The Power of a Pair of Shoes

Monz, Edwin, and Tony just after craft time at Tuesday's soup kitchen

This month's Field Story was written by Monz Coetzee. We say this all the time, but it's worth saying again. We LOVE Monz's heart for the communities in which we work. She is a dedicated, hardworking servant that shows up, week in and week out, to support nearly all of our ministry partners. We know they love and appreciate her just as much as we do!

Steve Marabou once said, "A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal." 

This rings true in what I experienced sitting in the living room of Edwin and Angie of Restoring Hands.

On a Tuesday when I was working at the soup kitchen, one of the regular children that attends the craft ministry looked as if she hadn't been attending school. As I helped the children with crafts, I heard muffled conversation between Edwin and some children and parents about this little girl. 

Toward she the end of our craft time, Edwin called her over to ask her if she was attending school. I stood by nervously—as if I was this little girl being asked if I was going to school. It reminded me of when I was at school and one of the teachers would ask if I had done my homework when I hadn't.  

I carried on packing away the supplies and getting ready to serve food, and when everything was done, I went to sit in Edwin's and Angie's living room to have some tea. 

Edwin knows most of the parents of the children that come to his house on Tuesdays. He'd tracked down this little girl's mom and met with her and the child to find out why the little one wasn't going to school. 

Restoring Hands has a big heart for keeping the youth of Lavender Hill in school, as there are many reasons for them to drop out. Some don't go to school because they don't have anyone to help them with their homework, so they struggle academically. Lavender Hill is a low income community, rife with gangsterism. So some join the gangs early on. Parents often can't afford basics like notebooks and uniforms, and children will be mocked for not having the clothes they need to attend class—yet another reason for dropping out.

Edwin, the little girl, and her mother spoke for a while about why she wasn't attending school, but in the end, it came down to basic needs. The child had old, worn-out school shoes, and she was being made fun of. Her grandfather could not afford to help buy her a new pair. You could see that the mother was very embarrassed by the situation.

What I witnessed next both broke my heart and built it.

Without any hesitation, Edwin said to them that he would purchase her new shoes. He said to the little girl, "I will get you shoes, but you have to promise me that you will be in school tomorrow... and the next day and the next." The little girl agreed, and both she and her mother burst into tears—ones of thankfulness. You could feel that a burden had been lifted by this simple gesture of kindness. 

Edwin and Angie do not give out of wealth but out of identity. They know what their calling is in the Kingdom of God. I have witnessed (many times over the years) them giving up their last because they believe it's what God has called them to do. 

How often do we weigh what we give according to what we have? On that day, Edwin and Angie did not even think of the cost. That day, I saw Jesus in a simple act of compassion and surrender. 

We never know what people are going through or what's weighing heavy on them. A small, kind gesture can heal a burdened heart.

I charge you today with this question: In what way can I give in my life without expecting anything in return? You never know what the eternal impact will be.