some lost their jobs. Some lost their families. Churches wanting to rent space for retreats or conferences found hotels cancelling their contracts when they discovered that Christians wanted to use the rooms.

In September 2017, believers in Algeria faced a new wave of persecution when government officials began systematically inspecting—and then closing—churches for alleged violations of building code. “In the last 17 months, it has been tough,” Youssef said. “We realised the government’s plan; they wanted to close down as many churches as possible, maybe all of them.…Once we realised that plan, we moved into fasting and praying to stand firm, we continued our teaching through house groups, we continued meetings and we started an advocacy campaign outside of the country.”

When the first church was sealed by the government, “we were already praying and fasting,” Hee Tee said. “But the persecution has helped because we pray even more, we fast even more.”

And, this time, all the churches are involved. On 26 September 2018, the Algerian Protestant Association (L’Église Protestante d’Algérie or EPA) announced a year of 24/7 prayer and fasting to its 46 member churches. Each church chose a day of the week, and within the fellowship, people picked which hours they would commit to pray.

As a result, churches are experiencing unity for the first time, and believers are seeing a new move of the Holy Spirit and increased openness to the gospel. One pastor told Youssef that 60 per cent of those attending his church were new believers.

Everyday life is filled with opportunities to share, Hee Tee reported. “I saw a man on a tractor. We were talking about the sewage problem. From there, I shared the gospel and asked him, ‘Do you want this?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Would you like to have Jesus?’ ‘Yes.’ He prayed the prayer. In the shop, when I was talking to the dress maker, of course I shared the gospel.…I asked her, ‘Would you like this?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Would you like to pray?’ ‘Yes.’”

The Algerian Church’s ongoing corporate commitment to seeking God “has helped us overcome fear,” Youssef stated. “I really believe that we have seen this new move of the Holy Spirit because of prayer and fasting.”

Three churches in Algeria remain closed. Pray that the government would lift its ban on use of these buildings. Pray for believers in Algeria to be strong, unified and encouraged to boldly share their faith.

 

Nicole James is a world traveller and writer for OM International. She’s passionate about partnering with believers to communicate the ways God is working across the globe.

Published: Wednesday, 08 May 2019
Credit: Nicole James
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Features take an in-depth look at life and ministry on the mission field. Here you’ll find stories of how God is changing lives through the work of OM, as well as stories describing the joy and challenge of serving God in missions.

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