Reflection by Sharon Price (Lexington Avenue Baptist Church, Danville)
Throughout our journey in Morocco, we were constantly confronted with reality. The ugly, no holds barred, truth of the situation of migrants living in Morocco, especially women and other pariahs of society. These would have been the prostitutes, Gentiles, and lepers of Jesus’ day (whom He loved freely). It was almost too much for my pea size heart to handle. Do I have enough love for all of the “hurting” in this world? No. Is there anything I can do? No.
What brought me to a tipping point was when we were in Oujda, on the Algerian border. A few of us had the opportunity to go into the migrant camps to bring supplies and meet with Sub-Saharan Africans living there (illegally). They’re stuck. They aren’t welcome in Morocco (society has made that clear to them), they can’t get jobs, it’s not safe in their home country or where they are now, and most are looking for a way out across to Europe (probably by boat). Their situation is dire and they’ll do ANYTHING to get out to freedom. We learned just how dire that evening.
We gathered for dinner that evening to discuss what we’d learned. We were informed that human sex trafficking is a big problem among migrants and many women are forced to “pay off” a debt or to “earn” a passage on a boat to Spain (likely to be trafficked there as well). We were told there’s even a house in Oujda where several women are kept locked up in forced prostitution. My immediate heart response was “LET’S GO BANG DOWN THE DOORS AND GET THEM OUT!” I wanted to be their rescuer, but the situation is more complicated than this (that would take another whole book to explain). My heart was hurting for these women who are hurting.
Throughout our week in Morocco we did Bible studies on different women in the Bible. With these studies I started to make a connection to the reality that was before me: What can I do? For example, Paul meets Lydia, a business woman making purple cloth by the river outside the city gates (Acts 16:13-15). He went to pray and found her (“a worshiper of God”). After her baptism she began to create a movement of prayer and worship out of the place in which she worked and lived. She helped start the church community at Philippi in her home (beloved by Paul). (Acts 16:40)
As I think about the women we met and heard about, I realize…I can’t give enough money. I can’t move to Morocco (for now). I can’t provide the gifting/skills God has given me to make a difference on the ground there. So what can I do?! BROKEN. COMPLETELY.
As I prepare to get married and move to Denmark (with a lot of unknowns about my life and future ministry there), I’ve realized the relationships and impact I can have. I want to make people aware and educate people like YOU about the situation of the hurting in this world. I want to be a regular at a coffee shop and get to know people through my visits. I want to disciple and befriend. I want to meet needs. I want to frequent the same grocery store and make friends with the stranger there (who may be a migrant, may be lost and lonely, or even being trafficked right under my nose).
Only God can be everything and rescue those women. But I CAN pray. I can love. I can build relationships. I can start a radical movement of the body of Christ (“church”). I can let what I’ve found in Him flow naturally out of my life, hanging out making purple cloth by the river on a sunny afternoon.
Reflection by Martha Robertson (Lexington Avenue Baptist Church, Danville)
When I went to Morocco, I felt as though I was going home. I was there in 2009 for the Voices United tour, and fell in love. I promised I would be back (though I promised myself I would learn French, and didn’t.) And back I went! So anxious to be there and hopeful that I would see those I knew from the visit in '09. Benjamin, Rachelle, Helge, Christiano, Lorrianne, and so many others who touched my heart so completely.
And it happened again! Our focus was different this time, though, and (frankly) I was nervous that I was not up to anything that wasn't musical. But God is faithful, and I fell in love again with these beautiful children of God. Gladys, Emmanuelle, Emelee, and so many others. And I fell in love with babies of women I don't even know, who are so precious and innocent in the great fight that is raging all around their tiny lives. I hugged and loved on as many people as I could and they did the same for me. Now I'm home and their faces are in my minds eye every day, their voices in my head, and the love they have for the Lord astounds me.
Because love, you see, knows no barriers of language, race, politics, wealth, poverty, or any other man-made limit we could set. I learned more than I ever thought I would about the power of love, both giving and receiving, and the love of God in our fallen world. God is still here, still working, still loving through us.
Perfect Love is Perfect love
in any language I speak.
It makes me know I'm not alone,
that I'm not a freak.
Others may not understand my words,
But they can read my heart
And feel the love I want to share...
to give them just a part
Of the love my Jesus gave to me
when he took the cross of shame.
The love that I feel every time
I hear Him call my name.
Reflection by Callie Minks (Lexington Avenue Baptist Church, Danville)
When were you last really out of your comfort zone? We all find ourselves in situations that are uncomfortable from time to time. Being so makes us uneasy. We prefer consistency. We are secure in the well-known. Breaking away from that protective shelter of the familiar, though, can open us up to experience life and God on a much deeper level and to see ourselves with new eyes. My recent trip to Morocco did just that for me. Leaving the safety of my home and family to travel across the globe to Africa is puzzling to some. “Are you crazy”? “You have small children!” “You know there are people in need right here in Danville.” All I can answer is, “when God calls you to go, you can’t say no.”
As I will begin serving as partnership coordinator, part of my journey was to learn more about the partnership between my church at Lexington Avenue Baptist Church and the EEAM church in Rabat. I was able to see first-hand the work being done to the church physically and by the church charitably that LABC supports both financially and prayerfully. I visited with migrants in their homes and listened wide-eyed to their stories, most filled with a mixture of heartache and hope. I found myself the lone female in a tiny apartment deep in the city where as many as 50 young men, not much older than my son, live packed together struggling against odds to survive every day (Yes, I was truly out of my comfort zone and loved it). I was also glad to help in the weekly operations of the migrant program at the EEAM which voluntarily assists individuals such as these men, and many others, by providing among many things food, clothing and emotional support. The need is great and always growing, and the partnership relationship between LABC and EEAM helps make this service possible.
There’s a long list of stories I can reflect upon from my trip to Morocco. It is an emotionally overwhelming experience. What to take away from it? The lesson, for me, is to simply trust in the Lord and not be afraid to put yourself out there. I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone. It can be scary, but when you become aware of what you can do with God on your side, it’s exhilarating.