Will a new Libya respect human rights and religious freedom? How will Christians fare in the country? CBN News had a rare look at the church in Libya. Most Christians in Libya are foreign workers – most had come to work in the oil fields and other industries, many being Coptic, Catholic or Orthodox Christians. An Egyptian surgeon CBN News interviewed has worked in Libya for 15 years. He said though he is a Christian, the Muslim majority has treated him well. However, what might the future hold once Libya’s new government is in place?
Todd Nettleton is with the Voice of the Martyrs. “Ninety-seven percent of the people in Libya are Muslims. So even a government that is elected by the people could be a heavily Islamic government that wouldn’t necessarily be friendly to Christians and wouldn’t be friendly toward religious freedom,” he explained. Gadhafi – for the most part – expressed tolerance for foreign Christians if they remained in their churches. But Christians who shared their faith with Muslims were either jailed or expelled from the country.
Nettleton says there is a small indigenous church in Libya, even though few foreigners have met them. “They are meeting together. They are serving Christ. They are spreading their faith. But they obviously have to do that in very cautious and careful ways. CBN News witnessed the recent baptism of a Libyan convert. She wouldn’t allow it to be shown on television, but she explained that she had come to Christ after watching a Christian programme on satellite television. Nettleton says that’s not surprising: “One of the key factors in the growth of the church in Libya is satellite television. A lot of the evangelism – a lot of the discipleship activities that are happening are happening over satellite TV from outside the country, because it’s very difficult for Christians to gather together – particularly Muslim converts within the confines of Libya,” he explained.
And many of the secret Libyan Christians feel abandoned by the world and, though their numbers are small, maybe only several hundred, they desire recognition and prayer support. Nettleton says Libya’s Christians – both indigenous and foreign – will need a lot of prayer in the days ahead. These are also days of opportunity, he says: “As there is so much upheaval, there are also people who are asking questions of a spiritual nature, questions about eternity.”
“This can be a great time of planting the seeds of the Gospel and we need to pray for our brothers and sisters to have opportunities to do that and to have boldness to take advantage of those opportunities,” Nettleton added.
Source: CBN News
BIBLE STUDY: Luke 13:23-36
Report 7 – PRAISE: God for the small Church in Libya, and for the opportunities in times of uncertainty.
Report 8 – PRAY: That the seeds of the Gospel may be sown and that many Libyans may know the Saviour.