There are potentially “incredible opportunities” for Christians in North Africa and the Middle East as a result of the successes of the protest movements.

That’s according to a number of experienced observers of the region, including Gordon McBain, BMS World Mission regional secretary for the Middle East and North Africa.

McBain lived in Tunisia for eight years. “To be honest, I’m absolutely gobsmacked it’s happened at all. The regime was so controlling,” he told The Baptist Times.

“Now there are incredible opportunities for Christians, who are a minority in these countries and face persecution,” he said. “But it all depends on what replaces the regime. We don’t know yet. I think it’s unlikely because the number of fanatics are few and far between, but they could go down the Islamic government route.

“We hope and pray that as regime change happens, the new governments will be more amenable to human rights, to liberty and democracy, especially to the rights of Christians.

“But it’s still very tense at the moment.”

McBain’s view was echoed by Rev. Nadim Nassar, director of the Awareness Foundation, and the only Syrian Anglican priest in the Church of England.

“Christians in the Middle East who belong to the social fabrics of the societies are entering an exciting era that I believe will emerge from the current conflicts there,” he told BBC Radio 2.

“This era could redefine interfaith relationships globally.” He added the fact that Christians and Muslims had been united amid the protests was encouraging.

“Christians and Muslims live side by side for many years in many parts of the Middle East, especially in Egypt,” he said.

“The scenes of Muslims protecting Christians at prayer, and the same with Christians guarding mosques in Egypt, was a poignant reminder that evil is not tolerated by either faith community.”

The pressure on Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi to step down has been intensifying. A number of towns had fallen under the control of anti-government protesters, but there were also reports of hundreds of deaths at the hands of government troops.

World leaders from President Barack Obama to Great Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron were united in condemning the violence.

In a statement on its website, Arab World Ministries said it was “grieved” to hear about this violence and praying for restraint.

In addition the charity said it was praying for boldness for Libyan Christians “to take advantage in such times.”

“Algerians spoke out boldly for Christ in Algeria while the security forces were busy chasing radical Islamic fundamentalists in the years following the army taking control in 1992,” the charity said.

“We do not know what will come from these uprisings. We are concerned that the Good News of Jesus Christ is proclaimed, whether Libyan society is freer in the end or not.”

This article appeared originally in The Baptist Times of Great Britain.

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