Tunisia is divided up into 24 governorates (wilaya in Arabic). These are different administrative divisions. In Tunisia, a wilaya is a larger territory with a city of the same name in that territory. This tool has been put together to help people pray over Tunisia, where the population is approaching 11,000,000. You could use it at home, or as a prayer tool as you travel around Tunisia. We desire to see the gospel of Jesus Christ and His church planted in all cities, towns and villages across Tunisia. Pray with us toward that end.
The Tunisian province of Ariana, adjacent to the capital city, is simultaneously rural and urban. This province contains some of the most sparsely populated agricultural land in the country as well as a dense urban population forming a suburb of Tunis. Like many of the communities around the capital, Ariana has its own municipality and a separate identity.
Ariana is different from other northern suburbs in that most people who live there are from there. As a result, Ariana has a strong sense of community and people are proud to be from there. Prior to the mass exodus of Tunisian Jews in the 1960s, Ariana had a strong Jewish community. The Ariana Jews talked about Ariana being a city in an idyllic setting, particularly for health reasons. A popular proverb, repeated even today, says, “If only Ariana had the healthy sea air, nobody would ever die.” The beauty and health of Ariana are celebrated each year at an annual flower festival, where Ariana residents revel in the pride they take in their region.
There is another side to Ariana, which is far less positive, as Ariana is much poorer than the adjacent communities. Much of the economic growth and development of the capital stops at the provincial line. A drive along the street denoting the border between Tunis and Ariana is a dramatic revelation. On the Tunis side, tall new office buildings, luxury apartments and cleanly paved roads contrast with the Ariana side where overcrowded, impoverished housing units are interspersed with abandoned lots being grazed by the occasional herd of sheep. The problems of unemployment, economic oppression and lack of hope that permeate much of rural Tunisia are evident in Ariana, and residents are often desperate and unsettled.
There are a handful of believers in this area, but they do not regularly gather for fellowship; believers seem to exhibit an unwillingness or inability to gather with others. Efforts are still being made to disciple believers from Ariana, but progress is slow. There seems to be a stronghold of folk Islam which maintains a grip on some of these believers. A government school, which uses a primarily French curriculum, is located in Ariana, hence a number of expatriate Christians have chosen to make this community their home. A resident of Ariana is more likely to meet a follower of Jesus today than in any time in history.
Heavenly Father, adorn this community that you so passionately love with every kind of blessing. Just as Jesus emptied himself to become like us, inspire those who are followers of you in Ariana to traverse barriers of language/culture/religion to become like those who so proudly call that place home, so that many will be saved. Lord, we ask that you so bless the incarnational ministry of living out the Gospel that righteousness will sprout from the land of Ariana and be an example to the nations.
Pray for believers to meet together, “and let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25). Pray for a breaking of the grip of folk Islam.
Now we focus on the city of Beja. The name gives revelation of the geography and redemptive calling–it comes from an older, Lybic name “Vaga,” which refers to cows and waves, as in the waves made by the wind in the fields of wheat surrounding the city. This region boasts rich soil, thus the importance of agriculture. This is where much wheat is grown, cereal is processed, cheese is produced, and juicy honeydew melons are grown. There is also some fame attached to the rich butter pastries of the region—all food for kings.
Indeed, this was a self-governed city under Massinissa the Berber; even greater prosperity followed under Jugurtha (116-104BC), who resided here. After a time of obscurity, Septimus Severus, a Roman Emperor of Libyan birth, renewed its place of privilege and the city prospered until the Vandals ransacked it in the 5th Century. The Byzantine rulers restored it to its previous grandeur, only to be taken by the Muslim invasion in 847AD. During this invasion, a bloody slaughter laid waste to the city, and women and children were largely sold into slavery. The city was then repopulated by a branch from Banou Riah, who rebuilt the citadel. Later, Bedouins made the city of Beja their headquarters and, once again, agriculture and craftsmanship flourished. The rise and fall of glory seems to be a consistent cycle in the city’s history.
The city still boasts a citadel with Punic and Roman foundations, but the majority of what stands of the old city dates to Justinian, the Byzantine ruler. There are many remains of early churches found in the rural outskirts of the city, dating back to the Early Christian period. The main mosque found in the town center was built by the Fatimids in 944 over the ruins of the Basilica.
The mild climate of Beja has attracted a variety of people groups over the years—among them, Andalusian Moslems and Jews chased out of Spain, and Turks from the Bey’s courts seeking pleasant vacation surroundings. The city became famous as a place for Moslem theologians, mathematicians, mystics and philosophers.
There is one known Christian family in this city. They have no contact or connection to the larger Body of Christ; your support and prayers for their well-being and growth to maturity in faith are truly needed. May they be restored to fellowship.
Another follower is known to have made a personal commitment to Christ but is reluctant to share this news with any other family members. Pray for the Holy Spirit to guide in this. Many people have received Bibles. May they be drawn to read them and may the Holy Spirit cause them to see the living Jesus as they read. There is a great deal of fear in those who are considering following Jesus. Pray for them as they face great challenges with family, friends and neighbors.
Ben Arous is a district of the nation and also a suburb of the capital, Tunis. Like Manouba and Ariana, it extends a little beyond the city limits, but it is not so distinct an area as some of the other districts. It is not a coveted place to live, and the residents have no sense of superiority; if anything, it is the opposite. As the part of the city with many factories and industrial plants, Ben Arous is populated with lower income residents. Many have moved here from areas in the country where the economy is under stress, and are in search of jobs.
Without really knowing it, these people may be “seekers.” They may not realize what they are seeking, because the good life of affluence looks like the answer… but what they seek is joy. We can pray for them to find the one who is The Way… it is only when we find and follow His Paths of Righteousness that we find that deeply satisfying joy.
Though our hearts are filled with sins, you forgive them all. What joy for those you choose to bring near, those who live in your holy courts. What joys await us inside your holy Temple. You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds, O God our Savior. You are the hope of everyone on earth, even those who sail on distant seas (Psalm 65:3-5).
Pray for those who feel separated from family members and displaced from the community they grew up in. Pray that they will desire their Father’s arms around them, bringing them Home for the first time.
Pray for the poor and marginalized. Jesus took great interest in their needs and offered them the treasure of eternal hope. Pray that His Spirit will reach into lives and draw many into the Kingdom. This is not a country with much obvious poverty, but if you scratch the surface you will find a surplus of “barely-making-it,” which results in an abundance of hopelessness.
We focus on the lovely port city of Bizerte (pronounced as Binzert). This fifth largest city in the nation is Tunisia’s primary deep-water port as well as a picturesque weekend get-away, located an hour’s drive north of Tunis. Although it appears to be a sleepy serene town, it has good commerce, is a dynamic university city with a respected science faculty, and sees a great deal of people passing through–both Tunisian and foreign.
From the time of the Phoenician founding of the city through both World Wars. The French built it up as a prime military base during their occupation and invested in an offshore island prison, compared by some to Alcatraz. Thus, when independence was achieved in ‘56, the French were reluctant to relinquish control and, several years later, a bloody three day battle (slaughter) cost 700 young Tunisian soldiers their lives, but led to the final release of Tunisia.
A bluff just outside the city is the most northern point in all Africa; there, a sea of lavender flowers in the springtime compliments the breath-taking view across the Mediterranean. Lavender, a powerful herb known for its cleansing and healing properties, is often pressed into oil.
Pray for the anointing oil of God’s spirit to bring cleansing and healing to Bizerte. Pray for the church in this city to see the splendor of our God, and that HE will strengthen their hands and steady their knees, making them strong. May the release of His Spirit impact this northern city, flowing through Tunisia, (and the whole continent of Africa) from North to South!
Gabes, lying between Sfax and Medenine, is called the “Gateway to the South.” If you pass from North to South or vice versa, you will travel through this town, but it’s unlikely you will put it on your list of places to stop and visit. There is little tourism, with the lack of antiquities or modern resort hotels. Even the agriculture in this region is mediocre, with thousands of date palms producing not-quite-exportable dates. The only “claim to fame” for this town is that it is an oasis located on the seacoast.
There has been a positive presence of faith in this city for a few years. They haven’t found it easy, but their consistent prayers and witness are valuable. They ask that their presence would be known by unity, boldness and wisdom, and that the Light of Truth would shine through the everyday tasks of being there in living and working relationships with the community. They ask for prayers for those who are seeking the one who is The Way.
It is a community with many needs. There is poverty, and with it, hopelessness; the high unemployment rate leads to a communal sense of worthlessness, which is a hard cycle to break—but we ask that it would be broken by our great God, who values each one of His own no matter what condition we are in. Pray that this reality of love from the Creator will also bring about a dawn in the hearts of the marginalized—single moms, at risk youth (drugs are a problem in this nation), abandoned babies, and individuals with special needs. Ask that God’s grace will become their source of strength and comfort.
In addition, the issue of folk Islam, where people put faith in dead saints and other traditional things, is a strong area of bondage in this town. The empty ritual of visiting tombs often leads to spiritual darkness and blindness. Pray for a break with these traditions—for the words of Jesus to ring true, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?”
For Gabes, pray around the issues of division and pride. There is a sense of looking down on people from a nearby town (El Hamma). They even have a proverb “hold the hand of a ‘Hammi’ only until you find a real man.” There are long running divisions between people within Gabes from the area of Jara and from the area of Menzel. Although there are people who marry across the lines, it is rare. Anything that is done wrong is said to be the fault of people from the other area. El Hamma itself has a large percentage of disabled people. One of the reasons for this is intermarriage. Domestic violence is also prevalent in the community.
As we continue southward along the Algerian border, the dry shrubs and bushes of the desert lands take over the landscape in the walaya of Gafsa. The graceful palm trees of oases in this area beckon a welcome that is as old as the desert itself. Traveling through the region gives a great appreciation for the connection between life and water; a rocky hill located between Gafsa and an adjacent oasis gives a perspective on this interplay of life and water. On one side are the clay brick buildings of the sandy town, and to the south is the green expanse of an oasis.
The residents of this area, the Gafsans, are often among the more bold and outspoken in the nation, expressing their dissatisfaction with economic conditions. About 30 years ago, the Libyans sent in 300 soldiers and incited a revolt against the government, but this attempt failed. In recent years, economic hardships stemming from the phosphorus mines have caused some dissension and uprisings.
There seems to be more interest in Christian radio and satellite TV programs in this region, and a handful of believers are known to be here. A few more have become followers of Christ through connections made when they have moved to the capital city. But it is hard for these Gafsans, having experienced the “better life” of the busy capital city, to move back to their rural environment where there is little fellowship available.
Among Tunisians, Jenadeb (the citizens of Jendouba) have a reputation for being more openly engaged in the “dark arts” of magic. One of the Tunisian pastors who grew up here would confirm the dark side was prevalent as he was growing up in the village. The locals would all consider themselves Muslim, but many would also practice things very close to witchcraft. Therefore, the power talked about in Acts 2 is crucial to seeing the Gospel of the Kingdom move forward in Jendouba.
There have also been a number of believers from Jendouba that have come to know the Lord and are walking with Him. So on the one side the spiritual battle (between two kingdoms) is strong in this area, but the Lord has allowed for some to call on His name. Almost all of these people have moved away from Jendouba and are living in other cities.
Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved (Acts 2:43-47). Pray that God would raise up a church in this part of Tunisia.
that keep Jenadeb away from Him. It is only by His Spirit that anyone can say that Jesus Christ is Lord. The situation seems to have improved (a little greater spiritual interest), but let us seek Him for more. Let us ask God to step in and do the work only He can do.
The picture in the Bible of light and darkness can fuel our prayers. We need to pray much light into Jendouba: “…giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:12-14). When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
Ask any Tunisian, they will know: Kairouan is the fourth Holy City of Islam. It earned the title 1300 years ago when it was established for the purpose of spreading Islam across North Africa. It has been called “A Lighthouse for Islam for all Time”… but we trust in the One who has promised a new name.
In the city is the oldest mosque in North Africa, and it boasts the oldest minaret in the world. Nearby rests a saint’s tomb called “Sidi Sahbi.” Here is buried a companion of Mohammed, a barber who once cut Mohammed’s hair. The barber opened the skin on his arm, inserted some hair and let the skin grow over it, so the great man’s hair was always with him. People come to the tomb to request healing, blessing and favor. If their request is granted, they must keep a “pledge” or a promise that they made to the saint, often involving a gift of food for the poor.
Although it is reputed to be a Holy City, Kairouan is one of the least desirable places to live or even work in the minds of Tunisians. It is considered conservative to the point of being backward. There is an oppressive atmosphere of hopelessness over the city, and people are considered “hardhearted.”
We recognize that in this identity, our conflict has little to do with the people themselves, it is with spiritual powers and principalities and strongholds that we wrestle. We ask you to join us in inviting angelic hosts to claim this city for the new name that God has declared: The City of Praise, The City of God’s Delight (Isaiah 62:4,12). They will be the people redeemed of the Lord, known as The Desirable Place and The City No Longer Forsaken.
In the shadow of the Atlas Mountains, the foothills here are shades of red and brown and include Tunisia’s highest peak, Mt. Chambi, with an elevation of 1,544 meters. The mountains, as well as the original structures of the city of Kasserine, reflect the meaning of this name which comes from “Kasr,” meaning castle.
Sprawling Roman ruins are found in the town of Sbeitla, in addition to a well-preserved baptismal pool. During the early centuries, when Christianity was the prevalent religion, new believers would pass into the pool on one side to be baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Then, they walked out the other side into newness of Life in Faith. We are asking that this newness of life would be the mark of those who come to faith in these days as well.
There are a handful of followers of Christ in this district. At one time, they gathered together. The local governor put pressure on the group and, since that time, little contact or fellowship has been available to these believers. They probably live under surveillance and pressure. There may be others who secretly follow Jesus, and still more who are seeking the truth, possibly through media programs.
Pray for these hidden believers to be protected from all harm, discouragement, doubt and deceit. Pray they will grow in grace, and that God will provide gatherings for them with other believers.
Kebili is in the central southern region and is famous for its oases, the most well-known of these is the city of “Douz,” a common tourist destination (the Sahara Desert and camel riding are the great attraction here!).
There is less information of social significance to report about this region, as it is not currently considered influential in economy or politics. However, it does claim historical significance: here are found the oldest oases (and, thus, places with signs of life) in all of North Africa. To visit an oasis is to forever reform your understanding of how tightly water and life are intertwined. The oases of Kebili produce the famous “Deglat il Nour” (Dates of Light): if you hold them up to the light you can see through their rich, sweet flesh. The combined flavor of honey and sunshine are God’s perfect handiwork in this ancient “sweet treat,” still a great favorite for Tunisians.
Kebili’s population is more diverse than most parts of Tunisia. Prior to the arrival of the Arabs, who settled here during the westward expansion of the Islamic Empire (late 7th c.— 9th c.), Berber nomads populated this area and their presence is still evident. Additionally, there are descendants of black Africans more in evidence here than elsewhere, as Kebili was at one time the local center of slave trade–providing Europe with this human commodity and leaving a shadow over the history of the area.
Pooled resources have not produced much information about those who have found Jesus as the Way, Truth and Life, in this region. Please intercede that any seeds sewn will germinate and bring forth fruit. We know God loves to show his power in places humanly seen as insignificant, so we can expect great answers to our prayers for this region of Kebili! As you pray for the Father to pour His Spirit in abundance over the nation of Tunisia, please pray Isaiah 44:3-4 for the desert district of Kebili.
Kef, located in the mid-portion of this border region with Algeria, has a sensational mountainside perch, overlooking pine groved hills. In these beautiful foothills of the Atlas Mountains, there are excellent water springs. At the center of Kef, an ancient water source with spiritual history pre-dating Islam is visited by many who take the “holy” water to sprinkle in their homes as a means of blessing. A harvest festival includes traditional pilgrimage to this spring, with extravagant feasts to usher in a good harvest season. Faith in such practices usually results in cycles of bondage, deception and despair; Kef is known among Tunisians as the center of marabout practice (intercession to and veneration of saints or godly people who are deceased).
It is not surprising, therefore, that there has been little growth in the Kingdom in this region. If there are hidden believers, prayer for their growth and for their light to be revealed is essential, as “a city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” Pray for the Light to break through the darkness with a new dawn of hope for this city and region.
The following scriptures may be useful to fuel your prayers: Isaiah 45:8, Isaiah 41:18, Ezekiel 47:1-12
There are spiritual fortresses in this city. Please pray for God’s intervention on the Muslim population here that denies the basic fundamental principles of the Christian faith. Pray against fear, both of the community and of offending God. Ask that the spiritual heritage that has made the people of this city resistant to the Gospel will be broken.
If you want to pray for the eastern reach of the country of Tunisia, you will find yourself (in reality or on a map–prayers work both ways!) in the region of Mahdia, again with a regional capital by the same name. Mahdia has a “tongue of land” that reaches further into the eastern Mediterranean than other sections of the coastline. Thus, prayers and promises “from the West to the East” take on special meaning.
Mahdia is the largest fishing port of the country; a third of the national fish industry is caught and processed in canning plants here. (In a country that puts tuna on everything including salad and pizza, this is key info!) Other than this, history provides the main points that claim any fame. Dating to the Phoenician time, Mahdia has long been an influential port city. It has been claimed by many civilizations over the centuries, with more “recent” fame as a pirate’s haven.
But all who are left shout and sing for joy. Those in the west praise the Lord’s majesty.
In eastern lands, give glory to the Lord. In the lands beyond the sea, praise the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. We hear songs of praise from the ends of the earth, songs that give glory to the Righteous One (Isaiah 24:14-16) As we pray for Mahdia, please take Isaiah 24:14-16 before the Father’s Throne.
There are some believers in this area, but they are isolated by distance and cultural pressure, and have little opportunity to fellowship with others who follow the One we know as our Messiah. Pray for their faith to grow despite the difficulties. Pray that the Son of God, the Messiah, would be known in Mahdia.
The district of Manouba sits on the western edge of the capital, Tunis. Looking out to the west, you feel you are in the agricultural bounty of wheat fields and orange groves. Looking eastward, the bustle of the growing capital city with its frenetic traffic noise greets you, and among the busyness of commerce, there are silos storing the grain, blending the two images.
Manouba is a proud site for one of the national universities, drawing students from across the nation and offering employment to many. There are different disciplines offered: Humanities, Arts, Journalism and Computer Science. Often in what students write, there is a poignant cry for understanding of the needs they wrestle with–psychological, financial, physical and spiritual pressures, in addition to frustrations with the difficulties of the educational system. This is a time of searching and sifting new ideas in their lives, hopefully seeking truth that will guide them.
A shrine to the holy woman Saida Manoubia is also a prominent landmark where hundreds of people (often women) come to seek help, healing or good luck–for a good marriage, in their studies, or power over curses. When prayers are made, they come with a pledge that if the prayers are answered, they will fulfill a promise to give money to the poor or prepare food for the hundreds who visit on Sundays. Some will even slaughter a sheep to fulfill this pledge.
Manouba is also home to Razi Psychiatric Hospital, servicing many from all parts of the nation who seek help for mental disorders. Pray that those who come here would find the Great Physician and live in the healing power of His Love.
You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16
Please join us in praying Matthew 11:28-29 and Matthew 5:14-16 for Manouba.
Pray for the students: they represent potential leadership and the future of the nation. Pray that those caught in the cycle of bondage will seek God and find Jesus, who alone provided salvation and healing through His death and resurrection, which broke all curses of sin. Pray that the people who live, work and study in this area would seek the one true, living, loving God. Pray that they would come to Him who is the burden lifter. Pray for staff, doctors and nurses working here to have compassion and patience for the sick who come in desperation.
The city of Medenine marks the crossroads of the southwestern entrance to Tunisia from Libya. All roads entering the country through this portal run through a maze of customs and security police along the main travel routes. Medenine was established as the capital of the Ouerghemma League of three Amazigh (Berber) groups. It was also the chief town of the Southern Military Territories during the French protectorate (1881-1955). Physically, the town is known for its ghorfas, honeycomb-like aboveground granaries, also used for dwelling. Trade takes place here for dates, olives, cereals and esparto grass (used for making ropes, sandals, baskets, mats and other durable articles).
This is a unique part of the nation, as inhabitants consist of ethnic Arabs and Berbers, but religiously the people are both Muslim and Jewish. Some of the highest concentrations of ethnic Berbers and religious Jews live in this district of Tunisia. At one time, a robust Jewish community coexisted with Muslims, now the numbers are quite small. Underneath a relatively peaceful facade, conflicts that are centuries old can rage between individuals and groups. Prejudice and judgments are easily made, but are often masked by a well-regulated social exterior.
The Amazigh (known by Arabs and Westerners as Berbers) populated this region from the time of the Phoenicians. Many of the few remaining in the region cling to their ancient language and culture which appears to be swallowed up by the dominant Arabic culture and language which surrounds them.
By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures (Proverbs 24:3-4). Pray that through the cultural and economic issues that keep life unsettled, many will search for truth and spiritual reality. Pray that through media and supernatural dreams, Jesus will become a reality in their lives. Pray through Proverbs 24:3-4 for this area. Pray that the house of God will be built in this region with a strong foundation of wisdom and understanding.
The city of Monastir–some would say the jewel of the nation. If you don’t have an opinion, you need to visit and see for yourself! Or, if you’ve seen Jesus of Nazareth by Zifferelli or the Life of Brian by Monty Python, then you have indeed caught a glimpse of the setting, at least.
The walaya of Monastir (name base: monastery) has been called a microcosm of Tunisia with its variety of industries– fishing, farming, factories (mostly textile) and tourism. Along with these, the local universities (mainly focused on the sciences) are a strong draw for migratory population from rural parts of Tunisia and also Algeria. The region is quite densely populated, with many hopefuls coming for education or employment. During the summers, the city empties of students and fills with tourists, both from Europe and other parts of North Africa. At the city center, the prominent “Ribat” (fortress) recalls the less peaceful era.
The very pleasant climate, along with the close proximity to the Muslim holy city of Kairouan, made Monastir a popular destination for retired Muslim scholars in past centuries. A trend of being buried in the cemetery at the town center, overlooking the sea, resulted in a tradition of bringing famous leaders here for burial. A few cults have developed around these tombs, in keeping with the practices of Folk Islam which are strong in this region. The Sidi Mazri shrine, as an example, is named for a Muslim scholar from Kairuoan, and hosts an annual festival involving animal sacrifice in prayer for fertility needs or illness during pregnancy. Several places in Monastir are named after this famous expert in Islamic law, now considered an Islamic saint.
A visit to Monastir is incomplete without a mention of the most recent hero of the town. President Habib Bourguiba, who led the nation to independence from French imperialism in 1956, was both born and buried here. He remained president from 1957 until 1987 when he was impeached on medical grounds, and replaced with the current president. He is best known for his reforms in education and women’s rights among many positive social reforms, and is well-loved by the general population. His death in the year 2000, at the age of 96, is recent and well-remembered history.
Pray that truth and understanding will bless this city and be laid as a foundation for the House of God to come into fullness here. Pray that the people would be released from the spirit of ignorance. Many people believe the way they do because others have told them what they are to believe. This has held people in bondage for centuries. There are several people who are hearing the good news week to week, and we need to pray that those seeds will plant deeply and that the beautiful love of Jesus will shine brightly in their lives. There is a sense of pride in this place, being the home of Tunisia’s first president and “jewel of the Mediterranean.” Pray that this spirit of pride would be replaced with a spirit of humility.
This is the Cap Bon peninsula, the beautiful cape, and the walaya of Nabeul (name coming from the roman “Neapolis”– new city). For those with a stress-filled life, a weekend getaway to the Cap Bon is a perfect remedy: driving through rolling hills dotted with orchards and grazing sheep, stopping for coffee in sleepy fishing villages, visiting hot springs perched on the Mediterranean with a local tourist flavor, or taking a walk through Nabeul city, a hub of foreign tourist trade–there is something for everyone.
With foreign tourists, Nabeul is primarily famous for the locally made pottery, which is a popular item in Tunisian homes, as well. You can easily find workshops where this is being made; avoiding the insistence of avid pottery merchants is close to impossible! Near the center of town is a giant monument–a pottery bowl filled with oranges (local produce). The monument marks the region’s two identities with one weather-beaten, inelegant ornament.
A visit to the far northern town of Houaria (windy point) on the Cap Bon will take you to Roman sites, undistinguished by the actual remains, but memorable for their proximity to rock quarry caves nearby. These cone-shaped caves have side entrances now, but once were accessible only from above; once inside, escape was impossible. Convicts and slaves were lowered into the caves to live out their existence in the dim light, quarrying rock for the buildings of the great Roman Empire. The price of greatness echoes here in the dim quiet of hollowed rock: a living death.
Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the Lord, who do their work in darkness and think, “Who sees us? Who will know?” You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, “You did not make me?” Can the pot say to the potter, “You know nothing?” (Isaiah 45:15-16).
No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and have given us over to our sins. Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. Do not be angry beyond measure, Lord; do not remember our sins forever. Oh, look on us, we pray, for we are all your people (Isaiah 64:7-9).
Isaiah draws several sharp images of clay in a potter’s hands. The absurdity of clay forming itself and speaking to the potter on equal footing is an image easily understood. Yet our human propensity is to fashion our lives as best we can, and to that end we strive for hope. Only in submission to the Great Potter do we find freedom and hope–lives that are shaped with meaning. For those working endlessly in the caves of legalism (Islam) and hopelessness (materialism), the shadows can only be dispelled by the One who IS Light. Pray for a powerful revelation that this submission would lead to the ONE who is the Way, and that in His Light is Life, Truth and Freedom.
Sfax is the second largest city and second largest port, and the heart of industry in the south. With nearly 1,000,000 inhabitants, many of whom enjoy spacious homes and properties, it sprawls from the coast over to the sandy edge of the desert. Well-known as the city where people place a high value on their industrious (collective) nature, it is economically robust. Even on the biggest feast days of the year, you will find businesses open around town–someone hoping to make some money if they can meet a need.
Sfaxians are also known for their loyalty to their community. If people move elsewhere for work, they will often return to Sfax to buy goods–hopefully at a better price, but also with the insistence that if it comes from Sfax it is higher in quality. There is pride also taken in the fact that the city doesn’t depend on tourism (foreign money) for its well-being. Because Sfax is easily accessible to Libyans, Sfax services both commercial as well as medical needs for many Libyans.
There are a couple of established communities of faith in the city, one with a full-time pastor and congregation of sub-Saharan African students. A small indigenous Sfaxian church also exists. In addition, there is a community of Catholic clergy who have lived and prayed in this city for a long time, and have gained a favourable reputation as upright and trustworthy people.
I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them (Isaiah: 42:16).
Pray for courage and strength for those who walk out their faith in this city, both national and international believers. Pray for the ongoing discipleship and teaching for the new believers. Pray that all the believers will experience the presence of God in their lives and the desire to care for others in the body. Pray against the spirit of criticism and complaining, two common practices among both believers and nonbelievers. Pray against pride and haughtiness that causes everyone to want to be the leader. Pray that instead there would be a spirit of humility and elevating others above themselves, causing everyone to want to practice servanthood. Pray also that the power of the living God is unleashed in the faith of those who believe–overcoming strongholds and ushering in a bold faith that would be a sharp contrast to the half-hearted allegiance to Islam and the deliberate devotion to materialism.
In this district, the remains of Roman times include church buildings, a testament to when the Body of Christ had a place in Sidi Bou Zid society. Once again, there are dreams that such an influence would begin to emerge in the region. For many years, there have been Brothers and Sisters in the small town that is the capital of the district (walaya), who have struggled to grow and keep the faith. In their daily lives, the local economy and the opposition of family and authorities have dampened their efforts to relate to one another in a way that allows them to flourish as one body.
Since the government applies heavy taxes to the digging of new wells, there has been an effort to find and refurbish wells that date back to the Roman time period. These wells have fallen into disrepair and are sometimes unclean, with no more than a trickle of water. With a bit of community effort, some of them have been cleaned, covered and fenced. In this, the action of renewing these wells has provided a supply of clean water to a number of families, often as many as twenty. Ezekiel 47:1-12 shows the power of fresh water.
In 2011, Tunisia started the Arab world with revolution. It was in the city of Sidi Bou Zid where a university aged man was so frustrated that he lit himself on fire. The revolt then spread to other cities and to Tunis and the fall of the government.
Pray that the radio and TV will be used to spread His good news in powerful ways. Please remember the few Brothers and Sisters and ask that, despite the opposition, there would be growth that would lead to fruitfulness. Pray for the ancient stream of Living Water to spring forth from deep places underground, as well. Once, this area was a witness of the Truth, the Way. Pray that, once again, people here will encounter His presence and walk in the power of the Holy Spirit. Pray that this encounter will bring whole family groups into the Knowledge of the Redeemer. Pray for those who live and work here, far from the busy life and the options of fellowship that are part of bigger cities. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers (Psalm 1:3). Pray that those who have claimed to walk in faith, will pursue their faith with integrity and passion and that, as Life springs forth, many will come to drink the Water of Life.
Siliana is a moderately sized walayas in the northern third of the country. It is off the beaten tourist path, unless you are on a quest for the best of the Roman sites.
In Siliana, you will find “Dougga,” a remarkably well-preserved Roman city perched atop a formidable hill with a breathtaking view of the surrounding valleys (the Roman “bread basket”). A fine selection of cereal grains are still grown and processed here. Elsewhere in the province, in the 1950s, the government replaced many of the fields with orchards of olive, apricot and almond trees. In spite of the combination of rich soil and ideal climate, Siliana is not a wealthy or well-known part of the country.
During the 3rd century, a strong Christian presence was documented in the area of modern Tunisia. The Siliana region seemed to have several established fellowships of significant strength. There is a heritage of Biblical faith alongside the foundations of Roman worship of false gods.
Siliana once held the power of North and South relations in the trade industry, and represented wheat–the power of life and money for Rome.
There has been some response to the Gospel in this region, but fellowships have not been established. Pray that the powerful forces of Life will flow through the hills and valleys of this region. Pray that the people of this region will recognize and give honor to Jesus. Pray also for the believers that are living near here or living in Tunis. May they be able to bring Jesus back to their cities/villages and their extended families.
The influential, university city of Sousse, capital of the district of Sousse, is located on the Mediterranean coastline, about halfway between Tunis and Sfax. The third largest city in the country, Sousse residents enjoy the bustle of a growing economy due to the influx of money from tourism as well as a thriving textile industry. Production plants from Europe use local labor at cheaper rates to produce many clothing items–check your labels, you might be surprised to find a few clothes in your closet that were made in Tunisia-probably Sousse.
The reputation for a robust economy attracts people from the “rif” (pronounced “reef” meaning “countryside”) who are in need of jobs and are usually unskilled. Many find legitimate employment, but others are not so fortunate. Sadly, the thriving tourist trade offers opportunities that the desperate can’t ignore: many Europeans come on holiday in search of a bedroom companion for their weeks in town, and Sousse is famous for providing this service. It is not unusual to see a local with someone 20, 30, even 40 years older. This can determine the local expectations of Western lifestyle and values, and is an insipid influence on the local moral climate, producing a more secularized city culture.
Underneath several city blocks in central Sousse are catacombs dating back to Roman times. Here, men and women of Faith in Christ met in secret and some were martyred and buried. A short walk through the underground labyrinth (only partially excavated and open to public tours) conjures up vivid images from the past, of a time when faith in the Son of God was entered into with serious knowledge of the cost of discipleship. A display of dry bones (behind plexiglass) is a fitting reminder of the prophecies of Ezekiel, calling the dry bones to life. At one time, the churches of the area that is now Tunisia were vibrant and plentiful. Today, there is an ongoing struggle for existence and growth.
Pray for the dry bones to live and breathe with relevance in the culture once more. As you pray for the Living Breath of God to stir this city, please pray through John 15 above. Pray that believers in the city of Sousse will pursue this deep intimacy with the Father that will result in the vibrant walk of faith that Christ demonstrated. Ask that the Body in this city would be characterized by a passion for His presence, and a prayerful heart that would result in bringing much fruit and much glory to the Father’s name. Pray that in response to our prayers, God will do far beyond what we have asked or imagined (Ephesians 3:20).
Famous mostly as a fictional planet in the Star Wars movies, Tataouine (pronounced: ta-ta-ween; rhymes with Halloween) has few great claims either currently or from the past. But like most places, its history gives clues as to how to pray it into the fullness of God’s purposes, since there is no place of insignificance in God’s economy.
Tataouine, located in the narrow southern tip of the country, is in the corridor through which all overland invaders entered the country. Semi-nomadic Berbers were the occupants of the region until they were chased out by the Islamic invaders. They fled to the mountains, but there are several Berber villages (Chenini, Douiret, Guermessa, Ghomrassen) around Tataouine. Tataouine, besides being lyrically pleasing enough for Hollywood, is a Berber word meaning “source of water.”
During French occupation, Tatouine hosted one of the harshest French military prisons, which has now been renovated as an army barracks for the local army. The French saying, “being sent to Tataouine,”conjured the image of being punished by being banished to the harsh life of chain-gang work in the desert. Since the region hosts the large El-Borma petroleum fields, it is no longer the lowest rung on the economy ladder.
Although Islamic saints’ tombs are found in all parts of the country, these whitewashed buildings identified by their domed roofs are particularly plentiful in this region. Ceremonies that resemble seances are a regular practice: people come, usually at night, and dance to the beat of a bendir (drum) until they enter a trance. The hope is that they will be healed by the spiritual power of the venerated saint in the tomb. This is a folk Islamic practice that is considered heretical by faithful Muslims, but is still prevalent throughout the nation and leads to much bondage.
As we pray for transformation in this part of the country, we cry out for the mercy of the Almighty to bring life to the region. May this source of water become a source of living hope, and draw many to the Lord Jesus. Please use the verses from Isaiah to fuel your prayers.
As we push further south along the border, the sandy edge of the Sahara is dotted with the welcome green of many small oases, as well as a few famous, large ones. As merchants in times past made their way northward across the giant wasteland, the oases of Tozeur and Nefta welcomed them with their trade goods–salt, slaves, etc.
The oasis where Tozeur has grown into a bustling tourist center boasts over 250,000 date palms on 11sq kms of the harsh desert land. These dates, called “Deglet al nour” (fingers of light), are found in specialty markets around the world, famous for their sweetness and smooth texture. Sadly, modern methods of water management have depleted the underground reserves and conservationists are concerned for the future of these oases.
In this part of the southern region, there is little known of those who follow the Lord Jesus. But there are many who believe that even in the scorching heat of the desert, some have found Living Water.
Pray that despite the obstacles, the River of God will flow freely into this part of the nation, and many will come to find truth in their innermost parts. Pray this promise over the southern, desert region that lies under the scorching sun.
As the national capital and largest city in Tunisia, Tunis is the hub of the nation, with government offices and ministries (health, education, agriculture, social services, foreign affairs, etc.) all found there. Additionally, there are embassies and national as well as international businesses, including the head offices for the African Development Bank. Decisions made in these places affect the economic, employment, entertainment and spiritual realities faced by 10 million Tunisians every day. This decision making power, held in the hands of so few, handle and sometimes mishandle the nation’s affairs.
Tunis shares a typical fast-paced lifestyle found in most large cities, with people spending more time in public transport or in their cars getting from place to place. This is coveted time, away from family leisure time, or relaxation time in front of the TV. A wide range of economic status is easily visible here, with many from the countryside coming to find work in this streaming city. But the influx of laborers has burdened the already over-taxed infrastructure, and this adds to the sense of stress over the city.
As Jesus himself taught, He came to reach all people, but His message was heard most clearly by the“sick.”The healthy don’t need a physician. Although there are significantly more believers in Tunis than the rest of the nation put together, for the past five to eight years, the numbers of those coming into the church have almost been equaled with the numbers going out. Depth of belief and faith is still a strong need in this city where everything present in the nation can be found–good and bad.
Pray for those in positions of power to use their influence for the good of the people and for the freedom of the Gospel. Pray that those seeking would find the Lord Jesus, and those who have found Him would pursue knowing Him more. Pray that the voice of Wisdom would be heard calling in the streets to a people who are often not even sure of what they are searching for. May Truth be revealed and chosen. Pray that those who see would grow in depth, and that those who don’t yet see would have their eyes opened.
Zaghouan is in the northern third of the country. It is off the beaten tourist path, unless you are on a quest for the best of the Roman sites. Zaghouan has a claim to Roman grandeur in the aqueducts that originated here, supplying water to ancient Carthage. Additionally, the remains of an impressive temple built to honor and celebrate the gods who sourced this water has recently been restored and protected by the current government. The ancient acclaim and obeisance for these water gods has echoed through the walls in the words written on a modern placard, acknowledging to whom the ancients accorded the source.
During the 3rd century, a strong Christian presence was documented in the area of modern Tunisia. The Zaghouan region seemed to have several established fellowships of significant strength. There is a heritage of biblical faith alongside the foundations of Roman worship of false gods.
Zaghouan once held the power of North and South relations in the trade industry, and represented water and wheat–the power of life and death.
Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost (Isaiah 55:1). And as they do this, recognizing God as the giver of this gift, may they also find His One and Only who came with this promise: Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14).
As we pray this blessing over the land, asking for miraculous breakthrough, let the image of Hagar, weeping beside her dying son, both perishing for lack of water–suddenly confronted with the presence of God and the revelation of a living well at her side–inspire us with faith for this nation belonging to the “sons of Ishmael”. Pray also for the believers that are living near here or living in Tunis. May they be able to bring Jesus back to their cities/villages and their extended families.