Tunisia

2) Tunisia

Please complete the following material. The videos, articles, and timelines are meant to give you a feel of Tunisia's history, culture, and current status. Insights you gain as you learn about the people of Tunisia will give you clearer ways to intercede for them. It will also help you to know better what obstacles need to be prayed against in order for a church multiplication movement to transform this nation.

The following video is a powerful representation of some of the lies and strongholds that the Holy Spirit must overcome in order for Muslims to come to faith in Jesus. This video will give you a glimpse into some of the beliefs that Tunisian Muslims hold and ideas of specific breakthroughs to pray for.

I Used To Believe from Pray4Tunisia on Vimeo.

Tunisia: Fertile ground for early Christianity

Copyright 2012 Baptist Press, Original copy of this story can be found at http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=34495

EDITOR'S NOTE: In late 2009, Johnny Hunt, then-president of the Southern Baptist Convention, visited Tunisia during a journey to North Africa. This brief video, shot amid the ruins of ancient Carthage, records Hunt's reflections on the historical and biblical significance of Tunisia -- and its importance for the future:

TUNIS, Tunisia (BP)--As January's people-power uprising -- a potent mix of economic gripes and demands for political freedoms -- rages on, history shows that unrest is not uncommon in the tiny nation of Tunisia. But its past also has helped shape the lives of modern believers.

Many Western Christians are surprised to find that Africa, rather than Europe, produced many of the greatest Christians thinkers and leaders of the early centuries.

According to Operation World, only 0.22 percent of Tunisia's 10 million people today consider themselves Christian, with a much smaller percentage being evangelical.

TIMELINE

  • 500 B.C. The sea-faring Phoenicians settle in what is today Tunisia and establish the city of Carthage. Phoenicians were followers of the god Moloch and child-sacrifice was a common practice among them.
  • 146 B.C. Rome conquers Carthage and wrecks the city after the Third Punic War (called the "Punic Wars" because Rome's name for Carthaginians was Punici, due to their Phoenician ancestry and their wide involvement with the Berbers). It was during this war that the Carthaginian general Hannibal led his troops -- and a few elephants -- around the Mediterranean and over the Italian Alps to ambush Rome.
  • 203 A.D. Perpetua and Felicitas are among the first notable Christian women to be martyred. Perpetua, a nursing mother, and Felicitas, an expectant mother, stand firm in their faith until they are killed in the gladiator arena in Carthage. Their deaths and the persecution of the church help spread early Christianity in the region.
  • 220 A.D. Tertullian, the famous Christian theologian, is a native of Carthage. He has been called "the father of Latin Christianity" and "the founder of Western theology." Among other things, he refuted the Modalist heresy, which claimed God revealed Himself as only one person of the Trinity at a given time. His works on the Trinity help Christians better understand the Bible's teachings on the nature of God.
  • 258 A.D. Cyprian, a bishop of Carthage and an important early Christian writer, many of whose Latin works still exist, is martyred for refusing to submit to the Roman cult. Cyprian helps unify the church against the Donatist controversy, which argued that Christians who turn away during persecution should not be allowed back into the fellowship.
  • 354-430 A.D. Augustine of Hippo -- one of Christianity's greatest thinkers -- spends much of his life in Carthage. Augustine's writings and teaching deal with original sin, man's need for Christ, just war and the providence of God. His work lays the groundwork for the tradition of Christendom and for the Reformation centuries later. Augustine's "City of God" and "Confessions" are still applicable to the lives of believers today. Augustine died in 430 A.D. while European barbarians invaded Tunisia and drove out the fallen Roman Empire.
  • 647 A.D. Muslim invaders drive Europeans out of Tunisia, drastically changing the makeup of the country.
  • 1705 A.D. Tunisia is assimilated into the Turkish Ottoman Empire.
  • 1881-1956 A.D. The country comes under French protectorate until 1957 when Tunisia gains its independence and becomes a republic.
  • January 2010 A.D. Angered by the poor economy, restricted political rights and corruption in the government, Tunisian protesters overthrow the government and struggle to establish a new one.

Although now a 99.99% Muslim country, Tunisia has strong Christian roots and significant ancient church history took place in this very same land. Click on the following link to watch a short 2-minute video. Learn about the major event in church history that occurred in Tunisia. This very event had profound effects on your faith.

Dr Johnny Hunt in Carthage from Pray4Tunisia on Vimeo.



Introduction/History

Tunisia, the smallest country in North Africa, boasts beautiful views of the Mediterranean Sea to its north and vast expanses of the Sahara desert in its south. One can view beaches, mountains, rich farmland, and arid desert all in a few hours’ drive.  Ancient Phoenician, Roman, and Byzantine ruins attract tourists and archaeologists alike.

In the first few centuries after Christ, Christianity spread throughout North Africa.  A strong church was established in present-day Tunisia despite intense persecution from the Romans.  Ancient baptisteries and sites of martyrdom can be found among the ruins. However, disunity, factions, and a failure to translate the Bible into the local languages weakened the church. When Arab invaders arrived in the 7th century an empty shell of a church was all that existed. Islam spread rapidly and the Christian roots of the people were forgotten.

In 1956 Tunisia won its independence from France. Over the next 55 years, Tunisia only had two presidents and the people lived under repression and fear of the government.  Tunisia was an Islamic state, but the former president had stifled most forms of extremism.  

The atmosphere of Tunisia is very secular.  Many Tunisians seldom or never go to a mosque.  Women currently have more rights than in other Arab countries. Many women hold government offices and professional careers.

What are their lives like?

Agriculture, phosphate mining, and tourism dominate Tunisia’s economy. What was once known as Rome’s “bread basket” still produces delicious fruits, vegetables, and grains. Most farmers employ primitive farming methods. At the same time cell phones, Internet, and Facebook are changing the way Tunisians interact with and view the world.

Tunisian Arabs typically live in proximity to their extended families and place a high value on family. In general, they are friendly people, known for their hospitality.

Tunisia has a large youth population that is highly educated. Almost two out of every three Arabs are under the age of 30. Both the Middle East and North Africa have the highest youth unemployment on the planet [i]. Frustration, lack of opportunity, and government corruption produced a revolution in January 2011 resulting in the president fleeing the country, regime change, and the Arab Spring (the ripples of Tunisia’s revolution spread to Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria, and others).

In October 2011 Tunisia held its first democratic elections for representatives who will rewrite the constitution. It was reported that 54% of all Tunisians voted. Ennahda, the Islamic party, won the largest number of seats in the constitutional assembly. The party claims to be moderate, however it wants Islamic law to be the source of the nation’s legislation.

What are their beliefs?

Virtually all Tunisian Arabs are Muslim.  While many are nominal Muslims, Islam heavily influences every aspect of Tunisian culture.  Their religious practices include various ceremonies and festivals. They believe in jinn, spirits according to Muslim legend, capable of exercising influence over people. Witchcraft and worship at shrines are practiced and produce bondage and strong spiritual darkness.

What are their needs?

In recent years, Christian media (websites, TV, and radio programs) has generated a great interest in Christianity. In addition countless testimonies have been shared where Jesus appeared to people through dreams and visions. There are currently a few hundred believers in the country. However, many of them live far from any other Christians and have no opportunity for fellowship and discipleship. Most Tunisians experience significant persecution from family and friends. They risk losing their jobs, losing their place in society, and pressure from the authorities.

Following the recent revolution, unprecedented access to the Gospel has produced a great need for more workers (nationals and foreigners alike) to meet with those who are seeking to know more about Jesus.


An unreached or least-reached people is a people group among which there is no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize this people group. In other words, Tunisia is classified as "unreached" because there aren't enough Tunisian Christians yet to evangelize the rest of the Tunisian people. Watch this compelling video about what "unreached" means.

Unreached People from Andrew Anguiano on Vimeo.


Bonus:

The following material is not required but available for you to further familiarize yourself with Tunisia and praying for a church multiplication movement to take place there. Feel free to skim and see if there is anything of interest.

1) Vision
2) Tunisia
3) Church Multiplication Movements
4) Prayer
5) Leadership
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