A story of the Lord’s mysterious and never-ending blessings
Converge global worker
Aziz is a young Moroccan who I helped lead to Christ about 15 years ago. I spoke with him recently, and he told me this story. I want to share it because it illustrates how the Lord’s blessings are not only mysterious but that they never stop unfolding.
On Sunday, February 7, 2021, Aziz attended the gathering in his underground church as usual. This week, there was a young couple who nobody recognized sitting in the corner, appearing a bit uncomfortable. After a long time of worship, hearing of the Word and a time of prayer, the pastor introduced the couple, who had just moved from a neighboring town. They had to flee when the woman’s father discovered that they were believers and threatened to kill both of them if they refused to revert to Islam.
After welcoming and praying for them, the pastor announced that they would have a special collection to help them settle. He added, “Please be generous. It is better to give than to receive, and the Lord is more than able to multiply your generosity.”
Aziz told me, “All I had in my pocket was 100 dirhams (about 10 American dollars) and a few insignificant coins. That afternoon, Morocco was playing against Mali in the Cameroonian capital, Yaounde, in the African Championship soccer finals. Since I don’t have a TV at home, I was planning to go to the neighborhood café to watch it, but I was so moved by this young couple’s story, especially after they shared their testimony, that I put the 100 dirhams in the pot without hesitation. I decided that I would listen to the game on the radio.”
Aziz lives on the other side of town from where the house church is located. Since the coins he had left weren’t enough for a bus ticket, he had no choice but to walk home.
He continued, “Half an hour later, as I passed a gas station and as I was still thinking about the new brother and sister, I heard someone calling, ‘Aziz, is that you?’ I froze, thinking that the secret police had followed me from the meeting. It had happened before when I was taken to the police station and questioned for hours before being released. I thank God I had taken the police baptism class at that time.1
“I turned and saw a well-dressed man standing by a beautiful BMW. He called out again, smiling, ‘Is that you, my friend?’ I suddenly recognized my childhood friend, Abdullah. We grew up together in the same neighborhood where I still live. We went to elementary school together, played soccer together in high school, hung around in his house or mine while he played the lute (he was a very gifted musician) and discussed many philosophical subjects as two teenage friends would.
“We met halfway from his car and had a big embrace. We had not seen each other in many years. He asked in rapid succession, ‘How have you been, my friend? What are you doing here? Where are you going? Are you still living in the same neighborhood?’
“I told him that I am doing great and that I am heading home to the same house we always lived in to listen to the Morocco-Mali soccer game. He said, ‘No way. Come with me to my apartment. I am going to watch it on TV. It has been so many years, my friend. We have so many things we need to catch up on.’
“I climbed in his car, and as he drove, we inquired about each other’s parents and families. His parents had immigrated to Grenoble, France, where he attended the political science university. They are still living there, but he said he returned to Morocco a couple of years ago, and because of his father’s connections, he got a job at City Hall assisting the mayor.
“We got to his apartment in a plush neighborhood. The game was about an hour away. He made us some mint tea and sat in front of a large TV waiting for the game. He then asked me what I was doing in the neighborhood where he found me. I hesitated for a moment, unsure of how he might react, despite our kinship. But I felt so open with him that I decided to share my testimony and told him that I was at my weekly Christian meeting. I told him about the young couple who fled from their town because of the death threat from their family, how we collected some money for them, how I gave the only 100 dirhams I had since I didn’t have any change, and how I decided to walk home and listen to the game on the radio.
“Abdullah listened quietly, then told me that when he was at the university in Grenoble, a Moroccan classmate invited him to a Christian gathering, that he went few more times until another Moroccan student, who was a devout Muslim, told his father. Abdullah’s father was furious and threatened to disown him and cut off all financial aid if he continued to mix with the Christians. He stopped going, but he said that he had been touched by the songs as a musician and missed those gatherings.
“The game started, and we watched it enthusiastically, especially after Morocco won 2-0. Afterward, he insisted on driving me home. We were still jubilant and excited about our country winning the African Championship finals.
“When we got to my neighborhood, we hugged our goodbyes, then he stopped and asked, ‘Can I come with you to your meeting next week?’ I hesitated for a brief moment, then said, ‘Yes, of course.’
“In truth, I was nervous. After all, he works at the mayor’s office. Was I about to jeopardize the life of all my brothers and sisters? What if Abdullah just wanted to gather information on us? I couldn’t sleep that night but spent hours praying. The following day, I called one of our leaders and shared with him the whole story. He told me not to worry; he’ll let the national leaders know and ask the rest of the group to pray.
“Later in the week, I got a message from the leader who was going to give the Sunday message that the meeting would be held by the lake. He added that all are to memorize Isaiah 1:18-20, which would be the scripture for the message.
“I spoke to Abdullah on the phone a few times during that week, and on Sunday, he arrived in my neighborhood at 9 a.m. I informed him that we’d be meeting by the lake, to which he replied, ‘They don’t trust me then?’ I smiled and put my hand on his shoulder, trying to put him at ease.
“When we arrived, everybody greeted us with hugs and kisses on both cheeks. The service began with prayer from the leader, then over an hour of Arabic worship songs. From time to time, I glanced at my friend. He was really moved. Then the leader started his sermon from Isaiah 1:18-20. It was one of his best sermons I have ever heard. We sang more songs and shared a wonderful potluck meal. Abdullah asked me to introduce him to the young couple that fled their town, which I did. Afterward, we said goodbye and left.
“The following week, we all got a message from one of the other leaders asking us to memorize 1 John 4. On Friday, Abdullah called me and said that he wanted to come with me again on Sunday. When he picked me up, we went this time to the underground church. The brothers and sisters greeted him again very warmly with a lot of hugs.
“At the end of the message, the leader gave an invitation, which is highly unusual since all who attend are believers. To my surprise, Abdullah stood and said, ‘I am convinced. I want Jesus to come to my heart. I have been running too long from him.’ It was one of the happiest days of my life as I witnessed my childhood friend commit his life to Jesus. Many were in tears.
“Abdullah is learning to be part of the worship team, and he is been discipled by one of our leaders. He offered to open his apartment for meetings once a month. He found a well-paying job as a groundskeeper for our brother who fled his hometown. And that has been such an encouragement to all of us.
After this heart-warming story, Aziz surprised me when he said, “Remember a few years ago when you came and did a teaching on Christian generosity? That day you gave me 100 dirhams. I was embarrassed and didn’t want to take it, but you insisted. I was without a job back then, and it was a great blessing to me. But look how God honored the 100 dirhams I put in the pot for the brother and sister. I got to connect with my childhood friend. I got to ride for the first time in my life in a BMW and watch the game on a large TV. My old dear friend came to Christ and is now a member of our worship team. What more can I possibly ask for?”
As for the story behind the story?
For many years, every time my family and I came on furlough and visited Whittier Area Community Church in California, we went to pastor Bill Ankerberg’s office to say hello and ask him to pray for us. Each time, before saying goodbye, he would open his desk drawer and hand both me and my wife a $100 bill. The last time we saw him in that office, he was about to pass the baton to Pastor John. We talked, and he graciously prayed for us and asked me to take any books I needed from his library (which I did and still have to this day). Then again, he discreetly handed us each a $100 bill. I then decided that I would use that generous gift to bless some other believers in Morocco.
My next trip to Morocco was four months later. At the airport, I exchanged the $100 bill and got 10 100 dirham bills. The following Sunday, after my talk on generosity from 2 Corinthians 9, we shared a wonderful meal, then I discreetly handed 100 Dirhams to 10 brothers I heard were in need. One of the recipients of those gifts was my friend Aziz.
1 In Morocco, during discipleship, every new believer has to go through police baptism training. They learn what to say and not say in case they are arrested and questioned by the police. It has been proven very effective and saved many believers from going to jail.
Missionary 141681, Converge global worker
Reaching Muslim immigrants and Jews in Europe with the gospel.