Tunisia makes its mark by staying out of the international news … until recently
Nestled between Algeria and Libya on the southern Mediterranean coast, security and unity are the hallmarks of this country of 10 million. Having had only two presidents in the past 50 years, Tunisia is marked by political stability and prosperity. It is also a country of mixed cultural values. Islam and secularism both shape the minds and values of most Tunisians. Thanks to a strong and effective police force, peace and security reign, and millions of European tourists are welcomed each year. Islamists from neighbouring countries have made recent efforts to cause disruptions but have thankfully been thwarted.
It is relatively easy to talk with Tunisians about the Gospel, though many do not show interest in spiritual things. Some who have experienced healing and deliverance in the name of Christ acknowledge that Jesus has changed their lives, yet still do not commit their lives to him. Others profess faith and then do not commit themselves. There are shining examples of committed individual disciples, but few truly indigenous house churches.
There is a small national church, with a handful of recognised local leaders. The church is composed mostly of well educated people who are more westernised than the majority of the population. The vast majority of believers and Christian workers live in the capital of Tunis (population 2 million). There are few believers, few workers, and very few gatherings of believers outside the capital city. In recent times a few believers have established residency in least four new cities and provincial capitals which previously had little or no Christian presence. With so few believers in these regions, the role of media, and especially Arabic satellite TV programming is still important in reaching vast parts of the country.
Though direct persecution and arrests by the police are rare, many believers do live in fear of ostracism by their friends and families. The fear of persecution rather than the persecution itself is a major issue for most believers.
* Pray for unity and trust among local believers.
* Pray for healthy marriages and strong families. Some young adult believers sometimes have difficulty finding mates.
* Pray for those who have experienced Christ in healings, dreams and deliverance to really commit their lives to him (Ephesians 5:11-20).
* Pray for effective discipleship of believers and ‘near’ believers (Mt. 28:20a). May the power of God and the truth of Christ to come to dominate and transform the lives of all believers (Colossians 1:28).
* Pray for more effective co-ordination and followup of media contacts (satellite, and radio broadcasts are done daily).
* Pray for wisdom for government leaders, especially in protecting the country from radical islamists (Romans 13:1-5).
* Pray for the undereducated and unemployed who are easily exploited and marginalised (Luke 6:20-21 and James 2:5).
* Pray for God to work in the new cities and towns that now have a resident witness for the first time in many years.
More prayers for Tunisia can be found on the www.Pray4Tunisia.com site!
Background on Tunisia (World Factbook)
Rivalry between French and Italian interests in Tunisia culminated in a French invasion in 1881 and the creation of a protectorate. Agitation for independence in the decades following World War I was finally successful in getting the French to recognize Tunisia as an independent state in 1956. The country’s first president, Habib BOURGUIBA, established a strict one-party state. He dominated the country for 31 years, repressing Islamic fundamentalism and establishing rights for women unmatched by any other Arab nation. Tunisia has long taken a moderate, non-aligned stance in its foreign relations. Domestically, it has sought to defuse rising pressure for a more open political society. In what became known as the Jasmine Revolution, a sudden and explosive wave of street protests ousted the authoritarian president, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, who had ruled with an iron hand for 23 years. On January 14, 2011 Mr. Ben Ali left the country, after trying unsuccessfully to placate the demonstrators with promises of elections. According to government figures issued later, 78 protesters died and 94 were injured during the demonstrations. A new constitution was drafted in February 2012. The interim government has proposed presidential and parliamentary elections be held in 2013.
Economy of Tunisia
Tunisia has a diverse economy, with important agricultural, mining, energy, tourism, and manufacturing sectors. Progressive social policies have helped raise living conditions in Tunisia relative to the region. Real growth slowed to a 15-year low of 1.9% in 2002 because of agricultural drought and lackluster tourism. Increased rain helped in 2003-05. However, a recession in agriculture, weak expansion in the tourism and textile sectors, and increasing import costs due to rising world energy prices cut growth. Tunisia is gradually removing barriers to trade with the EU.
Statistics for Tunisia
Population: 10,835,873 (July 2013 est.) World rank #80
Life Expectancy at Birth: 75.46 years. World rank #93
Ethnic Groups: Arab 98%, European 1%, Jewish and other 1%
Religions: Muslim 98%, Christian 1%, Jewish and other 1%
Languages: Arabic (official and one of the languages of commerce), French (commerce)
Literacy: 79.1% – male: 87.4%, female: 71.1%
School life expectancy: 15 years
“Travel to Tunisia” – Video
A professional video from a travel site, but gives a great idea of the life and style of Tunisia