Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith; to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen. (Romans 16:25-27)
Kingdom in the Sky
Lesotho is a democratic, sovereign and independent country with the unique characteristic of being totally surrounded by its neighbour the Republic of South Africa. It has a population of just over 2 million and its area is 30,355 sq km (11,720 sq mi).
The original inhabitants of the area now known as Lesotho were the San people. They emerged as a single polity under King Moshoeshoe I in 1822.
In 1869, the British signed a treaty with the Boers that defined the boundaries of Basutoland, and later Lesotho, which by ceding the western territories effectively reduced Moshoeshoe’s Kingdom to half its previous size. Basutoland gained its independence from Britain and became the Kingdom of Lesotho in 1966
It experienced 23 years of military rule from 1970 to 1993 when power was handed over to a democratically elected government. A new constitution was implemented leaving the King without any executive authority and proscribing him from engaging in political affairs.
In 1998, violent protests and a military mutiny following a contentious election prompted a brief but bloody South African military intervention. Constitutional reforms have since restored political stability and peaceful parliamentary elections have been held since.
Lesotho is one of three remaining monarchies in Africa.
Three Claims to Fame:-
- Highest Lowest point – the lowest elevation in Lesotho is at the junction of the Orange and Makhaleng Rivers at 1,400m. Hence the name: Kingdom In The Sky.
- 2nd shortest rail network in the world – 1.6km.
- One of only three, and the largest country in the world entirely landlocked by only one country. (The other two being Vatican City and San Marino)
Christianity is the dominant religion in Lesotho. The Christian Council of Lesotho, made up of representatives of all major Christian churches in the country, estimates that approximately 90% of the population identify themselves as Christian however true disciples are difficult to find.
Lesotho Protestants represent 45% of the population (Evangelicals 26%, and Anglican and other Christian groups an additional 19%), Roman Catholics represent 45% of the population, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Baha’i, and members of traditional indigenous religions comprise the remaining 10%.
While Christians can be found throughout the country, Muslims live primarily in the northeast. Most practitioners of Islam (mainly Sunni) are of Asian origin, while most Christians are members of the indigenous Basotho. Many Basotho “Christians” practice their traditional cultural beliefs and rituals along with Christianity. They believe Modimo (God) cannot be approached by humans and ancestors act as intercessors between Modimo and the living. This form of religious syncretism is rampant and has caused great confusion about what is true Christianity among the people.
The Catholic and Anglican Churches have fused some aspects of local culture into their services; for example, the singing of hymns during services has developed into a traditional call and response in the Sesotho language. Indigenous religious beliefs also influence Songoma, a form of traditional medicine.
Maseru - the Capital City of Lesotho
There is a very high incidence of HIV/ AIDS in Lesotho which has resulted in an increasing number of orphans. The disease has ravaged the population wiping out mothers and fathers, leaving a society made up predominantly of grandparents and children. These orphans are cared for in a number of ways. Sometimes children are left in the care of relatives where often they become second rate members of the family and are not always treated with care and compassion.
Other children end up in orphanages of varying reputations with the better ones facilitating international adoption. The locally run orphanages with little or no international financial support often struggle to care properly for the children. A large proportion of orphans end up in child-headed households, i.e. a situation where children bring up children. These orphans are largely left to fend for themselves.
The McCartney family, of CWM Fellowship, spent five years in Lesotho from 2005 to 2010. During this time, they built close relationships with local Christians and became aware that the most effective way to provide support to the people of this nation is to liaise with these locals as opposed to working with Aid Agencies. They have made it possible for CWM Fellowship to provide support to Koili & Gerdien Moliko who are living and working in a village called Tebellong on the Senqu (Orange) river not far from Sekake (see map). Access to Tebellong is difficult in the wet season as crossing the Senqu can only be done by boat. Koili (himself an orphan) and Gerdien live life amongst the local community and have a heart to come alongside the orphans in the child-headed households in their midst. Gerdien has a desire to bring the Gospel to children in an educational setting. To that end she has set up a small pre-school which she hopes will expand.
CWM’s mission support to Lesotho includes providing funding for Koili and Gerdien to put towards the construction of a new pre-school. They are in the process of acquiring a parcel of land for this facility. Funds for blankets and Sesotho language Bibles to be given to orphans. These are purchased and transported to Tebellong by Mission Aviation Felowship (MAF) Lesotho on the Fellowship’s behalf.
Recently, the children at CWM Fellowship have been making Bible Bags that will be shipped to Tebellong along with the Bibles and blankets. It gets very cold in the mountains during the winter so the Blankets will be a very welcome help to keep the children warm.
Thanks to everyone that have made donations to Lesotho, and to those who have volunteered their time working with the local communities and orphanages.
Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. (James 1:27)