This year, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to travel to Africa, twice. I hope to write more in the days to come, but for now I’m sharing this post that appeared on The Lulu Tree’s blog…please go there to read the rest, and to learn about what God is doing in Sierra Leone, Uganda, and South Sudan!
He weeps as he speaks of the struggles his people face, and I can see the way he carries the weight of Sierra Leone on his broad shoulders—the way his heart breaks open a little wider every day, making room for the flock he shepherds there.
The word pastor means shepherd, and Pastor Sonnel is a shepherd in the truest sense. Wherever he goes, the people wave and cry out “Pastor,” and sometimes “Papa.” He slows the van when he sees them, rolls down the window and gives them his full attention as they pass along an update or prayer request. He knows their parents, their children, their struggles. He watches for them, asks after them. He knows them each by name.
“I am the good shepherd,” Jesus said. “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)
I see Sonnel laying down his life as we pass from village to village. I see the way he shepherds like Jesus, laying down his comfortable life near the city to bump and jolt down hours of bad road to the bush, where he works alongside his flock in villages where life is full of hardship and suffering. I see him suffer alongside, entering into their struggles as he seeks out the wounded, the sick, the hungry and the lost.
In the village across the river, he stops to talk to a woman holding an infant. “Take a picture of this baby,” he calls to me, so I do. He touches the baby’s cheek, speaks earnestly in the melodious Limba language to the woman who holds her.
As we walk down the red, dusty trail to the boat that will take us back across the river—the “Little Scary” river whose waters isolate the villages on the far side, he tells us that the baby’s mother had given her to a neighbor to watch as she went into the jungle. She did not return, killed by a venomous snake—and the baby’s father ran away. “She is too pale,” Sonnel says. “She’s not getting enough nutrients. Tomorrow, I will send for someone to take her to the hospital.”
He had never set foot in the village across the river, nor had he ever set eyes on this child. But he would happily give from his own pockets to help this lamb now part of the flock; his heart has made room for those isolated by the deep water and he is already planning how to help them before his feet touch the shore on the other side….Read the rest HERE at The Lulu Tree