Their faith unrecognized by the government, local believers serve displaced neighbors seeking shelter and the will of God.
Local and foreign Christians have joined in relief efforts following last week’s massive earthquake in Morocco.
Nearly 3,000 people have died, with more than 5,000 injured. Registering 6.8 on the Richter scale, it is the North African nation’s most powerful quake since 1969 and its deadliest since 1960.
But far from the epicenter near the historic city of Marrakesh, gathered believers all had the same question.
“No one ever asks of disasters, ‘Why did it happen to them?’” said Youssef Ahmed, a senior member of Tangier Northern Church, 350 miles away. “But when it hits you, everyone wants to know God’s will.”
The house church service went much longer than usual.
Although Morocco only recognizes Islam and Judaism as domestic faiths, local believers generally say the government permits them to worship quietly in their homes—under a protective but thorough surveillance. Alcohol and pork, forbidden by sharia, are also freely available in the country. About 15 percent of citizens declare themselves nonreligious, while only 25 percent express trust in clerical leadership.
“We are not restricted in Morocco,” said Ahmed. “Just don’t be a nuisance.”
The latest US State Department report on Morocco indicates that, while “undermining the Islamic religion” is punishable with up to five years in prison, there are no known cases of Christians running afoul of the law.
But that Sunday, the former Muslims had other concerns on their mind.
“Why did it happen? We cannot know. Was it because of sin? We cannot know. Was it a test, like with Job? We cannot know,” said Ahmed, who led the lengthy discussion. “All we know is that God allowed …