POLICE CLOSE CHURCH IN ALGERIA
26 JANUARY 2018
SAT-7 friends and producers in Algeria have asked for prayer after their church was closed by the local authorities. The church in Aïn Turk, near the north-western town of Oran, was sealed off late 2017 by police, who claim it lacks state approval.
Salah, SAT-7’s contact and a board member at the church, explained that the closure is a severe blow for local Christians. He said:
“Please can SAT-7 supporters pray for this situation and ask for God’s wisdom for the Algerian leadership. The church is not only used for services. It’s a centre where we hold a Bible school and organise a lot of seminars. Once a month we have a church service together with all the churches in this region. Now, we can’t do any of these activities.”
The church is affiliated with the Protestant Church of Algeria (EPA), which has been registered with the Algerian government since 2011. Despite the denomination’s legal status, the Aïn Turk church is one of several EPA congregations to face harassment by the authorities since early 2016, according to World Watch Monitor.
The church has now provided the authorities with all the requested documentation, but its future remains uncertain. Local officials have also accused the congregation of working with a library that is allegedly printing and distributing Christian literature. It is illegal in Algeria to produce materials that are (or are perceived to be) for evangelism. Salah said, “We told them that’s not right – we don’t have any connection with this supposed library.”
A GROWING FIRST-GENERATION CHURCH
Despite the restrictions Christians face, a first generation Church is blooming in Algeria. The country has been left scarred by a decade of civil war and is struggling with economic, political, and social frictions. Algerians of all backgrounds are searching for answers – and many are finding healing in the Gospel.
Thousands of new believers are baptised every year, especially among the Berber/Amazigh people in the mountainous Kabyle region. Christians generally have more freedom in this region compared with Arab areas such as Aïn Turk, where they may experience greater local opposition. “It’s not easy for a church to exist in this area; people don’t accept us,” Salah explained.
SAT-7 supports churches across the Middle East and North Africa with programs that help believers grow in their faith. SAT-7 ARABIC broadcasts several shows made in Algeria, including Bible Teaching from Algeria and Free Souls, a moving testimony program.
“SAT-7 IS A BLESSING”
The channel also shows a weekly worship and preaching program called My Church. As Salah explained, “SAT-7 is a blessing for our church and for all Algerian Christians. Many don’t have a church or live far from any church, so SAT-7 is like their church.”
SAT-7’s Christ-centred programs are also beneficial for Algerians from other backgrounds. One viewer wrote:
“I’m twenty-six years old and a non-Christian, but I love and respect SAT-7 KIDS… I believe in God and like learning more about Him, as I feel I’m open-minded. My favourite program is the biblical cartoons, and I’m fond of the questions segment in the program Why Is That?. I learned a lot from it.”