Thursday, December 24, 2015

In Memory of Mastephen Mokoka

On the 17th of November two of our friends passed away in a tragic car accident. Many of you knew or at least knew of Rachel Cutler who served with Hope International Missions and lived next door to us from 2011 to 2012. She was an incredibly talented children's worker and left her mark on many people both in America and Africa. However, many of you never heard of Mastephen Mokoka, the other girl who passed away, until her death a few weeks ago. She was also our next door neighbor on the other side for the last ten years. I decided to write a little something in memory of her and also so that our friends in America could know her better.
Mastephen graduated from our Bible School in 2012

The most important thing in Mastephen's life was that she was a born again Christian. I don't remember exactly when she got saved, but I think it was sometime in 2001. Her older sister, Mrs. Manthabi, shares how Mastephen was saved and delivered from demon possession:

Before I got saved, my family had problems because my younger sister was demon possessed. We thought that she would never get well. When she tried to sleep she would see people she knew from the village wearing masks. They would come to beat and torture her. We couldn't see them; we only saw her crying. Other times she would faint and sleep for two or three days without eating or drinking.

We took her to many medical doctors and witch doctors, but none of them could help her. My family had a special witch doctor that tied charms around peoples' necks and waists. My parents asked him to come to the house and spend the night to see if he could heal my sister. That night the problems only got worse, and we heard demons running on the tin roof of our house. Very early in the morning the witch doctor got up and left because he realized he could not help us. Then we took her to an even more powerful witch doctor, but his spells didn't work on her either. He told us that she would never be healed except by using the Bible!

After seeing that witch doctor, it so happened that Hope International Missions pitched a tent and were preaching the Gospel in our village. Someone from the village suggested that my sick sister should go to these tent services. She went and the preacher (Rev. Kali Nthabi) prayed for her. After he prayed for her, we all slept very
On air at Harvest FM
well. In fact nothing bothered her on the nights she went to the tent.

Then Satan began to tell Mastephen that people were going to mock her calling her an “evangelical.” She stopped going to the tent, and immediately the demons started to torment her again. Her condition became so bad that she couldn't walk, so we asked the preacher from the tent meeting to come pray for her. We saw God's power as she was healed and stood up immediately after his prayer.

From then on I decided that I would escort her to the tent myself so that we would be able to sleep at night. I told everyone that I was not saved or becoming an evangelical, but I was only taking my sister to the services so she would not be sick. After two or three days of going to the tent meetings, the Word of God began to speak to me and convict me of my sins. I went forward when the preacher gave an invitation and was converted. Mastephen also got saved about the same time, but Satan doesn't leave a person easily. Sometimes the demons would still bother my sister. Whenever this happened, we would call Pastor Kali and Pastor Glenn to come and pray for her. As they would pray, Satan would have to flee, and my sister would be well again right away.”

As Mastephen grew spiritually, her prayer life deepened and she was able to pray
for herself and fend off demonic attacks in the place of secret prayer. She never testified much publicly about her specific experience of entire sanctification, but her life clearly testified to being crucified with Christ and having the fulness of the Holy Spirit.
Kristell and her "Cousin"

Mastephen LOVED children! She was a very dear friend to our girls and often
bought gifts or candy for them even though her income was very limited. She was especially close to Kristell, and they called each other “Cousin.” Mastephen spent hours with our girls teaching them the Sesotho language and Sesotho songs and dances.

She was known as “Mangoane” (aunt) to hundreds of children in the villages of Lesotho where she held Sunday School classes, VBSs, and distributed Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts. Just a quick look at our children's ministry statistics from the last year show that she touched more than a 1000 children with the Gospel in 2015! She and her sister were the first converts at the Ha Motheho congregation in 2001. This congregation has now grown to more than 100 people on Sundays largely as a result of her children's Sunday School classes. One of her first Sunday School children is now the pastor of this church.
VBS at Malimong 2015

Stephanie has always had a vision for training children's workers in Lesotho. Mastephen caught this vision and carried this ministry on to the next level. She was the main teacher at several seminars that we had organized for Sunday School teachers from our churches, and she encouraged others to get involved in leading children to Christ. She and Stephanie met weekly to pray together that God would call others to children's ministry. Besides missing Mastephen as a person, one of the things that hit me hardest with her death was the loss of one the finest children's workers I have ever met. This was a very painful blow to me until I realized that she had personally mentored at least two other young ladies to take over this ministry before God called her home to heaven. I couldn't stop the tears as I watched one of these young ladies follow in her footsteps at a recent weekend evangelistic meeting. Within five minutes of our arrival in the village, she had gathered the curious children and was teaching them songs and Bible verses. May the Lord give her and many others a double portion of Mastephen's spirit for reaching children with the Gospel!

Music was a HUGE part of Mastephen's life! She loved to sing to the Lord and was
The Amazing Grace choir in 2012
blessed with a strong voice. She could effectively lead the singing for hundreds of people in an open air service without an amplifier. Many times I have seen God's presence come down in services as she sang. Several years ago I was to preach at our Ha Motheho congregation. That morning she sang a chorus that said “I don't know why Jesus loved me” over and over. Tears of joy streamed down her cheeks (and mine, too) as she worshipped the God who delivered her from demon possession and made her His child.

Mastephen was one of the lead members of the Amazing Grace choir. This choir has traveled with us to many outreaches and revivals around Lesotho and also in South Africa. Their music has been greatly used of God to bring people to salvation and to help believers enter into the deeper life of entire sanctification.
Mastephen (left) was a servant-leader.

Mastephen had told her family that she didn't plan to get married. She felt called to devote her life to God's service and said that her wedding would be once she got to heaven with Jesus. I don't know if her family completely took her seriously on this point, but after her death they realized that this was the truth. At her funeral, a visiting pastor from South Africa commented that the occasion was so joyful that he would have been convinced he was at a wedding except for the casket beside him as he was speaking. When he said that, I realized that a wedding had indeed taken place! Mastephen is with Jesus for the rest of eternity!


Family on the Prairie said...

What a wonderful tribute to a beautiful lady! So glad I was privileged to meet her. It's so wonderful to trust in a Sovereign God who does all things well, even when we don't understand!

Crystal Martinez said...

Such a beautiful testimony to the power of God & those who faithfully proclaim the good news is the gospel!

Unknown said...

I was happy to read this report of Mastephen's life and conversion. What a blessing she was to the children. And what spiritual foresight she had to mentor the two ladies who are continuing her ministry. May God continue to multiply the seeds Mastephen sowed in His great Harvest Field. I am thankful that the Lord sent Glenn and Stephanie to Lesotho to be a neighbor to this precious lady.

Theresa Reimann said...

Thank you so much for sharing about Mastephen's life. I did not know Rachel Cutler personally but saw her presentation via online live stream at Shelbyville BHC only a month previous to the accident. She was so full of energy, excitement, and love for the children of Lesotho! I have wondered about Mastephen and prayed for her family. May the Lord use their "homegoing" for much fruit and His Glory!

Jonelle Barnard said...

Thank you for posting such an appropriate and God-honoring tribute to Mastephen. I remember meeting her when my Grandpa, Lewis Smith, and I came to visit you in Lesotho. I cried when I heard the news. But what a testimony she left!

Rowen said...

We are so glad that you took the time to tell us Mastephen's story. God is so amazing! How wonderful to have seen her life changed by God's power.