Introduction / History In the first few centuries after Christ, Christianity spread throughout North Africa. A strong church was established in present-day Tunisia despite intense persecution from the Romans. Ancient baptisteries and sites of martyrdom can be found among the ruins. However, disunity, factions, and a failure to translate the Bible into the local languages weakened the church.
When Arab invaders arrived in the seventh century an empty shell of a church was all that existed. Islam spread rapidly and the Christian roots of the people were forgotten. The early Islamic period was a time when "Arab identity" meant that all Arabs had descended from a common male ancestor. Thus, being an Arab brought recognition, honor, and certain privileges.
Women have more rights in Tunisia than in other Arab countries. Many women hold government offices and professional careers. This mindset has, no doubt, helped Tunisians fit in with Europe's culture better than other Arabic-speaking people.
Tunisia has a large youth population that is highly educated. Almost two out of every three Arabs are under the age of 30. Both the Middle East and North Africa have the highest youth unemployment on the planet. Frustration, lack of opportunity, and Tunisian government corruption produced a revolution in January 2011 resulting in the president fleeing the country, regime change, and the Arab Spring. The ripples of Tunisia's revolution spread to Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria, as what we call the Arab Spring. The aftermath of this time period is still being felt as Tunisians and other Arabic-speaking people are fleeing to Europe to find work and safety.
Where are they located? France and Germany are the two European countries with the highest number of Tunisian immigrants. Tunisian Arabs are most likely to live in Germany's urban centers.
What are their lives like? Some Tunisian Arabs have managed to start small businesses in Germany, while others struggle with unemployment. There have been disillusioned college students of Tunisian descent who plotted a failed terrorist attack.
Tunisian Arabs typically live in proximity to their extended families and place a high value on family. But with many going to Europe for work, these family ties are becoming weaker.
What are their beliefs? Virtually all Tunisian Arabs are Sunni Muslim, even those in Germany. While many are nominal or secular, Islam heavily influences every aspect of Tunisian culture. Their religious practices include various ceremonies and festivals that bring them together as a community.
What are their needs? In recent years, Christian media (websites, TV, and radio programs) has generated a great interest in Christianity in Tunisia. In addition, countless testimonies have been shared where Jesus appeared to Tunisian Muslims through dreams and visions. There are currently a few hundred believers in that country, but we don't know how many of these believers have migrated to Europe. There is a fellowship of Muslim background believers in Germany that can reach the Tunisian community.
Even in Europe Tunisian believers risk being persecuted by the people they feel closest to, their family members. For Arabs this is unbearable.
Prayer Points * Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to reach out and share the love of Christ with Tunisian Arabs in Europe.
* Pray that God will raise up faithful intercessors who will stand in the gap for them.
* Pray that the softening of their traditional culture will create open doors for the gospel to be preached among Tunisian Arabs in Europe.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Arabs towards believers so that they will be receptive to the gospel.
* Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Diaspora Arabs.