Morocco (MNN) — It's been almost a month since foreign Christian workers were deported from Morocco. This once-tolerant Muslim nation now is not so tolerant.
Morocco's Communications Minister Khalid Naciri told reporters that the government would be "severe with all those who play with religious values." He also called Morocco a land of tolerance and said Christians can live and worship there as long as they don't proselytize.
Avant Ministries has worked in Morocco for more than 100 years. That changed a bit about 10 years ago, says Avant President and CEO Jack Elwood. "During the last situation, when expatriates were forced out of the country, we began to work through national believers and also media broadcasts out of Malaga, Spain. And, in those 10 years we've seen our local churches multiply from about 20 to over 50 churches."
Avant's Short-Cycle church planting strategy has been successful there. "It's very much THEIR church, and we are alongside in a coaching and encouraging role," says Elwood.
Elwood asks Christians worldwide to pray for Moroccan believers. "Not only are expatriates being kicked out of the country, but great pressures are being put upon national believers as well. Many of our friends and contacts have been questioned by the police and are under great pressure."
Elwood says this is good and bad for the church. Pressure is always a concern, but "it forces the church to grow and to endure hardship. And that makes them stronger and makes them even more bold in their proclamation of the Gospel."
The amount of ministry spending in the Islamic world is just a fraction of other areas of the world. Elwood says, "We are continuing to put more and more resources into those least-reached and unreached areas of the world. And as many MNN listeners know, this is a tough nut to crack." Why? Elwood says, "There's not an Islamic country in the world that truly allows freedom of religion. So as a result, there's not only great danger, but great hardships, especially for expatriate workers who are involved in those types of ministries."
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