BLOG: The Church is growing!

By Jack*, Pioneers Area Leader

When we first arrived in North Africa thirty-five years ago, we took a walk in the countryside. We came to a rickety bridge. On the far side was a shepherd with 100 sheep. None of them would dare to cross. So the shepherd grabbed a sheep by the horns and dragged it across. Where one had gone, the others followed and soon all 100 were across. In those early days, we prayed for a first sheep or two. Ahmed* was one: when we first met him, he did not know of a single Christian in his country. He thought he was on his own. Now there are hundreds, thousands, maybe tens of thousands. And some of those early believers are leaders of groups which are multiplying.

Facing a task unfinished

So what is the role of the church planter in North Africa today? In most cities, there are national churches with their own leaders. Praise God! That seemed like a dream thirty-five years ago! There may be ways in which we can support them: with friendship, training in various areas such as leadership, advice and prayer. But they also need space to develop their own ministries.

There are still vast areas of North Africa that have never heard about Jesus the Messiah. From Mauritania to Libya there are around 100 million people – most live in towns that have no active church, often no believers. We still have a role to support the growing national churches, but we now need to go beyond the cities: to live, speak and show the love of Jesus to people.

Fresh approaches

First contact may well be through social media: perhaps localised advertising on Facebook offering first steps towards Christ. Then a face-to-face meeting, answering the many questions which are bound to come. Who is Jesus? Why did He have to die? How do I pray? How do I deal with opposition from my family, workmates or the government? Relationships of trust are really important and take time to build. Then the day when they say ‘I have decided. I will follow Jesus.’ What a glorious moment that is!

At some stage, you introduce your friend to other believers. A small group starts to form. They need help and input: they have no idea what a church should be. They need to be mentored in teaching from scripture, in prayer, in leading and caring for each other. The emphasis is always on national Christians developing their own ministry. The church planter has many opportunities to die to self, allowing local friends to take over.

And key among those will be national leaders visiting from another town. We are not planting ‘go it alone’ churches. There is strength in being bonded to the wider body of Christ.

Praise God for the growth of the Church in North Africa and pray with us that more are raised up to pioneer new work, nurture new believers and stimulate maturity and multiplication in national fellowships.

This article first appeared in our magazine, AWMlink. If you’d like to know more of how you could get involved in mission in North Africa, email Dan at

*Names have been changed for security reasons. Jack and Katie went to North Africa thirty-five years ago and are currently Area Leaders supporting and encouraging cross-cultural workers and teams on the ground.

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