Prayers Answered!

“If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (I Corinthians 12:26-27)

“If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”  (I Corinthians 12:26-27)

You will remember that at the end of May Lesotho held parliamentary elections and I had requested your prayers for a peaceful voting process and acceptance of the results.  Thanks be to God, the elections went smoothly and the results have been accepted by all the political parties!  Thank you for your prayers which God has answered!

For the first time in Lesotho’s political history, no party won a majority of the seats in parliament.  As a result, Lesotho now has its first coalition government.  The new Prime Minister is Mr. Tom Thabane, a veteran politician and leader of the All Basotho Convention.  At the swearing in ceremony in early June, power was transferred peacefully from the previous Prime Minister, Mr. Pakalitha Mosisili.  This was another first for Lesotho:  the first peaceful transition of power from one political party to another. 

In the run up to the elections, the Christian Council of Lesotho (CCL) and the leaders of the major churches held several meetings and prayer sessions with leaders of all the political parties in Lesotho.  There had never been such an ecumenical effort like it before.  Churches throughout the country were praying regularly and these prayers have borne fruit.  The CCL even held another session soon after the election results were announced and this resulted in a document signed by all the political leaders acknowledging that they accepted the results and that the elections had been free and fair.  The CCL, which is one of Global Ministries’ partners, and church leaders have been widely credited with helping to secure a peaceful electoral process this time around.  Even the political leaders themselves have voiced admiration and appreciation for their work. 

The ecumenical efforts of the churches in Lesotho today are heartening.  This is especially so given that about fifty years ago churches here were involved in the divisiveness and turmoil that darkened the political landscape in the years just prior to, and following, Lesotho’s independence from Great Britain in 1966.  At that time, it was widely known that particular political parties were associated with certain churches.

Staying on this ecumenical theme, I would like to share a story of an unknown ecumenicist of 19th century Africa, King Moshoeshoe I (left and right), founder of the nation that is Lesotho today.

Although history books may not mention his ecumenical efforts, the account below throws a bit of light on this aspect of King Moshoeshoe (Mo-shwayʹ-shway) whose remarkable statesmanship talents are widely recounted in historical accounts of his life and times.  Even the missionaries who came to his kingdom were struck by his great wisdom and intellect.  A popular account of a conversation King Moshoeshoe had with a group of missionaries on the topic of his baptism reveals some insight into this great leader.  Perhaps churches today could learn something from him. 

One day King Moshoeshoe called the missionaries of the three churches then in Lesotho:  French Protestants, French Roman Catholics and English Anglicans.

King Moshoeshoe (KM):  “I have called you before me that you may baptize me.”
Missionaries (M):            “Who of us would you wish to baptize you?”
KM:  “All of you shall baptize me.”
M:    “No, you can only be baptized by one of us, not all of us.”
KM:  “But you all represent the same God, the same Jesus Christ and the same Christianity.”
M:    “Yes, but you can only be baptized by one of us.  You must make a choice.”
KM:  “You shall all baptize me in the order you came to my country.  First the Protestants, then the Catholics, then the Anglicans.  Come, let us do God’s work.”
M:    “No, choose only one, the one in whose words you believe.”
KM:  “I believe in no words of anyone of you, but you represent one God, one Christ, and one religion, by your own words!”
M:    “No, you must choose one among us to baptize you, for if one does, the others shall not.”
KM:  “Do you all agree on that way of doing it?”
M:    “Yes.”
KM:  “My children, you have surprised and disappointed me!  It is better that you go for today.  We shall choose yet another day.  I must first ponder upon these matters.”

As the missionaries turned away from him, King Moshoeshoe said to his sons and elders, “It will be wise that we take good care of these men.  They come from their own homes bitterly divided.  And if we should not be watchful over their acts, they shall divide this nation to its utter ruin.”*

It seems King Moshoeshoe understood the words from I Corinthians 12:26-27 better than the missionaries!  With God’s help and the power of the resurrected Christ, may we pray the words of Jesus (and the motto of the United Church of Christ), “That they may all be one” (John 17:21).

Yours in Christ,

Mark Behle
Email:  mark37438@yahoo.com

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