The Call to North Africa

3. A Call for Partnership

Some time ago eight Muslims in a North African university city decided to acknowledge their faith in Christ by taking baptism. Later they said: "We decided to follow Jesus partly because we saw that His followers knew each other, loved each other, and spoke well of each other." They had recognized the importance of Christians joining in effective partnership to share the gospel with the people around them.

In 1986 North Africa's first annual regional partnership meeting brought twelve people from eight agencies to talk and pray about ways they could work together to reach the region. By 1998 the partnership had grown to 80 agencies and churches. In the last five years alone the number of organizations partnering to reach North Africa has doubled.

4. A Call for Media Ministry

Satellite TV in North Africa

Uncensored satellite TV services have taken North Africa by storm. During the past ten years more than 40 million people in the area (100 million in all Arab countries) have installed satellite dishes in their homes. Today satellite dishes are even seen on mud-brick buildings in the Moroccan countryside.

SAT-7, a Christian satellite TV service that started in 1996, has consistantly had more responses from Algeria and Morocco than any other Arab countries. On April 1, 1999, SAT-7 began broadcasting four days a week.

A Bible society executive who visited Morocco recently reported that everyone he met, in both government and commercial circles, took the initiative to talk about SAT-7, saying that it had dramatically changed their understanding of Christianity.

Entire families watch SAT-7, and much of the feedback comes from women and children. One Algerian teenager wrote, "I would like to become a Christian. How can I do this?" A man from Morocco wrote, "My friend has a satellite dish and has been corresponding with you. When he came to visit me I noticed a big change in his personality -- great happiness and peace of soul. He tried to explain what happened, but I understood nothing other than he now believes in Jesus. That is why I am writing you. I am eager to know more about the Christian faith and about Jesus."

Christian radio and satellite television broadcasts have sown much seed in North African hearts - and a harvest is now being reaped on the ground. In the past it was difficult to determine just how effective these types of ministries really were. That began to change several years ago when Christian broadcasters started giving lists of names to the Christian community to follow up.

One of the people listed had been listening to the radio programs for about four years. He had become a Christian but had never met another believer and did not have a whole Bible to read. He was very excited when he finally met a Christian worker and realized that there were other Christians in his region. He is now strong in the Lord, a bold evangelist and is himself involved in following up radio contacts.

One day he and two others went to a small village to meet another listener. They only knew the person's name (which turned out not to be his real name) and that he had some sort of business on the main street of the village. They prayed that they would be able to find him, knowing that asking too many questions could arouse suspicion.

They chose a shop at random and one visitor went in to inquire. After a long time, he finally came out. "It's him! It's him!" he said excitedly.

The man was so excited to meet them that he closed his shop and took them for a drive in the countryside so they could talk openly without being heard. He had been listening to the radio programs for several years and had come to know Christ through them.

He, too, did not have an Arabic Bible. A tourist had given him an English Bible, but he did not know English. The Bible did have an Arabic translation of John 3:16, and he had clung to that one verse. He had also tried to write down by hand everything he heard on the radio, especially the Bible verses. In this way he had put together his own "Bible" and had even shared his handwritten book with some of his friends. "He was so excited to finally meet other Christians," his visitors reported. "His eyes were as big as saucers and his face was shining when he realized he was part of a family of believers and not all alone."

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11/18/99