They came out of the woodwork of wrinkled mountains. They came in ones, twos and threes. All 18 of them. Cloaked in heavy blankets and surrounded by hundreds of sheep. Badisana is their name. "Little caretakers of sheep" in Sesotho, because truly, some of them started shepherding as children.
They emerged weekly from the nooks and crannies of this harsh land to a lone standing building that served as a church, an elementary school, and a parsonage for a Mosotho pastor who knew their names. They came because he had told them of a Savior, one who loved them more than they would ever know. This love drew them in.
Sam and I drove 2 hours with missionary friend, Jayne, to come to see the badisana's Bible lesson on Saturday morning. We had no idea what God actually had in store. But these boys did.
You see, 8 of them knew what it meant for their eternal hunger and thirst to be quenched by the love of their own Shepherd. Their lives had been changed. And they were ready. Ready to go public. And we just happen to show up in time to see it.
Gorgeous smiles flashed at us between their blanketcoats and winter caps as they trod past us on the withering grass down to a rocky riverbed. "Lumela!". Good day. Indeed, a good day this was going to be, we realized, as the Mosotho pastor and a South African missionary explained to us what the shepherds had asked them to do today. We followed in powerful silence.
These shepherd boy's knowledge of their Heavenly Father, their Almighty Shepherd, was so basic, so simple, so pure. Yet they had tasted the sweetness of His love and they knew they loved Him back. You could FEEL the sacredness in the air.
The boys stripped off their blankets. The wind was crisp but their skin displayed no goosebumps. Mountain air was their home. As they pulled off their rubber boots, I saw what they used as socks. Burlap bags tied around their legs to stop the boots from rubbing on their skin. One by one, they untied the bags and began to wade out into the river and into the arms of the Mosotho pastor. He asked about their decision to follow Christ and lowered them to new life in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Their comrades who had not yet made an eternal decision stood and watched in reverent silence.
All I could think and pray was, "This is holy. This is sacred."
|Jayne prayed in closing at the end.|
|After the baptism, we sat in on their Bible lesson about how sin entered the world.|
|I asked this friendlie to show me how to crack a whip :)|
|A few of the badisana and the chief's wife|
|This guy's name was "Tsehla" ("Yellow")|
|Jayne and her two friends drive 2 hours to do the bi-monthly Bible lessons for the badisana.|
|And this little guy just wanted his picture taken :)|
|Heading back home|
"We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death
in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the
glory of the Father, we too may live a new life."