Canine Redemption

As many of you know we are currently living out in the forest with a team of missionaries among the Baka people. In recent days, the Baka laugh at me pretty much every time I go out of my front door. Why would they laugh at you? You ask. They laugh at me because about a week ago I bought a sick, skinny and injured dog named Police. Why would you buy a sick dog? Well, that is what the Baka are asking and why they laugh at me. But let me tell you the story.

I was in our kitchen homeschooling our kids the other day when in the background I heard an agonized yelping. It took me a minute to figure out where it was coming from and I saw Stacey looking out the window across the way. And there was a small dog, tied up with a rope, and his owner was beating him with a large branch. For a moment I thought that it had stopped and I went back to teaching, but it started up again. So, after some pleading from Stacey, I decided to go over and talk to the owner. Pajero is a man that I know a bit. He has done some work for me at the new house and we have talked, in fact just a couple days before he told me how much he hated his dog. So I just walked up to him and asked why he was beating Police. “He ate our eggs,” he told me. Looking at the poor little guy it was not hard to imagine why he would have eaten their eggs. He was so small you could see every one of his bones. A wound on his face was bleeding and there were flies in the wounds on his ears. I told him that it was wrong to beat his dog and referenced the verse in Proverbs that says “whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast.” Pajero told me he would stop and so I went back home. Stacey said after that she saw him throwing rocks at the dog.

Later that night we decided to inquire about buying the dog. I did not want a dog, mind you. But I saw how much Pajero hated him and I knew that one day he would just kill him. Stacey and I talked and we were hoping at some point to get a dog that would bark if people approached our house at night. Would Police be that kind of a dog? We had no idea, but at least he would be alive. We talked to others that told us that Pajero would just buy another dog and treat him the same. But we thought of that silly story about the boy an the starfish (“I can save this one…and this one…”). So, we did it. We bought a sick little dog that probably will never be an amazing guard dog. And, inspired by some friends that live in Indonesia, we changed his name. 

So, I introduce you to Rachat. Rachat? What kind of a name is that? Well, I do not think it is really a name, but it is a word. It is the French word for “redemption.” What does redemption mean? According to The New Bible Dictionary “Redemption means deliverance from some evil by payment of a price.” I actually like the French word a little bit better because achat means “purchase” so rachat just means to purchase again, or to buy back. I think it removes some of the mystery. This is what happened to our dog. He belonged to a cruel master who bought him as a puppy, who did not feed him, who beat and hated him. And then I bought him, the second purchase. And he is now part of our family. We feed him, take him to get his vaccinations, put a balm on his wounds, pet him and play with him. The kids love him and, though we have to teach them to be gentle, treat him very well.

But I like the name for another reason as well. I like it because it gives me the chance to talk about my own redemption. You see, I was once sold as a slave, bound in sin to a cruel master. This master offered me “freedom” and “happiness” but all I ever got out of the deal was pain and misery. But God, in his infinite mercy, bought me back. Colossians 1 says, “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” The price I paid for Rachat was pretty small (about $10), but God paid a price much higher for my life. He paid for it with the blood of his Son, Jesus Christ. But the inheritance that I have received is also worth so much more. Rachat will likely live a good long life with a full belly, plenty of exercise and hopefully a full-time guard job. Me? I get a new master, who is now my Father. My Brother is the King of kings. And I am told that one day I will even get to reign and rule with Christ (2 Timothy 2:12). How great a redemption!

I hope sometime soon to post some “after” photos of our new dog. He is already looking a bit better with some more meat on him and his wounds healing. He has started to bark at people he does not know at night, so that is a good sign. And, even better, I have had two opportunities to share the Gospel because of him! Praise the Lord!


Author: David M. Hare

Dave is a husband, father of four Africans, and is currently helping the Kwakum people do Oral Bible Storying and Bible translation in Cameroon, Africa.