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May 18, 2009

Morocco, a Country Profile & Prayer Guide

morocco-map

Morocco is a land of contrasts with its fertile coastlands, the high Atlas Mountains, and the Saharan Desert. This beautiful country is populated primarily by the indigenous Berbers along with some French, Spanish, and a small Jewish population.

Some interesting facts about Morocco:

  • Arabic is the official language. However, French and English are widely used too.
  • Agriculture, tourism, and phosphate mining are the primary industries that drive Morocco’s economy. Morocco and the Western Sahara have 70% of the world’s phosphate reserves. There is widespread poverty and extremely high unemployment rates (over 50% for youth). Millions of Moroccans seek employment in other countries, especially throughout Europe.
  • Sunni Islam is the state religion. Other religions are tolerated as long as their ministry is confined to expatriate communities. 99.85% of the population is Muslim, .10% are Christian, while .05% are Jewish.

Specific ways to pray for the country of Morocco:

The new king is attempting to encourage more democracy and improve the economy as well as the lot of the underprivileged. This has brought about expectations for change that could lead to more openness for the Good News. Drought, Islamist activism, and the culture of corruption in the bureaucracy all could sabotage this. Pray for the King and those in government; for peace and stability. Pray that this nation may become open for the messengers of the gospel.

Praise God for a widespread and growing interest in the gospel. Pray specifically for protection of those seeking the gospel and national believers. Pray also for greater freedom for, and recognition of, Christians. The constitution guarantees freedom of religion – but this does not allow the freedom to leave Islam. Pray for all who have taken this step and for boldness in their witness.

A Moroccan Church is emerging – but at great cost. It is estimated that by 2000 there were 500 believers and some seekers in about 20 small groups meeting for fellowship throughout the country. Many believers are isolated from regular fellowship. Pray for:

  • Deep trust and fellowship to be established between believers so that they can meet together despite the risks and that a strong, indigenous, economically self-sufficient, Moroccan Church might develop.
  • Grace, fortitude and deliverance from fear when pressured or harassed by family, police and the authorities.
  • Those discipling individual believers despite the climate of suspicion, fear and isolation, and the lack of Scriptures and teaching materials.
  • Provision of leadership and training opportunities for believers. New leadership training programs are being developed. Pray that there may be God-given, Spirit-gifted leadership for every group of believers.
  • An increase in the number of Christian marriages and families, which then provide the basis for strong, vibrant house churches.
  • Official recognition of the existence of Moroccan believers and their identity as genuine Moroccans.
  • The planting of churches in every town and city.

Specific unreached peoples:

  • The Berber peoples were nominally Christian until Islam arrived in Morocco. There is a revival of Berber culture and script. The government ban on using the Berber languages has ceased. Literacy in these languages has been very low because of earlier insistence on the sole use of Arabic. There are some believers in each of the three major Berber people groups. Pray that there may soon be groups meeting together using the indigenous languages. The Tashilhayt New Testament was published in 1998.
  • The Maghreb Jews once numbered 250,000, but most emigrated to Israel in 1948. Today only 15,000 remain as a respected minority. There is no known outreach to them at this time.
  • The nomadic desert tribes of the south and east, who have little contact with the gospel.

Missionary work, as such, is no longer openly permitted, and former mission centers were closed in the late 1960s. However, Christian workers are still able to take up various types of employment, share their faith, and encourage believers. Give thanks for those who are living in this country – may their lives radiate the life of Jesus, and may they have a tactful boldness and faith for a harvest despite surveillance, pressure and discouragements! Pray for more to be able to master Arabic and the Berber languages. Pray also for the way to open for Christians to enter this land.

Bible and Christian literature ministries:

  • In theory, Bibles may be legally imported, but Arabic versions have been seized. Pray for effective importation and distribution of Scriptures in Arabic and Berber languages. The bilingual French-Arabic NT is popular.
  • Bible translation continues in the three main Berber languages in both Arabic and Berber scripts as well as in Moroccan Arabic. Pray for the translators and for a felicitous and accurate choice of words. Much is being done to record and distribute parts of the Scriptures in Tarifit.
  • Christian broadcasting has been successful, but the authorities have sought to hinder and discredit it.
  • Various literature agencies – most are based in France or Spain. They are working to write, print and distribute Arabic and Berber literature for North Africa.

Christian electronic media ministries are making a potent impact:

  • Satellite TV has spread rapidly and is very popular in both urban and rural areas. SAT-7 has made a big impact with 25% of Arab World responses originating from Morocco. Pray for good reception of programs and for impact on the lives and worldview of Moroccans.
  • Christian radio has been effective to bring the gospel to many – especially young people.
  • Pray for programs. The three Berber languages are a challenge – pray for these to be increased in number and variety, and for indigenous Christian music, songs, poetry and theology to be developed.
  • Increased hours on the air at appropriate times and intervals is critical. TWR (Trans World Radio) broadcasts 12 hrs/wk in Arabic and 3 hrs/wk in Tamazight. The ideal would be 24 hours a day!
  • Pray for the strategic use of Christian radio for effective church planting with good follow-up that does not expose contacts to risk, but leads to long-term discipling.
  • The JESUS film is being distributed on video cassettes in Arabic and the 3 major Berber languages – especially in ports as Moroccans travel to and from Europe. A large number of the population has seen the video.
  • There is a great effort being made to record the Scriptures in Moroccan Arabic on cassette tape.

Moroccans have migrated in large numbers in search of employment – many illegally and dangerously. Thousands have drowned in crossing the Straits of Gibraltar to Spain. There are significant numbers of Moroccans in Europe: in France (approx. 1.5 mill.); The Netherlands (240,000); Belgium (150,000); Spain (113,000 legal and possibly 700,000 illegal); Germany (100,000); and Britain (50,000). Others reside in the Spanish North African enclave cities of Ceuta and Mellila. Pray for the various agencies seeking to reach them in these lands – some being GMU, AWM, YWAM, OM, PMI, and WEC.

These are a few ways to pray for the country of Morocco, its people, and the dedicated Christians working in this country. As we get closer to our actually journey to Morocco, we will post trip specific prayers requests too.

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