The last role of the shepherd is guarding the sheep, particularly at night when he has to sleep across the entrance to the fold. There could be wild animals such as wolves and bears, and there are also prowling thieves, which spiritual equivalents include false prophets and teachers. In Panama, the most prevalent cults and sects are the Jehovah Witnesses (耶証 JWs) and I-Kuan Tao (一貫道 IKT)。During our visits of Chinese supers, we ran across quite a few which have been visited by Panamanian JWs who left behind Chinese Watch Tower and Awake magazines. With the permission of the store owners, invariably we confiscated them to be destroyed, leaving our paisanos with CCM (中信) magazines which teach truth rather than error. Generally non-Christians are confused about them, thinking that they are just another Christian denomination and not realizing they are spreading a false gospel. The IKT also has a known presence, but is not as “evangelistic” as the JWs in propagating their false doctrine. My opinion is that both Panama and North American pastors are diligently keeping watch over their flock, as they should.
What reward does the shepherd get for doing this 7-24 “job”? Certainly not for the money, as the average salary of a local Chinese pastor, paid according to Panama standards, is even less than that of a worker in a super or restaurant, with less education and less responsibility. One might say that the wages are meager, but the pension is “out of this world”. Joking aside, one satisfaction of shepherds is that his sheep never mistake their own master’s voice. Even when two shepherds have their sheep intermingled and they call their flocks at the same time, the sheep can tell the voice apart and follow only its master. I wish congregations would be as loyal to their pastors as they are to them, but that may be wishful thinking. In the end, most pastors do what they do because they have been called by the Master, which is good enough for me and many others.