Lesotho (MNN/AIM) — For a lot of people, roughing it means packing a house into a smaller house on wheels. There are the diehard campers, though, who prefer to construct shelter and live off the land without the benefits of indoor plumbing and electricity.
Try doing that for a couple years. Mark Eekhoff serves as part of Africa Inland Mission’s two-year outreach team among Lesotho’s highland shepherds. When the group first arrived at their mission site in 2014, their first task was to build shepherd huts out of materials found in the area. There’s no electricity, no furniture, just a camping mat and sleeping bag.
AIM’s “Team Shepherd” is serving the shepherd boys of Lesotho through the Training In Mission Outreach (TIMO) program. TIMO places a team of new missionaries under the leadership of an experienced missionary or missionary couple. While each team is different, they all share the same 12 core values, one of which is to learn the local language and culture.
Team Shepherd learned Sesotho. Lacking literacy, the Shepherds have an oral culture of songs and stories. The team wants to share stories of Jesus in this manner–a powerful witness. Along the way, there’s delightful creativity and friendship blooming in a harsh environment.
For their part, the herdboys have accepted the newcomers. They enjoy eating with them, playing games, having stick fights, shepherding herds of sheep together, and teaching the team the language.
In an AIM Facebook update, Eekhoff explains that the herdboys enjoy music and dancing. To that end, he writes, “I have a long way to go in learning the latter, but I am really excited to share music with them. One particular shepherd, Matlanya, is very skilled; and he is rarely seen roaming the highlands without his homemade 3-string. I am in the process of learning the basics of open-tuned 3-string guitar playing from Matlanya and have almost finished constructing my own. For me, sharing music with the shepherds has been a highlight of the ministry here.”
Music is incredible in its ability to have so many sounds, emotions, instruments, beats, and genres. It’s global for a reason, and it is a language that resonates in every human heart. Keep praying for opportunities for the team to share the hope of the Gospel.
Most importantly, pray that God would open the hearts of the shepherds to welcome not just the team, but Jesus Himself into their lives, and that they would become shepherd-evangelists across the mountain region.
Follow this team’s ongoing #ShepherdStory.