Tunisia (IMB/MNN) — The Arab Spring started in Tunisia, but three years later, things remain unsettled.
The government is chasing down an insurgency and the country’s economy is still in tatters. Yet, young people are shaping social and economic development, challenging social norms and values, and building the foundation of their future.
This week the United Nations Development Program is convening a forum in Tunisia to launch a new global strategy that puts youth at the center of all the work done in support of development worldwide.
It’s a much needed boost. In an earlier report from the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, Ryan Bergman*, a Christian worker in Tunisia, said, “People want to leave because they do not see hope here and have unrealistic ideas of what life would look like in the outside world.”
Unemployment has yet to improve in Tunisia, standing at roughly 17%. Inflation continues to rise, which means despite newfound freedom, there’s still discontent. Henry Wolfe*, another Christian worker in Tunisia, said, “The problems in Tunisia are that the best and brightest do everything they can to leave and go somewhere else, most planning never to return.”
However, recent research has shown that a majority of young Tunisians remaining use social media on a regular basis. Facebook is especially popular among educated young women, and they post and chat in Arabic, French, and English.
Pray that they will find and “Like” pages with Scripture portions, Bible stories, and contemporary music in English and Arabic. Many of these pages have information for people who would like to contact the page posters and get together to discuss spiritual things. Pray that this method of seed-sowing will reach deeply into the communities of Tunisia, resulting in the fruit of changed lives.
Although Bergman’s comment was reflective of a Tunisia a year ago, his thoughts have been echoed by other Christian workers who say there has been more freedom to share more openly. “This is a great time to be in Tunisia,” noted Bergman. “It is still easy to meet new people, and some of them want to talk about topics of importance: how to find a job, how to have a better marriage, how to know God in a personal way.”
*names changed for security purposes.