(The story below comes from The Voice of the Martyrs Canada, a ministry that is part of The Voice of the Martyrs’ family of missions.)
“This past year,” said a worker from The Voice of the Martyrs, “we gathered together with ministry partners from around the world. I asked John, one of the partners from Nigeria “What story does the Lord bring to your mind to keep your heart soft?”
“John told the following story.”
In Nigeria, we are generally very poor. Most of us do not have money for things like shoes. I remember as a child I would look forward to Christmas every year, because that was when I would receive a new pair of flip flops.
When I was growing up, it was common to be beaten as a child. It is so normal that no one bats an eye over it. Violence in crowds is also common. You learn very quickly to keep your head down and fight for whatever is yours. The weaker ones get pushed to the side.
One year I had received my new pair of flip flops, but in no time the strap broke. I was going to throw them away, but one of the timid girls was watching me. She was one who had often been pushed to the side. She was from an extremely poor family. She had no shoes – ever. She asked me what I was going to do with my flip flops. I said they were broken and was going to throw them away. Very shyly she asked if she could have them. I gave them to her without much thought.
She was overjoyed with her treasure! She proudly repaired the strap and wore the flip flops with such joy. Every time that girl looked at me after that, she had such appreciation in her eyes. It was in that look that I realized for the first time what Christian love looks like. As an adult, I often reflect on that story and realize that I had overlooked her, left her helpless and undefended when she was beaten by other kids, unseen for years. The Lord used those flips flops to teach me about Jesus and his love: to look past what seems normal in our culture and live the life that was normal for Christ.
To Think About
How might remembering the story help John in his work serving persecuted Christians?
Read the next post to find out how kids in Mexico used flip flops to help them remember Christians who are overlooked or mistreated.