In September 2015 the Lesotho Evangelical Church in Southern Africa held a Walk for Peace and Justice. At that time it was hoped a much longer walk would take place in conjunction with the LECSA’s annual Leeto la Thapelo event. This longer pilgrimage became a reality when 170 participants walked approximately 160 kilometres during the course of four days, 21st – 24th October, from Modderpoort, South Africa to Morija, Lesotho. Here are links to watch short videos of the event: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGoWy8X0IXQ
The event, organized by the church’s Commission on Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC), re-traced the route covered by the French missionaries of the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society which they traveled in 1833 after being invited to Lesotho by the founder of the Basotho nation King Moshoeshoe I. It was these missionaries who brought the Gospel message to the Basotho people and they founded a mission church which eventually became the LECSA. King Moshoeshoe sent his representatives to Modderpoort to escort the missionaries on the final stages of their journey to Thaba-Bosiu where he resided.
The re-enactment of this journey was planned to bring renewal and revival of the faith, spreading of the Word of God, fundraising for the church and an appreciation for the history of the church in Lesotho. Above all, it was hoped the pilgrimage would appeal to politicians of all walks of life in Lesotho to reflect and remember that King Moshoeshoe I, by inviting the missionaries to Lesotho, was tired of the senseless killings of his people, he was weary of the wars around his land, the presence of cannibalism and the general lack of peace and security for his people. This was why he sought the assistance of the missionaries.
Pilgrimage participants included the LECSA Moderator Rev. Tšeliso Simeon Masemene, Deputy Moderator Rev. Jane Timothy Makakane, LECA pastors, youth, other LECSA members as well as members of other churches.
The pilgrimage began early on the morning of the 21st of October with a word of prayer followed by remarks by Rev. Masemene. He welcomed the pilgrims, wished them successful walking and reminded them to enjoy the walk but to pray for justice and peace for Lesotho as they walked the long journey together.
In 1833 the missionaries did not have to worry about border crossings and simply took a direct route across the Caledon River. As there is no border crossing at that point today, Day 1’s walk was broken into two parts. After an intitial stage leaving from Modderpoort on the South Africa side, walkers were transported by bus to Ha Fusi in Lesotho, near the Caledon River where the missionaries crossed. From this point they continued walking in the footsteps of the missionaries until they arrived that night on the outskirts of Maseru and were welcomed at Phomolong LECSA. “Phomolong” means “place of rest” in the Sesotho language and the church there is just a short distance from a huge rock where the missionaries rested on their journey back in 1833.
Day 2 saw the participants walking from Phomolong to Thaba-Bosiu, which in 1833 was where King Moshoeshoe resided. This is where the first mission church was started and today is the home of Thaba-Bosiu LECSA. The congregation welcomed the walkers and this was followed by a service of Holy Communion.
On Day 3 the journey continued on to Matsieng where Lesotho’s current monarch, His Majesty King Letsie III, resides. Here the walkers were received at Matsieng LECSA.
The walk on Day 4 was a short one, less than 10 kilometres, to nearby Morija. The pilgrims’ arrival at the LECSA Thabeng High School football ground marked the beginning of the annual weekend LECSA Leeto la Thapelo (Journey of Prayer) event and there was a joyful celebration to welcome the pilgrims “home”!