Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Teacher Tuesday: Soles for Jesus

Thank you to Mrs. Cyr, Instructor for Ambassadors, for writing today's blog.

Every spring, second-year students take Ambassadors class.  In Ambassadors, students learn what it means to be an ambassador for Christ.  Our definition of an Ambassador is “a follower of Christ who stands between God and the world to communicate the Gospel message.”  Our key verse is 2 Corinthians 5:20 – “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.  We implore you on Christ’s behalf:  Be reconciled to God.”  God commands us to be His messengers to the world – both to our immediate world (friends, coworkers, family) and to the whole wide world.  He commands us to share the Good News of Jesus Christ, our salvation and hope.
This year, we partnered with Soles for Jesus, an organization located in Milwaukee, WI.  

Soles for Jesus started after Diane Studer, the founder, took a trip to Africa in 2009.  During her trip to Africa, she noticed how few people actually had shoes.  Not having shoes results in disease and sickness, but also prevents people from getting jobs or going to school.  During a prayer time with a local pastor, God gave her the vision of partnering with local pastors by distributing new and used shoes to those who need it as a tool to communicate God’s message of hope.  When Diane returned to the US, she shared her burden and the mission God had called her to do with her church and other believers.  From that, Soles for Jesus was born.  Soles for Jesus’ mission statement is: “Soles for Jesus exists to share the love of Christ by distributing shoes to the under-served in sub-Saharan Africa.”  A warehouse was found and now Soles for Jesus receives donations from all over the country.  Since 2010, Soles for Jesus shipped 130,000 shoes to Mozambique, Liberia, Burundi, Swaziland, Lesotho, Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Ethiopia.  Not only is Soles for Jesus meeting the physical needs of people, but they are also working with local believers and pastors to communicate the Good News of Jesus, meeting their greatest need of all. 

Last night, second-year students got a chance to participate in a small way in the global work of God. We donated 100 pairs of shoes and $86 to cover shipping costs. Then we volunteered in the Soles for Jesus warehouse from 6-8 PM, sorting, organizing, lacing, fitting shoes with insoles, and packing shoes to be sent to Africa.   

We packed over 8 boxes (that’s about 150 pairs of shoes)!  That’s 150 people that will hear the Good News of Jesus Christ, some maybe for the first time! 

Student thoughts about the night:  

Nikki – “I would do it again.  I like to help people; serving is not one of my gifts, but I love to help people.  It’s helping people and you’re able to share the Gospel.  I liked to do the laces because I was focused!  I barely talked at all, which is unusual for me!  I did like 14 pairs of laces.”  

Kathryn – “I liked it because I got to pick out the shoelaces to match the shoes.  I’d do it again.  I had a really good time. I like to offer my time to help those in need because they need a lot more than we do.”

Wade – “I pretty much liked the whole getting together part.  I liked gathering the shoes with the right sizes and getting shoes ready to be shipped off to Africa because there are kids there that do not have shoes and they need the shoes so they can put them on their feet and go to and from school.  It really led me.  I will consider doing it again.” 

David – “I liked that we went down there, we fixed the shoes and we packed them up.  We are caring about one another and making sure that they are provided for like we are provided for.”

Philip – “I did this because it’s an honor to go to help those in need.” 

Sarah – “It was an awesome experience.  I looked to see what the shoe sizes were, and I would mark it on the bottom of the shoe.  If the pair didn’t match, we’d put them in the repurpose bin.  Once we were done working on them, we’d pass them on to the next people where they would put soles in them and then give them to the next person who would put them in boxes to be shipped.”

Israel – “We put the shoes in the boxes by size of shoes.  We put them in the correct size.  We organized shoes into the correct match.  It was really good for helping put shoes in box.”  

Audrey – “It was a great experience because I love to volunteer and I think it should be kept on there for next year’s second years.”

Anthony – “It was interesting, fun, and I had a fun time putting shoes and separating them with my friend, Ryan.  We did it for God to help other people.” 

Mrs. K – “I thought the people we worked with were great – they answered questions and explained the reason/need to collect and send shoes.  They worked alongside of us and really seemed to enjoy our students.  It was a unique opportunity to supply for a tangible need.  It was different than other service projects we’ve done in the past and allowed us to work on a number of skills at the same time – diligence, attitude, team work, flexibility, servanthood, etc…”

Miss Houk – "It was a great experience for us.  The staff was very helpful and kind.  The students I worked with were diligent and focused.  We were responsible for putting shoelaces on shoes.  We were all about productivity in my group and had a mantra – 'Every shoe is a Gospel opportunity.' As we were leaving, the staff thanked us again for our work.  Audrey responded that she loved the opportunity.  They thanked her for giving up of her time, and she said that there is nothing else she’d rather be doing.” 

Mr. Cyr - "I always enjoy seeing Shepherds students serving and having fun. It was great to be able to do something very tangible for the kingdom and know that God is providing for both material and spiritual needs through our service."

I am so thankful for the people at Soles for Jesus, especially Stephanie Strang, who made this event happen.  Thanks for allowing us to be a part of God’s global mission! 

If you’d like to learn more about Soles for Jesus, please visit their website at www.solesforjesus.org  

Shepherds College - Guiding Your Transition to Appropriate Independence. Please visit us at www.shepherdscollege.edu.

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