Algeria’s Council of State has returned the historic chapel building in the Mediterranean port city of Mostaganem to the Eglise protestante d’Algérie (EPA), that is, the Protestant Church of Algeria.
However, they banned holding worship services there.
The court will return the colonial-era chapel keys, while holding a prominent pastor on trial for evangelism, another issue.
The EPA leased the chapel to the Ministry of Health in 1976, but when the clinic was moved in 2012, the local governor provided the chapel to an Islamic charity.
The EPA then filed a lawsuit in 2019 and won the case. However, Mostaganem authorities failed to implement the court’s decision. In the meantime, three of Algeria’s largest churches were banned from holding worship services and were closed.
“Just because we have the keys,” said Nourredine Benzid, general secretary of the EPA, “doesn’t mean the case is over.”
The same year, 20 other churches were also ordered to suspend services. Among them, 13 churches were shut down, including Benzid’s Source of Life Church in Makuda.
As such, the worship and ministry of Protestants in Algeria is far from free.
The EPA, established in 1974 and officially recognized by the government in 2011, is a church organization that serves as an umbrella for Protestantism in Algeria.
But while a 2006 ordinance guaranteed non-Muslims the protection of the state, it also stipulated that worship can be conducted only in buildings approved for that purpose by the National Commission for Non-Muslim Religious Groups.
According to this ordinance, not a single church has been licensed so far.
Furthermore, the EPA must reapply for its own licensing every four years. In 2014, the application was ignored. In 2018, when new paperwork was submitted, leaders were told to deal first with their 2014 file.
The nation ranks 24th on Open Doors’ 2021 World Watch List of the most difficult countries for followers of Jesus to live in. Only three years ago, it ranked No. 42.
Source: News Power, Christianity Today
22 So Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord for yourselves, to serve Him.”
And they said, “We are witnesses!”
23 “Now therefore,” he said, “put away the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your heart to the Lord God of Israel.”
(Joshua 24:22-23 NKJV)
LORD God, true King of Algeria! We lift up this nation to You today. A church building has been returned, but worship has been banned at 20 others. The Algerian church is seeking permission to worship, but no congregation has received it yet.
Lord! We pray for the Algerian church to rise up in holiness and be able to worship You, not in buildings, but in Spirit and truth! May they no longer kneel to a government’s continued oppression and persecution, but boldly and freely find the courage to worship You everywhere, in their homes and even in the streets.
If there is any compromise with the world, any double heart in us, the reluctance to suffer hardship, would You put all of that away and turn our hearts to You, Lord God!
May the church of Algeria choose the Lord and serve Him alone. May they rise up boldly as witnesses of Christ, proclaiming this holy gospel in Algeria and among all nations!
Through the Algerian church, would Algeria and all of the Maghreb window return to You, Lord. May we serve only our holy and beautiful Lamb of God and do the works of the Holy Spirit! Amen!