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Algeria: Where Revival Refuses to Cease

Aidan Clay : Feb 28, 2011  ASSIST News

"During that year we went to villages where there were no Christians, we prayed for the village, and after a few months we would hear that there were Believers there. People had dreams, visions; some of them discovered Christian radio programs. We didn't share the Gospel directly with many people, but God in His way, preached the Gospel. It was like an explosion in all the Kabylie area and it's continuing now." -Pastor Raba.

(Tizi Ouzou, Algeria)—As reported in Assist News, last year, an angry mob damaged the Tafat Church in Tizi Ouzou. International Christian Concern (ICC), a Washington DC-based human rights organization, visited Algeria, including Tizi Ouzou, just months after the attack on Tafat Church. The purpose for the visit was to encourage Algeria's Christians and assist their unmet needs, but as happens more often than not when meeting with persecuted brethren, it was ICC who came away more encouraged.

Meeting with house church pastors in remote villages in the beautiful Kabylie Mountains, they shared stories of God's work amongst their people and reminisced about Algeria's great—and enduring—20 year revival.

The village churchIt is no exaggeration to say that the greatest modern Christian rebirth in the Middle East or North Africa can be attributed to the reawakening of the Church in Algeria's Kabylie region. The Kabylie revival was neither inspired by missionaries nor introduced as a foreign movement, but was ignited by a small group of faithful Believers in an obscure village. It was a rebirth indigenous to the national church where God is using dreams and visions to turn Muslims to Christ. In a country that many consider "closed" to the Gospel and where proselytism is illegal under Algerian law, the steadfast devotion of Algeria's Spirit-led Church has overcome the government's resolve to control the growth of its Christian minority.

It all began in 1981 with a 21-year-old boy from a poor family and a game of football (soccer). On the field, the young man befriended Arab visitors from a church in Algiers. It was the first time he experienced what he later recognized to be a "Christ-like" example, and the first time he heard the Gospel. It was not long before this young man, now known as Pastor Raba, would entrust his life to God and carry the weight of a great calling—reaching the Kabylie region for Christ.

Pastor Raba and three friends formed a group and began meeting weekly.

"We faced many things alone, Pastor Raba explained. "Like new Believers we faced many problems with our families, with the police, and with the authority of the village. We tried to commit together, us four, but we didn't know the Bible and we didn't know how to pray."

The group began attending a church service in Algiers—a three day's journey from their home village—as often as they could, but soon the government forced the church to close its doors. "We then decided to have meetings together even though we didn't know anything, so in prayer we said 'God, we don't know anything, but we are ready if you want to use us.'"

The group allotted the year between 1989 and 1990 for fasting and prayer. A year later, revival broke free.

"During that year we went to villages where there were no Christians, we prayed for the village, and after a few months we would hear that there were Believers there," explained Pastor Raba. "People had dreams, visions, some of them discovered Christian radio programs. We didn't share the Gospel directly with many people, but God in His way, preached the Gospel. It was like an explosion in all the Kabylie area and it's continuing now."

It is estimated that some 80,000 former Muslims in Kabylie have turned to Christ since the beginning of Algeria's great revival. Some churches are seeing incredible growth, including a Tizi Ouzou congregation that began with twelve members in 1996 and now has 900 Believers attending services. In fact, so many are coming to Christ in remote areas that it is becoming difficult to provide them with trained pastors and leadership.

The Church's growth has been most prevalent among the Berbers—not Arabs—whose rich Christian ancestry includes the 4th century theologian Augustine of Hippo.







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