|MISSION to LESOTHO|
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of Him who brings Good News, Who proclaims peace, Who brings glad tidings of good things, Who proclaims salvation, Who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’”Isaiah 52:7
Upon the Mountains
Lesotho is sometimes referred to as the ‘kingdom in the sky’ as it is a country ruled by a monarchy, situated mostly in a mountainous region with the Drakensberg mountains in the East and the Orange Free State province on its Northern and Western borders. Lesotho is completely enclosed by South Africa. Formed as a British protectorate in 1843, Lesotho was granted independence in 1966.
Small cement-brick houses dot the hills and the valleys, with some villages, high in the mountains, only accessible by hiking, or by Basutho pony-trekking. There is virtually no commercial farming, with most families growing maize just for themselves and owning a few cattle or sheep. Only 17% of Basuthos have any form of employment.
The first Protestant Missionaries to arrive in 1833 were French Missionaries from the Paris Evangelical Mission Society, which had close connections with the London Mission Society. Missionaries started the first church, school and hospital in Lesotho. Initially Thomas Arbousset, Eugene Casalis and Constant Gosselin planned to go to what is now Botswana, but later changed their plans when they heard from some Griqua that King Moshoeshoe was requesting Missionaries to stay in the area (the King may have believed that he could obtain firearms from them to protect the Basutho against the Kora – an Afrikaans speaking people of mixed descent). The Sesotho translation of the Bible was completed in 1879 by Adolphe Mabille, the son-in-law of Eugene Casalis. Catholic missionaries arrived 30 years later in Lesotho. Today, according to Operation World, 48 percent of the population professes to be Catholic. The original church building is still standing and is still in use as part of the Lesotho Evangelical Church denomination. The LEC is the largest Protestant denomination in Lesotho.
Morija Theological Seminary
In 1890, Morija Theological Seminary was started. Today, the seminary sadly has only 30 students and 10 lecturers. We met with the Principal of the Seminary and donated books to the Principal and for their library.
Ministry in Van Rooyens Village
With the permission of the village Chief, Abrie gave an unplanned open-air Gospel sermon on Eli's Sin and the Responsibility of Parents, after a village meeting that was held to discuss what to do with some children who were disrespecting adults. We screened the Jesus Film in Sesotho to about 150 people.We also spoke at two schools in the area. One of the schools is a Christian school that houses, feeds and educates about 150 AIDS orphans in tin shacks on the property. We were impressed to learn that each learner must help in the vegetable gardens or with the pigs, and is examined on their farming knowledge!
‘Church’ Disrupts Ministry and Steals Bibles
Sadly, it seems as if the ‘Health, Wealth, Prosperity’ false teachers are dominant in this village. After an evening service that Abrie was invited to preach at, our host then called people forward for healing and deliverance, undermining the Gospel message Abrie had just proclaimed. During the Jesus Film screening, this ‘church’ held a ‘service’, with their loud singing and shouting distracting those trying to watch the Jesus film. Also, we had temporarily offloaded some of our boxes of literature in this building and awoke the next morning to find that 16 Global Study Bibles had been stolen!
Stuck in the Mud on the Way to Church
Lesotho officially had been having rain almost every day for about 4 weeks, leaving all dirt roads (that is all roads except for highways) muddy. Our 2 x 4 bakkie got stuck in the mud on the way to our Sunday morning service. Thankfully, another bakkie was able to pull us out after Abrie did some digging.
The Glorious Gospel
Lesotho has the second highest prevalence of HIV/AIDs of any country in the world. Life Skills programmes at schools and billboards promoting condoms, can only put a Band-Aid over the cancerous problem. In all our presentations we emphasized theglorious Gospel – that when God saves a person, He gives them a new heart, with new desires. God puts His Spirit in us and enables us to obey His Commands.
"Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My Statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them."Ezekiel 36:25-27
Go Tell it On the Mountains
Then it was off to theAfrica 4 Jesus Mission, about 14km from Mafeteng, in a valley in the mountains. Our bakkie wound up a bumpy dirt road to a pass, at 2000 feet above sea level, and then had to wind down again into a valley. Missionaries from South Africa, living permanently at this base, run a Discipleship School, where young people who have finished school can study the Bible and help with outreaches in the villages. The Africa 4 Jesus Discipleship School students from Kimberley also visit the Lesotho Mission once a year to help with the pre-school, farming projects, building projects and outreaches. We ran an Evangelism Seminar with the students, teaching them the Ten Commandments with actions, to teach about sin. The Law shows us how sinful we are and how desperately we need Jesus Christ to save us. Then we explained the Good News of the Cross and God's promise to take out our hard heart and give us a new heart (Ezekiel 36:25-27). "Therefore, the Law was our tutor to bring us to Christ that we might be justified by Faith." Galatians 3:24. We also accompanied the students for their weekly Bible Study in the nearby village. The Missionaries believe these local Bible Study groups are the most effective for discipleship as they are more accessible to the villagers. People are more open to asking questions than at a formal Sunday service.
Jesus is The Good Shepherd
Africa4Jesus was given land for their school by the local chief on condition that they help the local Herd Boys and Men. Herd Boys are considered to be the outcasts in Lesotho. Boys who are orphans, or whose parents cannot afford to send them to school, are given the job of looking after another family’s cattle or sheep. Many Herd Boys wear a balaclava to hide their identity. Most feel too ashamed to come to a Sunday Service. However, Africa 4 Jesus says several attend their all night prayer services held once a month. The villagers also prefer these meetings to last the whole night, because they are afraid of evil spirits if they walk home in the dark. Africa 4 Jesus plans to start a Night School to help the boys and men to learn how to read and write. It struck me that shepherds in the first century, were also considered the outcasts of society. By Jesus calling Himself the “Good Shepherd”, whose sheep “hear His Voice”, He identified Himself with those rejected by men, as well as of course providing analogies that rural people could understand.
Witchdoctors or Pastors?
The Reformed Zambian pastor, Conrad Mbewe, in his sermon, “Are We Preachers or Witchdoctors?” makes the observation that ‘health, wealth and prosperity’ false ‘churches’ are fast becoming the normal face of ‘Evangelical Christianity’ in most parts of Southern Africa. After our encounter with such a ‘church’ in Van Rooyens Gate, we saw many other posters advertising ‘healing crusades’ all over Lesotho. Indeed, many of these so-called ‘men of God’ are nothing more than a witchdoctor with a Christian name. They are seen to have special power and special knowledge. In Missions in Africa, it therefore essential to deal with The Authority and Sufficiency of Scripture, “What is the Gospel?” What the Bible says about suffering and the different causes of sickness, as well as the Duty of Discernment. We emphasized the importance of testing everything the so-called ‘man of God’ says against the Standard of God’s infallible, unchanging Word, the Bible. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
We drove three hours to get to Mount Moroosi for a Great Commission Seminar for 31 pastors. Abrie gave presentations on Why Are We Here? (Genesis 1-3), the Duty of Discernment and the Hurt of Healing. Even though he was gently rebuking the unbiblical practices that most of those pastors were probably involved in, the host pastor still thanked us for our presentations, saying “this is what we need”.
Our next stop was an old Baptist Mission, near the town of Butha Buthe. Abrie taught a Bible Study lesson on Genesis 1-3 during the midday Prayer Meeting and then also taught at an evening service on Why and How We Should Study the Bible.
Our last location and meeting was an Evangelism Seminar for pastors in Leribe. The pastors appreciated our teaching and book donations.
Pray for Lesotho
Please pray that the Gospel seed sown and that the Biblical teaching given will transform hearts and minds in Lesotho. Pray for Missionaries in Lesotho that they will continue to persevere despite the challenges of living in rural areas, still steeped in Animism. May more workers be sent to “go, tell it on the mountains, that Jesus Christ is Lord!”
“Proclaim His salvation day after day. Declare His glory among the nations, His marvellous deeds among the peoples. For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise. He is to be feared above all.”1 Chronicles 16: 23-25
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