In the early years of the first millennia AD, the area of north Africa which now includes Tunisia was a stronghold of Christianity. Sadly, following the rise of Islam around 600 AD, the people there succumbed to that faith and ever since it has been totally Muslim. Today, Tunisia is still a strongly Islamic society, and Christians number around 23,000 out of a population of 11.7 million.
The north of the country generally follows a more moderate form of Islam, while the more rural south is much more conservative in its outlook.
It is only since the 1970s, when there was an influx of foreign workers, that Tunisians came into regular contact with Christianity. Then with the growth of satellite television and the internet more and more people are learning about Jesus Christ, and there has been a steady growth in the numbers of people turning to Christianity.
This is all the more commendable because of the price they pay, both in society at large and from their own families. Christian converts face violence and hostility both physically and verbally. On the one hand they are seen as betraying their society with its heritage, traditions and customs as well as their faith. On the other hand they are seen as betraying their families on a personal level, and find themselves cut off from all relatives and friends. As is happening in many Muslim countries over the last decade or so, there is also a noticeable and growing influence of extremist radical teachings, specially by those returning from fighting with ISIS.
Because of this, many converts hide their faith out of fear, and are very secretive about it.
However because of the availability of the internet and TV there are now growing numbers of converts to Christianity. As one pastor said, “ Our church is very young, and we started as a house church because we had no buildings. We were six or eight people. Thanks to the Lord we are now 90 members, with many children. Discipleship training and preaching are being taught.”
He also said, “ In the Muslim world, people know the mosque; that is their background. They go there to pray and to do their religious duties. It is hard for new converts to grasp that that they are part of the Church and that the Church is about the people, the members, the ministry, about giving and not only about receiving”. He added another challenge they face is explaining how they can each have a true relationship with Jesus and the Bible, rather than the laws of religion in the Quran that they were brought up with.
• Thank God for the growth of the church in Tunisia. Watch over new converts that they will understand the true nature of their calling.
• Pray for protection of all Christians in the light of growing opposition, and that the government will resist all attempts to introduce Sharia Law throughout the country.
• Pray for the many secret believers for strength of faith as they face family and personal harassment.
• Pray for the continued access to television and internet broadcasts across the country.
• Pray for the house churches that they will be able to meet and grow without problems. Pray that they will have places to meet.
• Pray for pastors and leaders for strength of faith and endowment by the Holy Spirit as they lead their churches.