Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Shepherding 101

Shepherds are a DAILY part of my life here. Almost everyone I know is a shepherd... maybe their only animals are not sheep, but they own sheep, too. In fact, it isn't uncommon for many of the people that we are around to own two or three cows, a dozen chickens, a couple of pigs, a donkey, and a handful of sheep. They generally herd them all together in a different kind of "flock" (which is actually a really good description of the community that we work with... they are definitely all different and yet they make up a very different kind of "flock").

When we first came to Peru, I have to say that my entire experience with sheep boiled down to petting some at a petting zoo, and taking pictures of them at the county fair. Other than that, I knew absolutely nothing about sheep. So the descriptions in the Bible and the stories revolving around sheep (more than 700 references!) completely eluded me. I knew the stories of the Good Shepherd, the Lost Sheep, etc... but they really didn't make a whole lot of sense to me. They were just stories. Until I came to Peru...

So now I am learning a lot about sheep and shepherds. And it is beginning to make so much more sense to me! Recently, I was searching for a Bible study for the summer months for the interns to work on while they are here. I literally stumbled upon (okay, we know that there are no coincidences.... God led me to this) a bible study called "Scouting the Divine" by Margaret Feinberg. She looks into the themes of sheep/shepherds, farming, vineyards, and beekeeping in the Bible and connects them with real people from today and the modern practices of these "jobs". She also brings in the history and culture behind these themes. We are learning so much!!! And I'm now connecting so much more with sheep and shepherds in my daily life here - serving the people of Peru.

Just today, we watched a small herd of sheep and their two shepherds... the sheep managed to get away from the shepherds (who were walking behind the sheep) and take off down the mountain, at which point the shepherds began yelling and running after them. A little while later, here they came again, back up the mountain, this time being LED by the shepherds and everyone (the sheep) was following in line and behaving. Hmmmmm..... It was a great illustration of some of the things we had just studied this week about good and bad shepherds and how sheep react to being pushed vs. led.

I highly recommend this Bible study... even if you don't live in Peru or spend time daily with shepherds or farmers! I think you will connect with the Bible a little bit better if you dig deeper into these themes.