Perseverance with Faith

Perseverance with Faith

Mark Knowles and Danielle Murry-Knowles serve with the Lesotho Evangelical Church.

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:12,15

It’s winter in Lesotho. The mountains get snow. Jackets and scarves are worn indoors. Beautiful Basotho blankets serve more than just a ceremonial purpose. Heating costs soar. It is a season where the landscape can be stunning in its starkness, yet the cost of living becomes daunting.

And this year, like last, that cost is more than just financial. One dear member of our neighborhood prayer circle sent the following message this morning: “Lesotho is cold this week. We had a cold front with snow in the mountains. Covid is also hitting us hard because we are losing close friends. It is not just statistics anymore, but friends.” Another friend yesterday sent a message about the two cousins (sisters) she lost within a week of each other. The Prime Minister has just announced another round of restrictions.

One such restriction is on travel to surrounding South Africa. In Lesotho, all travel and goods come through South Africa. South Africa itself has more Basotho than Lesotho (mostly due to colonizers drawing lines through people groups). Many more Basotho from Lesotho live there for work, or study, or other reasons. Indeed, the Lesotho Evangelical Church in Southern Africa (LECSA), has a whole Presbytery of churches in South Africa. That country has seen not only a horrific third wave but also terrible political and social unrest recently. (And, though the circumstances are different, the same can be said for regional neighbor eSwatini (Swaziland).) One pastor friend in Lesotho, who grew up in South Africa, simply said: “It is very bad in South Africa and 90% of my family lives there. It really is, and it will take many years to rebuild the country.”

Yet Basotho and the members of LECSA embody Paul’s exhortation to hold fast and persevere with others in hard times. So, the biggest church in Maseru recently donated a new pulpit (pictured here), 100 chairs, and a latrine to a new church in the mountain parish of Molikaliko. LECSA’s Office of Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation continues holding workshops with pastors and churches on sustainable agriculture. Morija Theological Seminary has produced another class of pastors to be sent out to churches. LECSA’s Education Office is moving forward with plans to build new classrooms at a growing school. The Waiting Mothers Shelter at Mohlanapeng Health Centre, with Global Ministries funding, is now available for mothers to stay there in the days before giving birth. Tebellong Hospital is using its new TB (tuberculosis) ward to better treat TB patients in quarantine. Scott Hospital just installed a new digital X-ray machine that will serve people from several communities. Scott Hospital also just hosted the birthday celebration of Lesotho’s King, His Majesty King Letsie III. He is widely respected as a leader, for many good reasons. For example, last year he canceled such celebrations entirely to give all available funds toward PPE (personal protective equipment). This year the celebration was used to launch and promote a program of automated birth certificates for newborn babies. It was held at Scott Hospital because that is where he was born, and he has a passion for seeing the hospital improve and grow to better serve the people of Lesotho.

Finally, as for the notion of rejoicing with those who rejoice, we have received countless messages and calls from Lesotho (and elsewhere) after the recent birth of our son, Samuel. His birth, and the pandemic, may have kept us in the US, but it has not kept our Basotho friends from sharing their joy with us. Not at all. Indeed, his Sesotho name, Thato (silent h), given by Rev. Tefo, means will or beloved. It is safe to say that he is already greatly beloved by many in Lesotho without having even entered the country. That sharing of joy – that warmth, fully felt, half a world away – is the embodiment of Christ’s love coming from faithful people, no matter how cold their winter.

Mark Knowles and Danielle Murry-Knowles serve with the Lesotho Evangelical Church. Their appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Church’s Wider Mission, and your special gifts.