21. STONED IN MOROCCO
Only once in all the 15 years that I have carried the cross have the local people raised up against me in anger. At times individuals have, but never en masse. As I came to the edge of the city of Tetouan, Morocco, little children came out of their homes screaming and then they began throwing stones and running up and hitting me with sticks. I put the cross between us using the beams to protect my face and keeping my hands toward the inside of the cross. I continued to walk as fast as I could.
The residents seemed to be very poor and militant in their religion. A few big stones slammed into the cross and some even hit me. I managed to continue down the street and I arrived in the center of town. As I came past the main intersection there were hundreds of adults who began screaming at me and doing the same thing the children had done. Cars stopped and men got out yelling, wailing and screaming at me. I had no interpreter and I couldn’t understand what they were angry about. I didn’t know what had happened before or who they thought I was, but certainly the cross was offensive to them. As I continued to try to press forward, I noticed that the police were directing traffic but they refused to become involved with what the people were doing. People began running out of stores and soon it seemed there were thousands of people swarming like flies, all rushing toward me and screaming. Every face was full of hatred and rage. Not only were they throwing rocks, but many of the men carried sticks about three feet long with a knot on one end. These were used in the mountains to protect the men from dangers as they herded sheep. They beat my arms, legs and side and then they began to beat the cross. I tried to keep walking but the angry crowd had surrounded me and I was stopped. They beat the wheel of the cross flat, not just the tire but the metal frame as well.
I spotted my Land Rover coming down the road and when it reached the circle I heard, “Arthur drop the cross and run, let’s get out of here.”
I screamed, “No, go on, get around the corner quick. If I make it, praise the Lord! If I don’t, praise him anyway!”
My words couldn’t be heard over the screaming, but when the crowd realized the vehicle was mine, they began running toward it. It took off out of sight. I whispered, “Lord, I guess you’d better get supper ready for I’m coming home.”
Death seemed certain. I thought, “If I’m going to die, I’m going to die preaching.” I took a deep breath, turned around and started to preach right in the faces of those still beating me with their knotty sticks. Then I saw two men come from a store. They wore the usual Arab garb, robes and cloth head gear. They looked exactly like all the others, but these men started screaming at the crowd, waving their arms and clenching their fists. Now the crowd was screaming back at them. Just then I felt the Holy Spirit speak to me and the Lord seemed to be saying, “Go, now!”
I began to push people aside. It was as though their eyes were glazed and they couldn’t even see me. I walked right through the crowd and was a half block down the street before they realized I was gone. A few threw rocks at me and the rocks bounced along side me, but the crowd didn’t follow. It was like Luke’s gospel when in Nazareth people were filled with rage at Jesus for reading from Isaiah. They took him out to the edge of the City to throw him off a cliff, but the Bible says in Luke 4:30, “He passed through the midst of them and went His way.”
This was the first time I’d seen a demonstration such as this, but it was as though God had blinded the eyes of the people.
When I walked out of town I saw the Land Rover parked along side the road.
What do I do? What will be in the next town? I didn’t know. I could have put the cross on the Land Rover and driven back to Europe, but no, the road was my life. I am on the way and Christ is leading. I picked up the cross and continued walking.