The Shepards in Lesotho
Lesotho – nicknamed “The Kingdom in the Sky” - is a small, mountainous country, wholly surrounded by South Africa. Lesotho is also described as the ‘Switzerland of Africa’, due to its high altitude and mountains, often leading to extremely cold and snowy winters.
It is also on these mountains that the country’s largest unreached people group lives: the120 000 shepherds (or ‘herd boys’). The boys and men, ranging from 5 to 65 years, have little contact with villages and when they do visit they are viewed with caution and treated as thieves. A chief shepherd shared: “I’ve heard of missionaries going to my home village, but I have always felt left out.”
The shepherds live high in the mountains of Lesotho – caring for flocks and herds, which belong to wealthy owners down in the valleys. They live in marginalised, isolated communities outside the reach of the local churches. From five and six years old, these boys and young men work away from their families with no education or literacy skills.
Shepherds are deeply grounded in the ancestral cult and witchcraft. They are seldom welcome in churches and lack the literacy skills to be integrated into church services and ministries.
In order to tell them the good news of Jesus, outreach teams, particularly boys - could go and live with the Basotho shepherds showing them love as they share the gospel. For foreign missionaries, it is crucial to learn the language and the culture. At the same time one could begin to empower the shepherds by educating them. In the end, the system of sending poor 5-year-olds should be dismantled but one would need the support of the community and the shepherds themselves to make such a change in the culture. Thus, time spent living in the mountains is crucial for such a connection.
- That God would open the hearts of the shepherds to welcome missionaries and even more, Jesus himself into their lives.