North African countries sit squarely in the 10/40 Window – the part of the world with the most unreached people groups. The majority of North African countries follow Islam and have little Christian influence.
But what does missions in North Africa really look like?
We spoke with Dennis Wiens, the Director of Church Connections with SAT-7, a satellite TV ministry to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). He says there are a few common misperceptions when it comes to spreading the Gospel in North Africa.
Misperception #1 – There isn’t a local Church movement in North Africa.
For one, Wiens says people are often unaware of the indigenous Church in North African countries. “Almost every country has a Church now…. Especially North Africa, these countries have a Church. They might be underground, it might be a house Church, but there is a Church.”
Because of this misperception, believers in the West often think they need to pour all their resources into sending foreign missionaries to North Africa. But Wiens suggests this isn’t the most effective use of missional resources.
“We have this perception of closed countries and I think the West is in a very traditional mindset in terms of outreach…. We haven’t transitioned yet to a new phase of collaborative partnership with the indigenous Church around the world.”
Wiens says when it comes to North African missions, the question we should be asking is, “How can we in the West come alongside and empower that Church?”
Misperception #2 — Christians in North Africa have the same freedoms we do in America.
On the flipside, many Christians are also blind to the persecution taking place in North Africa.
“People assume that the rest of the world has freedoms like we have,” Wiens says. “We have freedoms to go to Church, to worship. The rest of the world doesn’t understand those freedoms and we sometimes impose that understanding [of] our freedoms, thinking the rest of the world is like that. But there is severe persecution.”
On the World Watch List of countries with the worst Christian persecution, three of the top 10 are in North Africa — Libya, Sudan, and Eritrea.
However, Wiens says, “Even in the midst of hostilities, we see God working in incredible ways. The Church is growing.”
Misperception #3 — When we share our faith in hostile places like North Africa, we need to be armed with the best arguments.
“Another misperception is that when we witness, we [must be] more confrontational. But just living your faith even in hostile situations is a tremendous witness.”
Wiens says this is an area where Christians in the West can learn from their brothers and sisters in North Africa. It can be tempting to go on the offensive when your faith is under attack. In the West, such attacks are largely verbal or social. In North Africa, attacks on Christians are literal.
But even in the face of mortal danger, North African believers are seeking to live out their faith with integrity and win over their neighbors in love.
“[They] see our belief system [and] our Christian worldview through our actions. That’s one thing that the persecuted Church around the world has understood that maybe Westerners haven’t.”
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SOURCE: Mission Network News