Growing Nations

Growing Nations

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me…to preach good news to the poor…” (Isaiah 61:1)

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me…to preach good news to the poor…” (Isaiah 61:1)

Chapter 61 of the book of Isaiah contains many hopeful words about transforming lives.  The Growing Nations (GN) project of the Lesotho Evangelical Church (LEC) seeks to transform the way the Basotho people have been practicing agriculture by encouraging them to farm in harmony with nature.  GN advocates “Farming God’s Way” through the use of conservation agriculture practices.   The three basic principles are:  disturb the soil as little as possible, keep the soil covered as much as possible and practice crop rotation.   

Rainfalls patterns in Lesotho are often spotty and include frequent downpours which have eroded huge amounts of soil.  Seeking to solve the problems caused by irregular and heavy rainfall in a country where the vast majority of the people still live in rural areas and depend completely or partially on agriculture to sustain themselves, missionary pastor Rev. August Basson introduced conservation agriculture while serving as pastor at Tebellong LEC.  The result?  Transformed lives!  In 2007 when most of the country suffered from drought, the villages around Tebellong were able to sell six tons of food to the United Nations for food relief elsewhere in the country.

The LEC subsequently decided to develop the historic mission site of Maphutseng into the much larger GN project.  The old missionary house dates from the 1840’s and is being revamped into a dormitory to house Basotho farmers and pastors who come for extensive periods of training.  The curriculum has a biblical focus to it as well as teaching agricultural methods.  GN seeks not only to transform agricultural practices but the lives of its practitioners as well.  At Maphutseng, Rev. Basson is being assisted by local parish pastor Rev. Ezekiel Moletsane in this endeavor.     

Convincing people that crops will grow without plowing is a real challenge GN has to overcome.  But the faith of those willing to change has brought impressive results.  More and more LEC pastors are being trained by GN and introducing the practices into their parishes.  Stories of transformed lives are real!  Visit the website to learn more about GN and view a video.  You will hear from Rev. Basson and Rev. Moletsane about the good news of “Farming God’s Way.”  Although much has been accomplished, their work and that of the LEC and GN is just beginning. 

My work as Planning Officer for the LEC includes visiting projects of the church and finding ways to achieve the objectives the church has set for itself in its strategic plan.  A major goal of this plan is transformation; including living more in harmony with creation, alleviating poverty and improving job skills.  The church is seeking to develop more projects, besides GN, to address the spiritual and physical needs of the Basotho nation.

My job includes monthly meetings with the Planning Commission of the church.  Most of the members have jobs in business or business planning.  I serve as secretary for this commission and together we are in the process of reviewing the entire planning process for the church to help improve its effectiveness, preparing documents to accompany this process, and working on strategies to achieve the goals and objectives in the strategic plan.  We often speak of God having a plan for each of us and it makes sense that the church should also plan to further the Kingdom of God. 

At the end of January Morija LEC hosted a celebration for the ministry service of Rev. AndreasMoreke and his wife Mamorakabe.  After serving the church as a teacher for 18 years, Rev. Moreke entered seminary and eventually served over 30 years in parish ministry. Their retirement service was marked by a large outdoor service and featured many speeches (including one by King Letsie III) and gifts presented by numerous church groups.  

Mrs. Moreke has probably been seen by far more people than her husband.  She was featured in a set of Christmas stamps issued shortly after I arrived in Lesotho in 1996.  Four different church women’s fellowship groups were represented and Mrs. Moreke appeared on the LEC stamp attired in her Mothers’ Union uniform.  

At the service of celebration there were several banners hung expressing thanksgiving for the Morekes’ service to the church.  The banners made reference to Hebrews 6:10, which says, “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.”  

A prayer request for the next few months:  Please pray for political stability in Lesotho.  Parliamentary elections are expected by the end of May and disputed election results have unfortunately become a regular feature on the political scene here.  With internal divisions and turmoil within the ruling party, there is extra cause for concern for how the situation will unfold.  Your prayers will be needed and appreciated!

Yours in Christ,

Mark Behle

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