Tšepo’s pace slowed as he made his way down the street toward the two-room house where he lived with his mom and younger siblings. To his right, a tiny bar teemed with men who had been drinking all day. A few of his peers loitered outside the bar, their stances listless, their eyes dull.
He didn’t blame them. Like so many young men in Lesotho, their dads were either inside the bar or off working at the mines, while their moms pieced together menial jobs or labored in factories in South Africa. The teenage boys had been left to fend for themselves, but they weren’t doing a very good job of it.
Tšepo had challenges of his own. His older brother had died under tragic circumstances, and Tšepo had become the oldest male in the household while barely yet a teenager. He and his family were just scraping by on the meager wages his mom brought home and the support of friends and family.
But he felt lucky. More than lucky. He could have been sliding down the same slippery slope as his peers outside the bar if God hadn’t intervened in his life.
A few years earlier, some local missionaries had started a soccer ministry in his village, and through soccer Tšepo had met the Monsons, a pilot family with MAF. Matthew and Carolyn Monson had been drawn to Tšepo, and when they had heard that he was going to drop out of school because he could not afford the tuition, they had begun paying his school fees. To them, it had seemed a very small investment in the life of this promising young man.
The Monsons had taken Tšepo under their wing, and soon he was attending church with them and their children. It wasn’t long before he had committed his life to Christ.
As Tšepo walked past the bar, he thought to himself, “My friends need a Bible study. I’m going to ask Matthew and Carolyn what they can do about it.” When he approached Matthew and Carolyn a few weeks later, the earnestness in his voice moved them to give some serious thought and prayer to his request.
Matthew remembers, “It’s not like we were looking for this kind of a ministry. We didn’t say, ‘We gotta go find a village, find these boys, do a Bible study.’” Carolyn adds, “We could think of many reasons why not to begin such a ministry, and why it wouldn’t work.”
Yet, as they prayed, they realized it would not be a matter of if, but when. So, with a measure of trepidation, they told Tšepo, “Okay, you bring the boys and we’ll see where it goes from there.”
The Monsons began a Saturday morning Bible study, using a few of the foundational study books they had purchased before coming to Lesotho. Soon, 10 to 20 boys began making the 90-minute trek to their home each week. Sunny skies or torrential downpours, it didn’t matter—the boys showed up.
For the next four years, many boys from the village came to the Monsons’ home for Bible studies, attended church with them, participated in Bible camps in their yard, and just hung out with their family. Through the Monsons’ investment of time and intentionality, a significant number of these boys have given their lives to Jesus.
However, the most striking transformation during these four years took place in the life of Tšepo. Initially he simply brought the boys to the Saturday morning Bible studies, and Matthew did the teaching. But before long, Tšepo began to help with the teaching, and then he assumed more and more of the leadership while Matthew cheered him on. Tšepo brought the Bible study back to his own village, where he now not only teaches groups of up to 70 kids, but he coaches and mentors the village youth as well.
Tšepo’s passion for evangelism and discipleship has not been limited to young people. Today, on a typical weekend, he visits villagers of all ages in their homes, talking with them about the good news of Jesus. He doesn’t do it out of obligation—he does it for the sheer joy of helping others believe in Christ and grow in their faith.
Carolyn describes Tšepo as a shining light. “We invested in him, but now he’s investing in others. Disciples making disciples.”
The little bar on Tšepo’s street still attracts the men and youth of his village. But not all of them. Some of them have embraced the good news of the gospel and are now investing in their community by sharing it with everyone who will listen.
Because a passionate young man cared enough to invest in them.
Because a faithful missionary couple cared enough to invest in him.
This story is one of several in a new MAF women’s prayer journal, Sweet Fragrances: Bringing the Essence of Christ Into Our World. A limited quantity are available for purchase at the MAF gift shop, www.store.maf.org.
Story also appeared in the July 2019 issue of FlightWatch. Read the entire issue below: