Veterinary Program Makes Inroads for the Gospel in Jordan

June 14, 2013

Weak from hunger and sickness, the young sheep did not offer resistance when a rope was fastened around its legs. An injection of anesthesia soon rendered the animal motionless. The veterinarian glanced reassuringly at the nervous Bedouin chief who stood in the doorway fingering his Muslim prayer beads.

After applying iodine, the vet made an incision in the sheep´s abdomen. The delicate operation was performed in, of all places, a dingy concrete outhouse.

The Bedouin man observed every detail of the procedure. He stared in amazement as the vet gingerly began to pull out the culprit causing the sheep´s severely bloated stomach. The pieces of black plastic came out easily enough. More challenging was the wad of plastic that had calcified into a tight ball like a tumor.

When all of the shreds of plastic were removed, the vet deftly sewed up the animal´s abdomen and smiled at the Bedouin. “She´s going to be okay,” he announced in Arabic.

The shepherd breathed a sigh of relief. Two more sheep bleated out back in a pen, awaiting their turns.

It has been said half-jokingly that Bedouin farmers place a higher value on their sheep and goats than on their own wives and offspring. While there may be some debate about that statement, Bedouins will not deny that their very survival rests on the wellbeing of their flocks.

In the case of this farmer, some of his sheep had ingested pieces of plastic that commonly litter the desert. Blown about by the wind, the plastic is typically discarded grocery or garbage bags. If the plastic is not removed from their stomachs, the animals will die of starvation.

For nearly a decade Christian Aid has assisted a Jordanian outreach whose work includes ministry among poor Bedouin herdsmen and their families. Central to their mission is a veterinary program that helps farmers care for their livestock and presents opportunities to share the gospel in a way that resonates with shepherds.

BAGD operates a mobile veterinary clinic and employs a veterinarian who makes “tent calls” to Bedouin homes. He provides basic medical care for the animals, gives vaccinations, and performs operations that range from setting broken limbs to extensive internal procedures.

The program has proved greatly beneficial as shepherds learn modern livestock practices and improve the economic situation for their families. These significant strides are only part of the story, however. Through this Christian ministry, the oft-forgotten Bedouins are hearing the wonderful news of the Good Shepherd who came to deliver them from their sins.

“We have many fruitful opportunities for sharing the gospel,” said a ministry leader. “Other Muslims pay little attention to the Bedouins. It is an open door for Christians to minister to them. Pray for us.”