- For God’s protection in the midst of political upheaval.
- Praise God for Libyan Believers that are, slowly but surely, increasing in number.
- For greater religious freedom so that more might hear the gospel.
- For Libyan believers to stand firm in their faith and to find spiritually edifying relationships.
- For broadcasting programs to be effective and ways to following up new believers.
- That work on translating Scripture into Libyan Arabic may continue.
- For a new government favorable to religious freedom.
Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Egypt, Tunisia, and Algeria
6 408 742 (2017 est.)
Muslim (official; virtually all Sunni) 96.6%
folk religion <0.1%
note: non-Sunni Muslims include native Ibadhi Muslims (<1% of the population) and foreign Muslims (2010 est.)
2 800 000 (2017)
LEAST REACHED PEOPLE GROUPS
Lord God, we pray for Your protection over Your children in the midst of political upheaval in Libya. Father, we thank you for Libyan Believers that are, slowly but surely, increasing in number. We pray for greater religious freedom so that more might hear the gospel and be able to follow Jesus openly.
We pray also for Libyan believers to stand firm in their faith and to find spiritually edifying relationships – including suitable marriage partners in a society where marriage is typically arranged with extended family.
Lord, we thank you for radio and satellite television providing two of the very few ways to evangelize Libyans. We pray for creative and effective programmes with the means to disciple responsive listeners, and we pray for protection for those who respond.
Lord Jesus, we pray that work on translating Scripture into Libyan Arabic may continue so Libyans can read or hear the gospel in their heart language. We praise you, Father, that internet access, although strictly censored in Libya, is becoming more available and open. We pray that Libyans may be drawn to Christian websites and attracted to the Gospel.
We also pray for a new government favorable to religious freedom. In the name of Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.
State of the Church
Libya is rated number 17 on the Open Doors World Watch list. The main sources of persecution today are family, community, fanatical armed groups and, to a lesser extent, the government. To import Arabic Scriptures remains strictly forbidden and proselytising and missionary activity is officially prohibited. Many Libyan Christians are fleeing their homeland. It is unlikely that the situation will change, even with a new constitution. (Opendoors)
The majority of Libya are Sunni Muslim. Most Christians are migrant workers or NGO workers. The biggest churches in the country are the Coptic Church, who are mostly Egyptian foreign residents, and the Roman Catholic clergy are present in larger cities, primarily in hospitals, orphanages, and with the elderly or physically impaired. One can also find small house churches or independent churches through out the country.
There are some laws which restricts religious freedom in the country. Islam is seen as the state religion and is regarded as the main source for legislation. There is no law providing for an individual’s right to choose or change his or her religion or to study, discuss, or promulgate one’s religious beliefs. There is also no law prohibiting conversion from Islam to another religion; however, in practice the government prohibited proselytizing to Muslims.
There were reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice. On December 29, an explosion near the Coptic Orthodox Church in Misrata killed two men and injured three. Both men were killed while attending church services. This was the first attack specifically targeting a church since the 2011 revolution. The attackers and the motive remain unknown, and there have been no arrests. Officials from the Ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation condemned the attacks and pledged a full investigation. There were also periodic reports of anti-Christian and anti-Semitic behaviour during the year 2012. A video on the Internet in March showed armed Muslim men in the British military cemetery in Benghazi desecrating Christian and Jewish head stones and attempting to destroy a large crucifix with sledge hammers. On September 14, 2012 private Internet television station Libya Alhurra aired a sermon from a mosque in Benghazi that called on Allah to “destroy the rancorous Christians and the corrupt Jews.”
Only about 124 churches (including house churches) exist in a country of more than 6 million people. There is a limit of one church per denomination per city. Meetings of more than six people are illegal, though this is not enforced. Evangelicals make up just 0.3 percent of the population. Foreigners are free to worship as they please, but the evangelization of Libyans is prohibited. The former Libyan government had an extensive secret police network that made sharing the gospel with Muslims difficult and dangerous. It is uncertain whether these difficulties will continue under the new regime. Libya’s justice system is nominally based on Shariah law. While most Libyans are Muslim, many are indifferent to matters of faith and hate the restrictions of Shariah law. Christian literature enters the country only through secretive means.People have been arrested on suspicion of being Christian missionaries, as proselytising is illegal.
The first known people to live in Libya were the Berbers. It was later invaded by the Phoenicians then the Romans and later in the year 642 invaded by Arabian forces and became part of the Ottoman Empire.
Later in 1911, following the outbreak of hostilities between Italy and Turkey, Italian troops occupied Tripoli. This resulted in an uprising from the locals and the fighting continued until 1914 where after Italy had controlled most of the land. Italy formally united Tripolitania and Cyrenaica in 1934 as the colony of Libya...
Libya went through some more turmoil with the outbreak of the second world war. Where Allied troops invaded Tripoli to get rid of Hitler’s stronghold in Africa. Tripoli fell on 23 January 1943 and came under control of the Allied administration. In 1949 The Un voted that Libya should become independent and in 1951 it became known as the United Kingdom of Libya. Oil was later discovered in 1958 which came as a relieve to their economy.
The now infamous Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi deposed the king in 1969 and revolutionized the country, making it a pro-Arabic, anti Western, Islamic republic with socialist leanings.
With the beginning of 2011 we woke up to a new Northern Africa and Middle east. The people were demanding change They had enough of dictators and demanded more “freedom” and they did not mind taking it by force. This would later be known as the “Arab Spring”.
A civil war broke out in Libya between pro-Qaddafi and rebels. Many soldiers went over to the rebels and took weapons with them. The rebels were well supplied and on 20 October 2011 they succeeded in killing Qaddafi in his home in Surt. With Qaddafi out of the picture an interim government was chosen to rebuild the country. The role and influence of Islamists in government and day-to-day life were unknowns for the future of Libya. During the turmoil in Libya, the Islamists became a powerful force in the country. At the very least, they are poised to form a political party, and Islamist leaders signaled that they would participate in the democratic process. In addition, it remained unclear how the many rivalaries in the country—Islamists vs secularist, geographic, inter-tribe, and between the educated elite and tribal population—will affect the political climate in the country. At the same time, there was growing concern about the increased activity of militant groups. (BBC)
The future is still unsure for Libya. In March 2014 an oil tanker’s defiance of a Lybian navy blockade of a rebel-held port led to the fall of Prime Minister Ali Zeidan.
- INcontext ministries – http://incontextministries.org/
- CIA World Factbook
- Atlas of Global Christianity – Todd M.Johnson & Kenneth R. Ross (Published by – Edinburgh University Press) (Missionaries and national workers: Africa 2010, page 267)
- Prayercast – http://prayercast.com/
- Unreached people groups – http://www.joshuaproject.net
- The voice of the Martyrs – http://www.persecution.com/
- Jul-Dec, 2010 International Religious Freedom Report – http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/irf/2010_5/index.htm
- Operation World – http://www.operationworld.org/african-countries