How would you describe the mission of our partner in Lesotho?
The Lesotho Evangelical Church (LEC) is one of Africa's oldest Protestant churches, founded in 1833 by missionaries from the Paris Evangelical Mission society. The LEC is Lesotho's oldest denomination and today has several hundred thousand members in over 100 parishes which include hundreds of outstations. The LEC is the Lesotho church partner of Global Ministries.
The LEC has long been involved in ministries of evangelism, education and health. The church has around 580 primary and secondary schools, a seminary and bible school, two hospitals and one health center, a major printing works and book depot. For many years they have had a women's Desk and in recent years they have established an HIV/AIDS office. The church is well-known for speaking out for justice and righteousness and has, in times past, suffered for speaking truth to power. The church seeks to meet both the spiritual and physical needs of the people of Lesotho.
How do you fit into their mission?
For my first 15 years in Lesotho I taught math and religion at one of the high schools of the LEC. In this position I was assisting the church in meeting the educational needs of the young people of Lesotho.
Since December 2011 I have been working in the LEC Planning Office where I assist the church with coordinating projects of the church as well as working with the Planning Commission in developing policy and terms of reference for church bodies, looking at church structure and other issues to improve the overall work and function of the denomination. The church has often lacked adequate resources for doing this work and I was asked by the LEC to move from my teaching job into this position.
What led you to engage in this calling?
Many years ago, during a period of time trying to discern what I should do with my life, I found an opportunity to teach math in Africa through our mission board. I understood this to be my calling in that I was and am able to use the gifts, talents and interests God has given me. Having been raised in the church, the church was always an important part of my life and in my work with Global Ministries over the past 27 years I have been blessed with the privilege of helping to connect churches in the United States with the wider church, particularly here in Lesotho.
Is there a passage of scripture that carries special meaning in your daily work?
In the past year I have been strengthened by Deuteronomy 31:8, “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
What are some of the challenges facing the people of Lesotho and the LEC?
One is the problem of adequate resources to meet the many needs of the church and its institutions. Many of the facilities are old and in need of repairs or rehabilitation. There is also the challenge of moving the church forward in the area of information technology. Another issue is the need for spiritual renewal and reform. Also, the HIV/AIDS crisis continues to impact on life throughout the country. The church also needs additional pastors and evangelists, as well as increased staffing at the Morija Theological School.
What lesson have you learned working alongside the staff and students of the LEC that you would like to share with churches in the U.S.?
The most striking difference in worship within the LEC is the celebratory nature of the offering. It is often prolonged (group by group) with much joyful singing and even ululating. The people of Lesotho are thankful for the opportunity to give and they express that thankfulness very openly and joyfully!
What is a common phrase used in the local churches?
Khotso e be le lona. (Peace be with you)
Are there books that have shaped your understanding of your work in Lesotho?
- Quest for Peace, by Craig W. Hincks
- Singing Away the Hunger : The Autobiography of an African Woman, by by Mpho 'M'atsepo Nthunya
- What's So Amazing About Grace?, by by Philip Yancey
- Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis
- Basic Christianity, by John R. W. Stott
Mark also shared an idea for a Sunday school lesson related to Lesotho (PDF) that teaches children how to make these unique hats.