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. Today one can find ancient baptisteries and sites of martyrdom in Tunisia. However, disunity, factions, and a failure to translate the Bible into the local languages weakened the church.
When Arab invaders arrived in the 7th 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.
Tunisians tend to be more modern and secular than other Arab Muslim peoples. 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 and a regime change. There was a ripple effect that we call the Arab Spring in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria, and other Arabic speaking countries. The aftermath of this time period is still being felt as Tunisians and other Arabic-speaking people are fleeing to Sweden and other countries to find work and safety.
Where are they located? Tunisian Arabs are most likely to live in Sweden's urban centers. More recent migrants are being settled in the less hospitable lands of Sweden's cold north.
What are their lives like? Some Tunisian Arabs have managed to start small businesses in Sweden, while others struggle with unemployment.
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 Sweden. 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? Most Muslims say they love Jesus, but few have heard His teachings. Resources in the various Arabic dialects are available; however, there needs to be a greater effort to effectively distribute these to Arabs in each of the European countries. Believers can meet with spiritually hungry Muslims and teach them about Jesus from the Bible.
Prayer Points * Pray that the Tunisian Arabs people will hear about and accept the living Lord through every possible means.
* Pray that they will be convicted of sin and ask the living Lord for forgiveness so they will finally know the assurance of salvation, peace, and be freed from the bondage of Islam.
* Pray that ministries and churches will flourish that are taking the gospel to Arabic speakers.
* Pray that God will raise up faithful intercessors who will stand in the gap for Tunisian Arabs wherever they live.
* Pray that the softening of their traditional culture will create open doors for the gospel to be preached among them.
* Ask the Lord to strengthen local churches among the Diaspora Arabs in Europe.