The mission lady had just tucked her two children down to bed at their mission headquarters in South Africa. As she was about to go to bed herself, there was a knocking and scratching at the door. “Do not be afraid, madam, it is I, Dorah.”
The mission lady quickly went to the door to see what brought Dorah, the African pastor’s wife, out at this hour. Both ladies were without husbands at this time, as both men were on a camp meeting tour at the time.
Dorah was quite excited and upset. “Don’t pay the gardener or the mission servant tomorrow, they have stolen our own biggest she-goat. Jerusalem saw them take it.” Jerusalem was the mission house boy, a very trustworthy young man. “Yes madam, I saw them take it.”
The loss was significant. They had eighty goats, which kept a little income coming in, but those men had stolen the prize goat of the herd, she was the breeding mother for maintaining the numbers in the herd. Dorah was already thinking on how she could save enough money to be able to replace the big she-goat, but before she did, she was not going to give up easily. “I will report this to the native police.” she thought.
The two men who had stolen the goat thought they had done a good job and had it all settled, but for one thing. They hadn’t predicted the determination of that native pastor’s wife. She was up early the next morning and felt led to where the goat may be. Sure enough, she found it, laying where they had slain it, and waiting for those greedy men to prepare their feast.
In the meantime, those men were laughing and talking of their feast coming up of goat meat. They had their pot and knives to do the work. As they walked into the mission station, they were met with stern looking policemen and soon their cooking pots and knives were exchanged for handcuffs, led out the front gate, never more to put foot on the mission station.
An autopsy was carried out on the mother goat and it was found she was about to give birth to twins, which would have boosted the herd significantly, perhaps not so much in numbers, but certainly in value.
When the charges were brought against them, the loss of the mother goat and what would have been twins, was considered. The gardener and mission servant were fined with having to give three goats each back to the African pastor, Pastor Tsotetsi and his wife, Dorah. They were given three months to complete their ‘sentence’.
Just two days before the three months were up, the two men returned to complete their sentence - well they didn’t quite get it right. The fine was for three goats each, being a total of six goats, but these men did their best and brought five goats and one sheep.
Pastor Tsotetsi and Dorah were grateful that their loss of the valuable mother goat and her unborn twins were replaced, making their herd of goats now eighty four and one lonely sheep!
The moral of this story is to be aware that our sins, one day or another will catch us out. It also reminds us of the text in Numbers 32:23 “Be sure your sin will find you out.”
– Based on story from Florence Burke, Guide, March. 1969