A Door Opens Wide

How your support is making it possible for the light of Christ to shine in a remote valley

 

Just before 7 a.m. at his home in Maseru, Lesotho, Matthew Monson pops the hood on his car and sprays the engine with Quick Start so it will turn over. His wife and three young children are barely stirring as he backs out into the street and waits for the iron  gate topped with barbed wire to close behind him. Matthew, an MAF pilot and country director, drives to the MAF hangar to start what will likely be a busy day serving the isolated people and communities of this tiny African kingdom.

Later that morning, MAF chaplain Sefiri Seepheephe walks into the hangar. Skylights in the tin roof illuminate the area as local Basotho teammates maintain four Cessna 206s. Sefiri is hugging a manila envelope. It contains something that he, Matthew, and the rest of the team have been waiting on for a very long time.

 

Reaching Kuebunyane

Several years ago, Matthew and Sefiri visited Kuebunyane, one of the places MAF serves in the mountains. There, they shared a message from God’s Word with the community, and the village chief liked what he heard. He pointed to a spot next to the airstrip and told them that’s where he wanted them to build a church.

Mission Aviation Fellowship charity serves Kuebunyane, Lesotho.

The Kuebunyane airstrip, Lesotho. Photo by Grant Strugnell.

“Our people need this message that you’re bringing,” said the chief. “We have so many issues. We have so much fighting. This Word that you’re bringing is a word of peace and of God, and that’s what we want.”

A melting pot of Christianity, ancestral worship, witchcraft, and cultural traditions resides in the hearts of the people living in these remote mountains. Because MAF is here, the people have an opportunity to hear the gospel

Kuebunyane is one of the most difficult places to reach in Lesotho.

“It’s the isolated of the isolated,” said Matthew. “A full day of driving from Maseru would position you on the opposite side of a river valley. It would require a two-thousand-foot descent on foot, passage across a river, and the grueling ascent to arrive there.”

In contrast, the MAF airplane reaches Kuebunyane in 27 minutes.

Matthew and Sefiri and some local pastors returned several times in 2015. Plans were made for one of those pastors to lead the church once it was built, but that pastor passed away unexpectedly from health complications.

And, come to find out, the chief with whom Matthew and Sefiri had a relationship was not the actual chief—he was a stand-in for another who was not yet old enough.

Things appeared to be falling apart, and Matthew thought the opportunity was gone.

 

A Long Commitment

While the progress on the church seemed to be at a standstill, MAF kept flying Sefiri to Kuebunyane so he could continue to minister to the new believers there. He also spent time getting to know the up-and-coming chief.

Sefiri grew up in these mountains and he knew this young man’s life was in danger from a possible assassination attempt until he officially became the chief. Sefiri urged him to leave the village.

In the meantime, Matthew received a call from one of his supporters in America who wanted to fundraise for the church building project.

There was still the issue of the paperwork and the final lease, but God was keeping the dream alive.

A couple years went by and the young man returned to Kuebunyane to take his rightful place as chief. He phoned Sefiri and thanked him for saving his life.

Matthew Monson, left, and Sefiri Seepheephe explain the complex history of the Kuebunyane church plant. Photo by Lemuel Malabuyo.

 

A Dream Realized

Sefiri walks over to Matthew in the hangar and hands him the manilla envelope. It’s been three years since the paperwork was submitted for the land in Kuebunyane—six years since Matthew’s first visit there. And now he holds the official lease in his hands.

“From the moment I arrived in Lesotho, this has been a story that God has opened my eyes to—Kuebunyane. That’s where God has drawn my heart,” said Matthew. “And if you would ever ask me, ‘Where do you want to see the gospel go?’ Kuebunyane, that was number one.”

Kuebunyane church plant supported by Mission Aviation Fellowship MAF charity in Lesotho.

Stone by stone, the walls of the Kuebunyane church are a sign of hope for the people who live here. Photo by Joe Adams.

Construction started right away this past December, and Matthew and Sefiri have been interviewing and training two potential pastoral couples to lead the church. It’s been a slow process due to the surge of COVID-19 throughout the country. Yet they press on because supporting this church plant in Kuebunyane aligns perfectly with the entire team’s goal of making disciples and supporting existing believers.

“I’ve seen God endure at this location, said Matthew. “It’s been a battle. But at this point, we’re just about to open the door and let God’s light shine into this valley.

“God’s going to do a big thing.”

 

This story appeared in the May 2021 issue of FlightWatch. Read the entire issue here:

 

 

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