Because of the specific situation in Tunisia during the past years, it was not possible for the United Methodist Church to develop a specific church planting or evangelization ministry. Our presence in this country was limited to a missionary couple, which took care of the buildings belonging to the United Methodist Church and which supported both the ministries of the Reformed Church in Tunis and the diaconal activities of the Roman-Catholic Church (--> Caritas) among refugees.
When the BAD (Banque Africaine de Développement) moved from the Ivory Coast to Tunisia some years ago, resulting in the fact that a considerable number of Christians came to this country, many things changed in the Reformed and the Roman-Catholic Church. Each Sunday the Reformed Church has now two worship services in a completely full church building. The United Methodist pastor Isaac Agré and his wife Jacqueline, who are citizens of the Ivory Coast, as well, have been assigned to the missionary post in Tunisia about one year ago. We hope and wish that they will increasingly have an open house for the people with whom they do not only share citizenship but also faith.
Many students from Sub-Saharan Africa are coming to Tunisia in order to finish their studies. Since it is not easy for them to find an apartment, Jacqueline and Rev. Isaac Agré would like to help them in their particular situation by establishing kind of a «Students’ Center» on the United Methodist property in Tunis.
Two days ago the situation in Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, was still marked by considerable tension and uncertainty. Jacqueline and Rev. Isaac Agré hope that the acts of violence will continue to decrease and that somehow life rediscovers its regular rhythm. Although they did not experience violence or destruction at the place they are living, the situation is everything but easy for them – not least because of the fact that they are foreigners. They do not have too many contacts to local people. For about one week they were not able to, for instance, buy potable water, because the shops were closed. There were lootings, and during the night a curfew was imposed. They heard gunfire, and the helicopters often circled over the city.
They did and do not live in fear, but of course they are concerned and they are very grateful for all people praying for them and for the current situation in Tunisia.
According to a phone call of this morning the situation has improved and the tension has calmed down. While the schools are still closed, many shops are open again. Jacqueline and Rev. Isaac Agré share a feeling of reassurance with many others.
It is difficult to predict how the whole situation will develop these coming weeks and months. But one thing will certainly not change: The Christians in Tunisia will continue to be a minority, and they will need much love, patience and selflessness to serve there in the name of Jesus Christ.
Let us pray for the people of Tunisia and their hope for something new – and that the price for new awakenings will not be additional violence and more injured and killed persons.
Let us pray for the Christians in this country – Tunisian citizens and foreigners.
Let us pray for Jacqueline and Isaac Agré, the missionary coupe in Tunis, and their children, who have been coming from the Ivory Coast to serve God and the people in Tunisia.
Source: Rev. Daniel Nussbaumer, assigned with the supervision of the United Methodist presence in North Africa
Date: January 20, 2011