Mark Behle - Lesotho
Have you ever heard someone say that the Bible study or devotions will be based on the 23rd Psalm and you have inwardly groaned, "Oh, not again!"? That thought passed briefly through my mind when I met with some teachers for a meeting of Scripture Union leaders. Mrs. Semuli announced we would be looking at Psalm 23 and I was already looking at the next item on the agenda. However, Mrs. Semuli provided me with plenty of spiritual nourishment with her fresh insights on this beloved passage. In Lesotho, there are plenty of sheep and shepherds, so I should not have been surprised to find that a Mosotho would give me a different perspective.
One observation she made was that if the sheep obey the shepherd, then they will prosper and increase in numbers. The shepherd wants his flock to grow. Mrs. Semuli then added a rather startling point: if a sheep is not productive, then it will be slaughtered. That got my attention! I don't remember anyone mentioning that before in a Bible study on Psalm 23. Then she added that it is the shepherd's job to find food for the sheep and to care for them. Therefore, the sheep are always relaxed being in the presence of the shepherd. They have no fears or worries. The shepherd does what is best for the sheep. The shepherd will take care of any wounds or sickness that the sheep have.
With those points being made, the questions for discussion came easily. Do we really relax in God's presence? Do we live our lives without fear knowing God is our protector? How productive are we for God? Do we trust God to watch over us? Someone in the group made the observation that too often we want to be the shepherd instead of the sheep. We want to be in control instead of letting God, or Jesus, be the Good Shepherd.
Speaking of being in control, that's what I try to do with my classes! At the top of the newsletter you will see a stretched-out line of students. These 58 pupils (plus one absentee) are all in one of my three math classes I am teaching in Form A (the first year of five in our high school). The other two classes have 60 and 63 in them. I have the names down (usually) when they are in the classroom and in their correct seats. But I have to search my memory a bit sometimes when I see them out and about on campus.
We have had a warm year so far with temperatures still in the 70's and 80's. The swimming pool has been used regularly by students after school and on weekends. One of the teachers organized a team to compete with a few other schools in Maseru last month. It was good to see some kids competing in swimming that don't participate in the many other sports we have at school. It was the first time our school had participated in such an event and the team returned home with a number of medals.
At right you see the 2007 boys' basketball team. It is easily the tallest team I have had. It's nice to be able to look up to some of my players for a change! Although the height is great, we are struggling to take care of the ball. My top two guards from last year graduated and so we need to work on reducing our turnovers. At the moment, as we have our Easter break, we have won five and lost one. We have yet to meet the two toughest teams in our group here in the south of the country. We will have to defeat at least one, if not both, of them to make it to the quarterfinals of the national tournament later this year.
In February Lesotho had peaceful elections. The ruling party remains in power, though not with quite the same strength in numbers as in the previous election. The opposition parties did have some complaints about the process but outside observers said that overall the process was free and fair. There are still some issues to be resolved regarding political alliances that have (or have not) been made and who should be granted seats in the parliament. So I will continue to ask for your prayers as these matters are sorted out in the courts and in negotiations. The opposition parties have strength, particularly in the urban areas, and they easily organized a two-day "stay-away" last month which totally shut down the capital city. This was done to protest the lack of progress on the issues they had raised over the elections.
Yours in Christ,
Mark Behle is a missionary with the Lesotho Evangelical Church. He is a Mathematics teacher at Masitise High School, Lesotho.