A Work of Hope
Emmanuela Loccident serves with the Evangelical Church of Morocco.
If this is the first newsletter you are reading from me, my husband Fritz and I have been invited and welcomed by the Protestant Church in Morocco (EEAM) to serve as mission co-workers since October 2017. The EEAM is a partner of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ through Global Ministries. After a time of discernment with the EEAM, we are serving in the city of Oujda (northeast of the country), where there is a parish that Fritz is pastoring and where the social ministry is very present. My ministry is in the national communication team as the main coordinator. We have been blessed to serve the church for almost four years now, and it has been a transformative experience so far.
I must admit that it has been a while since I have given you all some news about what is going on here in Morocco, in the EEAM, and in my ministry. For this, I am grateful for your prayers and patience.
As you know, we all have been affected by the pandemic since the beginning of 2020. The kingdom of Morocco has not been spared from this global crisis. The country is situated at the crossroads of Africa and Europe – not only do many tourists come here, but there are also many flights to and from Africa which have stopovers here. Therefore, since March 2020, there have been a lot of COVID-19 cases here. There have been around 500,000 cases in a country of almost 37 million people!
“… Till now, the Lord has helped us.” (1 Samuel 7:12b ESV)
We are so grateful that despite the pandemic, the church has been able to help the ones in need. The Protestant Church in Morocco hears and responds actively to the call to assist people migrating through Morocco in the hopes of crossing over to Europe. This is regardless of the pandemic.
There are many programs supported by the social ministry of the national church to help those who are vulnerable. Most people we are blessed to serve come from countries in sub-Saharan Africa – including single women, women with children, pregnant women, young men, families, and unaccompanied minors. Most of them are tired, hungry, and in desperate need of help. Many are injured when trying to cross over walls (sometimes with barbed wire) or when trying to escape from the patrols. The programs include urgent aid (food basket, medical aid, medicine, clothes, etc.), professional training for those who are thinking of staying in Morocco, grants for those who wish to go back to their homeland, and funds for those who want to start businesses, to only state a few. This is the work that the church is doing in “normal times!”
With the pandemic, the needs grew enormously because everybody needed help! The students, the professionals, the church staff – everyone needed help, and most still do. Even those who were normally helping others were now in situations where they needed help, as well. EEAM’s leadership had to come up with a plan to assist migrants as well as the whole church family.
Thanks be to God; many partners of the church were compelled to send funds, and many locals (from the church and outside of the church) were pitching in so that the church could help as many people as possible. As a result of these efforts:
- Funds were sent to local parishes to help people pay for their rent.
- Funds were sent to share food baskets so people could eat.
- Funds were sent to support migrants who could not go in the streets to beg for money.
Although the church members were in crisis and confined, the church has never been this united.
“It is truly wonderful when relatives live together in peace.” (Psalm 133:1 – CEV)
The fact that we were separated physically created a need for connection that we have never experienced before. This is when I became the Zoom guru of the national church, where I had to train local teams so they could have church activities online. I have created a manual with procedures for people who are not too tech-savvy, and I have spent months on Zoom showing people how to use it until they all became autonomous.
The national church also decided to have a national service every week where all the local churches were reunited online to worship as one. What a feast, what a joy, what a relief it was to “see” each other while a threatening pandemic was at our door!
Also, an online “group therapy” type of weekly reunion has been created for the local leaders who were distributing aid in the field. It was mainly a moment where they all could share what they were going through, and, as a group, we could either help with decisions or simply pray with them and listen to them. It has created a sense of community within the leaders of the nine cities where we have the social programs.
It was not an easy task, and I believe many of you have experienced the Zoom fatigue throughout the past year, but I am grateful that God gave me the strength to pull through.
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.” (Isaiah 9:1 – ESV)
There is hope! Our work here, our presence here in Morocco, thanks to your prayers and many gifts, is mainly a work of hope!
When we look at all the work that needs to be done and people who need assistance (women, women with children, unaccompanied minors, men, students, workers, church staffs, pastors, leaders), it can feel overwhelming. No, it is overwhelming! But we have seen God provide in this crisis, and I know that we will see God’s great light shining through!
Your prayers, your gifts, your support are appreciated now more than ever. I am profoundly grateful to be your ears, hands, and eyes, extending God’s love.
Emmanuela Loccident serves with the Evangelical Church of Morocco. Her appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Church’s Wider Mission, and your special gifts.