This article originally appeared in the November 2012 edition of ITMI Monthly.
Trying everything he can think of to build relationships with the locals of Onseepkans, South Africa where his family and mission are located, ITMI’s Gerhard le Roux takes food and supplies to a goat herders’ outpost about 2 miles away from the remote Onseepkans Mission.
Two goat herders, Johanes and Jokobus, sleep in one small hut with grass walls and a tin roof and cook in another. Each evening after herding their goats the 3.29 miles to the Orange River and back, the two enjoy their only luxury in life: a cup of tea.
So simple is their life that they don’t understand the value of maintenance. They’ve never been taught that God’s creation is valued. In their culture, it’s just a tool for survival.
Goat herder's outpost home.
Johanes and Jokobus' kitchen.
Gerhard shares his resources and knowledge of goat care with Johanes and Jokobus.
Gerhard is trying to help them see goat-herding from a Biblical perspective, where humans are given the responsibility as caretakers of God’s creation. He is showing them why they need to periodically clean out their pens, which were padded by 6 inches of compressed manure.
Slowly, they are learning that if they take care of what they are given, the goats will thrive.
Gerhard cares for a baby goat.
While Steve Evers, ITMI’s Director and Mark Burritt, ITMI’s Financial Officer, were visiting Onseepkans, they trekked out to the outpost with Gerhard and discovered the crisis of a sick goat. They’d already lost one, which is extremely costly for them.
That night, Gerhard researched the symptoms and found that it could be treated by a vaccine that he happened to have.
To serve others raising goats in the community, Gerhard stocks a bottle of vaccine for his goats. The others might need one or two doses, but they can’t afford to pay for the whole bottle, so he lets them pay him just for what they need.
A bottle of vaccine is quite costly on his irregular, meager income, but Gerhard decided to give them his bottle.
The goat-herders show Gerhard their costly loss.
Because of Gerhard’s sacrifice and relationship with the herders, while he was helping inoculate the goats, Steve was able to share with the two brothers that they, too, need an inoculation for a disease we all have...rebellion against God, but that Jesus sacrificed to provide us with what we need to be saved and so much more.
Johanes and Jokobus prayed, asking for this gift of salvation with the guys that day!
Steve also saw that ITMI helped in providing the two new believers with solar powered audio Bibles in their Afrikaners dialect.
Summer Kelley is a writer who lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her husband and three kids. She has had the privilege of telling ITMI's stories since 2006. She loves to write uplifting stories of God's work overseas, read and learn about the world around her and enjoy her family.
Steve Evers has advocated for and served the ITMI partners as ITMI Director since 2001. Approximately once a year, Steve visits with ITMI partners in their countries and brings stories back to encourage supporters. Steve enjoys photography and mechanics, (both hobbies that have greatly benefited ITMI partners!) Prior to becoming ITMI's Director, Steve served on the Board of Directors for 12 years. Steve lives in Arizona with his wife, Darlene.