Algeria
Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria
February 10-11
Africa


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GEOGRAPHY

Area 2,381,741 sq.km. Agriculture is possible on the Mediterranean coast, in the Atlas mountains and at oases; 80% is desert.

Population Ann.Gr. Density
2000 31,471,278 +2.32% 13 per sq. km.
2010 38,303,706 +1.84% 16 per sq. km.
2025 46,610,551 +1.23% 20 per sq. km.

Over 90% live north of the Atlas Mountains. About 600,000 are nomadic or semi-nomadic in the Sahara. A further 2.5 million Algerians or those of Algerian descent live in Europe.

Capital Algiers 4,447,000. Other major cities: Oran 932,000; Constantine 664,000. Urbanites 56%.

PEOPLES

Arabic-speaking 77.1%. Many are Arabized Berber. Also over 3 million Bedouin.

Berber 22%+ (Tamazight-speaking Imazighen). Main groups are: Kabyle(2) 3m; Shilha(4) 1.5m; Shawiya 1,640,000; Mzab(5) 230,000; Tuareg 35,000.

Other 0.9%. Moroccans 130,000; French 10,000; Hausa 10,000; Songhai 2,600; Xoraxai Gypsy 2,500.

Refugees: 190,000 Western Saharans in four main camps around the desert oasis town of Tindouf.

Literacy 61.6%. Official language Arabic. Berber, French and increasingly, English are widely used and 25% speak one of the Berber languages. All languages 17. Languages with Scriptures 2Bi 2NT 5por 2w.i.p.

ECONOMY

Heavily dependent on oil exports. Economic stagnation due to widespread state ownership, a bloated bureaucracy, high population growth and political instability. Unemployment 22%. HDI 0.665; 109th/174. Public debt 65% of GNP. Income/person $1,500 (4.8% of USA).

POLITICS

French colony for 132 years. Independence in 1962 after a bitter war of liberation. A one-party socialist regime backed by the army held power for over 25 years. Economic failure and political abuses of power have provoked widespread agitation for change. Democratic elections in 1992 gave victory to an Islamic political party, but the results were annulled by the army. The ensuing civil war has caused over 100,000 deaths. Both sides were edging towards a settlement in 2000.

RELIGION

Since independence, the government has actively encouraged the development of an Islamic Arab socialist state. Proselytism is not allowed. The Catholic and the Protestant Church of Algeria are the only Christian bodies officially recognized. Muslim fundamentalists are strongly agitating for the institution of Islamic shari'a law. Sunni Muslims are polarized between the radicals and the secularists. The Mzab are Ibadi Muslims.

Religions Population % Adherents Ann.Gr.
Muslim 96.68 30,426,432 +2.1%
non-Religious 3.02 950,433 +6.6%
Christian 0.29 91,267 -3.7%
Baha'i 0.01 3,147 +2.3%

Christians Denom. Affil.% ,000 Ann.Gr.
Protestant 1 0.01 3 +2.7%
Independent 3 0.21 65 +3.6%
Anglican 1 0.00 0 +0.0%
Catholic 1 0.06 20 -5.8%
Orthodox 1 0.01 2 +0.0%
Marginal 1 0.00 0 +4.5%

Churches MegaBloc Cong. Members Affiliates
Indig/secret believers I   16,000 40,000
Indigenous Evang grps I 50 12,500 25,000
Catholic C 20 11,429 20,000
All Protestant groups P 40 1,900 3,400
Jehovah's Witnesses M 3 80 200
Other denoms [9]   6 1,371 2,040
Total Christians [25]   119 43,280 90,640

Trans-bloc Groupings pop.% ,000 Ann.Gr.
Evangelical 0.2 68 +3.5%
Charismatic 0.2 49 +3.6%

Missionaries from Algeria
P,I,A 15, in 4 agencies.

Expatriates to Algeria
Most are based outside the country.

Challenges for Prayer

1 Opposition to the gospel is intense. Over 160 years of tearful sowing by a tenacious succession of missionaries is only now bearing fruit. North Africans have long and bitter memories of "Christian" conquests, colonialism and atrocities. Pray that centuries of prejudice and misunderstandings may be taken away and hearts opened to the gospel message.

2 Around 100,000 civilians have been murdered in gruesome massacres during the savage civil war. No section of the nation has been spared the killings, however no evangelical Christians were killed during the war itself. Democracy had been long striven for, but seems to have failed. After years of one-party dictatorship many have looked for solutions in an Islam that would impose shari'a law, yet another tyranny, on the country. Pray for political, religious and spiritual freedom for the Algerian people.

3 There is a new openness to the West and a political drive to encourage tourism and foreign investment. Along with this will come opportunities for more missions input. Pray for wisdom in this process and for genuine partnerships to develop. There is the possibility for money and self-interest to have a very negative impact on what God is doing through His Holy Spirit.

4 The Berber peoples, may comprise as much as 40% of the population. The Arab majority has long sought to impose their rule, culture and language, and resent Berber intransigence. Berber nationalism is becoming a significant force as they seek to reaffirm their identity and return to their cultural roots. Their forebears were once Christian, and many thousands have turned to Christ among the Kabyle — some through supernatural revelations of the Lord Jesus but mainly through personal evangelism.

a) Praise God for the protection of this movement of the Spirit from reprisals. Some Muslim leaders accuse Christians of poisoning the Kabyle with the gospel.

b) Algeria has long been plagued by clannishness and divisions. This carries over into the many new and young groups of believers. Legalism and majoring on minor issues often divide. Pray for unity and maturity amongst believers.

5 The local church. Small fellowships exist where Arabic is used, but most local Christians use a mixture of French and Kabyle. Believers in the cities are few in number and keep a lower profile, whilst in many Kabyle villages, Christian meetings are well-known and held openly. Pray for evangelism to succeed in the following ways:

a) The establishment of strong indigenous groups with effective leaders steeped in the Word. Training is now taking place in-country, which should help discourage the easy option to emigrate to Europe. A good leadership training programme is developing. A small TEE programme makes headway each year as groups gather in several regions of the country. Pray for the many who desire training, that more would be willing to take on leadership responsibility.

b) The protection of Arab believers in persecution. Believers face threats and intimidation by family, friends, employers and Muslim extremists. Fear leads to withdrawal from fellowship, compromise and backsliding. Pray for perseverance, willingness to suffer for Jesus and boldness in witness.

c) A strengthening of Christian families. Religious and social pressures force Christian girls into marriage to Muslims. Pray for the few Christian couples, for their strength and endurance, that they may minister to the Church. Teaching on, and modelling of, Christian family life is much needed in this Islamic culture.

d) Musicians for worship services and children's workers to be raised up.

6 The unreached comprise virtually the whole nation.

a) The growing cities — the educated elite, the middle classes, and the teeming slums.

b) Young people who are frustrated and disillusioned. Nearly 70% of the population is under 30; well over half of the 16-25s are unemployed. Pray for those with the expertise and a heart for young people to develop ministry especially for them, and to train local believers in this area.

c) The Berber peoples of the Atlas Mountains. It is mostly the Kabyles that have responded. Any overt missionary outreach to the unreached Shawiya, Shilha or other Imazighen could be considered subversive.

d) The Tuareg. A handful of believers is known. No continuing work in Algeria.

e) The Mzab oasis towns in the Sahara. No known effort has ever been made to evangelize these tight-knit communities, yet there is a handful of Christians.

7 The active mission force. Praise God for the witness through martyrdom of 19 Catholic clergy during the civil war. Pray that God would raise up more workers for the strengthening of the local church. Work is under way in many areas. Especially pray for:

a) Relief work - an urgent priority.

b) Christian music. Much is being written in local languages; it needs to be disseminated.

c) Work among the children of Christians.

d) Protection for those who witness in the course of their daily routine.

e) The leadership of the Algerian church in Europe, and for missionary calls to their homeland. There are over 1,000 Algerian Christians in Europe.

f) The spiritual and financial support of local missionaries and their fruitfulness in ministry.

g) Local leadership training — vital for the development of a strong indigenous church.

h) The Berbers, who have the potential to sweep across the whole of North Africa with the gospel! Pray for the resources to realize the growing vision.

8 Bible translation and distribution is fraught with obstacles and restrictions. The Bible Society has recently been allowed to re-open its work in the country. Translation work is proceeding in two Berber languages, but nothing has been done for several of the dialects. These projects need much perseverance and finance to put the translation onto cassette and video. Praise God that the translation of the whole New Testament into Kabyle in the Latin script was completed in 1997. Translation has begun into Shawiya. Work is in progress in Algerian Arabic, a language spoken by up to 25 million people — most do not understand Standard Arabic. Pray for those choosing which Bible passages to translate first, and pray that this work might brighten the spiritual climate of the nation.

9 Christian literature in the national languages and French is often requested but hard to supply. Pray for permission to import, print, and distribute Bibles, books, teaching materials, and audio cassettes, as well as BCCs. Postal censorship is severe, leading to confiscation of mail and interrogation of recipients; pray for deliverances in this. There is an increasing need for BCCs and other materials in Kabyle and Algerian Arabic. Pray for those responsible for literature preparation and distribution.

10 Algerians in Europe may number 2.5 million; many are there without proper papers. They are more accessible to the gospel in Europe, but also to Islamic preaching. Pray for the network of agencies and churches seeking to reach them (AWM, GMU, WEC and others). Pray for the discipling of individuals and planting of Arabic- and Berber-speaking congregations which can then be channels for the gospel to their homeland.

11 Christian media are important in this internally restrictive situation. Pray for:

a) Radio. Both AWM and GMU have a comprehensive strategy preparing radio programmes, evangelistic and discipling literature, and follow-up programmes (radio, satellite TV, personal counselling, magazines and BCCs). Both Algerian Arabic and Kabyle are targeted by World By 2000 — pray for more broadcasting hours. AWR-Slovakia broadcasts 7 hours/week in Arabic, TWR-Monaco broadcasts 9.75 hours/week in Arabic and 2.75 hours/week in Kabyle and IBRA-Portugal 3-5 hours/week in Arabic. Thousands have come to faith as a result of this — in 1997 more than 400 converts were baptised. Pray for the expansion and continued fruitfulness of these ministries.

b) Audio-visual. The JESUS film on video has had a wide impact in Kabyle and also in Arabic. In this oral culture, potential is great for such quality audio-visuals. Pray for effective distribution from outside the country.

c) Satellite TV programmes. Algerian Arabic and Kabyle language broadcasts began in 1999 (CBN). Pray for the partnership between agencies and Algerian Christians who prepare the programmes, and for follow-up to viewers' responses.

d) Use of cassettes. Music and Scripture tapes are produced and distributed in two of the national languages. Pray for open local distribution channels.

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