by Kristin Huffman, Associate Director
“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” —John 10:14–16
I was driving in the Texas Hill Country not long ago, remembering the unique season of my life when I lived on a ranch while my dad served as the director of a Christian conference center. The year I was 11 provided a wonderful experience of ranch activities: I got my first cowboy hat and boots, rode horses, built forts, explored caves and even joined the 4H club and raised sheep.
My two sisters and I each got a lamb in the fall, raised them for about six months and sold them at an auction. One of the most difficult things about caring for sheep was corralling them to feed, water and brush them. The auction was a madhouse with sheep all over the place. We could barely keep up with our three—the ones we knew—much less look out for others.
Fast forward 20 years to when I was ordained as a pastor. My flock was now the people God had put in my care. They also weren’t that easy to corral to feed and water and tend! The only time I saw “other sheep,” those “not of my fold,” was when neighborhood kids came to our Vacation Bible School. I could barely keep up with the flock I had.
Fast forward another 25 years, and I became the mission pastor at my church. As I worked with missionaries and heard about God’s work in the world, I truly began to understand the Great Commission for the first time: His calling to us to participate in bringing the Good News of the Gospel to all people. I met people across the world who’d never heard of Jesus, and I recognized the truth from John 10:16 when Jesus says He has other sheep to gather into the fold of His Kingdom. The passage says, “I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice.” Jesus loves all the sheep from every pasture, not just me and mine.
The God of all creation is our shepherd. He made us, He’s with us, He loves us, He seeks after us. This Good Shepherd desires that all the people He created be brought into the fold of His family until there is “one flock, one shepherd.” We have the privilege of being bearers of the message of the Gospel to those who don’t yet know Him—next door, around the corner and across the world.