Monday, December 21, 2015

Church Planting at Ha Matjotjo

Back around July or so, an orphan girl named 'Majone heard the Gospel for the first time when Nt. Kali was preaching at the Harvest FM radio station. Though she was a trusted young person from a local church, she realized that she was far from God and in desperate need of a Savior. She was also heavily burdened by the responsibility of raising her younger siblings and caring for a household. Her elder brother took little responsibility for the family and wasted most of their money on alcohol, marijuana, and women.

After the broadcast 'Majone called Nt. Kali to ask for prayer. He listened to her family problems and once again shared the Gospel of a Savior who s
ays “"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” That night as Nt. Kali prayed with her over the phone, she gave her heart to Jesus and found rest for her soul. Nt. Kali stayed in touch with her by phone and discipled her over the next few weeks. One Sunday on his way back from preaching at the Ha Ntsabane congregation, Nt. Kali was able to visit her. Her younger sister and brother, and some cousins joined them for a cottage prayer meeting, and some of them gave their hearts to the Lord also. He invited them to come to the October youth conference, and they began making plans to attend.
At the October conference, Nt. Kali made plans with them to hold a weekend tent meeting in their village of Ha Matjotjo. 'Majone's sister and their cousins were excited about the plans and worked hard to prepare places for us to sleep at their houses. They were also saving money to help buy food for the weekend. A couple weeks ago Nt. Kali visited the village chief with a letter asking permission to hold a tent meeting. The chief was rather negative, but as soon as his wife heard their conversation, she quickly intervened and gave him a hearty welcome. A number of young people from Matukeng, Ha Motheho, and other congregations also got behind this effort. They collected money to pay their way to this outreach. It was decided that since a mission vehicle was already going, we would give some of them a ride in that and use their money to buy food. The rest went by taxi. I also contributed some to the food, but they paid for the majority of it.

Less than a week before the outreach, we hit a fairly serious snag. There had been a funeral in 'Majone's extended family, and at a family meeting after the funeral, an uncle and 'Majone's brother order the four girls not to allow evangelicals to use their homes. They didn't prevent them from attending services, but they would not allow them to use their homes to accommodate us.
They said that their clan was Roman Catholic, and it should stay that way. The girls were heart broken, and I think they wanted to call the outreach off. We felt that this was an attack from the devil and decided to go ahead in faith that the Lord would provide a place for us to stay. We agreed that if all else failed the men could sleep in the tent and the girls could sleep in the van.

Because of Ausi Mastephen's death and other family reasons, Nt. Kali felt he couldn't be gone for the whole weekend. We agreed that I would lead the team, and Nt. Liau, Bro. Mahlomola, and Bro. Tankiso from Hobhouse would help with the preaching. We left early Friday afternoon, but Maseru was very busy and it took a long time to get the food items that we needed. None of us in our taxi had been to the village either, so we were rather unsure of where we were going. With God's help and a GPS with an OpenStreetMap overlay, we found the village quite easily. We also met the chief leaving the local bar. He took us to his house, but he was not at all happy we had come. He complained that we didn't notify him by letter before we came, but we assured him that we had. Then he complained that he hadn't seen the letter and that it was his “underlings” that had given us permission. He also complained that we shouldn't be trying to start another church in a Roman Catholic village. Having said that, softened a little and said there was no way he could turn us away since we were already there. He showed us where we could pitch the tent, and went away in a huff. Fortunately by then his wife showed up and welcomed us most graciously.
Sis. Kefuoe working with children

'Majone and her cousins were no where to be found, but we went ahead with setting up the tent, renting some chairs, etc. While we worked on this, Ausi Kefuoe held a little service for the children. This really touched my heart. Ausi Mastephen has always been the one who ministered to children every where we went. I was so blest to see that her “mantle” had fallen on capable shoulders. Please pray that God will give Ausi Kefuoe and others a double portion of the Lord's love for children's ministry!

By dark the generator was running and we started singing. A handful of women, a few teenaged boys, and twenty or so children had gathered. There was still no sign of 'Majone, but we went on with the service. About half way through the service, someone called me outside the tent. There was Majone, and others who had given their hearts to the Lord. They were obviously troubled, and asked if I knew about their problems. I told them that I had heard, but they shouldn't be worried. I told them that it is normal for Satan to oppose the Gospel, and that God would provide everything we needed. They were still troubled, and I could see they had been crying. I told them to come on into the tent, enjoy the service, and we would talk afterward.

Pastor Liau preached an excellent evangelistic message—very concrete and easily understandable to the African mind. It was clear that the Holy Spirit was convicting some of the ladies of their sin. At one point while he was preaching, two inebriated ladies almost got in a fight over which one of them was the worst drunk and adulteress. After a rather intense minute, they both left the service swearing at each other, and Nt. Liau continued with this message! When he preached about the sin of marijuana, most of the men who had gathered outside the tent to listen left with quite a bit of noise.

After the service, Ausi Mapaseka, a godly girl from here at Matukeng (one of the “first fruits” of Stephanie's children's ministry) talked to Majone and her cousins. I didn't hear the whole conversation, but she basically encouraged them in the Lord, promised them that God had already supplied all our needs (she said this in faith), prayed with them, and sent them home for the night. As she w
as speaking, a man from nearby brought us forty liters (about 10 gallons) of water—a tremendous blessing during a terrible drought. We closed the sides of the tent up, and the girls started heating water for tea. The generator quit before supper was ready so they finished preparations by the light of my headlamp. We ate bread and drank tea for supper. After a good season of prayer, we made preparations for the night. We laid the seats flat in the van for the four girls, and we men set up our beds in the tent. Some of the boys put chairs together to sleep on, but others preferred a mattress on the ground. It was a chilly night and very damp and cold in the tent by the time we finally got to sleep a little after midnight.

Around dawn the next morning, Steve Makhetla and I assessed our water situation and decided that we could afford to use 15 liters (3 1/4 gallons) for the fourteen of us for our baths. This would leave us enough water for tea for breakfast, papa for lunch, and a little to drink. From there we had to trust the Lord for more water. We heated the water, and I divied it out at a liter (quart) per person. Bathing was a long process since we only had three wash basins, but the men were finally done and the girls were just about to “take possession” of the tent to bathe and cook breakfast and lunch for us. Just before they went in, Majone and friends showed up beaming. Puleng had talked to her parents who are away working in South Africa and received their unreserved permission to welcome us to their home. They agreed to rebuke the uncle who had no authority over their home, and also talk to anyone else in the village who might cause problems. We quickly decided to move our accommodation to their house where Majone and her cousins would do the cooking while the girls bathed and got ready for church. They had already saved up a lot of water for us, so we were well taken care of. God supplied all our needs! From this point on, things went much more smoothly!

Bro. Mahlomola
Bro. Mahlomola preached the morning service. He preached about God's judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah and showed how much the world has become like these wicked places. He talked about Lot's wife, his daughters, etc. He did a good job. I preached in the afternoon service about how we are God's ambassadors pleading with them to be reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:18-21). I could see the Holy Spirit moving especially on one older lady who attended all the services. She had come forward to seek the Lord the night before, and I could see that she was really understanding the plan of salvation.

Bro. Tankiso preached the night service. He is a very deliberate speaker, and starts off in a very unassuming, hesitant, mild way. God has given him a brilliant mind and the ability to weave together many seemingly unrelated threads into a powerful climax. He does this with a lot of dry humor, a soft voice, pertinent illustrations, and tremendous unction from the Holy Spirit. I have seldom heard a clearer presentation of the Gospel in an African context! He was greatly helped by God, and a dozen or so adults as well as children came forward to seek the Lord.

After church, we went back to Puleng's house for a supper of papa and beans. After everyone ate most heartily, we ten men were given a room for the night. I estimate it was about 4 meters (~12 ft.) square. It had ward robes along one wall and two single beds along two other walls. I was a little perplexed at first about how the ten of us would sleep there, but it was soon revealed to me. Nt. Liau and Br
Ha Matjotjo is very close to the Kome cave where canibals lived in the 1800s

o. Tankiso were to share one single bed. Bro. Stephen and Bro. Rethabile were to share a single mattress on the floor at the foot of that bed. Bro. Steve, Bro. Mahlomola, Bro. Ramoneng, Bro. Josefa, and Bro. Poloko were supposed to share two single mattresses on the floor in the centre of the room between the two single beds. I was to be given the other single bed. I watched with interest as the five men (a couple of them aren't exactly petite) tried to figure out how they were going to fit on the two single mattresses in the centre of the room. I think both they and I came to the same conclusion at about the same time—it just wouldn't work. So I told Steve that he must join me in my single bed! I had a feeling that I wouldn't sleep much, but the next thing I knew it was 5:00am and my alarm was calling me to prayer.

After bathing (this time with two or three quarts of water per person) we had breakfast—tea, six slices of bread, and a MASSIVE plate of beans. I couldn't help but think of the cowboy song that says something about “Beans for breakfast, Beans for dinner, Beans for supper, Lord deliver us from that!” Nobody seemed to have a great appetite except for my dear friend Stephen Mokoka. His beans (a favorite food) disappeared in almost no time flat. I did notice that he didn't ask for seconds even though Sis Kefuoe assured him that their were plenty more and several people offered to give him some of theirs. Poor Sis. Itumeleng. Hers just didn't seem to want to go down. I'm not sure if she eventually ate them or threw them out the window, but I saw her plate was finally empty.

After breakfast, I left for Ha Ntsabne. Bro. Poloko, a young man from the Mazenod congregation accompanied me. We met Nt. Kali in the town of Teyateyaneng where we traded vehicles. We had a good service at Ha Ntsabane, and Nt. Kali said they also had a good service at Ha Matjotjo. Quite a few people, including the chief's wife begged us to start a church for them, so Nt. Kali promised that a preacher would come again this next Sunday. The man who gave us 20 liters of water offered to let us use one of his houses for a church, so it looks like another church has been planted in Lesotho.

By the way, when I got home to Matukeng, Steph and fixed us a delicious supper—bean burritos!

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