The Boy with No Shoes

The elderly man walked humbly toward me. I stood at a long table in the parking lot of the church where I preach and minister at a soup kitchen on a recent Wednesday when the soup kitchen was closed. So I set up shop outside, with my Honda Element rear door wide open so all the supplies I had brought could be easily distributed. I figured the man who approached me on the chilly day, his frail body wrapped in a not altogether sturdy jacket, would want a sleeping bag, a Bible, and some toiletries from Walk by Faith Ministry’s SWEET DREAMS PROJECT: helping the homeless dream and sleep. But the man had another need, and with a quiet voice he shared his need.
The Lord says in the Bible, “…Put off thy shoes from thy feet: for the place where thou standest is holy ground (Acts 7:33 KJV).” But not everyone has shoes to take off in a country where for so many it is so easy to take shoes, and clothes, and food, and shelter for granted. In a soft voice, the man, who wore shoes, told me of his need.

His three-year-old grandson, neglected by his mother, does not own a pair of shoes. The man had walked to a social services organization to get help, but the place was closed. I figure he saw the crowd of people standing around me and realized maybe someway, somehow, he could find the help he needed. So he shared the story. Shoes. Clothes. Love. Oh, he and his family so obviously needed love. And care. And kindness. And compassion. All things we so easily take for granted, don’t we?

I was not surprised by the need. I see endless need when I am out on the streets ministering to the world around me. Some stories move me more than others. His did. His does. The man, who turns out to be disabled, is barely able to stretch his income enough to meet his family’s needs. Not especially when he has an elderly relative he cares for. Not especially when he so clearly lacks strength in his frailty. He looked like a man beaten down by life – but not beaten down past reaching out to find out how the Lord might meet his need.

“Do you have enough food?” I asked the man, moving past the need of his grandchild. He told me he has enough. But I am not sure I fully believed him. Because I saw a man so focused on making sure the child he loves is provided for that I did not have the impression he thinks too much of himself and what he might need. Nevertheless, I didn’t push him to say too much more than what he had come to say. I can’t even fathom the humility it took to state his need in the first place – that he could not himself buy the pair of shoes.

While I was moved by the whole experience, nothing moved me as much as when I reached my arms around him and gave him a hug. I like to give out hugs when the Lord leads me, so this hug could have been just like so many others. But it was not. See, it wasn’t a hug just about a boy with no shoes.

It was about a man with a heart so big, and broken, that when he walked away from me I saw that he was crying.

I do not know whether he cried over the boy with no shoes. I do not know whether he cried because of my compassion for him. I do not know if he cried because he is so beaten down. I do not know if he cried because who knows the last time he might have received a hug. I really don’t know what his tears were about.

But I know this. Our world is crying. Our world is crying out for help. And our Father in heaven is looking for a people that will wrap our arms around the world with compassion, that will go through our pantries and closets to see what we might give, that will have the courage to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ above all else, and that will give, and reflect, and model, and inspire with the love of the Lord in all that we do.

I ENCOURAGE YOU. Please open up your eyes, your ears, your hearts, your homes, and your lives to not only recognize a world in need, but to see what you might be called to give. Walk by Faith Ministry welcomes donations of sleeping bags, Bibles, toiletries, clothes, food, dog supplies, blankets, comforters, monetary donations, and anything else the Lord puts on your heart that I might distribute as the Lord leads. But whether you donate to this ministry, or to another one, or to a non-profit business, or directly to someone or an animal in need, that is not my concern. I only desire that you give to a world without shoes, to a world that is crying, to a world whose only hope is Jesus Christ and a people who will get out of our recliners, out of our comfort zones, away from our own plans and agendas, and wash the feet, and dry the tears, and press hugs and provision and most importantly the Gospel into the hearts, and hands, and lives of the world around us. 

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1 Comment

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