Published in  
Volume 1
February 21, 2023

09 - Getting Closer

It started with me making a sheepish call to a stranger. As I talked with Yassine I could feel his excitement through the phone as he was telling me about the upcoming surf camp they were planning for Moroccan young adults that were connected across the country. It would be my first time to Morocco as well as the organization’s so it was all a bit uncharted. With our departure date inching closer, we packed decks, trucks, wheels, penny boards, glow sticks, and marshmallows (we were told they were hard to find in Morocco). We had no idea what to expect, but our team of seven was anticipating a whirlwind of a trip. Travelling by plane, train, and bus for hours on end to get there was so worth it when we finally made it to our destination and saw the team that warmly welcomed us. The first thing we did after we got settled was share a meal together. The dinner table in Morocco is not just a checklist item; it’s a time for community–to gather, to listen, to laugh. We were all physically spent, but listening to them interact with each other and ask us questions of what we were most excited about and what we enjoyed was refreshing. Through lack of sleep and complete exhaustion, it was a great commencement to the trip.

We would spend the next few days engaging with the local team, helping them prepare for the upcoming camp, and in some ways just observing. The sound of worship music filled the hallways and spilled out of the windows–a beautiful representation of the boldness of faith these men had. In a country that does not openly welcome Christianity, these men were truly unashamed of the Gospel. We listened as they told stories of times where they had been treated as outcasts for their faith. Yassine is one of two Young Life leaders in all of Morocco.

His story of the Lord finding him will leave you breathless at the intentionality of our Father. He truly held Yassine in the palm of His hand throughout his life and led him to where he is now.

We wandered around the winding alleys of the medina, Yassine proudly wearing an Arabic translation of John 3:16 on his shirt. His audacity challenged me. In America where no one bats an eye if you profess Christianity, I find myself silently navigating my life, not taking every opportunity to share the Gospel; whereas Yassine lives in pursuit of these occasions with a bizarre confidence and assurance in finding them. I asked Yassine if any of his family had made the decision to follow Christ as a result of seeing his testimony first hand. He smiled at me from ear to ear: “Not yet, but they’re close.” I hung on to every word as he told me stories of reconciliation with family members who wanted nothing to do with him as a child for making the decision to follow Christ. He is persistent and patient.

The inviting nature of the people we met in Fes loved and accepted us without reason. They are so proud of their culture and so eager to share it with you. Religiously we may be different, but the conversations I’ve had with individuals throughout Morocco have been incredible. Learning more about our differences, and even our similarities, makes the gap between us a bit smaller. I vividly remember a conversation I had with a young man on a beach in Kenitra.

We talked about what it means to be “good” and what that looked like for me as a Christian and him a Muslim. I answered his questions with the help of the Holy Spirit, and he answered mine.

I went into that conversation with an inclination to learn, not to convert. I wanted to understand him and what he believed and he did the same. Morocco is a big country and Islam is intertwined in the very fabric of it. As a Christian, the goal and objective is not to stir up controversy or try to convert those thinking we even have the power to do so. Rather, by planting seeds and investing into intentional conversations and relationships, we are able to trust in the Lord to lead and guide as He wills. There are missionaries we were able to meet in Morocco who have been there for over five years and have seen very little fruit compared to other places in the world; but man, how heaven rejoices over the saved souls they have led to the Lord! It’s about perseverance. In Morocco, if you rush in expecting prompt results you will be disappointed, but if you go in expecting to make friends and build relationships you will leave full. Like lunch with your family on a Sunday afternoon, we left feeling stuffed.

This trip cemented the fact that action sports is an incredible way to share Jesus in Morocco. From surfing and skating to snowboarding and mountain biking, there’s a little bit of everything. As is anywhere with a coastline, surfing is a big deal. Though year round you can catch a wave somewhere in Morocco, surfing is usually reserved for the wealthy, expats, or tourists; even bringing along skimboards for a local orphanage collided the two clashing realities of poverty and opportunity. The skate culture in Morocco is growing as well and it has been amazing to see that up close. With the desire to continue pioneering ministry opportunities within this country, I recently returned with two other Ride Nature staff members and headed several hours south to the city of Taghazout. There we visited a brand new skatepark that had just been built by a fellow non-profit, Make Life Skate Life. We were able to leave some skate gear for the locals and through that connection quickly became friends with the skatepark manager. While our time in Taghazout was short, we unfortunately weren’t able to connect with any Christians there; but in the words of Yassine, there are no believers there yet…but they’re close!

Morocco is easy to love. The terrain is vast and beautiful–from the red canyons in Ouarzazate and the Sahara Desert in Merzouga to the snow-capped High Atlas Mountains and all the way to the bright blue Mediterranean Sea. The ground is tough but it is fertile and ready to be worked. I’m so excited to see what the future holds for the country of Morocco.