“I believe in Jesus”
Connected to prayer
This article was first featured alongside our Prayer Diary in February 2017. You can download the February 2017 prayer points here or sign-up to receive future editions by post or email.
Two years ago, we helped send an Extreme Training in Ministry Outreach (TIMO) team of young men into the hills of Lesotho to reach the shepherds who live there with the gospel. They had the privilege of seeing some of those young shepherds give their lives to Christ. Here Thabile shares about his life and his testimony.
My name is Thabile (pronounced Tah-bee-lay), which means ‘have been made happy’. I am sixteen years old, and my home is in the small village of Matsela, a hamlet of about fifteen households, situated in the foothills of the Maluti Mountains of Lesotho. When I was about four or five years old, I began helping my older brother and my grandfather with tending our family’s flock of goats and sheep, our herd of cows, and our few donkeys and horses.
What happens next?
The TIMO team has come to a conclusion, but new Christian shepherds, like Thabile, need support and discipleship. So what happens next? Well, some of the TIMO team are going back! Caleb and Tobias, two members of the original TIMO team, will be returning to continue life and ministry among the shepherds. At the moment, they are on ‘home assignment’ a chance for them to reconnect with their family, friends and churches, and to take some time for rest and reflection. In 2017 they hope to have raised the sufficient prayer and financial support to allow them to return to the shepherds for a further three years. The rest of the team intend to remain in full time Christian ministry but in different locations
When I was about twelve years old, my grandfather said I was old enough to make the journey high up into the mountains and stay for the summer, taking care of the animals. Every summer since, I’ve been staying in the mountains at my family cattle post, which we share with other families’ shepherds.
Three new shepherds
Two years ago, I arrived at the cattle post only to see an additional hut. Most of the other shepherds were already there, and in the new hut were three shepherds who were not even Basotho (from my people group), who weren’t from any of the neighbouring groups, and weren’t Africans, but were from Europe and America.
They told me and the other shepherds that they were there to learn our language, learn how to be shepherds and tell the stories of Jesus to us. They were soon involved in the same daily activities as we were; gathering water and firewood, helping count the sheep, sitting with us in the pasture during the day, gathering round the fire at night, and so on. Though at first they barely spoke any Sesotho, they soon caught on to some words.
They had small devices which they would use to play audio recordings of Bible stories in our style of storytelling. We would listen to the stories playing around the fires at night or during the day out in the pasture. We heard stories about God’s creation of the world, Adam and Eve, Abraham, the shepherd-king David, and many stories about Jesus. I enjoyed listening to the stories because I could learn them without having to read them, as reading is very difficult for me. I especially liked the stories about shepherds in the Bible, like David, and like the shepherds who worshipped the baby Jesus on the night that he was born.
Under a rocky overhang
One day, I was out in the pasture with Caleb, whom we call Katleho (Kah-tlay-ho). A thunderstorm came up, and at first we took shelter together under a rocky overhang. But during a break in the storm, we rushed back to the cattle post hut to weather the storm there. Because of the chill from the rain, we put on a kettle to make some tea. While we were drinking the tea in the hut while the storm died down, Katleho began telling me a story in Sesotho from the Bible; he called it the ‘Story of the Two Kingdoms’. It linked together some of the stories from the audio player which I had heard, explaining that from the time of creation’s beginning, God’s kingdom, the kingdom of light, was in existence under his rule. Katleho also explained that Satan, when he was cast out of heaven, set up his own kingdom, the kingdom of darkness, and that every man and woman is born into that kingdom, separated from God. Katleho went on to say that Jesus’ death and resurrection was the means by which Jesus can take a person from the kingdom of darkness and bring him into a restored relationship with God in the kingdom of light.
I told Katleho that this made me sad, for I could tell that what he said was true; my family, friends and I were in the kingdom of darkness with no relationship with God. He told me that if ever I wanted to talk about it more or pray about it, I just had to ask, so I said I wanted to pray right then. Katleho helped me pray, to tell Jesus that I believed in him and in his death and resurrection, and to ask him to take me from Satan’s kingdom and put me into God’s kingdom. I told Jesus that I wanted him as my good shepherd.
Since that afternoon, I’ve continued to listen to the Bible stories and to pray. While there’s still so much to learn about God and Jesus, now I know who I can turn to for that information and for help in following Jesus.