Tunisian Arabs (Thesis Statement)
Joshua Project shows that in the world today there are about 16,601 people groups among whom Christian teaching has not been preached; thus, they have not been reached by Christian faith. Most of these people are found in countries dominated by Muslims. While there are 9000 of them who have strong faith in Christianity and able to evangelize to their people, there are other 7000 people who have not been reached. This implies that when the evangelical people are less than 2% of the population in these groups of people, they do not possess the right number to evangelize to their own people. Thus, the scripture is not available to a number of people and there is high resistance to Christian teachings. The process of taking a great Commission will require that there is the need to focus efforts towards the least reached people in various parts of the world.
The unreached people group of Tunisia Arabs refers to ethno-linguistic group that has similar identification and share similar characteristics amongst themselves . The Arabs of Tunisia is a group of people who are about 10 million in number making 99.4% Muslims while there are just a few Christian believers. Their languages can vary, although each individual group has a sense of history and customs. For the purpose of strategic functions, a people groups accounts for the largest group that enables the flow of the gospel with little barriers of understanding. Generally, the Arabs of Tunisia have a distinct culture that distinguishes them from other cultures, language, or social class and do not have a community of Christians who can evangelize the entire population without help. They can only hear about salvation through ‘external witnesses’.
Another characteristic of the Arabs of Tunisia is that they do not have understandability and this act as a barrier and they can only be defined by language, with subdivisions on the basis of dialect and variations in cultural practices . Among the Arabs of Tunisia, acceptance is a greater barrier compared with understandability. In these regions, the primary boundary of each people group is identified by caste, religious backgrounds, location, and common backgrounds. Another boundary is language.
Defining Arabs of Tunisia by Language
The main language spoken by the Arabs of Tunisia is Arabic, and this language is used in their daily activities such as communication in businesses, communication in educational institutions, and interaction within the families. In addition, communication in religious institutions such as churches and mosques is done in Arabic. This implies that in order to preach Christian gospel to these people, it is necessary to use the language that they understand.
Culture of Arabs of Tunisia
Arabs of Tunisia are both focused on improving its economic situation as well as preservation of the culture and traditions of its people that are largely based on Islam. The Arabs of Tunisia are reaching out for progress with an effort to avoid confusion that results from rapid changes. While there are urban centers where the benefits of space age are reaped such as the use of satellite communication with other regions in the world, there is retention of the inclination to the past through their architecture, arts, and traditions. Generally, Arabs of Tunisia draw cultural sustenance from traditional past while contributing to the advancement into the future.
The culture of Arabs of Tunisia is based on Islamic beliefs. This has resulted into the formation of a union among Arab countries referred to as Arab league . This is a union where countries dominated by Arabs come together to strengthen their relationships and cooperation in dealing with each other as well as improving economic ties. Finally, the musical tradition of the Arabs of Tunisia dates back to the time when simple songs recitations were done in tribal pre-Islamic days. The songs are generally accompanied by the use of a primitive two-string riddle. The music includes complicated scales and tones. An example of a musical instrument, which was originally used by Arab Tunisians but whose use has spread to the western countries, is the tambourine. This refers to a percussion instrument used for the purpose of creating a rhythm and made using wood and parchment with pairs of brass cymbals around its frame.
The Economy of Arabs of Tunisia
The main economic activity of the Arabs of Tunisia is Agriculture and the main food crops grown include wheat, barley, rice, maize dates, and millet. These crops are largely grown for consumption purposes. Thus, the Arabs of Tunisia are able to get adequate amount of food from local production. During periods of low rainfall, they use traditional as well as modern irrigation methods to provide water to their crops. Other crops include cotton, sugarcane, sugar beets, and sesame that are grown for export purposes. There are also few deposits of petroleum in the region, but they have not been exploited fully to contribute towards the development of the region. A part from crops, Arabs of Tunisia keep animals of various species for a number of purposes. These include dairy cows for milk production and beef cattle for production of meat. They also promote various skills and occupations, thus contributing to a rich and nourished culture. For instance, there are specialized doctors who are competent in performing traditional operations and surgery in the regions. They engage in both local and international trade with outside communities and the main goods traded in include minerals such as gold and salt, animal products such as ivory, skin, milk, and grains. Traditional means of transport such as the use of camels is still common among the Arabs of Tunisia .
Religion of Arabs of Tunisia
Most people in the Arabs of Tunisia are Muslims with very few Christians. The domination of Muslims has an impact on the religious affiliation of the people in this region because it has a direct impact on attempts to preach Christian Gospel. Most people believe in the teachings of Islam, and they believe in Prophet Mohammed as the messenger of God whom they follow his teachings. Islamic traditions take into account major ideologies of Judaism and Christianity that came before it. For instance, according to Muslims, as do most Jews and Christians believe there is one God as well as the belief in life after death. They also believe that the Jews and Christians as ‘People of the book’, which implies the Bible, and provide them with a privileged status from the early days of the Islamic beliefs into modern periods. This has resulted into the survival of the religious minorities in the Arab world as well as their flourishing during periods of high cultural and religious repression in other parts of the world. These beliefs are translated into their cultural and intellectual lifestyles, as well as science and humanities. Apart from Christians and Muslims, there are other religions in this region such as traditional religions. These are religions based on ethnical religious beliefs and customs.
The main religious activities of the Arabs of Tunisia include prayer sessions that are based on strict observance of their religious beliefs, private prayer, or in the open air in a house or with a group in a mosque . They are also strong believers in social responsibility. According to their beliefs, what belongs to a believer also belongs to the community in the ultimate sense and it is only through donation of wealth for use by the public does an individual legitimize what he retains. Furthermore, fasting is regarded a significant practice in Islamic faith. This involves observing the Ramadan, the period during which it was written, when God sent the holy Quran to angel Gabriel who revealed it to Mohamed. During fasting process, the believers are expected to abstain from food and drink from dawn to sunset during the days of Ramadan.
Defining Arabs of Tunisia by Family
The Arabs of Tunisia consider social loyalty to be of great significance. Family is regarded as a significant aspect of the Arab society. While there may be cases where an individual is taught to be self-reliant, individualistic, and responsible, loyalty to the family is a significant issue among most Arabs of Tunisia. Unlike in other regions where individualism is a significant part of a person’s life and every individual has to live free from his family, Tunisian Arabs’ families insist on significance of the family connection. Their culture teaches them to consider the needs of the group to be more important than the needs of an individual. Among this group of people, there is an intense emphasis on loyalty and dependence within the family. Among these groups of people, family is more important compared with loyalty to friends or demands of a job. They expect members of a family to work towards the support of one another during times of disputes with outsiders. Regardless of personal bias against the family or relatives, they have to lean towards the support for one another and defend each other, counter criticisms, and show a sense of cohesion. However, the most respected member of the family is the mother.
Current Status of Missionary Among them
Brief History of Missions and Current Status of the Church
The mission to preach to small number of Christians among the Arabs of Tunisia has involved great dedication in the past periods. The aim of the mission has been to finish the task of reaching Christian communities in other locations in Arabic Tunisia and preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ. There has been an increase in the number of missionaries sent from non-Western churches in comparison to traditional mission-bases in western countries. The growth rate of converts to Christianity has been higher in the Arabic Tunisia than the biological growth rate.
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However, it has taken over 18 centuries to achieve the growth to about 2.5% of the population of the world. Currently, for the first time in history, there is one believer for every nine people all over the world. There has been a growth of Christian believers as a result of the effort to reach the unreached people. However, growth has only been significant in the previous decades. For instance, it was observed that in the 1980s, Arab Tunisia was generally a Muslim dominated region . Today, there exists a number of believers and churches have been started within each distinct group of people.
The current state of the church in Arab Tunisia is that there is no widespread Christianity due to various barriers such as multicultural state of the region. However, there are traditional religions as well as Islamic followers. There are also small groups of Christians who do not account for more than 2% of the population . This shows that this number of people is not high enough to spread the gospel of Christianity to the unreached people in the Arabic Tunisia. Thus, this paper presents a strategy that can be used by missionaries to preach to the unreached people and also attract more believers to Christianity.
While there has been progress to an extent in the effort to spread the gospel, this obscures the reality that there has been opposition from the cultural groups, prejudices, and hate. However, there has been expansion of the gospel among the community but it has not been possible to jump across boundaries between people who are prejudiced against Christianity. It was possible for the unreached people to influence their neighbors who had a language or culture they understood despite the existence of boundary prejudice, faith in other religions such as Islam that is accompanied by a number of cultural features of the first group. There was also a resistance of one group towards adoption of Christianity or the culture of another group because they preferred their own culture. This implies that even if members of the unreached groups brought all their friends and relatives within a particular cultural group to be faithful to Christ, who would in turn bring their friends and relatives to believe in Christianity, there would still be a large number of people who would not come to faith. There are many boundaries and prejudices that held them from the gospel.
During the process of preaching the Christian Gospel to the people, there were people who had hear about Christ but encountered a number of barriers that made them have no reason to believe in Christianity. For instance, a Muslim Turk faces a number of obstacles in an effort to become a Christian such as the belief that being a Turk is being a Muslim irrespective of the decision to become a Christian. Thus, he would believe that Christianity is a belief of the barbarian infidels who have invaded their country. They were made to believe that if a person becomes a Christian, one becomes a traitor and turns his back to his family, the community, and country.
Present Strategies Being Used
In an effort to ensure Christianity is represented among the unreached people, various strategies are being implemented to achieve the objective of reaching more people and preach the Gospel to them. The first thing involved in refining the concept of ‘people groups’, for the purpose of measuring their progress in the effort to complete the entire process. Four significant ways were used to look at the mission task so that every individual could have an opportunity to respond to the gospel.
An example of a strategy use is the blocs of people for global perspective and strategy. This refers to a limited number of summary categories into which people can be placed so that they can be analyzed. The approaches used to refer to a group of people included Blocs of people, ethno-linguistic people, socio-people and unimax people . The first two approaches are significant in summarizing the overall tasks and development of techniques that can be used to preach to known people. The former two can be used for those who are aiming at establishing churches. Major cultural blocs were used to group people such as the ‘unreached people’ based on cultural lines and the dominant religion in the groups. The cultural blocs into which people were grouped include Muslims, Hindu, Buddhists, tribal, and others. When groups are combined along these lines, mission organizations can explore ways of establishing collaborations that enables reaching of related people.
The use of ethno-linguistic peoples for mobilization and preparation of missions has also taken place. This refers to an ethnic group whose main characteristic is self-identity with their traditions and common ancestry, history, customs, and language. However, there are situations where what was expected to be a single ethno-linguistic group turned out to be a number of groups. For instance, during the process of trying to preach to the Arabians of Tunisia in the local language by use of a specific local language, it was found that there were other languages within the group, and there was a need to translate the languages into other dialects. There was difficulty in achieving this, and there is a possibility that gospel cassettes rather than written translations were produced. However, due to cultural differences and prejudices, there was unwillingness of people to listen to the messages spoken by members of other groups despite the similarity with the printed message. Research conducted by mission organizations has identified various ethno-linguistic peoples. This has resulted into a boost to the understanding of the root of the frontier mission. The use of ethno-linguistic’ and people’s blocs enabled identification of people and making the entire body of Christ aware of the need to preach Christianity to them. The approach of ethno-linguistics enhances prayer and initial planning to reach specific groups of people that result into serious strategic effort to evangelize them.
Another approach used is the socio-people and preliminary evangelism. Socio-people refers to a small association of individuals who have interest in one another as a result of common interest, activity, and occupation. When missionaries had been sent to pioneer missions, there was the need to understand, live, and communicate in a manner that enabled them understand the people to whom they wanted to preach. Cultural learning and adaptation followed the initial phase. First starting Bible study or small groups within the specialized groups achieved evangelical tasks. For instance, it would involve a group of women involved in washing at the river or students in college or new people in the city. There exist various opportunities for this form of evangelism in the present world. The missionaries worked with socio-people for primary evangelism as an intermediate bridge that resulted into a long-range church planting. This is an indication that the approach of reaching socio-people is a strategic approach for a ministry to reach a specific sub set of a larger society so that the objective of church planting can be achieved. It was found that there are certain groups who proved to be useful during the process of establishing churches while other groups hindered the process of development of new churches. It was also possible to convince religious leaders such as Buddhist monks and Muslim mullahs who were considered to be spiritual leaders.
The approach of unimax peoples for people’s movement to Christ was also used. This refers to a sized group that is considered to be a target of single people movement in Christ, where the term ‘unified’ implies that there are no barriers to understanding or acceptance of spread of the gospel . Tribes in the jungle and other insignificant remote people are almost unimax peoples. Finding unimax reality within a larger ethno-linguistic people is a challenging task5. Despite the reliance on language as the primary means of understanding a cultural identity, the process of reaching people required consideration of people’s religious, educational, political, and ideological convictions because these factors had an impact on their acceptance of the teachings of the gospel. For instance, it was difficult to reach India in an ethno-linguistic strategy because there were over 1600 ethno-linguistic languages and there are also religious divisions, tribal divisions, as well as socio-cultural barriers. According to a sociological study in 1991, there were about 4536 peoples in India. When the influence of Christianity is compared with other religions, it is found that its influence is greater in most cultural blocks. This can be illustrated in the figure below.
Proposal of a Strategy for Teaching the Tunisian Arabs
Strategy for Prayer
In order to ensure the objective of praying for the unreached Arabs of Tunisia is achieved, prayer will be organized by first determining the missionaries who would go to the region to preach to them. There will also be the need to strategically evaluate resources on the unreached. These include determining factors that can impact on the ability of the people to adopt the religion, their location, and accessibility and how prepared they are to receive the religion. It will involve cooperation with the people already connected to the base country of the missionaries. After selecting Arabic Tunisia as the area of adoption, there is a need to register the region in a Frontier Missions Coordinating Office so that partnership with others who share similar vision for the unreached people is facilitated. It will also include identification of resources required to accomplish awareness so that informative and inspiring resources are made for others.
Initial engagement of the adopted group will involve getting the advice of geographical leadership over the area where the selected group of people live and the plans to preach to them. This will be followed by investigating methods of entry that are culturally accepted by the people and any entry requirements that the authorities accept as a lawful method of entry into the new location. An advance team can be sent from the base to investigate the area and prepare the team for any challenge to be experienced.
In addition, resources, such as areas of residence during prayer session, will be determined and language translators will also be determined by seeking the services of people who can translate a language from the preacher’s language to the language used by the Arabs of Tunisia. Times of prayer will be determined and a schedule for each day of prayer will also be created and the resources required for the prayer process such as methods of addressing the people. Staff members will be assigned on various roles during the prayer process such as identifying people who need to be prayed for and providing advice to them on the availability of this mission. The prayer team will be encouraged to pray individually to the group and ensure they observe prayer times and the target people that need to be accessed. Special time prayers will also be provided that focuses on night intercession, prayer chains, and encouraging the missionaries to pray for individuals who turn up for prayer service at the venue allocated for prayer.
If some people will not be willing to come to the venue of prayer, a special day in the prayer schedule will be set aside for visiting these people in their residential areas and praying for them and asking them to accept the teachings of the Gospel. Furthermore, a prayer profile will be developed and distributed to the missionaries so that the prayer needs of the inhabitants of Arabs of Tunisia are elaborated. This will enable the missionaries focus on these needs during the process of praying for the unreached people in Arabic Tunisia. Prayer process will also involve partnerships outside the prayer base and other prayer networks that have interest in praying will be sought so that the capability of the prayer team is improved.
The group partners will be trained on the strategies of praying for the unreached people and how to cooperate with them so that they can be motivated to become Christians. The team will also ensure they cooperate among themselves and observe the prayer schedule so that the objective of reaching the unreached people of Arabic Tunisia is achieved. Various resources to be used by the missionaries such as personal needs of the missionaries are provided adequately. Unreached people will be encouraged to reach out to people in their neighborhood and preach them and encourage them to accept the teachings of the gospel. Home churches will also be encouraged to participate in the pastoral care of their member. This will be achieved by sending their church leaders to preach the teachings that have been recommended by the prayer team. The process of ministering will be achieved by use of verses from the Bible, use of messages that have been saved in cassettes and videos. It will be necessary to be aware that there is no church in the locations where preaching and teaching will be done, therefore Bible correspondence courses will be provided to them. Various tools and resources will be required to achieve the objective of praying for the people in the Arabic Tunisia. These will include procurement of equipment that can be used for evangelical purposes as well as considering the use of things such as faxes, computers, vehicles, video projectors, cassette tape duplicator, among other materials. These materials will facilitate the process of communicating with the people in new locations, facilitating movement from one place to another, and communication with the people in Arabic Tunisia.
Strategy for Sacrificial Giving
The prayer team will also enhance the process of partnering with the unreached people of Arabic Tunisia by providing sacrificial giving. This will involve a process where the missionaries carry gifts and materials that are given to the unreached people as a demonstration of love for them. It will enable people to create a bond with the unreached people so that cooperation is enhanced. Organizing an individualized prayer session for the unreached people and teaching them about the doctrines of Christianity with no expectation of a reward or benefits will also achieve sacrificial giving. Personal gifts will be sent to the people who accept to become members of the Christian groups and cooperation with them will be enhanced. The services of sponsoring organizations will also be sought in providing the sponsorship with regards to the resources needed during the missionary work such as financial needs and materials.
Money will be raised for the above projects and various materials will be bought, which would motivate the people in Arabic Tunisia to convert to Christianity. For instance, they will receive free Bibles and be taught how to use them. Books will be printed for this purpose. The missionaries will make faith pledges that they would remain cooperative with the people of the regions where they have preached; they would organize special dinners for the people, and raise additional funds through the sales of baked products, such as cakes, to the people. In addition, people would engage in community services, such as helping the sick, by visiting them in their homes and providing them with moral support, as well as participating in yard work as a form of motivating them to continue living positively.
Strategy for Partnering with other Churches and Organizations
This will be achieved by encouraging home churches to participate in the missionary activities by providing them with the resources that they can use to facilitate the process of preaching to the target groups, so that they can convert. Local authorities will also be introduced into the activities of the missionary work and their cooperation sought. For instance, their services such as security for the team will be sought and communication with them will be enhanced to promote cooperation. The process of communication will be achieved through the use of emails, written communication, as well as giving them surprise phone calls. The missionaries will also acknowledge the time and cooperation of the communities they have visited and promise them to continue visiting them even in the coming future. The missionaries will also assist in working out team members’ personal business problems that emerge. This will involve sending newsletters, use of support checks and receipts, and assisting in schooling of their children.
Other church leaders in the locations where preaching needs to be done will be trained to use the resources needed to achieve the objective of preaching to the people such as the Bible, address systems, and the Bible verses that need to be used during the training process.
The services of frontier advocate communities will also be sought, so that they keep the vision, as well as bridging the gap between the people and the resources of the Kingdom. The services of community development teams will be sought and financial donation will also be sought from donors. In addition, the services of Bible translators will also be sought. Their role will involve translating the language used by the missionaries to the languages used by the people in Arabic Tunisia.
The process of converting non-Christians into Christianity can be enhanced by reaching regions where there are unreached people. This is because they do not have the capability to influence the communities to believe in Christian faith despite themselves being Christians. This ensures the command of God in the Bible reaches every community and region with the Gospel of Christianity. Arabic Tunisia is an example of a region where there are unreached people who need to be preached to, as well as encouraged to convert their neighboring communities to Christianity.
This study has resulted into a revolution of the world missionary work in a number of ways. It has provided the strategies that need to be followed in an attempt to reach more people who need to be converted to Christianity. From this study, it is found that the most important considerations to be made before achieving the tasks of reaching the unreached people is cooperation with the local people, engagement in sacrificial activities, such as community services to the people, as well as cooperation with other stakeholders, such as sponsoring organizations and churches, to contribute towards preaching the gospel to the unreached people.