Monday, June 17, 2013

A Pair of Shoes

"Let me tell you what it is like to live in Kenya," he said, smiling.  In an instant we were swept up into his world, where there are no cars, hamburgers, or laptops.  "How many of you are wearing shoes?" he asked, looking under the tables at everyone's feet.  "You all have shoes!  How many do you have?  One pair?  Two pairs?  Three pairs?!"  I was afraid he'd turn to me and ask me how many pairs of shoes I have.  I wasn't sure how many, but I knew that it was a lot.  (I just counted them. Seventeen pairs of shoes.)

Suddenly I was fixed on every word he was saying, because I knew that as this pastor described the place he lived, he was sharing something truly important -- something I had never known and could not understand.  One pair of shoes.

I am not a shoe fanatic.  I am just a girl, living in America, in a middle class family.  I have shoes for church, for soccer, for winter, for mud, for water, for snow, and going to the store.  That is normal, isn't it?  But to a man in Kenya, it is inconceivable.

He spoke of more than shoes.  He spoke of children walking ten miles to school each day, and the how some of them are lost to roaming lions and elephants that cross their path.  Or crocodiles, if the children have to cross a river, sweep them away and they are never seen again.  Sometimes black mambas drop from the ceilings of schools, and children die from their deadly bite.  He told us of owning the only car in his village.  He's the guy who takes sick people to the hospital in the middle of the night.  He's the guy who shows up the hospital with a sick woman in his arms, and sees that there is no doctor on staff that night.  And he sits there, and watches her die.

No medicine, no clean water, no doctors or nurses, no hope.  I don't how to function in that kind of place.  But the thing is, Mr. Titus didn't cry.  He didn't speak to us in deep sorrow, or try to gain our sympathy.  Most of the time, he was smiling.  Even when talking about poverty and death, he smiled.  Partly that was because that is his environment.  It's what he deals with on a daily basis, and he is used to it, if it is possible to be used to such things.  But mostly, it was because he was on fire for God.  Mr. Titus has planted of thirty churches in Kenya.  He wasn't at my youth group to make us reach for or wallets and purses to give him money.  He wanted to challenge us to live with a different perspective.

Even though, by American standards, I don't have all that much, by world standards, I am wealthy.  I have a savings account, a house, a family, running water, and a high school education.  College isn't out reach for me, a job paying me more than $100 dollars a month is open to me (that is all Mr. Titus's wife makes a month as a school teacher), and a bright future is waiting for me.  But what am I going to do with it?  We, as young people in the United States, do so little.  We don't see, we don't hear, or taste, or touch the deep, empty despair of poverty like so many people our age around the world.

Mr. Titus challenged us to take this enormous blessing that we'd been given and use it to bless others.  We don't need to consume it all on ourselves.  We can change the lives of others, even with the little that we think we have.  God has blessed us beyond measure, and we are only His stewards of it.  Now we need to give it away to the world.

By the way, my sister happens to be advocating for a Kenyan girl in the Compassion sponsorship program.  You can read about her at Lizzie's blog, if you like.


  1. This was an excellent post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  2. I was listening to The Pursuit of God on LibriVox today and heard many of these same thoughts. Our focus on "things" consumes us, absorbs our time and attention and diverts us from living with an eternal perspective. Thank you for this post.

  3. Beautiful and inspiring post!

    It is so easy to get caught up in the materialistic competition that seems so popular in the world and to feel deprived because we don't have the latest gadget. So easy to moan when we are so rich. x