A farmer sowing his seed, a shepherd caring for his sheep – for Sekelemane in Lesotho, Jesus’ agricultural parables are not just stories in the New Testament, they are vivid descriptions of his daily life.
Growing up in the shadow of his country’s striking green mountains, where his father, grandfather and, eventually, Sekelemane himself would take their flocks to graze, Sekelemane learnt from an early age how to care for his family’s sheep. “I would be at school in the morning, and then after school, I would arrive at home and have to change into shepherd’s clothes and go up to look after the animals in the afternoon,” he recalled. “It was a very difficult life… but through that I realised that even though I hated being a shepherd, I had a big love for the animals.”
That love continued through university, when Sekelemane chose to study animal science, learning how to take care of different animals and make sure they would thrive. In the same way, he was fascinated with agriculture. Both his domestic animals and cultivated crops, he recognised, needed a human’s care to survive.
In fact, God had instilled those passions in Sekelemane, preparing him through his skills and experiences to shepherd people. However, it took time for Sekelemane to recognise God as the Good Shepherd. He grew up under the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and was immersed in ancestor worship and rituals. As an adult, Sekelemane heard the gospel at a men’s conference, surrendered his life to the Lord and was baptised. “The moment when I came out of that water, I said: ‘OK, I will go and serve God.’ And I have served God from that day until today, fully.
“After giving my life to Jesus, the Lord told me: ‘What you have been doing to the animals and to the crops, go and apply the same procedure to people’s lives. I called you to go and plant in people’s lives,’” he said. “Through the whole experience, I have seen how much God is taking care of me, to rescue me like a shepherd who has rescued a sheep.”
As a businessman with multiple endeavours to support his family, Sekelemane touches many sectors of society. “I love business; I love it because this is where I meet with people,” he shared. “I’m cutting trees; I’m running the dairy farm. I’m helping a lot of people who are planting their fields.”
And as an active member of OM, Sekelemane is also planting seeds of truth by identifying and discipling people of influence in his community, including other businessmen and women, teachers, principals and social workers.
Jesus changes everything and everyone – Maselimo’s story
When Maselimo, the chair of the OM board in Lesotho and one of Sekelemane’s first disciples, decided to follow Jesus, everything changed. She experienced a total transformation that touched every area of her life – as a secondary school principal, wife and mother.
She remembered the first day Sekelemane invited her to church. Dressed in casual clothes and covered in dirt from her work supervising a plough driver using the school’s tractor, she was surprised when Sekelemane asked her to join him for the church service.
“No, no, no, you don’t have to worry about that,” he assured her. “You will see that the people who are coming [to church] are ordinary people who want to hear the Word of God.”
Surprised by the clear presentation of Scripture and the prevailing feeling of being at home, Maselimo returned to church after a few weeks, this time with her two children. From there, it was not long before both she and her daughter responded to the pastor’s invitation to give their lives to Jesus.
The whole way home, Maselimo and her daughter talked about how they thought her husband would respond to their newfound faith. Rather than reject them, he embraced their decision. Soon, he began reading the Bible for himself.
One day, when Maselimo returned from working at school, her husband told her that he, too, had given his life to Jesus. “He turned from black to white, just like this,” Maselimo described, turning over her hand. He stopped drinking alcohol and started a new business raising chickens and selling eggs. He helped expand their family’s fields and hired other people to help him with the harvest. As he worked with the other men, he started telling them about Jesus – planting seeds of faith alongside the tall red sorghum stalks they tended together.
“The way his faith has grown surprises me,” Maselimo said. “We are happier than before because no one comes home drunk and complains about the food that we have cooked… He can make jokes.” He began insisting on shared mealtimes where everyone in the family sat together to eat, and he also implemented family Bible studies, ensuring spiritual as well as physical nourishment.
Although he no longer drinks alcohol, Maselimo’s husband still visits the local bar, playing pool with other men and spending time with those in his community. Just like in the fields, he easily integrates Scripture into ordinary conversations and offers biblical advice to his friends. Those connections have catalysed community transformation: people have begun to change how they live and recognise Jesus as their Lord and Saviour instead of worshipping their ancestors, Maselimo shared.
In the five years since she came to faith, Maselimo has also experienced the transformative impact of the Holy Spirit on the students at the secondary school where she works. “There are a lot of students who are vulnerable. Their parents have passed away, or maybe one parent has passed away and the other one has gone to South Africa to look for work, so the children tend to live as orphans or in child-headed families,” she explained. Studying restorative discipline strategies, she seeks to apply biblical principles as she looks past the behaviour to the individual child.
“When a student is being brought to my office for misbehaviour, I don't beat them; I don't shout. I offer them a chair, and at times, I offer them my seat. They sit behind the desk, and I take a lower seat,” she explained. “Having prayed in the first place for God to give me a way into this child's heart, then I will ask: ‘How do you feel today? Did you eat anything in the morning? In your home, with whom are you staying?’”
If she discovers that a child is stealing because he or she does not have any food at home, Maselimo will suggest they read the book of James, and, according to Ephesians 4:28, she will help the child earn a small amount of money – by selling sweets or polishing shoes – so they can afford to eat. That personal care transforms the students she encounters and impacts the teaching staff as well.
“My teachers tell me: ‘I'm bringing this child to you as a mother, not as a principal. …the way you talk to them changes them,’” Maselimo said.
Growth and goals
Because of people like Sekelemane and Maselimo sowing seeds of truth and faithfully discipling those in their circles of influence, God’s Kingdom is growing in the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho. After meetings and activities were shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic, the OM team reported that seven new groups of Jesus followers started in the last year.
With dual goals of establishing new discipleship groups in every village as well as equipping and sending believers from Lesotho to the Sahel, an unreached region in northern Africa, the OM team is training pastors in multiplication principles and teaching new believers to share their faith with others in the community who have never heard about the Good Shepherd.
Pray for believers in Lesotho who encounter spiritual resistance to stand firm in their faith, being strengthened by the Holy Spirit in all they do. Pray for the right influential leaders in the communities to become followers of Christ and lead others to Him. Pray for unity amongst the OM team, its leadership and the board.