My own challenge is to go beyond what I am comfortable with and grasp whatever this new country has to offer.
Get to know Emmanuela Loccident and Fritz Gerald-Joseph, new Co-workers in Mission. They begin a joint appointment of The United Church of Canada and the Common Global Ministries Board (United Church of Christ USA/Disciples of Christ) assigned to the Evangelical Church of Morocco.
How would you describe the mission of the Evangelical Church of Morocco?
Fritz: The Evangelical Protestant Church in Morocco is called the ‘’crossroad church.’’ Morocco lies between the North (Europe) and the South (Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East). It’s a welcoming church open to everyone—tourists, migrants, and Moroccans—providing a place for Christians to worship and to live their faith. Several programs serve sub-Saharan migrants and refugees heading to Europe.
How do you fit into their mission?
Emmanuela: The church in Morocco is mainly composed of migrants and students, many from Sub-Saharan Africa. My ministry is with the migrant community, providing training so that when they return to their home country or move to another place, they will have something they can use. Communication is also a big role for me.
Fritz: There aren’t enough leaders to provide pastoral care to all members of the church. I serve as lead pastor at a church in Oujda, and travel from city to city to do workshops and training for young adults.
What led you to engage in this calling?
Fritz: I strongly believe that God has led me to this calling. We are all called to serve one another with our gifts, talents, time, and resources. This is a place where I can make a difference in the lives of others.
Emmanuela: I believe that God has orchestrated my husband’s and my life so that we arrived in this place for this ministry.
Is there a passage of scripture that carries special meaning in your daily work?
Emmanuela: The most significant one is Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ that gives me strength.”
Fritz: Matthew 25:35-40: “For I was hungry, and you gave me food; I was thirsty, and you gave me drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in.”
What are some of the challenges facing the people of Morocco, our partner, or yourself?
Fritz: The people here face many challenges, but one of the greatest is integration of non-Moroccans. There are many Moroccan laws and social structures that restrict the rights of foreign citizens.
Emmanuela: The Moroccan people are experiencing a huge change in their society. From being a fairly closed society they are seeing more migrants and refugees.
Fritz: For our partner, the main challenge is finding financial resources to support church leaders and sustain social programs for the migrants. It is also a challenge to maintain good relationships with the government.
Emmanuela: Another challenge our partner faces daily is interreligious dialogue. We work towards good relationships by living out our faith and welcoming others. We understand that the main message of the gospel is love!
I am transformed by what I’ve seen, heard, and lived and am forever grateful for all I have learned. My own challenge is to go beyond what I am comfortable with and grasp whatever this new country has to offer. We are experiencing things we’ve never seen. We have to be careful not to impose our way of thinking.
Fritz: It is a challenge to find common ground and maintain unity between church members with multiple cultural, social, and theological understandings. The congregation has about 30 different nationalities in its membership, and 80 percent are young adults. Keeping unity in this great diversity is one of the most challenging aspects of my work.
What is a lesson you have learned from our partner that you feel should be shared with churches in the U.S. and Canada?
Emmanuela: There is more! More of the world we haven’t seen. More in God we haven’t experienced. More in ministry than we ever imagined. It is easy to judge or have a preconceived idea about our neighbors when they live on the other side of the planet, but living with them is a totally different experience that is so gratifying and enriching!
Fritz: I have learned here what it is really meant to “be the church” of Christ in a practical way. To not only preach and teach the Word but actually to do and to become the Word. To have compassion for the lesser, to feed the poor, clothe the naked, and welcome the stranger—not occasionally but on a daily basis.
Does this blog pique your interest to participate in people-to-people opportunities with global partners? Interested in having a speaker visit your community? We invite you to find out more at the People in Partnership webpage or by e-mailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.