I recently attended a meeting about the Church in North Africa and the Middle-East. As I was introduced as one of the consultants for Bible Society work in that part of the world, an elderly man came to speak to me at the end. We’ll call him Peter.
Peter told me about one of his British friends, ‘John’. John lost his wife a couple of years ago. Although British, he had grown up in Algeria, in the Kabylie area east of Algiers, and had to leave Algeria when the war against the French started in the 1950s.
Now very old, John felt very strongly that he didn’t want to die before he went back to Algeria, especially to his beloved Kabylie. He had heard there was a big Protestant church in Tizi-Ouzou, so he visited them. When he, looking so English, introduced himself in Kabyle, people were amazed and overwhelmed! He was invited to preach in that church the following week.
Peter told me attending services in that vibrant church in the heart of Kabylie, a place so dear to his heart, was the most beautiful moment of John’s life. He came back home to the UK saying: “I can die now that I know what heaven is like!”