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Remember...don't forget!

April 3, 2014

“Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years…” (Deuteronomy 8:2)

“Remember…don’t forget!” How many times do we say these words, either to ourselves or others? Old Testament passages, like the one above from Deuteronomy, were constant reminders from God and Moses to the Israelites to remember the God-given commandments and decrees, as well as their history, and to pass this knowledge on to the next generation. This sharing of the past with those in the present is also deeply woven into the fabric of the Lesotho Evangelical Church in Southern Africa (LECSA).

The church at Thaba-Bosiu, built after the mission station was destroyed by a tornado in 1956, is where you’ll find this engraved stone which commemorates the arrival of the French missionaries (Thomas Arbousset, Eugene Casalis and Constant Gossellin) to Thaba-Bosiu where King Moshoeshoe welcomed them near the end of June in 1833. The words at the bottom of the memorial stone, “U se ke ua lebala” (“Don’t you forget”), connect with Psalm 103:2, “Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits”, but also link with the importance of remembering the rich church history which began here nearly 181 years ago.

The huge rock in suburban Maseru is said to be where the missionaries rested the night before arriving at Thaba-Bosiu. The LECSA church, which is but a short distance away, has been appropriately named Phomolong, which is Sesotho for “place of rest”. The church name and the rock serve as reminders of an event in the LECSA history that, after all these years, is still remembered and shared with the next generation.

Less than a year ago, Rev. Peter Tefo, with his wife M’e Malehlohonolo) was still engaged in pastoral ministry at Thaba-Bosiu. Then the LECSA Executive Committee called him to serve as the Administrator in its Morija office. He grew up deep in the mountains of eastern Lesotho, overcame great difficulties to complete his education, and through a series of dramatic dreams heard God’s call to ministry. He’s told me that reaching the remote village where he was born is a 4-5 hour walk from the nearest road! Given my fondness for hiking and walking, I told him I’d be interested in making that journey with him. If I ever do, I’m sure it will be memorable and never forgotten.

Mrs. Tefo is a trained evangelist serving at the Machekoaneng kerekana (literally, “small church”) or outstation, one of several in the Masianokeng Parish on the far outskirts of Maseru. Mrs. Tefo has been sharing God’s Word here at this small congregation for several years now. When I visited on a recent Sunday, my attention was immediately drawn to the Sesotho words from Philippians 4:13 printed on the front wall of the church: “I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me.” No matter the circumstances we find ourselves in, such as facing the daunting task of those first missionaries when they arrived at Thaba-Bosiu so many years ago, may we never forget that in Christ all things are possible.

In a few weeks, churches large (Thaba-Bosiu) and small (Machekoaneng) will be holding services for Good Friday and Easter. As we remember Christ’s suffering and victory over sin and death, may the cross and all that it stands for be foremost in our minds, and may we never, ever, forget God’s unending love for us!

Yours in Christ,

Mark Behle serves with the Lesotho Evangelical Church. He is working to identify development projects, assist the church in preparing project proposals and coordinating project implementation.

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