A road map of Lesotho stated, “Distances are not a measure of time.” Roads in Lesotho are unpredictable. Locations which appear close on a map may require navigating over washed out dirt roads, which becomes a battlefield for a car. The driver must control the vehicle with great skill or face disaster coming from a piercing rock or all-consuming mud. Perhaps, this is one reason much of Lesotho remains untouched from modern change. The MAF airplane becomes a vital tool in reaching these most remote places, which is why I had some hesitations about visiting Ha Nkau, a village in the Southern portion of the country. The best road in Lesotho passes besides the village, so I though, “Surely there must be a strong Church and amenities already there.”. To my surprise though, I was dead wrong.
After the aircraft knob was moved to prevent fuel from entering the engine, the propeller of my Cessna 206 fixed-wing aircraft attempted a few more slowing rotations until it’s momentum ceased. The four pastors and I gathered our things and began our short journey to the clinic located near the village. As we walked up a small hill we met a man carrying the most beautiful guitar I have ever seen. He made it using the few things he found lying around, but it sounded amazing and he was a wonderful singer. Meeting him and seeing the way people were working in the corn fields, I began to wonder about Ha Nkau. Perhaps, it wasn’t as modern as I once thought.
We arrived at the clinic and ate lunch before visiting the Chief. My perspective of Ha Nkau changed as I turned the water tap to wash the dishes. I walked outside and asked some women if there was water in their village. No water, no electricity, no churches, no large shops. Ha Nkau might have a nice road close by, but people live here just like they live in the furthest mountains. I was shocked and excited for the opportunity to meet with these people and tell them about Jesus.
After a visit with the Chief and reception of his blessings, we pressed forward into the heart of the village. I was grouped with two friends, Ntate Taelo and Ntate Monyayne, to invite people to watch the Jesus Film and share the Gospel. Ntate Taelo decided I would give a summary of the Bible. I thought I might fumble my Sesotho and was nervous about the idea of speaking so much, but when we sat down with the first family and I began to share, I was blessed by God to find all the Sesotho I needed. My friends and I had a wonderful time explaining about God’s power, love and desire for a relationship with every Basotho. Everyone in the village invited us to share with them and were very encouraged by the news they heard.
When the sun fell and the bitter cold of a Lesotho night set in, people gathered on top of the tallest hill in the village. The projector and speakers radiated throughout the village below until over one hundred people gathered to watch the Jesus Film in Sesotho. Several times during the video the Pastors paused to explain what was happening and gave personal invitations to those watching. In the end, most everyone wanted to pray to Jesus for forgiveness of sins and a new hope in the future with Jesus. I will be excited for our visit next month to see how the film impacted the community as a whole.
Chairs made of broken tree stumps supported me as I listened to the Chief explain his thoughts to the circle of men. “Which one of you will move to my village?” he growled as his finger pointed to each member of our group for seconds that felt like an eternity due to his intensity. “Pastors have visited us before, and there is no change. What we need is a pastor to live with and teach my people.” Please join us in prayer as the Lesotho Flying Pastors is looking to do just this. We hope during our travels of exploration the next several months to find “a man of peace”. We hope that God will provide us with a clear direction for a location where we can make long lasting impact and possibly a church plant.
You can help partner with us and make this long term impact possible. Donate to the Lesotho Flying Pastors through an MAF tax-deductible project by visiting
http://maf.org/donate/search and enter project #4998.
Threatening clouds darkened the horizon as small drops of rain trickled down the car windshield. My eyes continue to follow the mountain line scanning for a safe passage when my wife voice punctures the tensions, “did you remember the food?”. There was no time to return home now, so we offered a quick prayer and pulled into a gas station. Between us we had about 9 dollars and after selecting enough bread and peanut butter for two days we continued to the airport.
This weekend marked the culmination of years of prayer and months of preparation for our first flight with the newly formed Lesotho Flying Pastors. The LFP is a group of Basotho pastors and churches representing 6 denominations traveling together to share Jesus and a powerful example of church unity. “We may have small differences between us”, it was stated in a meeting, “but Christ is bigger than those differences and people need to see that.”.
Small sun beams reflected off the metallic airplane skin while the last member of the LFP was loaded into the small Cessna aircraft. Although the mountains were still black, the weather was improving. A beautiful Sesotho prayer prepared our journey before the 6 cylinder engine was brought to life. Slowly puttering during the taxi, the throttle moved forward to produce a massive roar and the aircraft call sign “7P-CMO” was airborne. Oscar, as we call her, is used to saving lives as an air ambulance, but today we hoped to penetrate the vast mountains to bring spiritual transformation to the most isolated.
Lesotho is called “The Mountain Kingdom”, boasting the highest average elevation in the world. Shepherding is the main lifestyle leaving much of the population untouched from modern change and difficult to reach. Kuebunyane, our destination today, is an island amongst these mountains. A full day of driving from Maseru would position you on the opposite side of a river valley. It would require a two thousand foot descent on foot, passage across a river, and the grueling ascent to arrive. The airplane reached Kuebunyane in 27 minutes.
The wind at the grass strip was challenging. Before beginning the approach I briefed my personal limitation of 85 knots ground speed (we like to land at 70 knots or slower). Anything higher than this would require an aborted approach. I had concerns that we wouldn’t be able to land. After establishing my last turn towards the runway the aircraft settled in at 84.9 knots! I couldn’t believe my eyes.
We crossed a small ridge, reducing the power as we hit an updraft, and I prepared myself for the ensuing downdraft. The air below the aircraft fell away and I carried extra power to keep ourselves aloft before closing in on the runway threshold and cutting the power. I used maximum braking and everyone lurched forward in their seats before the aircraft slowed to a comfortable speed. My wife gave me a pat on the back as I silenced the motor. Everyone was thrilled to arrive and we felt God’s presence guiding us safely to Kuebunyane.
Opening the aircraft door instantly flooded our lungs with cold and crisp mountain air. A wheelbarrow arrived from the clinic, which allowed us to transport our sleeping bags and Bibles with ease over the singular worn out dirt path amongst the higher wet grass. The clinic workers showed us where we would sleep, and we all grabbed a quick bite to eat before heading to the villages in the surrounding areas.
Carolyn, Abuti Karabo and I traveled up a hill littered with streams and rocks passing out a paper with a Bible message and inviting passerby’s to join us for the Jesus Film that night. Our objective was to reach a single lone tree at the edge of a ridge, which was a landmark I recognized where the Chief lives. I have been blessed in the past to spend time getting to know him and was very excited to return.
We visited every home in his village, but the Morena (Chief) was nowhere to be found. As we began our descent back to the airport Abuti Karabo said that a man had invited us into the Chief’s house, but he didn’t think he was there. Abuti let me enter first and I was taken by surprise when the Morena was sitting waiting for us. The man who invited Abuti Karabo to enter was the Chief, but is so young Karabo didn’t imagine it could be him. The three of us sat down around a small table littered with important papers inside a stone building with a tin roof.
After some small talk I asked if I could practice my Sesotho and began to read the Gospel paper. The message is a concise walk through our relationship with God and our need for Christ’s blood. At the end it gives some practical examples of ways to grow and strengthen that relationship. The Chief said he understood the message clearly and was grateful for our presence in his village. We invited him to come and meet with us over the next few days during the events and continue our discussion.
As we descended the hill the rain began to fall heavily. Muddy clay stuck to our shoes, increasing their weight almost pulling them off our feet every step. I was forced to walk with a glide trying to swipe my shoes clean. We arrived soaking and covered our rooms with our articles in hopes they would dry. We packed no extra clothing due to the limited weight available on the aircraft, so we wondered if the rest of our visit was destined to be a wet one. We spent time in prayer because we would not be able to show the Jesus film if the weather did not relent.
One hour before we planned to show the film the clouds broke over the airfield. Standing in the grass field you could see we were surrounded by looming showers, but not one drop fell on us. It was yet another miracle. Ntate Boomo, brought a 40 pound backpack, which carries a projector, speakers, microphone, batteries, solar panels, everything needed to play the Jesus film in the most remote places in the world. People began to trickle down the hills and by dark we began.
During the show, Ntate Boomo used the microphone to explain some of the scenes. The Basotho always laugh when Peter, James and John fill their boats with fish and tonight was no different. Towards the end of the presentation Ntate Pheko stood up and summarized the Bible and asked if anyone wanted to accept the Lord that night. About fifty people stood up and joined Ntate Pheko in a declaration of faith. It was amazing to see the Lord working in the lives of these mountain people.