The Amazigh people – Discovering their true identity (In Christ), Evangelical focus


Several years ago an Amazigh listener from North Africa wrote to Trans World Radio (TWR) this encouraging and refreshing message:

“Hello! I must tell you the truth that at the moment I am a follower of the main religion of my country. I very much appreciate your shows which I listen to regularly. However, what I cannot understand about the Christianity is the Son of God. I am not saying that God cannot have sons! I am convinced that with God everything is possible. However, I do not see the use that Almighty God would have need a son’s help to save mankind. What I am telling you here is very much the version of what many people believe in my country. However, my heart tells me that the Son of God remains one. mystery hidden for a large part of humanity, to which I myself belong. I beg you, dear friend, write me a beautiful letter and explain to me this mystery of the Son of God. I promise you that ‘ in my turn, I will explain it to others. My best regards to you “.

This post summarizes why TWR as a ministry exists: share the hope found in Jesus Christ to the world. And to accompany people on the path from doubt to decision to discipleship.

In the Amazigh communities of North Africa, there are very few Christian resources and biblical literature available. In some cases, the material has not yet been produced in the local dialect.

However, it can also be due to strict restrictions and even blatant persecution for people who seek to live the Christian faith. This is where TWR comes in to meet the need of researchers and believers to receive quality, contextualized Christian content.

But first, let’s find out more about who the Amazighs really are …

The Amazighs – also called Imazighen – are a group of indigenous people who have lived in North Africa for thousands of years.. They live mainly in Algeria and Morocco, but also reside throughout the region of North Africa, from western Egypt to the Canary Islands in the Atlantic and to the southern parts of the Sahara Desert.

For centuries, the Amazighs, meaning “free people”, have aspired to be free to express their cultural identity, but it was mainly suppressed by the powers that be.

TWR’s Women of Hope program series is well received by Kabyle listeners. They often send their answers, comments and questions. / Amy Wenzel. Note: This is not photos of real listeners

Due to this long struggle spanning many centuries, a number of Amazighs hate being called Berbers, as others sometimes call them, because it reminds them of the Arab, French and Roman colonial powers.

However, a significant shift towards an increased indigenous identity has been underway in recent years. In Algeria, Tamazight – a generic term for the various Amazigh languages ​​and dialects – has become recognized as a national language.

Additionally, in 2018, the Amazigh New Year was officially accepted as a public holiday, which is usually celebrated in mid-January.

Various Amazigh cultures and kingdoms predominated in North Africa until the 7th century when Arab tribes from the Middle East gradually conquered the entire region.

Apart from Arab culture, the religion of Islam has spread throughout North Africa. Before the arrival of Islam, most Amazighs were Christians, Jews or animists.

Several important and famous early Christian theologians such as Augustine of Hippo, Tertullian or Cyprian of Carthage were of Amazigh origin.

Folk Islam, made up of Islam and traditional beliefs, is the main religion among the Amazigsh. However, the Kabyles within the Amazigh community have a notable Christian minority, both Catholic and Protestant.

Almost all the other groups of the Saharawi Amazigh people do not have adequate Christian resources, if any. In addition, the Amazighs are still mostly a group of oral people.

This makes the combination of use of radio and digital media platforms one particularly effective tool to reach them as well as to strengthen and encourage local believers in their language and form of communication – through storytelling.

The Amazigh people - Discovering their true identity (In Christ)

This photo represents the long and difficult road traveled by the Amazigh people to live their distinct identity, especially when an Amazigh decides to follow Jesus. / Amy Wenzel. Note: This is not photos of real listeners

TWR’s current flagship program for the Amazigh people is the series of programs Women of Hope in the Kabyle language. One of the keys to the success of Women of Hope and other programs is that they are locally produced and therefore contextualized in a way that speaks to the heart of the listener, just like a friend would.

In the case of Women of Hope, this 30-minute series is known to have received a particularly large number of responses from listeners. Many women said the programs helped them endure hardship and persecution. because they face many challenges in society and / or in their own homes, including violence, fear and a sense of worthlessness.

Here are two responses that highlight the importance of TWR’s ministry efforts for the Amazigh people:

“Hello my brothers from Trans World Radio, I am writing to thank you for the Bible you sent me. This is the first time that I have touched a Bible in my entire life; I found there a treasure of riches “.

Another Kabyle listener wrote this:

“Hello dear friends, I write these few lines with great joy and conviction to thank you for all the efforts you make every day to shed light on the Word of Jesus. Only the Word of Christ can give us enough courage to stand firm in the times of this world. The Church of Christ is prospering in Kabylia, the Holy Spirit is at work at full speed ”.

Let us keep our brothers and sisters among the Amazigh people in prayer so that they can find their true identity in Christ and be a witness to others.

Please also pray for the continued production and development of programs and broadcasts in the various Tamazight languages (for example, power in persecution and the way to righteousness).

You can consult the various contents of the ministry in the Kabyle language here and on its Facebook.

For more information on TWR’s Ministry of International Media in over 190 countries and in over 275 languages, please click here.

About Wesley V. Finley

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