Algerian Christians request prayer as the campaign by authorities to close churches intensifies. Early in the morning of 2 September, gendarmes came to the Church of the Prince of Peace in Ighzer Amokrane and sealed the building.
A closure order for this church had been issued in mid-August. When gendarmes attempted to seal the building on 28 August, Christians occupied the church and refused to leave.
Representatives of l’Église Protestante d’Algérie (EPA), the legally recognised umbrella group of Protestant churches in Algeria, said the closure was illegal as it had not been ordered by a court. They held a meeting with provincial authorities on 28 August, at which the authorities said they would consider the issue. No more was heard until the church was sealed on 2 September.
The same day, leaders of another EPA-affiliated church, in Maatkas, were summoned by the authorities. They were subjected to prolonged interrogation but are grateful that they were not informed that their church is to be closed.
Since November 2017, most EPA-affiliated churches have been challenged to prove they have licenses according to the requirement of a 2006 ordinance regulating non-Muslim worship which stipulates that all such places must be licenced. However, the government, ignoring applications from churches, has yet to issue any licence for a church building under this ordinance. Several churches have since received written orders to cease all activities. At least seven church buildings have been sealed.
Algerian Christians urge us to pray that:
- church and EPA leaders would know the Lord’s peace, wisdom and guidance in the face of the growing pressure
- the authorities will end their systematic campaign to close churches and limit Christians’ freedom to worship
- churches that have been closed would soon be permitted to re-open, and that no further action will be taken against those churches still under investigation
- the regulations governing non-Muslim worship would be amended and justly implemented, so that Christians will be able to worship freely
- those responsible for the closure orders would know the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the forgiveness and new life offered by Jesus