Helping the Persecuted Church in Niger and Morocco

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In many countries in the world, Christians are suffering from persecution due to their faith. We are focusing on two such countries – Niger and Morocco. They are both Muslim-majority countries where Christians make up less than one percent of the population. Here, it is difficult, if not dangerous, to be a Christian.

Today, the Bible Societies in Niger and Morocco have an important role to play in supporting churches and Christians.

We invite you to join us in supporting these Bible Societies to bring good news of the Bible to Persecuted Christians in their country.

  • In Morocco, your gift will help provide Scriptures and assist new Christians.
  • In Niger, your gift will help provide trauma healing programmes to Christians who have been impacted by terrorist violence. 

These programmes are part of the Bible Societies’ focus to address the issues of Bible Poverty and Bible Engagement which they need our assistance with. By the way, Bible Poverty is where you can help to make the Bible accessible and affordable to readers in a language appropriate for them. Bible Engagement is where you can help people to read, interact with, and apply Scripture to their lives.

Yes I would like to help to bring Bibles to Morocco and Niger!

Morocco

Christians following along with Bible reading during a church service in Morocco.

In Morocco, Christianity first appeared during Roman times, where it was practised by Christian Berbers in the Roman province of Mauretania Tingitana, which is northern Morocco today. But after the Islamic conquests of the 7th century, Christianity all but disappeared from the region.

Those of you who have been partnering with us for some time will know that the mission in Morocco is highly confidential and for that reason we are unable to bring you much information regarding it. It’s a country where Christianity is regarded as a foreign religion and the Bible is considered to be distorted and corrupt.

The Bible Society of Morocco was established in 1993 and leads Scripture translation and distribution in that country. The first Moroccan Arabic audio New Testament was launched in 2012, and the printed New Testament was launched in 2015, with 10,000 copies distributed to Moroccans. The full Moroccan Arabic Bible is due to be released this year.

Every week, the Bible Society in Morocco receives around 100 requests from people who want to find out more about the Bible. It’s believed that there may be up to 40,000 Christians in the country, although some say there are tens of thousands more hidden believers who keep their faith a secret for fear of repercussions.

Bible Society provides every seeker who contacts them with Scripture and links them up with their local Christian community. The staff visit churches to teach basic Christian doctrine to those with no prior knowledge of Christianity. They also run Bible weekends, attended by whole congregations.

“Imagine you’re a remote, rural Christian and you’re on your own. We want you to know how to navigate the Bible and apply it to your life. We live in a society where doctrine is important. The truth of the Bible is a sword in the hands of believers,” says the Bible Society in Morocco’s leader, whom we cannot identify for safety reasons.

Already, the fruits of this work are becoming apparent, and whole families are being changed by Christ. “I know a family where the mother came to faith after watching Christian TV. I provided her with a Bible and connected her with a pastor. Her husband was a tough, ex-military man, feared by his family. But now he, too, is a Christian. Their four boys and one daughter are all believers, and some are training to be house church leaders. When you see this family together, they have love and kindness among them.

“To see people reading the Bible, coming to know Christ, and being changed for good… this is where my heart is. All the danger, the headaches, the security and the risk, is for that,” says the leader.

In Morocco, your gift will help provide Scriptures and assist new Christians.

Niger

Church leaders who have received training to become facilitators with their certificates.

Niger is a country that is facing a plethora of challenges including frequent droughts, poverty, and the rise of insurgency. It is one of the poorest countries in the world.

Its economy has been severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. The extreme poverty rate, which is those living on less than US$1.90 per day, rose from 41% in 2019 to 42% in 2020.1

Christianity arrived in Niger during the colonial period between 1900 and 1960. In the 1920s and 1930s, foreign missionaries established mission stations in towns, such as Zinder and Tibiri. By the late 1970s, there were around 15,000 local converts to Christianity, with the remaining Christian population made up of foreigners.

Today, Christians constitute a small minority of the population in this former French colony, around 800,000 people out of a total of 23.6 million. Up until 2015, they had lived in relative peace.

However, events in 2015 brought violence against churches and Christians which has continued to this day.

“Most of our destroyed churches and infrastructure have not yet been rebuilt for lack of funds. The start of the rainy season is a real concern because the tents set up after the violence cannot withstand wind and storms. Many churches are forced to cancel their services,” says Rev Kimo Boureima, President of Niger’s Evangelical Alliance.

He is lamenting the loss of churches which were destroyed during a horrific spate of violence against churches and Christians in 2015. At that time over 110 churches, Christian schools, homes, orphanages, and businesses were burnt to the ground, and ten Christians were killed.

The violence was ignited by events that began in Paris when Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical magazine, published cartoons that were offensive to the Islamic world. This sparked riots in the Nigerien cities of Zinder, Maradi and Gouré against Christians and churches, from which they have still not recovered.

But despite the loss of life, homes, schools and churches, believers in Niger have held onto their faith. “We have forgiven – and I have asked all Christians to forgive. The incidents of January 2015 have strengthened the conviction of the Church regarding its mission,” says Rev Boureima.

The terrorist group, Boko Haram, was suspected of being involved in the 2015 attacks. They, along with other terrorist groups, have continued to inflict violence upon people in Niger and neighbouring countries, such as Nigeria, Burkina Faso, and Mali.

On 7th June 2019, Boko Haram kidnapped a Christian woman in the region of Diffa in Niger. She was released with a letter saying that all Christians in the area had to leave the region within three days or be killed. More recently in December 2021, 10,000 people fled across the border from Nigeria to Niger to escape terrorist violence. Niger now hosts more than 200,000 Nigerian refugees.2

There is also a hotspot for violence where the borders of the three countries of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger meet. Between January and May 2021, more than 300 people were killed in this region, such as an attack which took place in the Tillaberi region of Niger near the border with Burkina Faso in May.

A teacher innocently walking down a dust-red road was the first victim gunned down that morning. The attackers then moved toward a nearby church in Fanti, a village along the border with Burkina Faso. Militants vandalized walls, burned hymnbooks and vestments, and then turned their guns on churchgoers.

Salou, a 21-year-old man from Dolbel, a village in the Tillaberi region, gave this report.

“When the terrorists arrived, they attacked our church. I was beaten on the back and sides, until they thought I was dead. The terrorists killed some of the men, took money and destroyed the church. Later, we evacuated our village and rode in trucks to Niamey, the capital city of Niger, because we were not safe.”

Since arriving in Niamey, many fleeing Christian families have been taken in by members of local churches. Others are living in makeshift homes and communities, without proper protection or sanitation. In the midst of Niger’s rainy season, these displaced people are especially at risk, including from the threat of malaria. They are among some of the 257,000 people who are currently living as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) due to extremist violence.3 4

Partnering with churches and NGOs, the Bible Society of Niger is reaching out to Christians whose lives have been impacted by terrorist violence. In the Diffa region, it is providing trauma healing programmes to both local people and Nigerian refugees.

The programme is an audio programme which is broadcast over local radio stations in the languages of Zarma, Hausa, Gourmantche, and Fulfulde. The participants listen to the broadcasts in small groups under the guidance of trained facilitators. They receive trauma healing booklets and Bibles as part of the course.

Read a testimony from Niger

One person who has benefitted through the programme is 97-year-old Mr Houssihoue.

“In the early hours of the morning two Boko Haram activists attacked me in my house. I shouted at them: ‘Are you Boko Haram?’ One of them tried to flee but he hit his head against a pillar, and he fell down, half dead. The other one fought with me for two hours, despite my age. He wanted to take me alive and make a hostage of me.

“Fortunately, the military patrol saw some dust above my house, and they came in.

“My opponent ran away, and I fell flat, almost lifeless. The military took me to their camp. Due to the effect of trauma, I could not speak for several days. I did not want to listen to anyone. I was really traumatized. It is only through listening to the Word of God through the audio programme that I have been healed. The words of Jesus that say: ‘I give you my peace,’ have healed me.”

In Niger, your gift will help provide trauma healing programmes to Christians who have been impacted by terrorist violence. 

The Bible Societies in Niger and Morocco have an important role to play in supporting churches and Christians. We invite you to join us in supporting these Bible Societies to bring good news of the Bible to Persecuted Christians in their country.

  • In Morocco, your gift will help provide Scriptures and assist new Christians.
  • In Niger, your gift will help provide trauma healing programmes to Christians who have been impacted by terrorist violence. 

Just use your preferred giving option below to help bring the peace of Jesus Christ to these people in Niger and Morocco.


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1World Bank 
2The United Nations Refugee Agency
3https://www.samaritanspurse.org/article/serving-persecuted-christians-in-niger
4https://www.internal-displacement.org/countries/niger