Matthew 18:12-14 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?   And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.”

For a long time my backyard was part of the cow path that the Fulanni used to lead their herds of animals to fresh pasture.

As a city girl, watching these traditional shepherds herd the cows, sheep and goats fascinated me.

One day I was surprised to hear a girl’s voice behind my house with the herd, so I looked outside. Graceful and beautiful, she was the only shepherdess I’d ever seen. Lovely thick braids hung out of her headscarf. Her lithe form quickly ran after a stray animal to coax it back to the herd.

This shepherdess called to the animals and kept a closer watch on them than her male counterparts did. She never let an animal stray as far as the boys had done. Using her soothing voice and staff she efficiently rounded up those who drifted.

Just like Jesus, our Good Shepherd, she was a perfect example of a shepherd who left the ninety-nine to go after the one that strayed away.