By Wendell Evans —
Edited by Mark Ellis —
Mohand grew up in an Algerian mountain village among the Kabyle Berber tribe. His family were devout Muslims. After his father passed away when Mohand was young, his mother responded with a dose of Muslim fatalism, saying, “It is the will of Allah; He has done it. We can only accept it.”
In Mohand’s preadolescent mind, this meant Allah killed his father, so he grew up hating God. Whenever the name of Allah was mentioned, it evoked the death of his father. Like so many others of the Berber tribes, he also grew up hating Arabs, because they conquered his country and imposed their rule many centuries earlier.
As a young man, Mohand played enthusiastically on his village’s soccer team. One summer weekend, several of the local mountain villages gathered together for a weekend playoff, each team camping in its own chosen spot next to the soccer field.
By “coincidence,” a group of Algerian Christians from the capital city, Algiers, decided to have a spiritual retreat in the mountains that same weekend and ended up camping next to the soccer teams.
The Berbers eyed the Christian group with curiosity, not sure who they were. They were obviously not a soccer team. They spent a lot of time reading, which led to the conclusion they were probably students. But why would they spend time studying during summer vacation?
Even more confounding, the group seemed to be a mix of Berber and Arab! Who could bring those two groups together in friendship and harmony?
A few conversations began, and the Christians shared about their faith in Jesus. He was the reason their ethnic differences fell away and they could enjoy each other as friends. Their testimony provoked much discussion among the Muslim soccer teams.
Despite Mohand’s trauma related to his father’s death, he adamantly opposed any suggestion that Algerian Muslims could become Christians. Soccer was his main passion — he didn’t have time for God.
The final day of the play-offs, Mohand woke up with a raging fever and felt in no shape to play. As the game started, he sat on the sidelines, huddled up in a blanket trying to keep warm — even under the hot July sun.
One of the Kabyle Christians wandered over to watch the game and noticed Mohand sitting there. “Why aren’t you playing?” he asked.
“Can’t you see that I’m sick?” Mohand responded gloomily.
“Why don’t you come over to our camp,” said the Christian. “We have some medicine that may help you.”
Having nothing to lose, Mohand accompanied the young man over to the Christian camp. He was met by two leaders of the group, one Kabyle and the other Arab.
“Do you want medicine or do you want us to pray for you?” one of them asked.
After an instant of reflection, Mohand decided that this would be a good chance to put the Christian God to the test. “Pray for me,” he said.
With simplicity, the two Algerian Christians laid their hands on Mohand and prayed for healing in the name of Jesus. At the precise moment of their prayer, Mohand sensed that his fever was gone. He felt great! He rushed back to the scene of the game, told his coach he was better, donned his soccer gear and ran in to finish the game.
This sparked deeper conversations between the soccer players and the Christian camp about Jesus and his power to heal: body, mind, and spirit. Suddenly, the Holy Spirit opened Mohand’s eyes to believe. He could see that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and he was born again.
Amazingly, most of the members of his team came to Christ on the same day, along with several members of other teams. In total, 29 Muslims decided to follow Jesus on that summer day in July 1981.
Excitedly, these men returned to their villages and began to witness about their new faith. Their transformed lives attracted others, and soon groups of Christians began to spring up in the Kabyle villages.
Mohand and his friends cried out to God, “Lord, this is your doing. We don’t know how to respond. What shall we do?” And the Lord impressed upon their minds that they should read the Book of Acts and put it into practice in their new fellowship groups. They did, and the movement grew.
There are five house churches in Mohand’s village now. Also, Mohand and his family are still living for the Lord. For a few years, they did missionary outreach in an Arab area of Algeria, but recently returned to live in their home village.
Mohand is a pseudonym used for security reasons. Wendell Evans was a missionary with AWM (now part of Pioneers) in North Africa for many years, and has passed on to his heavenly reward. Used with the permission of Pioneers.
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