At the height of the Roman Empire, it was easier to travel from North Africa to Rome than from Paris to Rome. Leaving the shores of Tunisia, one could arrive in Rome 24 hours later. The early church in this Roman province knew waves of persecution, but also enjoyed periods of relative peace. The waves of persecution, however, often showed the strength of the believers’ faith.
In 203 AD two young Christian women, Perpetua and Felicitas were martyred at Carthage, in Tunisia. While in prison, Perpetua kept a diary, which has been preserved to this day. She wrote:“My father arrived from the city, worn with anxiety, and came up the hill hoping still to weaken my resolution. ’Daughter,’ he said, ‘pity my white hairs! Pity your father. Make me not a reproach to mankind! Look on your mother and your mother’s sister; look on your son who cannot live after you are gone. Forget your pride; do not make us all wretched! None of us will ever speak freely again if calamity strikes you.’ So spoke my father in his love for me, kissing my hands and casting himself at my feet, and with tears. And I grieved for my father’s sake…”
In 698 Carthage and all of North Africa was conquered by the Arab/Islamic armies, but the church continued to exist, although at a smaller scale, till around the beginning of the 15th century. In recent years we have seen a resurrection of the church in North Africa, particularly among the Kabyle in Algeria. Christian TV programmes have played an important role in this process.
The Heritage Project is a series of 8 x 30 minute programmes depicting Christians who lived in the first five centuries AD. We hope that the series will be a great encouragement for the Christians in North Africa and an eye-opener to many who do not know the message of the Gospel. This project is being produced in partnership with International Media Ministries.
You can watch a trailer about this Heritage project here.
Listen to what a Christian from North Africa says about the possible impact of this series in this clip.