Expelled Christian Workers Worry for Orphans

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More than 40 Christians have been kicked out of Morocco this week, including members of a group that helped run an orphanage in the country.

The government says the missionaries were proselytizing, which is against the law in Morocco.

Many of the Christians worked at the Village of Hope where 33 orphans are currently housed. For the Moroccan children there, Christian aid workers are the only parents they've ever known.

The expelled Village of Hope workers are concerned that no one will care for the needs of their orphans, including one with cerebral palsy who needs special care.

In a statement on their Web site, the Christians plead with the government to let them continue caring for the children. They say they have always operated legally and are not guilty of any crime.

The series of deportations began when a pastor visiting from the U.S. was expelled last February. To protect his identity, CBN News will not reveal his name.

"Understand that there were 60 officers involved, from Secret Service, from the police station and from the Army," he recalled. "There were clearly-drawn weapons as we were escorted downstairs."

The pastor added, however, that some of the police officers were secretly supportive.

"About 3 o'clock in the morning, one of the armed, dressed police officers went out and bought us a 'tarjin' and brought it in and set it down on the table for us... and we began eating," he said. "I wanted the locals to be blessed with the food. He clearly wanted me to sit at the table. I sat down. He looked me straight in the eye and he said 'God bless you.'"

Christians around the world are calling for an international outcry on behalf of the Moroccan children who they say will suffer the most from the government's actions.

"America is in the process of tripling our support for the Moroccan government," the deported pastor said.  "It just seems like there needs to be a higher level accountability to the Moroccan government for the way it's treating people and denying freedom of religion."

The expulsion of foreign Christians could be linked to the rise of radical Islam in Morocco-- a threat that CBN News has reported for years.

"I think we should be very concerned about the continued operation, cultivation, support and probably growth of al Qaeda cells in North Africa," radical Islam expert Steven Emerson told CBN News in 2005.

However, the pastor expelled from Morocco last year is optimistic about the country's growing number of secret Christians.

"Moroccans that I've met are very strong in their faith and are determined to go forward no matter what," he said.  "It could be that the Christian population in Morocco is as high as 50,000. The government would clearly want that kind of information suppressed and not believed, but there is a strong underground church in Morocco."

Related Link:

Village of Hope

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CBN News Senior Producer Stan Jeter specializes in Christian news and Latin American coverage.  He has lived and worked for many years in South and Central America, most recently developing the Spanish Christian news program, Mundo Cristiano.  Follow Stan on Twitter @StanJeterNews and "like" him at Facebook.com/StanJeterCBN.