THEIR CHURCHES SHUTTERED, ALGERIAN BELIEVERS CRY OUT FOR THEIR RIGHTS ON SAT-7
Algerian Christians bravely call for their rightful freedoms as 13 churches in the country remain closed down. Speaking to their fellow Algerians – and to believers around the world – on local Christian broadcaster SAT-7, church members claim their legitimate place in their country and cry out for recognition and prayer.
“It’s not right what the authorities did. It’s unjust. I ask all the believers around the world to pray for us, that God would open the doors of our church.” These words were spoken by Isaac, a young boy from a Christian family in Tizi Ouzou, Algeria. Showing his community’s steadfast belief, Isaac goes on to pray. “Lord, even though I’m a small child, I’m firm in my faith, thanks to You. Despite the difficult situation, we believe in You, our beloved God,” he says.
Isaac’s is one of five powerful video testimonies shown on SAT-7 ARABIC from Full Gospel Church, which was shuttered by the authorities on 16 October. “I was present when the doors of the church were closed and sealed. It bothered me seeing the security men dragging the women out,” remembers teenage believer Hamza. Echoing a statement made by his senior pastor, Hamza continues, “Even though the authorities sealed the doors of the church, they can’t seal our hearts.”
The testimonies also highlight the urgent need for prayer. “I ask you to pray for us, that we will remain firm in faith until the authorities of our country grant us rights as Christians – the rights our constitution grants us, but the authorities have not enforced,” says Safia.
As the words of these brave Christians beam into homes across Algeria and the wider region, SAT-7’s production team in Algeria is preparing a documentary to be aired on SAT-7 ARABIC, as well as be distributed to other channels around the world. The program, featuring the voices of Algerian church leaders and their counterparts across the region, will counter messages of division that viewers hear elsewhere.
“The Algerian Church is not a foreign plant,” explains local SAT-7 Producer Salah Kessai. “This documentary will reveal the truth and give a clear idea of Christianity’s deep roots in this country, from the early days of the Church.”
The documentary will also explain the current relevance of the Protestant Church and its legal rights under Article 42 of Algeria’s constitution. “The Church in Algeria serves thousands, if not more,” says SAT-7 ARABIC Programming Manager George Makeen. “It’s strong. It’s growing. And they need our support – they need to be recognised.”
The documentary, planned for broadcast in late December, will show viewers of all backgrounds that upholding freedom of religion and belief is beneficial for everyone. “We want viewers to understand that when you support Christians, you are not just supporting a minority – we are working for the good of the whole nation,” explains Makeen.
Meanwhile, even as churches remain closed and SAT-7 ARABIC’s regular broadcasts from Full Gospel Church are suspended, Producer Kessai sees God on the move. “The closure of the churches has given us the opportunity to speak to more people about the Church and the life of Jesus,” he says in a message shared by SAT-7 CEO Rita El-Mounayer. “People around us know we have the legal right to express our faith, so people are supporting us from outside our community.”