Kingdom of Lesotho
July 26

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Area 30,355 sq.km. A mountainous country completely surrounded by South Africa. Only 11% is arable.

Population Ann.Gr. Density
2000 2,152,553 +2.24% 71 per sq. km.
2010 2,609,785 +1.95% 86 per sq. km.
2025 3,506,420 +1.84% 116 per sq. km.

It is the only country in the world with its entire area above 1,000 metres in altitude.

Capital Maseru 120,000. Urbanites 21%.


Bantu 99.7%. Sotho 1.77mill.; Zulu 294,000; Xhosa 2,100.

Other 0.3%. European, Asian.

Literacy 71%. Official languages Sotho, English. All languages 4. Languages with Scriptures 3Bi.


The mountainous topography, poor communications and lack of agricultural land, together with over-population have kept the country poor and hastened soil erosion. Over 35% of wage-earners work as migrant labour in South Africa. Major income sources: export of water from the controversial Highland Dams Project, some diamond mining. The South African invasion of 1998, to settle a political crisis, resulted in much destruction in the capital and its nascent industries and further impoverishment of the country. HDI 0.582; 127th/174. Public debt 46% of GNP. Income/person $860 (2% of USA).


A British protectorate in 1865. Independence in 1966 but a geographical hostage due to its size and isolation as an enclave within South Africa. A tragic, post-independence history of instability, dictatorial regimes and polarized politics culminating in the ‘preventive intervention’ or invasion of South African forces in 1998, which has further destabilized the little country.


Freedom of religion. The dominance of the Catholic Church and its control of much of the education system has been a contributory factor to political instability.

Religions Population % Adherents Ann.Gr.
Christian 71.85 1,546,609 +1.2%
Traditional ethnic 27.00 581,189 +5.5%
Baha'i 1.10 23,678 +2.2%
non-Religious/other 0.04 861 +17.5%
Muslim 0.01 215 +2.2%

Christians Denom. Affil. % ,000 Ann.Gr.
Protestant 24 12.61 271 +0.9%
Independent 222 13.59 293 +1.8%
Anglican 1 5.02 108 +0.8%
Catholic 1 36.05 776 +1.3%
Marginal 1 0.28 6 +2.7%
Unaffiliated   4.30 93 n.a.

Churches MegaBloc Cong. Members Affiliates
Catholic C 380 481,988 776,000
Other Indigenous [210] I 5,190 155,689 260,000
Lesotho Evangelical P 565 68,690 215,000
Anglican A 431 64,671 108,000
African Methodist Epis I 67 10,000 16,000
Methodist P 10 5,750 11,500
Assemblies of God P 48 4,500 9,500
Dutch Ref Ch in Afr P 12 3,200 9,000
Full Gospel Ch of God P 44 3,000 6,529
Jehovah's Witnesses M 57 2,573 6,000
Seventh-day Adventist P 20 3,466 5,788
Mahon Mission P 22 2,700 5,400
Apostolic Faith Mission P 25 1,250 2,000
Chs of Christ P 8 180 378
Other denoms [27]   144 10,400 23,000
Total Christians [250]   7,023 818,000 1,454,000

Trans-bloc Groupings pop.% ,000 Ann.Gr.
Evangelical 8.2 177 +1.9%
Charismatic 12.9 278 +1.8%
  Pentecostal 1.6 34 +3.6%

Missionaries from Lesotho
P,I,A 48 in 9 agencies: Lesotho 46.

Missionaries to Lesotho
P,I,A 117 in 32 agencies from 13 countries: South Africa 44, USA 41.

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Challenges for Prayer

1 The people of Lesotho are prisoners of their geographical position, the divisions and powerlessness of their politicians and lack of resources. The 1998 South African invasion has left the population angry and frustrated. Pray that God-fearing, honest leaders may be raised up for the good of all.

2 The Sotho have been largely Christian for generations but traditionalism and nominalism are widespread in both the Catholic Church and the Lesotho Evangelical Church. The latter is the fruit of the great pioneering work of French missionaries of the Paris Missionary Society. The rapid increase in the number of newer churches with evangelistic zeal has challenged the mainline Churches to become more spiritually vital and relevant. Pray for a humble harmony between the different denominations in place of considerable antagonism. Pray also for this land to be changed by the power of the Holy Spirit.

3 The newer, evangelical, Pentecostal and charismatic denominations and agencies have seen growth (AIM, YWAM, IMB-SBC, and various South African groups). Special items for prayer:

a) Bible teaching. There are four residential Bible schools, including the Apostolic Church Mobile School and the Jesu Evangeli Centre ministry with potential to provide this.

b) Leadership. The mainline, Catholic and Pentecostal churches in Lesotho have been under local leadership for many years, but a new level of leadership is emerging in the charismatic churches that is cooperating to win the nation for Christ.

c) A nation-wide prayer movement has brought a new dynamism to the witness of believers, but this vision needs to be maintained.

d) Empowering of women in Christian leadership — the absence of many men and the lower proportion of committed Christians among them makes this essential for the survival of congregations.

4 Areas of special challenge in ministry:

a) AIDS has become a terrible reality and the incidence of HIV has risen to 24% of the adult population. Churches have neither the resources nor the vision to tackle the disaster.

b) The Sephiri, a secret society to which many churchgoers from most denominations belong. Witchcraft and ancestor worship are taught and practised along with Christian ritual. Pray for both the exposure of this demonic delusion and for its followers to come to a living faith.

c) The more syncretistic, indigenous churches. Many of these groups with their robes, uniforms and ceremonies have little understanding of the Truth and need to be sensitively helped to a more biblical theology.

d) The mountain population of 600,000, most nominally Christian, but having little contact with the life-giving gospel. Various evangelical agencies have initiated outreach to them. Major agencies are AIM, Joy to the World, YWAM, Fill the Gap Ministries, the Full Gospel Church, Zoe Bible Church and Global Evangelism Ministries. Many villages are only accessible on horseback, others by MAF plane.

5 Migrant labourers in South Africa. Lack of work opportunities in Lesotho forces 37% of the men to seek employment in the mines and on the farms of South Africa. AEF has a fruitful evangelistic ministry in the mine compounds. Pray for lasting conversions and effective discipling follow-through.

6 Christian support ministries:

a) MAF has a unique and vital role in this land of high mountains and few roads. MAF planes operate on 26 landing strips — many in difficult terrain. They provide support for Christian workers and a flying doctor service. Pray for these pilots, their families/support teams and for their safety.

b) The JESUS film is being widely used in English and Sotho and is effective in planting new churches.

c) Christian radioTWR Swaziland broadcasts daily in both English and Sotho.

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