The high-pitched wail of a snake charmer’s flute mingles with haunting rhythms beat out on primitive hand held goatskin drums. Smoke from a dozen charcoal fires wafts the tantalising scent of sizzling shish kebabs to the hungry crowd. Storytellers and folk medicine practitioners gather the mesmerised around them in circles five men deep. Fortune tellers, scribes, tooth-pullers, acrobats and beggars vie for the attention of passers-by. This is the Jemaa el Fna Square, a timeless gathering place at the heart of Marrakesh.
Morocco Expanding in every direction
Almoravid chieftain Abou Bekr and his cousin Youssef Ben Tachfine founded the city in the 11th century AD. Religiously motivated and seeking to spread their own fanatical forms of Islam, their Almoravid descendants made Marrakesh the capital of an empire that extended east to Algiers and north almost to France. Marrakesh is one of the four imperial capitals of Morocco, the others being Rabat, Meknes and Fes.
Located on a semi-arid plain near the foot of the towering snow-capped High Atlas Mountains, Marrakesh today is a rapidly growing city of almost one million people that has become Morocco’s prime tourist destination and an economic centre second only to Casablanca. Approaching from a distance, the pink colour of the city walls and buildings of Marrakesh is gradually unveiled as the 70-metre tall minaret of the 800-year-old Koutoubia mosque rises from a vast expanse of date palms.
The city is comprised of a walled “old city” or “medina”, a French-built “new city” called Gueliz, and huge new neighbourhoods expanding in every direction. The medina, with its Jemaa el Fna Square, splendid ramparts and fascinating colourful markets, is the focus of the bustling tourist trade. The French provincial atmosphere of Gueliz, with its broad boulevards, street cafes, and stylish boutiques, is a pleasant backdrop for Marrakeshi “sophisticates”. Some more recent neighbourhoods provide homes for former medina dwellers, many of whom are now moving upward economically. People from the surrounding area are still flocking to the city in search of employment. Despite a growing economy, the rapid population growth and other factors contribute to high unemployment and under-employment in the city.
1 for 10,000 in Marrakesh, Morocco
As in all Morocco, the house churches in Marrakesh have gathered and repeatedly been scattered by persecution over the years. Growing maturity of church leadership, increasing unity among the brethren, and expanding vision for outreach bode well for the future of God’s kingdom in Marrakesh. Despite encouraging developments, the number of national believers in the city remains less than one for every 10,000 people.
Prayer Guide for Marrakesh, Morocco:
* Pray for the over 870,000 Muslims of Marrakesh. Pray that God will reveal Himself to them through the lives and testimony of national and expatriate Christians, through Christian radio and satellite programming, and through dreams and visions. Ask the Lord to enable every Marrakeshi to hear the Good News in a way he or she can understand.
* Pray for the Church in Marrakesh. May love and unity abound.
* Pray for believers to find Christian spouses, and for Christian marriages to prosper.
* Pray for Christian households to become the base of new church fellowships.
* Pray especially for gainful employment for all believers seeking work.