Date: December 1, 2022
Algeria (MNN) — Another church in Algeria folds to state-sponsored persecution. Only 11 churches remain open in the entire country.
The pastor of a Protestant church in Aït-Atelli closed his doors following intense pressure from governing authorities.
“Last week, they closed another church in the Kabyle area. The government sent the police, and they spoke to the pastor,” Pastor Riadh* with Voice of the Martyrs Canada says.
“We are not allowed to [re-]open the church.”
The church belonged to the EPA, an officially recognized umbrella organization for Protestant churches. Believers formed the EPA in 2006 to protect their right to exist.
Starting in “2006, under EPA, all these churches have activity and no problem,” Pastor Riadh says.
“In 2017, when the new government came to power, they started this persecution.”
Algeria’s government shut down over 20 churches in the past four years. More about that here. Most of these churches belonged to the EPA. “They (government officials) are not open” to religious freedom, Pastor Riadh says.
“The government [says], ‘Oh, we are [a] Muslim country. We don’t want any other religion or faith [to be] practiced besides Islam.’”
Yet, hope remains. Algerian church leaders tell Pastor Riadh, “‘we are happy when we see persecution come in our country.’ People are thirsty to know more about the faith when they don’t see any hope,” he says.
“Some pastors and leaders said, ‘We thank God that our churches closed. We see more believers because we started planting underground churches, [which are outside of] control from the government.’”
Pray for unity among church leaders. “Pray for our brother and sisters [to] not be afraid to share the hope they have in their heart,” Pastor Riadh requests.
“God [has] opened many (Gospel) opportunities.”
*Name withheld for security reasons
Header image is a stock photo courtesy of Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke/Pixabay.