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