Tuesday, September 15, 2009


It was getting dark and raining again, as we traveled on dirt road towards Mt. Frere, from Pondoland, South Africa. As we went around the hairpin curve, close to the bottom of the valley of a large mountain range, I suddenly realized I had gotten too close to the shoulder, where the muddy gravel had piled up. Before I knew it, the VW mini van was bogged down to the chassis!

We were stuck – even with chains on!

Our emotions were unruly as we assessed the situation. We had a newborn, Mark David, in the middle of a vast area unreached by the Gospel. We were miles from any town. We had been on a “holiday” visit with the missionaries at Good Hope Mission in Pondoland.

It had been a relaxing visit. Our hosts did everything to make our stay comfortable. As it neared time for us to leave, it began to rain, showing no signs of letting up. (We had thought we were going to miss the rainy season!)

The Good News of the Gospel seeks out the lost, but I, as a young husband and father was now the one needing to be found!

I was proud of the way I kept my word, so made the decision to go on to the next stop in our “holiday tour”, so we could get back to our home base. Unfortunately it was even against the advice of the resident missionaries.

However, they were kind enough to loan me a set of chains, as we set out to make the trip over the rugged mountains. (We had notified the missionaries at our destination of our intent.)

Between two mountain ranges, it can get very dark very quickly. Being miles from the nearest town, and rainy conditions, there was no traffic. We did see one car in about three hours, who cautiously passed us on higher ground. We asked them to let someone know our plight.

To mock our feelings, the only thing we could get on our short-wave radio was SABC, and a radio program called “The Creaking Door” – not really the best listening for our situation! (Plus, there was no public cell phone service in 1967!)

It was lonely, and it was frightening!

Hope dawned when I saw a set of headlights appear on the winding road ahead. It was the missionary from the other station, who had sensed we were in trouble. Several came with blankets, medical supplies, shovels, and anything else they could think of – not knowing if we were completely down an embankment or not!

They dug us out, and we followed them safely to the mission station!

This enforced the truth that “lostness” is not cured by merely keeping sheep in a sheep pen. Lostness is in the nature of sheep. (Isaiah 53:6) They need a shepherd. People need spiritual leadership – always! A missionary cannot corral his sheep while he takes a little holiday on the beach! People cannot be cured spiritually merely by getting together in a church, obeying a set of rules, and living happily ever after. Lostness is a universal condition that can be helped by that, but it is not the cure. Sheep always need a shepherd, and a shepherd needs to care for his sheep, even when he needs a holiday!

I was stuck in mud, because sheep get stuck in the mud of life! A part of the Good News of the Gospel is found in the simple truth that all authority is ordained by God, for the reward of those do well, and the punishment of those who do evil. (1 Peter 2:14)

My reputation with God as a shepherd was in question. God had alerted the local missionary to my flaw as he tried to keep both me (and my parishioners at home) from being stuck in the mud! (I could have humbled myself and waited long enough to place a phone call on the local “trunk” to someone to care for our responsibilities, but I was too proud to admit I was the one that was “lost”!) (Psalm 23:3)

As I share my life in this blog, there are some areas that can only be cured by remembering the nature of sheep, and the need of the Good Shepherd, Himself. He has given us His Word, hidden as treasure, in the Bible.


RWRCA said...

We all need a shepard. The problem is that we let our pride get in the way of good advice. Jesus said to humble yourself as a little child. You would think that an adult would be able to use the knowledge of listening to different counsel, supporting it with scripture and prayer and be able to discern between the different advise offered. The problem is that we don't humble ourself and we let our pride get in the way of God's direction that is offered to us in different ways.

PDW said...

Thanks for your comment! I think that is why Jesus told the disciples, "Except you become as a little child, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven!"