The first boots we ever gave to orphans in Moldova were warm and functional but far from fashionable. They looked like army boots and the kids were saying the same thing to us, only our translators were not telling us that part – perhaps to not hurt our feelings. It was mostly the older kids, they were grateful for the new warm shoes, but hoped to have a winter shoe that resembled what the other children in town were wearing…
After a few days, we finally understood what the kids were saying to us about “army boots” and since then, we have been sure that our shoes not only protect their feet from the harsh winters, but that they are also stylish and something they can truly be proud of. Now, the kids are more excited than ever about their new shoes and eagerly show them off to their friends! During the 2014 Shoe Mission to Romania, at a school distribution stop, I walked outside the building and ran into a small group of teenagers. Yep! They were all wearing their CERI shoes and were so proud of their new and fashionable shoes!
In 1999, when we bought shoes for the first time, we ordered them from a Moldovan shoe company in Chisinau, at $9.00 a pair. That was 17 years ago. Even then, it was a stretch to raise funds to buy 10,000 pairs of winter shoes and socks but God always more than provided the money needed to buy shoes for the orphans. Each year, as I was reach the end of my resources and contacts on my list, the Lord would say to me in unmistakable ways: “These are my children and I will provide the money you need.” The Lord always did provide the funds, perhaps at the last minute, but the money was in the bank by the time our teams left for the Shoe Mission!
My wife Bobbie, and I, have prayed every year about what our gift for buying winter shoes should be. We wanted it to be a sacrificial amount, beyond normal giving. We believed that this was a gift that could change a child’s life because we have met these kids, talked to them, visited where they live and firmly believe that it is a worthwhile investment in the life of a child. I hope you will feel the same way when you give this year, as it is your investment in their lives!
Executive Director, Emeritus
P.S. A team of 22 leaves for Romania on December 2nd to distribute winter boots and socks to 4,500 impoverished Roma children in rural Romania. Pray for them and for a successful Shoe Mission this year.