Expedition Morocco 2015
By Gary F.
Sunday, Dec. 20
The man, let’s call him Mohammad, spoke about his persecuted life. His wife was unhappy with the choice he made several years ago and those who give credit in mountain villages, selling seed and fertilizer during planting season with the knowledge they will get repaid at the harvest, cut him off. Still, he endured. Truth will do that to a man.
We met many of the first to believe in the Atlas Mountains. Each has a story to tell: persecution, perseverance, trust, faith. The God of the Bible is with them. For others, He is waiting. For the widow who said she has “nothing but God,” while clinging to the wrong god. For other women in the bondage of their religion. He will wait.
We encouraged and we were encouraged by. We shared with and prayed for. We have returned from North Africa to North America this day (with Adrianne celebrating her birthday). May more of the Berber people we encountered the past two weeks realize the Truth.
“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” – Isaiah 43:19 (ESV)
Saturday, Dec. 19
Late afternoon at the city market.
It was Adrianne and my final day in the base city with our friends and host family. Each time the wail of the call reverberated through the city, it was a reminder that we are strangers here. The sound can be haunting and chilling…and inspiring. There is work to be done through North Africa. Pray for those who serve here both now and in the future.
Friday, Dec. 18
It was pizza and movie night at the home of our host family. We watched The Polar Express and ate candy canes. Suddenly, despite the desert surroundings, it felt like CHRISTmas.
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us).” - Matthew 1:23 ESV
Thursday, Dec. 17
Trekking out of the mountains along roads that link some villages.
We hiked another eight-plus miles before catching a ride out of the mountains, ending our eight-day trek in the Atlas. We took a bus back to the city where we are based. It is hard to believe it is only a week before CHRISTmas in a North African country that thinks the Son of God was not, but only a prophet.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” — John 3:16 ESV
Wednesday, Dec. 16
We trekked out of one valley into another, hiking more than nine miles and climbing over a final pass to the last village on our seven-day trek. The family we are visiting this night has a husband, wife and daughter, all of whom are believers.
Their story is simple. “You showed us the path so we followed,” the husband said, referring to Kris. But it came as a message from God three years ago.
I was honored to share a devotional with them from a study I’ve been doing, Andrew Murray’s “Holiness.” The devo, called “Holiness and Happiness,” spoke about serving with joy, not out of duty. It was incredible to have this discussion with a Berber family in the Atlas.
Tuesday, Dec. 15
We made the short descent to the next village to stay with the widowed mother of the woman who hosted us two nights ago. The family has many beautiful and generous people, who sadly remain lost.
Adrianne spent time cooking with the widow and her granddaughter, while Kris and I hiked to another village to catch up with another brother. This follower told us how he had lived 40 years in his religion and no one ever spoke of sin and death and being saved until trekkers came to his remote village to reach those who’d been unreached for countless generations.
Monday, Dec. 14
Shepherd with his flock in the Atlas Mountains.
We moved up another valley system (one that is new ground for C4C), catching a sketchy van ride out of the jump-off village and then hiking about five miles to a remote village about 2,500 vertical feet farther up the mountains. This is home to the first follower in the entire region, but he is a Berber brother (for about six years) whose apathy has been frustrating to our partners here. We came to encourage him and pray that we accomplished the task.
Sunday, Dec. 13
Our host making us a dinner of “treed” (flaky fried bread lentil goodness).
As we neared the end of a 13-plus-mile day three men were sitting on donkeys. They asked where we’d come from. We answered where we started the day and also yesterday. One man asked if we’d been carrying the packs on our backs. Yes. “What military are you with?” they asked. We didn’t say, but soldiers of the cross.
We hitched a ride early in the day and walked about 10 miles to exit the valley our team had entered in 2013. Since then, a family in a nearby village has been befriended, which gave us a place to stay on our fourth night in the Atlas. Adrianne had an opportunity to share with the women as they prepared a delicious dinner for us. Another valley awaits tomorrow.
Saturday, Dec. 12
Our friend volunteered to walk with us to the first mountain pass and have his donkey carry our backpacks as we left his home after a two-night stay. We accepted his gracious offer and climbed for one hour to the pass before saying our farewells for now. This Berber brother is an inspiration; we are humbled by his faith. As we shared encouragement and then prayer before heading down the other side of the pass he told about his plan to tell everyone in the nearby villages what he knows. He said when the Spirit filled him he realized there could be nothing else inside him. He wants others to be filled by this, too.
Descending from second pass toward the next village.
We put on our packs and headed down the other side of the pass on what was a big day of trekking. We climbed to another mountain pass and then made a steep descent before hiking up to the next village, covering about 10 miles in less than seven hours. We’d hoped to meet a man we first visited in 2013 and who has shown interest in the recent past. But the man has been away for a week so we ate and shared with his wife. The man’s absence may alter our plans for tomorrow as we hoped he could transport us out of this valley so we could hike up the next valley in what is a series of valley systems in the Atlas Mountains. Instead we will likely have to walk the 11 miles and turn the one-day trip to the next village into a two-day effort. This may extend our trek, which we have time to do. Hopefully this is another Proverbs 16:9 moment.
Friday, Dec. 11
Sunset in the Atlas Mountains.
Our friend walked the trail with us to the next village a couple miles away listening to one of the recordings we brought him. He is growing daily, which is amazing to see. He is also quick to share the truth with others.
Adrianne asked if he felt isolated here. He said no because groups like ours come to visit him and he is encouraged. An even greater encouragement came in the evening when another man from his village came to eat and drink tea and spend time with us. Kris shared many stories with him and with each one he became more excited. “He wants in,” Kris said. He will be admitted, we prayerfully believe.
Thursday, Dec. 10
This trek begins at a taxi stand.
It was, by Kris’s definition, “a long transport day.” We headed out of our base first by taxi and then by two vans into the Atlas mountains. We arrived at our first destination well after dark. Our friend, who remembered me from the last trek here, was waiting to greet us. He is the lone follower in a village of more than 100 households. We drank coffee, tea, and ate tajine together. We were warmly welcomed on a cold winter evening by a Berber brother. We said a prayer of thanks for that.
Wednesday, Dec. 9
We connected with some new friends and discussed possible future treks here, picked up food for this trek, and spent more time with Kris’s family. We talked about being a courageous believer in a place where converting is illegal. Much like the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13 and Luke 8) some will be devoured, some scorched, but those who are strong in the faith will survive and multiply. In the week ahead we will visit those we hope to make stronger.
“He who has ears, let him hear.” — Matthew 13:9 ESV
Tuesday, Dec. 8
Kris was waiting for Adrianne and me when we finished our 24 hours of flights from North America to North Africa. We are staying with his family, preparing to head for the hills, and talking about the future.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” — Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
Monday, Dec. 7
I met Adrianne in Philadelphia and we are headed for North Africa, where Kris and our blessed work awaits. Pray on!
A friend started working a few years ago in Morocco, where 99.6 percent of the population is considered unreached. His co-worker contacted us and said, “Come!” I had an Isaiah 6:8 moment and accepted the invitation.
In 2013, our four-person team trekked into the High Atlas Mountains. “It was amazing; like working with a blank piece of paper to write HIStory,” I wrote in the expedition Trip Report, “Between the Rock and a hard place.”
We came away with success stories and a desire to return. But our friends in Morocco were doing what we are called to do (GO where others cannot or will not) so we were content to watch – and pray – from afar. Then we got news that our friends would be leaving. Another invitation: come again.
Time to go for a walk and see what we shall see. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). Adrianne, Kris and I will do as Kris welcomed us to do in 2013: “put on a pack and trek back into the hard-to-get-to-places of this fantastic range.”
“Who will go back there and tell them?” we were once asked. To which we have answered, “Here we are! Send us.”