Not your typical church service. But then with God, what is typical? The lady got up in front of the church and was sharing with the church how she is going to Mozambique again to help her friend for a while. She wanted to bring a gift to her friend – a practical type of gift. And as she inquired of the Lord what she should bring, she heard this small voice say “shoes.” Shoes? For her? For others? Who, Lord?? “Bunches of shoes…” Okay then! She didn’t know sizes, types, styles, gender, or anything. Just shoes. There was no email, no Facebook post, not even a phone call. Just this impression in her heart: “Shoes.” So she shared with the church that last Sunday she would be there for a while that the Lord laid it on her heart to ask for people to donate shoes, if anybody was willing. So, at the end of the service, they had a rather strange offering. People by the scores went up and left their shoes at the altar. Nice, ugly (those would have probably been mine!), new or used. The picture above does not do justice. It was a LARGE pile of shoes and boots. And, in keeping with “strange” that day, many families went home barefooted! They literally left their shoes at the altar for unknown people 10,000 miles away – in Mozambique.
On the other side of the world, IN Mozambique, the missionary lady was in pain. She had sickness, she had been digging worms out of the feet of other people for weeks and months. Even she herself had been hospitalized with the worms. They were eventually eradicated from the missionary’s body, but her burden of love for these people she was ministering to was to give them something that would prevent them from getting those worms, or getting re-infected with them. She prayed for shoes. Sandals. Boots. ANYTHING that would prevent these people from getting these worms as they walked around barefooted.
And from a small church on the other side of the world, God spoke the answer to the missionary’s prayers, and an entire church heard a call to leave their shoes at the altar, and a great number did just that, and went home barefoot.
When the missionary’s friend arrived in Mozambique, she asked her, “I don’t know why, but I felt the Lord wanted me to bring shoes?” The missionary broke down and cried. She had wondered if the Lord had heard her request for shoes. Would she even get them? And if so, how? She had thought about sending out a newsletter, or a Facebook post, but the Lord in His infinite love and sovereign power had beat her to the punch! “Shoes you want? Shoes you shall have!” Box after box after box arrived at the compound in the truck. The nice thing was that these shoes and boots were already broken in! People could now walk around in shoes, boots, sandals, anything that fit their feet – and they could avoid a worm infestation in their body that had very painful implications. How beautiful is the body of Christ!
You might ask how I know this story? Is it one of those “urban legends”? Well, this last weekend, Sept 21st, I attended a church called Convergence Church here in South Fort Worth. Convergence is the church from whence the shoes were donated. My son is a student at their school of supernatural ministry, and he really wanted me to come and hear Heidi Baker speak there this weekend. “Heidi Baker??” I asked…I was in like flint! Heidi was that missionary. She and her husband had come to the US on their yearly speaking tour and Convergence church was definitely on their itinerary after the shoe experience. As she stood in front of Convergence church and started sharing the story of the shoes, she broke into tears, and just stood there. Tears of thankfulness. Tears of overwhelming love. Tears of knowing there is God in heaven who actually hears our cry. Trying to regain some form of composure standing in front of hundreds. But she lost it. Probably 2-3 minutes went by. It was truly a beautiful time of love being poured out. Probably not a dry eye in the place. Love is a powerful thing. And those shoes are doing a work of love as people wear them over in Mozambique. I can only imagine what some of the men are wearing.
So this is in perfect line with what the Lord has been weighing on my heart these past few years.
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
So the love is there! The first question is then why does the world not see it as much as it should? The second question is how many of us continue block that love? For years I did that. I have a trail of damage behind me to prove it. How many of us have too many layers of paint over the original beautiful wood boards to see the beauty God created in the wood grain? How many of us let our hurts cover over the love HE poured into our hearts? He doesn’t pour it into our hearts so we can just hang onto it and “feel the love” – it is to become rivers of living water flowing out of us.
It is an extravagant love. As I read Ephesians, I am struck by just how extravagant His love really is! And it dwells inside of each one of us who call Him our Lord!
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
1 John 4:7-8 says “God IS love” as true as 4+5 = 9. God = Love. If we see God, we are seeing love personified. IF we have God dwelling in our hearts, then to the extent that we allow Him Lordship over us, we will love. Truly love. We will take off our shoes, and go home shoeless so that somebody 10,000 miles away might be blessed to have our shoes by the Love of Jesus. We will give the person ahead of us in line at the grocery store the extra $1 they need to pay their whole ticket when they come up short. We will walk up to a perfect stranger at the mall with an injury and offer to pray for healing from them in the love of Christ (Warning! Healings may occur!)
1 John 4:7-8:
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
2 Corinthians 5:18-20
All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.
Go. Love people in His Name and for HIS Kingdom’s sake.