The Tale of the Namibian Goat

Now one of the really practical ways to minister to the folks in Namibia is to provide livestock to destitute families to enable them to fight their way out of poverty. This was the case last June when I found homes for a number of some very fat pregnant goats.  So it was with great anticipation when I returned in November to see the progress of this endeavor.  

In very short order, I eagerly found my way back in the bush to the small farm of Lisias Jonas and his family.  With my interpreter, Pastor Thomas Mbundu, at my side, I excitedly greeted my new friend and asked how many kids his expectant goat had ushered into the world. During the brief exchange in Oshiwambo both men started laughing and shaking their heads. No babies were born came the reply.  

So as I’m thinking maybe they ate the animal instead, I ask what happened to this fat pregnant mother-to-be I left them? Well, they point to this plump and happy goat under a tree and informed me, all I gave them was just a fat goat. Well as my head starts drooping, I look at Pastor Thomas and our thoughts are the same. Let’s go find the farmer that sold us that original goat and ‘talk to him real good’. So off we go to track down our shrewd salesman, Johannes Hendjala, at his farm a few kilos away.  

Now as we drive up, we see this man knows what he’s doing as he has a nice little herd of healthy goats, yet our feelings melt as we again are reunited with his struggling family. As our conversation ensues we find ourselves back in the market and we buy two more very fat goats.  While walking around his pen we also take the opportunity to start another of our ministries of vaccinating, deworming and applying insecticide ear tags to his herd.  

Now this so moves Johannes he ventures into the corral and comes out with a small goat in his arm and says this is for you. Now this act of kindness opens the opportunity to sit down with his family and share yet another kind of ministry by inviting to pay the tuition to enroll his 5 year old daughter into school. This in turn sends the father back into his herd and out he comes with a really fat goat, which he says he knows is pregnant. This one he wants to give us too in replacement of the original one he sold us this summer. 

Now we’re really starting to connect and the conversation leads to the real and true reason we’re here and that’s only because Jesus is in our hearts. So after a powerful time together we start getting ready to leave and back into the herd Johannes goes. This time he comes out with a huge 200-pound male goat. Through the translator, Pastor Thomas tells me he wants to give this goat to us also. “Is that OK?”  

Well I nod sure and before I can say “baie dankie” (Afrikaans for thank you), Johannes pulls out a foot long knife and slits the goat’s throat right in front of us. Up it’s hoisted in a nearby tree where he starts skinning it out. Before we know it, it’s carved into 4 quarters & two halves and stuffed into this big burlap bag.  Now one of the things I’ve learned on these trips in these types of circumstances is to always ask myself the question, “OK God, what do you got in mind with this?”

Well we’re heading back to the squatter’s camp and my mind is racing and suddenly I blurt out that this meat will last Pastor Thomas’ family for months. Now he looks at me funny cause we know we got no refrigeration and this meat won’t last more than a day or two in the sun. But as we get back home and start unloading I draw a picture in the sand of the six sections of the dissected goat and tell Thomas let’s see how we can multiply this. 

Well we give one front quarter to the family of 14 for the next meal. Then with the other five hefty chunks we start cooking it all over an open fire.  We then cut it into little pieces and start moving around the village selling these little chunks for $1.00 (.16 US). Before we know it, we got several hundred dollars. 

Then we buy big sacks of potatoes, onions, and apples and have the children go around the camp with their bags of fruits and vegetables also selling each item for $1 a piece. Now we have hundreds and hundreds of dollars and with that we find 5 families in desperate circumstances and buy for them more big sacks of fruit and vegetables and flour. 

And those people then start taking that 50 kilos of flour and separate it into little plastic bags and start selling those bags and pieces of fruit or vegetables for $1 each and all of a sudden we got make-shift fruit, vegetable and dry good stands springing up in front of their little shacks. 

And then it all struck me... All this happened because God saw fit in His miraculous wisdom and plan to have a farmer sell us a fat Namibian goat that wasn’t pregnant after all.  

And that’s how it works in Namibia where our entire role is simply to just show up.  Thank you for being part of the journey through your prayers, support, 82 chickens, 21 goats, 3 cows, porridge for 5 months for 150 children, one year’s salary for 5 unpaid preschool teachers and tuition fees for 39 children.  Come join us on HIS next adventure.

Only by His Grace,
Larry Sherman