A Brief Report About The Moroccan Church (2001)

During the past decade the Church of Morocco has grown enormously to thepoint that the local authorities and media can no longer deny that there are Moroccan converts to Christianity. Nor can they deny an active endogenous Moroccan Church. Praise the Lord - Hallelujah!

Meanwhile, the enemy has also been very active in sowing his weeds and parasites in the midst of the field to choke the growing wheat and infect it with diseases to limit the maximum possible productivity and harvest.

The aim of this report is to expose the schemes of the enemy so that we can encounter them effectively through prayer and spiritual warfare on behalf of the young Church and therefore reverse the situation till the Lord's plan for our nation is fulfilled. As caution though, let's not forget that our struggle is not against people but against Satan and his principalities.

External struggles:
Government: Despite the significant improvements in the human rights in Morocco, Christians remain the least beneficiaries of these changes. They are still denied some very basic rights, such as:
Lack of freedom to attend Churches or to gather and practice their faith openly. Lack of the right to be recognised as Christians or officially use Christian names for themselves and for their children. Lack of the right to express their Christian views or defend their faith even when they come under Muslims attack. Lack of freedom or even the possibility to marry as a Christian. Christians have no choice but to marry under Islamic law (sharia), which means marrying as if they are still Muslim. Even in cross-cultural marriages where one party is Moroccan, the marriage still has to be done according to sharia. Lack of freedom to a Christian burial. When a local Christian dies, his body is treated according to the Islamic rituals for the dead and buried in a Muslim cemetery with Muslims facing Mecca, despite the fact that there are Christian cemeteries where they can be buried and Christian ministers who can perform Christian burial ceremonies.

They still face different sorts of pressures and intimidation, such as in the following examples:

Although there is a Bible Society in Morocco and they already have printed Bibles, they can neither sell nor distribute them. Meanwhile, the importation of Arabic Bibles from overseas is not allowed under the excuse that there is a Bible Society, which handles that from within the country.

Known Christians, mostly leaders are placed under police surveillance and are obligated to regularly report to the police about their religious activities and spy on other believers.

Christian materials that arrive by post are turned to the police, who in turn make sure that the addressees would return to them whatever material they may have received earlier and give them assurance to stop receiving further materials.

Encouraging the media to steer up the public against Christians and Christianity.

Either steering Muslim religious fanatics to persecute the Christians and force them to reconvert to Islam or closing their eyes toward the Muslim fanatic aggressions.

Police regular interrogations, threats, physically assault, psychologically abuse, prosecution and jailing of believers for their faith.

Denying issuance of legal documents (i.e. birth or residency certificates, business licenses, etc.) to believers unless they submit to their requests, for example, spying for them.

Setting believers up against each other according to the old tactic, divide and conquer.

(NB: Since the ascension of King Mohammed VI, in 1999, at least one Moroccan Christian have been jailed.)

Society and Religion: Moroccans in general are very hostile toward Christianity and Christians. When a Moroccan converts to Christ, s/he has to face and a lot of pressure, very often from more than one side on a daily basis, such as:

Family and relatives: Most of the converts are youth, who do not have jobs and therefore totally depend on their Muslim families for their daily food and shelter. When the parents hear about their kids' conversions, they often use whatever means they can to force them to reconvert back to Islam. They deny them food, beat and abuse them, denounce them to the authorities, force them to perform Islamic practices and to attend Islamic education. When those forms of punishment do not succeed, some tough parents go as far as cutting their kids off from the family and throw them to the streets. Unless another Christian takes care of them, they end up as homeless and delinquents. In both conditions, they end up as a burden either for the believers and the Church or for the society.

Friends and neighbours: When a person converts, s/he often gets ex-communicated by old friends and neighbours. S/he becomes like a "stench" in the Muslims midst. Most won't even talk to him, while the rest seize every opportunity as a chance to ridicule, insult and sometimes even beat him. So, s/he becomes isolated and discriminated against. Unless he finds some other Christians, s/he will remain isolated.

Work: Although, the work legislation does not authorise employers to mind their employees private lives such as beliefs, some of them take advantage of their positions and force Christian workers to reconvert and if they refuse they get fired. In other cases fanatic co-workers put all the pressure they can on those Christians to force them to quit. Off course, when such violations are committed against Christians, no government officer (i.e. work inspector or court judge) would stand for their cause, but instead blame them. Furthermore, it is irrelevant for a Christian to work in the public sector and hold offices. If they do they would have to keep their faith absolutely confidential and possibly be away from other Christians so that they won't be noticed and brought to account.

Islamic laws: During Ramadan, local Christians are forced to fast as well as the rest of Muslims. If a believer gets caught eating during day or simply accused of doing so, he would end up paying a fine and spending months in jail. Meanwhile, many Muslims do not observe the fast and no one bothers them. Believers' children who attend Moroccan schools are obligated to memorise Quran portions and learn the Islamic education alongside with the Muslim kids and as if they were Muslims. Meanwhile, the system does not teach them anything about the Bible and Christianity. When a Moroccan converts, s/he can no longer share in his parents will after they die. However, if the convert dies first, his relatives can still claim what he has left and according to the Islamic laws.

Economy: With the ongoing recession in the Moroccan economy, local Christians often have to suffer from financial crises and endure the worst hardships and challenges, such as:

Unemployment: The current joblessness rate is over 20%. In addition to this, according to culture, obtaining a job in Morocco often depends on family connections and business relationships. With the absence of relatives' support, a Christian's chance to find a job is almost impossible. Unless some Christian entrepreneurs would heir them no one else would. In the public domain, it is irrelevant for a Christian to get a job and become a public servant or officer.

Business: There are two major obstacles that often stand in front of Christians who want to develop their own private businesses. On one hand, they usually don't have enough resources and funds. On the other hand, even if they might have all they basically need to start a business, the underdevelopment and poverty of their areas prevents them from doing so. Competition is another challenge.

Impacts of Persecution on the Church and Believers:
New and weak Christians often give up their faith in Christ and submit, at least outwardly, to the pressure put on them from different sides. According to one pastor who served in Morocco for years, only 10 to 20% of converts keep their faith and wouldn't give it up no matter what persecution they might face.

Stronger Believers and leaders cannot move and share the Gospel freely. They have to be careful about every word they speak or move they make, otherwise they may get themselves into troubles. They are regularly under psychological and spiritual pressure.

Believers, mostly in rural areas and small towns, often immigrate to big cities or overseas, somewhere where they can make a living to support themselves. By moving away from their hometowns, the local churches get dismantled and instead of increasing and enlarging they decrease and even cease to exist.

Believers who are making money, in addition to their families, they have to carry the burden of the believers who are jobless and needy. If they can't get them jobs, they would have to feed and lodge many of them. That makes them work harder, which often results in neglecting their own spiritual nourishment and therefore turn into busy money making machines.

Instead of focussing on expansion, many local Churches struggle to survive and provide for their own needs. Due to lack of funds, they have to depend on help from abroad to run their ministries and outreaches. On one hand they have to cope with the limited funds, and on the other, they are sometimes obligated to follow the funding organization's plans and recommendations rather than the needs.

However, those same struggles have proven also to have impacted the same church in a positive way, mostly from a qualitative prospective, as in the following:

Refining, approving and strengthening the believers.

Allowing them to get closer to each other in love and unity and to put aside their differences.

Pushing them to realise their need for the Lord and therefore seek His face and abide in Him more.

Serve as living testimonies for the unbelievers to open their eyes to see the difference between Christianity and Islam and to realise why those converts have chosen to follow Christ and suffer for His name rather than remain as Muslims and enjoy privileges and no discrimination.

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