Hope Comes by Air and Foot

A unique partnership is bringing hope to the mountains of Lesotho

 

The sun sets on the Tlhanyaku valley in Lesotho. Photo by Lem Malabuyo.

 

A mother and her two children hiked uphill carrying empty five-gallon plastic jugs. Dry season in the mountains of Lesotho means water is scarce.

Headed in a different direction, members of the Lesotho Flying Pastors (LFP) were on their way to a village to share the gospel. They soon crossed paths with the water seekers.

The mom remembered the pastors from their last visit to the area, when they had shown a film about a man named Jesus. She was glad to see them again and stopped along the trail to talk with one of them.

Refiloe, one of the LFP members, opened her Bible and began to share with them from God’s Word. She then asked if they were ready to receive Jesus Christ as their Savior. They agreed and, with arms raised, right there on the trail, repeated the prayer that ushered them into God’s kingdom.

Refiloe Shoaepane (foreground) prays with water seekers on a trail in the mountains of Lesotho. Photo by Jennifer Wolf.

 

A Strong Partnership                                                                             

The MAF team in Lesotho had been praying for years for an opportunity to partner with local believers to share the gospel in the remote villages of this small, mountain kingdom. The LFP was born out of that desire.

MAF began sending teams of Basotho LFP lay pastors and youth leaders—two men and two women on each trip—to the Thlanyaku area once a month where they would hike to surrounding villages for a week at a time.

Things were going so well that, last August, MAF added a second key village. Now the LFP also head to Matsaile and reach surrounding communities in that area.

When they go, the LFP find that many people have never heard the name of Jesus. They practice witchcraft and live in fear of ancestors and nature, which they believe control their destinies.

“To know there is someone more powerful than any of these spirits and things they’re afraid of is transforming. It frees them from fear,” explained Joe Adams, an MAF pilot who played a key role in bringing structure and unity to the LFP.

MAF provides the strategic vision and oversight, the transportation, and the logistics. But they don’t operate alone.

“The Lesotho Flying Pastors is not our project,” said Matthew Monson, program manager of MAF Lesotho. “It’s a huge collaborative effort from so many people. The local pastors who have the ability to preach and teach in their own context—their part is crucial.”

MAF plays a crucial part in taking them to the mountains. By supporting MAF, people like you make this possible.

“Without the support of donors, the whole thing falls apart,” added Matthew.

 

Out of the Box

MAF serves the physical needs of the Basotho people in Lesotho’s remote mountains—80 percent of all MAF’s flights there are medically related, and they conduct some 200 medical evacuations each year.

But the team’s ultimate goal is to see people transformed by the love of Christ. MAF’s partnership with the LFP allows the message of the gospel to reach isolated areas of the country. The LFP members already know the language and understand the culture and the difficulties their people face. They are passionate about reaching their own.

“They can immediately make heart connections with the people who live in these remote locations,” said Matthew.

It’s required some out-of-the-box thinking about how best to come alongside the local church. Recently, Joe held a day-long training for the LFP volunteers, and MAF has hired one of the LFP members to coordinate the trips. Makopoi Shoaepane communicates with the volunteers, purchases the food, and arranges lodging for each trip. Then, she spends two weeks of the month with the LFP teams in the mountain villages.

“If MAF wasn’t partners with the Lesotho Flying Pastors, it wouldn’t be easy for us to get here,” explained Makopoi. The alternative would require a full day of travel by public transport on a winding, dirt road into the mountains.

“An MAF flight from Maseru to Tlhanyaku is about 45 minutes. We get here and we’re not tired. The same day we start going village to village, so it’s a really great help,” said Makopoi.

 

The Spiritual and the Physical Converge 

Recently, MAF had a request for a Code-1 emergency flight to bring a man from one of the mountain clinics to the main hospital in Maseru. He had tried to take his own life by swallowing needles. Joe knew one of the LFP pastors, David, had plans to fly to this man’s village. Joe asked David to try to locate the young man while he was there and share the gospel with him.

A short time later, Joe received a text from the pastor. The man had indeed heard the good news about Jesus and decided to follow Him.

Thanks to the prayers and financial support of people like you, the Basotho people are finding Living Water and hope for their souls.

 

Story appeared in the May FlightWatch, a special 75th anniversary issue:

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