The Lesotho Evangelical Church in Southern Africa (LECSA) is one of Africa's oldest Protestant churches, founded in 1833 by missionaries from the Paris Evangelical Mission society. It is Lesotho's oldest denomination and currently has several hundred thousand members. The LECSA, partner church of Global Ministries since 1983, has twelve presbyteries (11 in Lesotho and 1 in South Africa). Each presbytery has anywhere from 5-14 parishes. Each parish has one pastor and 10-15 outstations.
Due to the rugged, mountainous terrain of the country, pastors of remote outstations must travel by foot or by horseback to visit their congregations. In many places there are limited roads leading to the outstations, making a visit to these outstations a half-day’s travel and require overnight stays. While horses have greatly benefited LECSA pastors, they require considerable care and protection, as the mountain areas are particularly susceptible to livestock theft.
Among the many advantages, motorcycles are faster than horses, and the cost of fuel is far less than a motor vehicle and arguably less than the cost of public transportation. In addition, motorcycles are small enough to be stored in a building for security, and the maintenance costs are minimal compared to motor vehicles. Finally and most importantly, motorcycles equipped with the proper tires can go almost anywhere, even if a decent road is not available.
Training and basic maintenance instruction would be provided for pastors new to using motorcycles. Each presbytery will take responsibility for the motorcycles allocated to them, including the forming of a savings fund to pay for the ongoing costs of insurance, repair and replacement of parts, and future purchases of motorcycles and equipment.
The LECSA hopes to purchase five motorcycles in order to provide greater pastoral care for parishioners and the ability to provide church services in more than one outstation each Sunday with reliable transportation.
- $250 can pay for registration, training expenses, and one year of insurance
- $500 can pay for a complete riding kit, including a helmet, gloves, footwear, and outerwear
- $2,000 can pay for a Honda Motorcycle (150cc) for use by a pastor serving multiple outstations
Through the Motorcycles for Mountain Pastors project, LECSA has purchased four new motorcycles. Three of the motorcycles are available for pastors to visit their parishes, and one motorcycle is used for training purposes.
After one year of the project, LECSA recognizes that they will need to spend more time training and preparing pastors for the licensing exam and to begin driving. Three pastors were trained in 2016, and one pastor has been able to obtain a license and begin using a motorcycle to visit his parishes. In 2017, LECSA is emphasizing the training portion and expect the two other pastors who began training last year will be able to obtain their licenses this year.
Reverend Bonang Mapitse
Reverend Bonang Mapitse is the pastor for the mountain parish of Tsoelike. He was trained to use a motorcycle as part of the project in 2016 and has been using one of the motorcycles since September 2016. He reports that the project has been a great blessing to his ministry.
His parish has 15 outstations. The furthest of these would take Reverend Mapitse seven hours to reach on foot. Using a motorcycle, he can be there in 2 hours. Some of the outstations were close to dying when he came into the parish, but now that he is able to visit them more frequently this is no longer the case. By using the motorcycle he can visit two outstations on a Sunday, which has improved giving in his congregations. While his parish has to bear the running costs of the motorcycle, they do not complain because they can easily see the benefits. They are very happy to have a motorcycle for their pastor to use because he is able to visit them more often.
Reverend Mapitse knows how valuable the motorcycle is for his ministry. If he were transferred to another parish where there is no motorcycle, he says he would consider trying to buy one for himself!