During the Colonel Qaddafi era, the state encourage citizens to report on colleagues, neighbors and family members who were disloyal to the ruler. This created a climate of deep mistrust and profound suspicion among Libyans. Since 2011 Libya has been a fragmented country with different groups exercising control over different parts of the country.
It can be thought of as a collection of city-states, some of which control the surrounding area. Each such entity has its militia, some of which are jihadist in nature. In this context, organized crime flourishes and exactly what is legal or otherwise can be unclear. This context makes for the exploitation of some Christians, especially those of Muslim heritage.
Furthermore, the previous era made trust within fellowships very difficult to establish. The church in Libya is severely constrained by these factors. Consequently, some Libyan followers of Jesus live abroad. They use online means to worship together despite living in different countries.
Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh
“Many Libyans have lost faith in Islam because of a lack of respect or care."
— Libyan disciple of Jesus
History of Christianity
Libyans have been among Christ’s followers since the incarnation (e.g. Simon of Cyrene). The church in Libya was vibrant in the early centuries of Christianity and the country’s historic sites include early examples of Christian places of worship and baptismal pools. However, the church was almost wiped out in the decades following the arrival of Islam in the seventh century. Today, there are five legally recognized churches, a legacy of western colonialism. All are located along the Mediterranean coast; none are in the vastness of southern Libya. These churches host numerous fellowships of expatriate Christians worshipping in many languages. There is a small, unknown number of disciples of Jesus of Muslim heritage.
January 18, 2021
March 6, 2020