As Algerian Christians continue to request prayer in the face of pressure by the government, they are grateful that two recently-closed churches in Oran Province have been permitted to re-open.
Churches in Ain Turk and Oran were closed in November 2017 and February 2018. On Sunday 10 June, the Governor of Oran Province signed an order authorising the unconditional re-opening of these two places of worship. Church leaders were notified of the order which was also issued to the police in the relevant areas. Security officials proceeded to remove the seals that had been placed on the doors of the church premises. (MEC initially reported claims that the church in El Ayaida, Oran Province, had also been allowed to reopen, but it has now been confirmed that the El Ayaida church, sealed in February 2018, remains closed).
The two churches permitted to re-open are affiliated to the Protestant Church of Algeria (l’Église Protestante d’Algérie). The Governor’s order allowing the re-opening of these churches does not confer official registration under the 2006 ordinance governing non-Muslim worship which stipulates that churches must obtain permission from a national committee. In practice, that committee never meets – so no church application has officially been considered or approved.
Since November 2017, officials have been conducting church inspections, ostensibly to test compliance with safety regulations but in practice to also scrutinise licencing arrangements. At least ten churches have been closed or ordered to cease all activities. The most recent closures were on 26 May 2018 when churches in Ait-Mellikeche and Maatkas were ordered to close.
Algerian Christians are grateful for the many who are standing with them in prayer. They ask for continued prayer that:
- the two churches in Oran Province will face no further interference as they resume activities
- other churches that were recently closed would soon be permitted to reopen, and that no further action will be taken against those churches still under investigation
- Algerian Christians will know the Lord’s peace, wisdom and guidance in the face of ongoing pressures
- church leaders will have discernment in all dealings with the authorities
- the authorities will bring a complete end to the campaign to close churches and limit Christians’ freedom to worship
- those responsible for the closure orders would know the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the forgiveness and new life offered by Jesus