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Reclaiming the Soul of Muslim Algeria

ICC Note

“Muslims are coming to Christ there as never before, mostly in mountain villages among Berber ethnic groups.”

By Dan Wooding

Saturday, February 9, 2008 Algeria (ANS) — Algeria’s Ministry of the Interior announced on Wednesday (February 6th) that ongoing investigations led to the arrests of six suspects in the December 11th, 2007, suicide bombings that targeted UNHCR offices and the Constitutional Court building in the district of Hydra in upper Algiers.

According to a story by Said Jameh for Magharebia in Algiers (www.magharebia.com), the government revealed that the same individuals are also suspected in the December 11th, 2006 attack on a bus carrying employees of American-Algerian firm Brown & Root – Condor in Buchawi, west of the capital.

Jameh stated that the ministry statement said the men – an information technology engineer for PRC Construction, several contractors, an employee in a real estate development agency and a deliveryman – were all members of the Farouq Battalion, formerly led by terrorist Abderrahmane Bouzegza.

Bouzegza was killed in January by security personnel during an operation carried out in the Souk al-Had area of Boumerdès that also led to the arrests of four of his close aides.

The interior ministry explained that the justice ministry had issued 43 subpoenas against Bouzegza, who had been wanted by security forces since 1998.

Security forces announced that the names of the other arrested suspects were not previously known to them. The suspects reportedly became involved with al-Qaeda for financial reasons. Al-Qaeda groups in Algeria often seduce citizens into service with promises of large sums of money.

With the current announcement, the government has now identified all the perpetrators of the December 11th attacks.

Interior Minister Noureddine Yazid Zerhouni commented on the dismantling of the cell, saying: “It was the result of strong professionalism and effectiveness exhibited by the security agencies and army forces that are tasked with the anti-terrorism effort.”

At the same time, he praised “citizens’ contributions in achieving these results, thanks to their vigilance and the spirit of citizenship they have shown by standing alongside security forces in combating terrorism.”

Now Gary Lane, reporting for CBN News, has revealed that God is moving powerfully thorough Algeria and Muslims are converting to Christ in record numbers.

He said, “The Algerian people are trying to move beyond a bloody 15-year Islamic insurgency that has claimed as many as 200,000 lives there. While the government continues its fight against al Qaeda and other Islamists, another battle is being waged – this one for the hearts and souls of Algerians.

“Muslims are coming to Christ there as never before, mostly in mountain villages among Berber ethnic groups.”

In Lane’s report, Algerian pastor Youssef Ourahmane said, “The church is still growing fast; I have no doubt about it. The TV has a tremendous impact on the lives of the people there–especially Arabic language stations where for the first time many Algerians of course watch and see and hear Muslim converts who are preaching, who are teaching and telling them stories and also getting some facts about Islam and their faith in the Koran

Lane went on to say, “Christianity existed in Algeria long before Islam, but disappeared in the 12th century. Today, Islam is the dominant faith, but Christianity is making a comeback.

“The Algerian church has grown to about 70,000 adherents. Seventy percent of the Christians are under the age of thirty. Hundreds stand in line for more than an hour just to attend services in one church building.

“Proselytizing Muslims is against the law in Algeria . Regardless, one evangelist – a former Muslim – travels on trains playing a guitar, singing Christian songs and telling passengers about Christ. The train ride lasts about five to six hours, so he says he has a captive audience–passengers can’t leave.”

Courage Critical to Church Survival

He added that overcoming fear of Muslims has been crucial to church growth.

“That has been the key and I think the church really is a missionary minded church now. They want to see more churches planted and they want to see the Algerian church become an impact not just for Algeria , but for other countries.” Countries like neighboring Morocco .

“Just ask Ashraf (his identity hidden and name changed for protection). He left the Islamic faith for Christianity and began ministering to Muslims in remote mountain villages in Morocco . He showed many the Jesus film.”

Ashraf said he wanted to introduce the Berbers to a loving God who forgives them.

“He forgives the sinner who makes him suffer,” he said. This is most important that the people see that. They will not think of vengeance or something like this.”

Lane said that Ashraf has paid a high price for sharing Christ in Morocco . He was arrested and sent to a mental hospital where he was injected with mind altering narcotics.

Before he accepted Christ, Ashraf was arrested for associating with believers. He says national security police tortured him with electricity to get him to provide information about his Christian friends.

Algerians, said Lane, have also faced persecution in their country. Last year, government officials shut down at least five house churches and several Christians were arrested.

“We expect (it) will be (a) tougher situation because now there are complaints from the religious leaders. Imams in Algeria complain against what is happening, the evangelization of the Algerians,” explained Pastor Youssef.

An Amazing Move of God

Lane went on to say that their pressure has already led to a new, tougher law: a hefty fine and imprisonment for those found guilty of shaking the faith of a Muslim. The law has yet to be implemented.

But Pastor Youssef suggested laws cannot stop the amazing move of God in North Africa .

“There’s no doubt with what is happening today–with God arising men and women who are gifted in preaching, church planting, worship and other things as well. It’s an amazing sign of hope,” he said.

As for Ashraf the Moroccan evangelist, he knows the risks he faces sharing Christ in an Islamic country, yet he remains unafraid.

“I will always trust God who gives me new life,” he said. “Always God is with me everywhere.”