North Africa & the Global Youth Culture
A Pioneer Befriends Students in a Rapidly Changing Region
By Taylor Murray
Steeped in age-old tradition, North Africa is often known for its ancient cultures and staunch adherence to Islam. Beneath the surface of this seemingly impenetrable system of heritage and tradition, however, a Pioneer named Carrie sees first-hand the change and growth as she builds relationships with young people. And in these changing times, she prays for fresh opportunities to share the message and hope of Jesus Christ.
A Wave of Modern Influence
Since 2012, a revolution fire has continued to burn in the hearts of North Africa’s younger generation. The region’s borders have slowly stretched open to the Western world and a modern wave of thinking has captivated its growing youth culture.
“Volunteer groups and associations are forming rapidly,” Carrie says. “Although more pronounced in the capital, women’s rights have permeated national conversations. Locally, college students are organizing [advocacy] groups.” Youth taking counter-cultural action are stepping away from their parents and grandparents’ traditional cultural mold.
Discontent and Desperation Fuel Desire for Change
What is driving this budding revolution?
“Hopelessness,” says Carrie. Facing limited economic opportunities in small towns, coupled with an often-corrupt societal system, North Africa’s youth are quickly reaching a place of desperation. “In most high-school classrooms, two-thirds of the students are girls. The remaining third are boys. Many of these students see no future in education in their country.” After high school, some seek satisfaction and achievement elsewhere and set their sights on going abroad.
Seeking Fulfillment in New Initiatives
Even if the students are hopeless about the status quo, they are looking for ways to usher in change. “Many students are thinking, ‘We can start businesses, and we can start associations. We can travel, and we can bring new ideas. We can change things,’” Carrie said.
North Africa’s youth hope their determination will solve the job problems, education challenges and corruption they see as infiltrating society. As they throw themselves into new initiatives, some believe their success will grant them the deep satisfaction and soul-fulfillment they crave.
Will They Find a Source of Lasting Hope?
Although she encourages students as they pursue their goals, Carrie knows God is the only One who provides lasting hope. In this crucial time, she prays for His guidance as she seeks to weave gospel threads into her interaction with North African young people.
A Commitment to Stay
With cultural differences and language barriers, sharing the gospel can be a painfully slow process. Every word, sentence and conversation counts. Carrie is the first to admit her many mistakes. “I often communicate love imperfectly. But I also know that the time I spend with them communicates love. I want to be part of the story God has been telling throughout history,” she says.
So she stays. “And when things get really rough here,” Carrie shares, “God always brings me back to the question: Do you still want to be part of the story?”
With a steadfast yes, Carrie eagerly works and waits for North Africa’s youth to discover the abiding hope of Jesus.
Watch the video Spirit of North Africa to get a better picture of the people Carrie serves.
Stories from the pursuit
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Should we even use the word “lost” to describe people who do not yet know Christ as Savior? Where does the term come from?
Aren’t There People Who Need the Gospel in My Own Neighborhood?
Some people have less access to the gospel of Jesus Christ than others. Significantly less. Embarrassingly less. Here's what I mean...
Photo Essay – North Africa
What would you see in a North African city or town? Come with us on a virtual tour from the mosque and the market to the bakery, café and classroom.
Many Arab women veil their hair and sometimes their faces. Carrie has discovered another veil among her friends—a veil that covers their hearts.