The church in Morocco consists mainly of believers from a Muslim background. According to estimates from Open Doors, about 2,000 indigenous believers live in the country where they secretly meet in house churches. Because in Morocco, leaving Islam to follow Jesus is seen as betrayal to your family and tribe.
Deep in the south of Morocco, two young women students meet each other in secrecy.
In their hearts, both women are followers of Jesus. However, they must live as secret believers–after their families threatened their lives if they did not return to Islam.
Some years ago, Nadeem*, 21, and Fatima*, 20, made the life-or-death decision to follow Jesus after another Christian woman shared the gospel with them.
Forced to Live a Lie in Morocco
Excited about their newfound faith, the girls told their families that they had become believers right after they converted. They weren’t prepared for their reaction.
“My family was very angry with me, and my father beat me when he heard it,” says Nadeen. Fatima had the same experience.
When the pressure became too much, Fatima decided to follow Jesus secretly and pretend to return to Islam.
Nadeem still uses the hijab, following the traditional interpretation of Islam her parents adhere to. Fatima doesn’t use the veil.
“My parents don’t think it necessary to use the hijab.”
Both women are still studying. Because their families monitor the girls closely, they cannot go to the Sunday meetings of a house church.
“But, thank God, we found a way to meet with some other Christians on another day in the week,” says Nadeem. “We organized that in a way that my family doesn’t get suspicious.” Fatima adds, “It is so good to have these moments together.”
‘My Father Would Kill Me’
Maintaining their secret means being constantly alert.
“I am so afraid that my parents will find out. My father would kill me,” Nadeem says. She means that quite literally. For her, death is a real threat.
“Recently I was talking with a Christian lady who is known as a Christian, and at that moment I saw a relative of mine passing by,” she says. “I tried to hide behind the lady to not be seen by my relative. As far as I know, she didn’t see me, or at least didn’t say anything to my parents.”
Nadeem’s experience is common to many secret believers living in Morocco.
“Moroccans are considered, by default, to be Muslims,” she explains. “There is recognition that there are Moroccan Christians, but Morocco is considered by almost all Moroccans to be a Muslim country. Christians have been harassed, threatened or obstructed in their daily lives for faith-related reasons.”
Like other predominantly Muslim countries, converts are seen as “infidels,”–betrayers of their parents’ religion. Of course, some conversions are accepted by the family.
“In general a family wouldn’t speak with the outside world about the conversion because they consider it a shame for the family,” says Collin, who coordinates Open Doors’ work in a large part of North Africa. “But other families don’t accept the conversion, like the families of Nadeem and Fatima. Their families threatened them, turned physically violent, and did everything they could to make their children return to Islam.”
When converts refuse to return to Islam, they are sometimes expelled from their family and lose everything. In general, their friends would also reject them and end their friendship.
“But these women said that their family might even kill them, and they are being serious about that,” Collin says.
The Only Way to Follow Jesus
The two young women have thought and dreamed about leaving home and moving to a larger city in Morocco to live there together.
“We really thought this would work out, but thinking about it, we realized it was a crazy plan,” Fatima says.
In Moroccan culture, single young women don’t go out and live on their own; normally, a woman only leaves her family’s home when she marries.
Fatima and Nadeem have a hard life living as secret Christians. For now, this scenario seems to be the only way to follow Jesus. Thank God these two young women are connected to a small house church and that the couple who leads the church is discipling them.
Praying With Nadeem and Fatima
- Pray for wisdom and discernment as Nadeen and Fatima live as secret believers yet come together secretly.
- Pray with these young women and the women discipling them. Ask God to grow them in their faith in the face of the persecution they live with every day.
- Pray for protection and safety–that Fatima and Nadeen can continue to meet together and not feel so isolated.
- Pray for the couple who leads the house church Nadeen and Fatima are connected … ask God to give them vision for these devoted believers and a passion to pray for their small flock.
- Pray for the families of Fatima and Nadeen–that they would come to know Christ, too, and ultimately the two girls could follow Jesus openly and honestly without threat.
- With your support, Open Doors works with house churches in Morocco and in the rest of North Africa to help secret believers like Nadeen and Fatima.
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