The region known as North Africa typically comprises five countries, ranging from west to east: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt. Many lists will also include Sudan and Western Sahara. It is often divided between the Islamic areas to the north and the Animist and Christian areas to the south.
At In Touch Ministries, we want to lead people worldwide into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and strengthen the local church to join in the work. North Africa has been the single most difficult area of the world for us to support, but we now have an encouraging foothold in South Sudan. We are praying for God to give us increased opportunities to minister in this region through dedicated, local leaders who we can come alongside with resources like our radio and television broadcasts and the Messenger Lab.
We spoke with Ella Mbogo Waindi, In Touch Executive Director of Global Communications, and Judy Schrock, Global Resource Manager, about new opportunities and difficult barriers in the region of North Africa.
Q: What is your heart’s desire for North Africa?
A: Our hearts ache especially for the people in this region who live in persecuted and economically distressed conditions on a daily basis. Our desire and prayer would be for God to use His Word to cut through the conflicts and strife that surround North Africans and provide His hope and salvation.
We’re praying for persons of peace in this region that can partner with us. This is a person who would have a grasp of not only the spiritual needs of the region, but would also know how In Touch can join them where God is moving and working.
Q: Are there signs that this is starting to happen?
A: Yes, several exciting things are happening in and around that region of Africa. For one thing, the newest nation in the world, South Sudan, is brimming with gospel opportunities. We sent our first batch of Messengers to the Persecution Project Foundation in 2015, and we’ve been sending hundreds more on an ongoing basis.
This year we’ve been in contact with a Nigerian missionary named Amos Aderonmu. Amos does a lot of things in the region, and he has recently placed us on television, in English, on the main government station—the South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation (SSBC). The program airs at 9:30 local time on Saturday mornings.
This all came as a surprise to us because it's just always been a closed door. And I don't know whether we can understand the magnitude of that. The process itself is filled with complexities—getting files to the television station where in Lagos, Nigeria, they download the file and prepare a full year’s worth of programs on a hard drive before the material is delivered by ground into South Sudan.
Amos, along with his wife, Dupe, has been engaged in work of this nature for a long time. The couple knows they are called to South Sudan. In fact, since we first connected, they have organized several distributions of Messengers in South Sudan and are continually making us aware of the needs in the nation.
In the same region we’ve also been able to work with David Crane of Calvary Road Ministries, who’s putting the Messenger content onto SD cards for mobile phone use. This is not something we are able to do everywhere, but Pastor Crane has been finding this form of outreach very successful.
Q: What are your plans and hopes for the future in North Africa?
A: One of our plans is to return for a Life Principles Pastor Training Conference for our pastors in South Sudan. We'll probably hold the training in Kenya or in a country outside of South Sudan for security reasons, but we are excited about holding that event in the future. Resources provided by In Touch in the Messenger Lab are critical to discipling those who are pastoring believers in their communities.
Speaking of training, right before the full impact of COVID-19 hit, we were scheduled for a Life Principles Conference in Egypt for March that, due to rapidly closing borders, we had to cancel at the last minute. We are planning on returning as soon as we are safely able to do so.
We are also working to adopt a new African language for the translation of Dr. Charles Stanley’s Messenger sermons. It’s a conversation that’s been ongoing for a number of years, but it’s important we get it right. We’ve narrowed the selection down to the Bari, Dinka, or a further expansion of the Luo language.
Q: What makes the North African region more difficult to reach than the rest of the continent?
A: Most of the area is unreached and under high security, which makes it very difficult to find strategic connections that are more established in other parts of the globe. That region tends to have strained relationships because of religious persecution. Some parts of the regions are no-go zones. There even seems to be a cultural identity distinction, for instance, where most refer to themselves as Arabs instead of Africans.
It is inspiring to see how pastors like Amos Aderonmu and others are called to other parts of the continent of Africa. What Amos represents is a fairly groundbreaking trend of becoming a missionary from one nation, dedicating himself to a nearby country in greater need of the gospel. We are praying for the Lord to raise up others like him, whose significant connections will open still more doors to Christ in North Africa.
Through your partnership, the good news of Jesus Christ is going where it’s needed most. Through the tools of the Messenger Lab, we’re reaching the lost, making disciples, and equipping pastors and Christian leaders as they obey the Great Commission.
Illustrations by Jeff Gregory