Imagine being the first person in your family tree in 1,000 years to do something radically different?
I was reading about Christian missions in France and read this story which completely arrested me:
Between the Children’s hour and the Ladies Bible study that Sherrylee was going to speak to, we had 30 minutes. Sherrylee had accidentally wandered into a neighbor’s house, thinking it was part of the church building. . . . ., but it turned out that this neighbor had been baptized a couple of years ago, so as Craig was explaining to the neighbor why Sherrylee had walked into his house, he invited us in for tea and cookies. Khered (?) is his name and he is Algerian. He and his wife want to return someday to Algeria, which could be a great opportunity to carry the Good News with him. He says he is the first Christian in his family in over one thousand years! Think about that!
Algeria, with a population of over 37 million, is the largest country in Africa, bordered in the north by the Mediterranean Sea. Today Islam is the official state religion and about 99% of the population follow Sunni Muslim.
What was happening for over a thousand years to prevent this first Christian’s ancestors from knowing Jesus? What wasn’t happening?! Algeria’s history is one of invasion after invasion: the Phoenicians, Romans, Vandals, Byzantines, and then, the prolonged invasions of over 1,000 years of the Muslim armies from Cairo (642-1830) which set the course of the nation. More invasions followed, the Spanish, the Ottomans, the French. But that 1,000 year reign of Muslim expansion could not be undone.
But perhaps we are beginning to see the dawning of a new era. A French-Algerian who is the first in his family to be called Christian in a millennium? The gates of Hell shall not prevail.