Lesotho (MNN) — As COVID-19 vaccines continue to roll out worldwide, Christian ministries are leading the charge in certain countries.
For example, Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) serves remote villages in Lesotho, a small country completely surrounded by South Africa. Grant Strugnell, a pilot with MAF, has helped fly COVID-19 vaccines to clinics in Lesotho’s mountains and other hard-to-reach areas.
“The majority of our flying in Lesotho is actually in partnership with the Lesotho government, and specifically the Lesotho Flying Doctor Service. So most of the flights that we do are, in some way, connected to the Department of Health and to the medical work that they’re doing in the country.
“We’ve been really nicely positioned to very naturally…assist with the delivery of vaccines to some of the most remote places in Lesotho.”
Lesotho is known as the Mountain Kingdom, and rightly so. Sharp ridges and valleys cross the landscape, and many citizens live in scattered villages throughout the region.
“A lot of the airstrips that we serve are co-located with a clinic,” Strugnell explains. “But you can’t always build the airstrip right next to it. In some cases, that is true. But…we’ve got a few places where the closest area they could build the airstrip was sometimes a 45-minute walk from the village. So it definitely varies village to village.”
Upon landing at an airstrip where the clinic is still far away, the vaccines are sometimes loaded onto wheelbarrows or any other transportation available. Then they must endure a long hike to the clinic.
But the hike between the airstrip and the clinic is often nothing in comparison to how far villagers must walk to receive the vaccine.
“One of the villages that we did this at was… basically on the side of a mountain. There [are] just mountains and valleys all around and people walked, in many cases, probably four to five hours from their village to the clinic.”
By reaching Lesotho’s remote communities with vaccine access, MAF is being the hands and feet of Jesus in the pandemic.
Strugnell says, “We see one of our main missions here as directly meeting some of these physical needs. And we believe that is reflecting the Gospel in its own way — using the tools we’ve got [and] partnering with local Lesotho people here who are already doing the work.
“Helping them in very tangible ways definitely does open doors for the Gospel.”
And, most importantly, both MAF and the nation of Lesotho could use the encouragement of your prayers. Strugnell says the government’s budget for the Lesotho Flying Doctor Service has been tight as COVID-19 continues to present new challenges.
“The needs and the prayers that we have would be that the government would be able to…get the budget back towards the Lesotho Flying Doctors so that they can reach more of these places and continue to do the good work that they have been doing over the last couple of decades here in Lesotho.”
And please pray for the villagers and clinic workers. Pray that as MAF ministers to and with them, they would sense God’s love.
Header photo of MAF pilot Grant Strugnell, courtesy of MAF.