In 2 Corinthians 4 Paul writes about being “…pressed on every side, but not crushed” and “struck down, but not destroyed.” Despite his many sufferings he did not lose heart. These words seem appropriate to describe the situation at the Mantsonyane Parish of the Lesotho Evangelical Church in Southern Africa (LECSA) located up in the central mountains of Lesotho. That is where Mafa Secondary School is located. This small school currently consists of one old, dilapidated 2-room stone building.
Inside there are not many students as the enrollment has declined over the years due to the poor conditions. But next door is a primary school with more than two hundred students. The community started a new building a dozen years ago, but struggled to complete it. Last February a severe windstorm destroyed the roof of the still unfinished building, not to mention the pastor’s house and some of the primary school buildings. The small church, weakened in the storm, was destroyed a week later when a similar event occurred. Talk about being pressed and struck down!
So once again I’m managing the building of classrooms. We’ve made some design modifications and are building on the remnants of what the storm left behind. The walls are now going up and the school’s principal says the activity has attracted interest from potential students. We are optimistic that the enrolment will climb once the classrooms are done, hopefully by early April, if not sooner. The contractor is using stone for part of the walls. The stone is attractive, free and plentiful, though it does take more time and work than just using concrete blocks.
The Mantsonyane area is a good 3-hour drive from Morija but the journey is very scenic as you go up the mountains, descend into a valley, and then repeat the process several times. This time of year the area is beautiful as the rains have been good and the crops appear to be doing well. The wheat fields easily stand out now on the landscape which is otherwise mostly green with maize or fallow fields. A recent visit revealed that the wheat harvest was underway. There are no combines around; the wheat is harvested by hand. One field I passed had more than a dozen men and women working in it.
While the rains have been good for the crops, they have slowed progress on the classroom construction. The building sand is being sourced from the Mantsonyane River and the current high level of the river is preventing the local supplier from getting more for us. Still, the work done so far is encouraging and the local community is certainly not going to lose heart now that we’ve come this far!
In the face of hardship, strong faith is needed in order to persevere. Worship and fellowship help to support and nourish us when facing difficulties in life. Being a next-door neighbor to the LECSA Morija Theological School is a plus for me as I enjoy interacting with the students and joining them whenever possible for their daily chapel services which they have nearly every morning and late afternoon. Some years there is a student with a Masitise High School connection, such as one of the current students whose wife was in one of my religion classes when I was teaching there.
Paul’s concluding words in 2 Corinthians 4 are these: “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” Whether in Mantsonyane or elsewhere, may we be mindful that the fears and destructive forces that are swirling around us are only temporary. Our God is eternal and offers us eternal peace and salvation through His Son. As Jesus said to the disciples, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” (Matthew 14:27)
Yours in Christ,
Mark Behle serves with the Lesotho Evangelical Church. His appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Church’s Wider Mission, and your special gifts.