October 15, 2013

A Goat in a Ravine

by Brittany Tedesco

A steep hill on Christian Aid's property used to be covered in a heinous vine described in the dictionary as “a hairy leguminous climbing plant.” That is until we called Goat Busters, a company that rents herds of goats for just such problems. Not only was it a cost-effective and chemical-free solution, the goats provided free “fertilizer” and cuteness.

Night and day the voracious creatures ate the leaves from the creeping plant, leaving behind only dead, brown vines. In a couple of weeks the job was done and the company collected the herd for the next weedy crisis.

But unbeknownst to them, a baby goat remained behind, entangled in some of the dead vines. Two days later one of our staff, on her afternoon walk, heard a faint bleating and found the little guy stuck in the ravine. Another day without food and water and he wouldn't have survived. The dynamic duo, otherwise known as our maintenance team, hurriedly rescued the helpless animal.

A goat in a ravine reminded me of a sheep in a pit, the word picture Jesus used with the Pharisees before healing a man with a deformed hand. Like the goat and the sheep, the man was helpless—he couldn't work to earn an income and was disregarded by the community. So naturally Jesus goes to him, telling the Pharisees, “How much more valuable is a person than a sheep!” (Matthew 12:11-12)

In a crowd of people, Jesus zeroed in on the helpless ones. And His Spirit, living inside believers throughout the world today, still does. Those with twisted limbs or disabled minds—who don't seem to “contribute” anything to society—our Savior sees as valuable. And so do the indigenous ministries assisted by Christian Aid.

In Vietnam today, 27 colonies house around 22,000 lepers shunned by the rest of society. A native ministry leader and his missionary coworkers regularly visit the colonies, providing them with food, education for their children, and livestock they can raise for income.

Sensing the missionaries´ genuine compassion, most lepers are open to the gospel. One, however, was not. Like the goat and the sheep, he was “stuck” in a deep pit of bitterness.

Angry and drunk most of the time, this 50-year-old who´d lost all of his fingers and toes to the insidious disease, sat by himself far from the gospel meetings held by the missionaries in his colony. But the little congregation began to notice that, each day, he sat a little closer and little closer…trying to listen in. The message he eventually heard pierced him to the core, and he accepted Christ as Savior. His wife and children, who lived in perpetual fear of his rage-fueled outbursts, were astounded by the change in his attitude and behavior. They soon became Christians as well. His life was so radically transformed that even non-lepers took notice. In addition to 30 lepers, he´s led 20 non-lepers to Christ.

The rescued became the rescuer. Because he wasn´t discarded. Jesus Christ saw him, and went to him through native missionaries, at His service.