It was another beautiful, sunny morning. Lem and I had made plans to catch an early taxi on Monday, which bought us another day with the Lesotho Flying Pastors (LFP). We all ate breakfast together at the rondeval where the food was stored, where the female pastors and I were staying. Then we were going to attend the local church before visiting two villages that day.
I knew that church services here typically lasted four hours and wondered how we’d be able to fit everything in. Shortly before 10 o’clock, we hiked up to the church. When we entered, we found they had reserved seats for us near the front, at decorated tables.
At first the church didn’t seem very crowded, but as the worship time went on the place continued to fill up. In case you’re curious, the schedule went something like this:
- An hour of worship
- A time of confession (sort of like a lamentation, with everyone praying out loud)
- More worship
- Presentations or songs by the various children’s groups
- More worship, including a conga line dance around the room
- Guest introductions—that meant us. We had to get on stage and introduce ourselves and each give a short testimony.
- The pastor’s message
- An altar call/prayer and more music at the close.
There was so much activity that I never had a chance to be bored, even going on four hours (though I was getting a bit hungry). I loved the upbeat music and worship songs throughout, even if I didn’t know what the words meant. To give you an idea of what the worship was like, here’s a recording of one of the songs.
The pastors told us that when they first started coming to Tlhlanyaku, back in January, there were only a handful of youth coming. Now they appeared to fill almost half the church. The place was packed! Many of these were from the main village, but others were coming from nearby surrounding villages. So the LFP’s visits were making a difference and this local church was growing.
After the service, we continued up the hill to start hiking to the first of the villages. While this hike was short, about an hour to the first homes, the trail had some narrow, slippery sections, with a long drop-off on one side.
Along the way, we passed two shepherds on horses who were headed the opposite direction, toward the main village. They were going there to buy airtime for their cell phones. Whoa. Talk about two worlds colliding!
Finally, we reached the first home where we were all invited into a dark rondeval. These typically only have one small window, and no electricity. In this home the family had a 15-year-old boy who struggled with seizures. And his muscles didn’t work right so he had some difficulty walking.
The pastors shared verses with the family and asked if they wanted to pray to receive Jesus as their Savior. (This was a follow-up visit. The pastors had been in the village at least once before to show the “JESUS” film.) The boy and his parents, plus a few extended family members, all raised their hands and prayed together with one of the pastors. Then the mother said she’d like prayer for her son, so we all gathered around, laid hands on him and prayed.
A similar scene was repeated at the next two homes we visited. Then we hiked up higher to another village, where we saw a total of about two dozen people accept Christ. In one packed rondeval, the pastors prayed for a girl who was deaf and mute. The pastors prayed so passionately, I thought we could very well see a miracle. We didn’t while we were there, but there was just this air of expectancy as we were already seeing God working in such a wonderful way.
We finished our visits late afternoon and traversed down a steep hill. Then, we followed the dirt road back to the main village as the sun was setting and casting a beautiful glow across the valley.
I was sad that our time with the pastors was coming to an end, but I was also so grateful to have had the opportunity to be with them in the first place. I pondered everything I’d witnessed over the three days: the LFP’s zeal and focus; their skill at sharing God’s Word and ministering; the response of the people, and how God is moving in the remote mountains of Lesotho.
How would my time here change me, I wondered? Could I be even half as bold and prepared as these Basotho were to share the gospel? What would that look like back in my own modern, affluent culture?
Back at the main village, we all ate dinner together in the rondeval. I had discovered that the canned fish in tomato sauce, which the LFPs had brought, was actually pretty good served over rice. So, I had that for the second night in a row. After dinner, I asked if pastor Francis could tell us the story of how he was saved out of witchcraft.
For the next 45 minutes, Francis told us unbelievable and bizarre stories followed by how the Lord rescued him. His older sibling had become a Christian first and shared her testimony with the rest of the family. No doubt her consistent prayers helped because, eventually, Francis understood and, as a young adult, he chose to follow Jesus.
With the storytelling over, it was time for the group to split up and retire for the night.
“I think we’d better pray after that,” I said, feeling a little creeped out over some of stories. We would have prayed anyway, as that’s what the pastors did each night after recapping the day’s events.
A single candle flickered in the dark room while we stood in a circle and held hands. Our voices melded together as each of us prayed out loud at the same time—Sesotho and English, Basotho and American, brothers and sisters in Christ.
I’ll leave you with this parting video of our taxi ride to Mokhotlong, where we caught our MAF flight. There were 17 people packed in here by the time all the passengers were in.