Saturday, March 28, 2009
Letter From Iraq about Shepherds in the Middle East
A glimpse of shepherding in the Middle East, not much changed over the centuries.This is an excerpt from a letter I received in 2006 from our oldest son who was in Iraq, courtesy of the U.S.M.C. Knowing I love my sheep and am interested in sheep and shepherds he wrote......."one night I was looking through the thermals and about 1200 meters away there was a flock of about 1000 sheep down in a wadi and three huge hyenas were charging towards the flock and out of the middle of the flock came four dogs and attacked the hyenas. As soon as the hyenas took off about 20 dogs ( wild, feral ) came in to attack the sheep. The four guard dogs attacked them ( wild dogs ) but two of the wild dogs got a sheep . When the guard dogs got done with the pack of wild dogs they went to save the injured sheep and chased the last two wild dogs off. Meanwhile, the shepherd woke up and was standing there. It was pitch black out so he probably did not know what was going on, but he went to find the wounded sheep and all four dogs started to follow him. The shepherd pointed at the flock , it was too far for me to hear what he said, and if I could have heard him I wouldn't be able to understand him, but three of his dogs went back and posted and one followed him as he went out to look for his sheep. They never did find the sheep. I watched as the sheep limped off to the east, but when the shepherd got tired of looking he came back to his sheep and lay down in the middle of the flock and went to sleep.I guess it was warm in the middle of the 999 sheep, no...I don't know how many sheep there were, but when the shepherd lay down all four of his dogs posted. One to the north, one to the south, one to the east, and one to the west. Pretty neat to watch....." ~This shepherd, unlike The Shepherd, was unable to save the lost and injured sheep. "I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hireling, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, beholds the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hireling and not concerned about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My own, and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep." John 10: 11-15 ~Just a comment about risking life for the sheep. My son told me some horror stories about the wild dogs and hyenas in the Middle East...and they are a threat to people, beyond anything we here in the U.S. are familiar with. So really, the shepherd and his dogs were shepherding at the risk of harm to themselves. Alas, there is only one perfect Shepherd!