House of Hope is led by an Algerian pastor who has a passion to see the Church in Algeria unified and mobilized for evangelism across North Africa. He speaks openly about the status of the Church and advocates for religious rights for Christians. Despite the challenges and dangers, he believes that now is God’s time for the Algerian Church. He is married and has three daughters.
In the mid-1970s, the cause of Christ in Algeria seemed to take a big hit when practically all foreign groups were expelled from the country. But God promised to build His Church, and He is doing just that. Our partner House of Hope began as a summer camp ministry. Today, it has a staff of 30 whose programs include church planting, summer camps, a Bible training institute, media programs, and humanitarian and micro-enterprise programs.
Buoalem is from western Algeria. At the age of 13, he began practicing Islam. He learned the Koran by heart in a Koranic school, and went from mosque to mosque, urging people to observe the Koran. His father spent a lot of money on him, hoping that one day he would be an imam in a mosque. One day, he went to the parish of a priest in his town to try to convert him to Islam. There, he met an Algerian Christian who shared Jesus with him and gave him a Bible. He read the Bible and discovered that it invites humans to love. Day and night, he discussed with the Algerian Christian the differences between Christianity and Islam. When he became a Christian, his family threw him out of the house and severed all relations with him, but he remains faithful.
Algeria’s population is around 35 million with 99 percent being Sunni Muslim. For decades, missionary efforts seemed to have no effect, but in the last ten years, God has been opening hearts in a powerful way.
The two main people groups in Algeria are the Arabs and the Berbers. Very few believers exist among the Arabs. Conversely, among the Berbers there are now about 60,000 believers of which 95 percent are from Muslim background. Many are members of the officially registered Protestant Church of Algeria, and their churches are quite large with organized meetings in church buildings or converted garages.
Even through the decade of terrorism in the 1990s they were never a target and enjoyed the freedom to worship openly. However, in March 2006, a new law was issued concerning freedom of worship and religious minorities. It prohibited evangelism as well as religious meetings except in places with legal permits. As a result, many of the locations used for worship were forced to close. Christians who actively shared their faith found themselves in court, accused of evangelizing Muslims.
With the introduction of these laws, church attendance decreased. Today, despite ongoing persecution and harassment, the Church in this area is growing again.
Though just 15 fellowships exist outside the Kabyle Mountains, an increased interest in Christianity is being felt, and many believers are engaged in new efforts to plant churches throughout the country.
Timothy Training, House of Hope
Two of the main challenges facing the growing churches in Algeria are discipleship of believers and training of new leaders. Sending Algerian Christians overseas for training has not been the best strategy in the past because most of the students never return to Algeria.
To meet this challenge, House of Hope began training local Christian leaders within the local church environment through its Timothy Discipleship and Leadership Training School. The goal of the Timothy Training School is to provide training for church workers in a one-year residential program, then send them to their home areas to evangelize, disciple believers, and plant churches. Training topics include church history, the major doctrines, character, apologetics, church planting, and discipleship.
Over the past nine years, 158 students have graduated from the Timothy School. All were recommended by their local churches and have contributed toward the cost of their training.
The trainees are under the close watch of local authorities who often demand the names of each participant. They are later targeted for intimidation and harassment when they return to their hometowns. Partners would like to provide these brave men and women support for their training. Gifts to this project will be used for support for trainers and scholarships for the students ($2,175 each). Pastors and leaders trained by the Timothy School have become some of the key leaders in the Algerian Church today.
Micro Enterprise, House of Hope
After converting to Christianity, new believers often find it difficult to find a job. In fact, unemployment among believers from a Muslim background is as high as 90 percent. For the Church to grow, there simply must be a way for believers to make a living locally. This is important to retain a witnessing presence in non-Christian communities as well as to demonstrate to seekers that believers are not doomed to a life of utter poverty.
Four years ago, House of Hope launched a quail farm to aid in income generation among Algerian believers. Quail is a delicacy in Algeria and is in high demand. The farm currently generates a considerable amount of income but House of Hope would like to expand it to meet the growing demand and provide more jobs. Currently a pastor and his wife are supported through the farm, but with additional capacity House of Hope would be able to support at least two church planters and a number of persecuted believers on a part-time or full-time basis. It will also improve sustainability for House of Hope and its ministries by generating income.
The farm currently has a 2,000-egg incubator but the team would like to expand this to a 12,000-egg incubator. This would dramatically increase capacity, job creation, and profits.
Bibles and Literature, House of Hope
The role of the Algerian Bible Society is to provide Christians in Algeria with the Bibles, New Testaments, and Christian literature they need. However, for nearly five years, they have not been allowed to import Christian literature. This has led to a severe shortage of Christian literature in the country.
For the last four years, at great risk to both parties, they have contracted to print this literature in partnership with a local printshop. Since then, tens of thousands of Bibles, New Testaments, and Christian books have been printed and distributed to believers throughout the country. The demand is so great that this printer can barely keep up with the workload.
House of Hope has been working alongside the Bible society for many years and would like to print 10,000 Bibles, New Testaments, and Christian books for adults and children in the coming year. A warehouse fire in 2010 destroyed much of the society’s inventory. House of Hope is asking for your urgent help in replenishing these resources.