Reflections, part two: the shepherds

One thing that strikes many Americans when they land in Ethiopia is the fact that animals are almost everywhere. Any patch of grass, even in the city, may have horses, cows, and sheep grazing freely.  And have no doubt, someone owns them and knows exactly where they are.

There was another type of shepherd I encountered while in Ethiopia.  These shepherds tended God's sheep.  Pastors who loved Jesus and wanted to see people come to know him.  As I looked into their faces, heard their stories, and watched their leadership, I saw men that had something powerful.  No they weren't perfect nor were they more spiritual because they lived in a difficult place, surrounded by hostility.  Yet in their lack of material possession, there was somewhat of a freedom and a love for Christ that is compelling.

There were the two church leaders from a church that was a three hour walk away.  They came that far to receive a Proclaimer, a unit containing the Bible, recorded in their language, that can be charged by an outlet, the built-in solar panel, or even the small hand crank.  They came this far because they want people to hear about Jesus.

Then there was the pastor in Arsi who was constantly with us, serving us even when we wanted to serve him and his church.  Worshiping and singing with gusto.  Praying fervently.  Counseling those who made a decision for Christ.

And there was the pastor from Kofele.  This young pastor with a beautiful family has a small bed in the back of his church.  I had seen pastors in Ethiopia give part of their home to be used as a church.  I asked if this was the case and was told that this was not his, but the bed for the guard they had to hire to stay in the church because they were in an area that is ninety-nine percent Muslim.  To say that those matter-of-fact words were sobering would be a gargantuan understatement.

No, these men are not perfect.  They have flaws and weaknesses.  But being in their presence caused a great sense of unworthiness to come over me.  They wanted us to teach them. I wanted them to teach me.  I pray that we accomplished both.

Posted by Jack | at 8:00 AM