Blog: Christmas in North Africa, 1909

This Advent we’ve been taking a look at how our workers of the past have celebrated the birth of our Saviour. We’d love to share a heartwarming story with you of how one team in North Africa spent their Christmas, all the way back in 1909!

Christmas and Converts: an article from our North Africa Magazine, February 1909

We spent nearly the whole day in one of the halls, decorating the room, dressing the tree, turning forms into tables, covered with red cloths and furnished with white plates, piled with oil cakes, bread, nuts, and sweets for each guest… Our dear friends from the North and South of England would have rejoiced to see how greatly their gifts added to the beauty of the scene. The wee children had a table to themselves (Arab fashion) on the ground, and a bran pie full of French sweets.

[The local believers] arrived in groups (by families), making their way through the dark winter night, in spite of wind and rain; even the babies came, making strange bundles amid the finery of the parents who were adorned in their best, to do honour to the ‘féte de Jésus.’

We had taken the precaution of asking the local policeman to be on guard to prevent the distribution of thorns which usually strew the pathway of these first women converts from Islam whenever they venture out under cover of darkness to the house of the Christians. As there are several hedges of prickly pears near the house, it is quite easy to do this cruel work, and the poor bare feet have to suffer for the otherwise delightful evening.

The scene was full of light and brightness as the people surrounded the laden tables; the lighted tree, the brilliant Chinese lanterns, the gay garments of our guests, with their eyes shining with happiness, and the joy of fathers and mothers in seeing the progress of their children after another period of instruction in this house, all combined to make the scene a joyful one.

Dear B.K., who for so long was a cause of grave anxiety to us, but who is now out and out on the Lord’s side, was there, with his young wife and their first child, and made a capital Father Christmas. He appeared upon the scene clad in his long robes, with a white beard and pocket of unusual size, stuffed with dolls in pretty costumes, sent by a dear friend from Scotland. Then one of the Christians spoke a few earnest words, another Christmas hymn was sung, and then followed a prayer by a converted Muslim, which was enough to draw tears of thankfulness from the eyes of any who have ever taken part in the blessed work of bringing the ‘Light of Life’ to this Mohammedan people. Said one man, ‘I could stay here always,’ and a woman was heard to remark, ‘We will stay here all night if you will let us.’

But this evening, like all others, had to draw to a close at last, so we were soon shaking hands with our guests, who left us full of gratitude.

Did you know that the original name of AWM-Pioneers when it was founded in 1881 was ‘The Mission to the Kabyles and other Berber Races’? If you would like to hear more about our history, check out our story or read more from the archives!

Disclaimer: although we share the same passion for mission, the language in this publication is reflective of the era and may not reflect how we would present these topics today.

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