Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and I am with you always, even to the end of the age. ~ Matthew 28:19-20
Seven years ago, Pastor Heath Burris of River Oak Church in Chesapeake, VA took an SBC of Virginia-sponsored vision trip to Lesotho, Africa. “We were trying to discern where the Lord wanted us to work on the international mission field,” recalls Burris.
Burris met International Mission Board (IMB) field personnel Jim and Teresa Flora, who was serving in Lesotho at the time. The Floras were looking for churches from the United States willing to enter into a long-term partnership, and River Oak was looking to make a connection on the mission field.
The country of Lesotho is completely landlocked within South Africa. Much of the country has isolated locations that have had little exposure to the Gospel due to the difficulty of Lesotho’s mountainous terrain.
Discovery Trips Lead to Partnership
Senior Associate Pastor Dave Velloney took several trips to determine the scope of the work that needed to be done, with a view toward considering how River Oak could meet needs and make disciples. These trips led to a partnership that has resulted in 21 teams from River Oak being sent to Lesotho.
“We have committed with the Flora family and the IMB to partnership in the Khubelu Valley of the Mokhotlong province in Lesotho,” says Kyle Totty, director of missions and outreach at River Oak. “We send 3–4 valley trips each year.”
Doors Opened to Preach the Gospel
The church also sends a medical team each year. The most recent was sent in March 2018. Another 10-person medical team from the US, who happened to be there at the same time serving in another part of the country, met up with the River Oak team. They camped in a village in tents for 10 nights and were able to treat hundreds of patients who don’t have access to medical care. This opened the door for them to preach the Gospel countless times to large crowds. Many of the people treated walked for several hours, sometimes days, to get to the clinic. The team was able to lead over 50 Lesotho people to faith in Christ!