Merrill Short, a missionary working for Africa Inland Mission (AIM), lives and works among the Basotho shepherds of Lesotho, based in a town called Ha Mapelle in the Manamaneng Valley.
She lives very simply, in a traditional rondavel (round hut) the same as all the other residents. Although cold in winter, Merrill says ‘it’s comfortable. I’ve got everything I need.’
The Basotho shepherds often live up in cattle posts away from the villages, apart from their families and villages for long periods at a time and often have no interaction with anyone.
They live roughly, amongst their animals, in a make-shift shelter they put together.
They work in all weathers, good and bad; when it snows they have to clear patches of grass for their animals to graze.
Khotalo, another missionary from AIM working with Merrill, explains why they are working there: ‘We are just here to help these guys, because you know shepherds in this country are like rejected people, and not a lot of people want to reach them. So we felt like God is saying we must go to them and reach them with the Gospel.’
‘I don’t think I could stay here if I didn’t have MAF to bring me in and out. It’s a long way from anywhere on a really bad road.'
Reaching shepherds with The Good Shepherd
Children learn shepherding skills from a young age, 3-4 years old, and because of this, most of them do not attend school. There is high levels of illiteracy, but amazing memory skills.
‘The idea was to develop a story set in the kind of language that they talk, so they could take and memorize and pass on.’
The stories explain the Bible from creation to the coming of Jesus using stories that centre around shepherds, in an effort to connect to the shepherds of Lesotho.
‘When they realise the way the stories are told, they realise it’s theirs,’ Merrill explains. ‘They’re open, they’re hungry. They enjoy them. And many have come to faith actually!’
Faithful friend and supporter
Merrill has been flying with MAF for a long time, having served in the mountains of Lesotho for over 18 years.
‘I don’t think I could stay here if I didn’t have MAF to bring me in and out. It’s a long way from anywhere on a really bad road. They’ve been friends and supporters for many many years.’
Read about the delivery of a quad bike for Merrill donated by Chief Pilot Danny Hulls: