The greatest failure of 2015.

Yesterday, I was checking my Facebook news feed and saw the post below.

Due to a lawsuit against the state, a federal judge has ordered that children can no longer be placed in foster group homes (foster homes who serve 7 or more children, including biological or adopted children) as of December 18th. Many children who were placed in group homes on that date or after have been abruptly moved out of their foster homes, with no other placement secured. Children as young as 2 will be spending tonight in CPS offices across the state because no other placement was available on such short notice. Sibling groups will be broken up because there are very few homes who can accommodate all of the siblings. CPS workers have their hands tied in the situation and are forced to follow orders, even though they are just as heart broken as the rest of us who care about these vulnerable children.

I watched as my wife fought back tears sending out texts to our Buckner caseworkers letting them know that we have room for one child in our home if there is a need.  I woke up this morning with a broken heart knowing that there are children the same ages as Landry and Norah (My biological children) sleeping on the floors of CPS offices all over Texas because of the decision of one federal judges ruling.

Yesterday was the biggest failure of 2015.

 This ruling failed the amazing people caring for children in group homes.  In my opinion, the people who run group homes are some of the greatest heroes in our state.  The sacrifice made daily by these adults for children who have experienced horrific events is unparalleled.  My wife and I know some of these couples and their world was shattered yesterday.

This ruling failed families/sibling sets.  Whenever children go into foster care, often times they are forced to leave their brothers and sisters because CPS is unable to find a home to house all of them.  Group homes offer siblings the opportunity to stay together in hopes that they can gain the opportunity to go home as a family.  Can you imagine making your biological children separate from one another?  I’ve seen the look on the children’s when they are forced to experience this and it’s incredible heartbreaking every time.

This ruling failed children.  Why do we have to fail children? Why can’t the system fail me or other adults instead?  Our country is too busy arguing over presidential candidates, economic issues, etc while innocent children are being ripped away from their homes due to circumstances beyond their control.  People in foster care know that the options for children are decreasing anyway due to the lack of foster homes within areas.  To take away the option for children to stay in a group home will further decrease a child’s opportunity to be placed in a positive environment.

Don’t believe the stereotypes about foster care.  Groups homes are a good thing.  I have met many of these people and they love their children.  We cannot lose this.  Children will only suffer if this option is removed permanently.

What can you do?

  1.  Pray for this ruling to be reversed.  God can do more in this situation than you and I can.  Everyone must pray that God will intervene and reverse this decision.
  2. Become a foster parent.  Read about my journey into foster care by clicking the link below.  We need more families to step up and serve as a bridge for children in the system.  People tell me all of the time that they could never be foster parents because “it would be too heartbreaking to see the children go.”  I agree.  It is heartbreaking for the adults involved but not as heartbreaking for the children, who are taken away from everything they know and don’t have a home.  Be willing to let your heart break for these children so that they can feel loved and cared for.

This ruling by the federal judge was the biggest failure of 2015. We cannot stand back and allow children to suffer.  It’s time for families in Texas to step up and advocate for children within the system.  If you are interested in knowing more about how to help, please email me your information at jake.edwards@victorylife.net.

Why should parents of teenagers come to the Enlighten Conference?

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I have been a youth minister for almost 10 years.  One of my greatest passions in life is helping teenagers realize their full potential so that they can go on to make a positive and eternal impact on our world.  Throughout my years serving in various churches throughout towns in Texas, I have noticed a frustrating trend.

There is not a ton of support for the parents of teenagers.  I have seen numerous conferences, seminars, and trainings on how to raise children, but I have not seen as much for parents of teenagers.  This is why Victory Life has decided to offer a conference for all parents of teenagers in Lubbock on September 20th at 6:00pm.

The questions remains.. Why should you and your family come?

We will be answering questions involving the following:

  • How do I better communicate with my teenager?
  • How should families manage time together in an ever increasing sports culture?
  • What are the 4 steps to avoid a teenage dating disaster?
  • What are the new developments in synthetic marijuana and other drugs?
  • How can you as a parent play a key role in developing your teenager to withstand the temptation that comes from underage drinking?

We are also inviting Paul Enloe, from Lubbock Cooper High School to speak in a general session to all families.  Paul is a gifted leader who has served the Lubbock Community for years.  We are so excited to bring him in to speak.

Another speaker will be Jodi Barnes.  Jodi is a gifted communicator who is currently raising teenagers.  Jodi is excited to share her heart with families in order to encourage, equip, and enlighten families in their role as a parent.

On top of all of the information you will gain, you will also be fed dinner for free!  We are serious about partnering with parents of teenagers and want you to come join us.  The conference on only last for 2 hours and 15 minutes.  Please visit enlightenlubbock.com to rsvp for this amazing event.

We know that you have a difficult job as a parent, and we want to offer you as much help and encouragement possible.  Please join us!

The conference schedule is below.

6:00pm – Free Dinner for All Families
6:20pm – General Session with Paul Enloe
6:45pm – Breakout Session
7:15pm – Breakout Session
7:45pm – General Session with Jodi Barnes
8:15pm – Conclusion
*There are 5 total breakout sessions to choose from.

Youth Camp still works.

Throughout the years, I have noticed a cultural shift in youth ministry.  When you are in business that is youth ministry, you get to hear LOTS of opinions whether you want to or not.  Men and women like me are constantly looking for ways to reach the newest generations for Jesus Christ so that they will continue on to lead the church in the right direction.  There have been several moments whenever i have had to change a method or try something different than what I have been used to doing.

Our culture is rapidly changing and one of the worst things that a church can do is not take notice.

We are called to bring light into a dark world.  I don’t ever want to rest on the laurel’s of doing things that, “I have always done” and lose the opportunity to reach a student due to stubbornness.  The heart of a student matters more to me than a method ever could.  I’m going to do whatever I have to do to reach a student as long is I can.

With that being said, I have noticed that the pendulum swinging the other way can be just as dangerous.  Many times, youth ministers abandon ideas and concepts too easily because we don’t want anyone to label our ministries as “old fashioned” or “stuck in a rut”.  In other words, I think that we try to fix things that aren’t even broken.

Last week I took my students to an old Baptist encampment in Iowa Park Texas.  We call our camp Elevate Student Camp but the camp is actually called Camp Chaparral.  We took 112 students and adults and joined 5 other churches from around Texas.  Leighton Flowers was our speaker and Malissa Smith led worship.  We ran around in the heat, went swimming every day, and lived life without good cell phone reception.  There was nothing that was incredibly original about this time, but we came away believing that God spoke to us in a powerful way.

I left believing that youth camp still works. 

Many of my ministry friends have abandoned the “traditional” youth camp model for various reasons.  Some have added a missional component to their camp so that students get an opportunity to serve.  Others have decided that small youth camps don’t live up to the much larger, national youth camps that offer better facilities and a lot more students. I even know of youth ministers that believe that the evangelistic nature of youth camp has run its course.  They instead have opted to do something else.

I am not saying that these people are wrong.  I just choose to believe that God still has a purpose for youth ministries that participate in traditional youth camps.  I personally watched over 100 students experience God in a very impactful way.  Here are some of the responses of students that were asked, “How did God impact your life at ESC 2015?”

“I really learned where I have been set up to lead, and how to do it.”

“I learned that I need to be hungry to be a leader.”

“I learned that i have been put in places of responsibility and need to use them wisely”

“I learned that not only do I need to do what God has told me but that I have lots of people to help me with it.”

“I learned that God is calling me to share his word.”

“I learned to step up and be a leader, study Gods word frequently, and to lead others to God the best I can.”

“I heard God calling me to be more involved in church and youth. And to be an example of Jesus for my friends.”

“God brought me closer to my church family  and called me to share my story with other people and my friends!”

“God called me to step up and be a leader in my church and in my family.”

“God showed me his grace, and his love. He told me to help lead my family when my dads out of town, he lifted a huge burden off my shoulders, and told me what he wants me to do for him in the future.”

“God showed me how to look at different situations in many different ways mostly in good ways.”

“He showed me that i need to step up and be a leader and lead others toward him and just share the gospel.”

As a minister to students, I want to stand on the rooftops and shout for joy whenever I can hear responses like this from a teenager.  We make it a goal every day to help them understand that Jesus loves them and encourage them to follow Him.  Youth Camp was a wonderful resource for me to gauge where our youth group is spiritually and to see where we are headed.  Here are some reasons why I think youth camp still works.

1.  The setting

  • In most cases, a youth camp in the woods is a setting that many students are not fully used too.  Students are required to spend a significant time outdoors and away from Netflix/electronics.  This change alone can make a traditional youth camp appear very unique in the daily life of a student.

2.  The community

  • Students spend an entire week with the same students.  By the end of the whole experience, there have been several opportunities that have led to true bonding.  i was pumped when i noticed the community between my high school and junior high students.  All of the books say to break them apart.  While I believe that seperation can be beneficial at times, I also believe that generational leadership is must for a youth program that wants to sustain itself over the years.  By the end of the week, there were true relationships that began to foster themselves into new friendships.

3.  The mission

  • The mission is clear.  The students are gathered for one week to grow closer to God.  When you know your mission, you can know how to pray, how to lead, and how to express your intentions to students.  When do we as leaders ever get more than an hour to lead students? Youth Camp gives you 5 DAYS to grow together.  Wow!  Our culture is so busy these days and youth camp gives us the ability to express the mission of the church to our students.

4.  The message

  • Last week, our students learned how to be ROOM CHANGERS for Jesus.  In order to be a ROOM CHANGER, you have to allow Jesus to change your heart.  At camp, we heard this message 10 times.  Again, I can’t overstate how important this message is.  Without the message of the gospel, we are just spinning our wheels trying to be good Christians.  Camp gave us the ability to learn the truth of Jesus in a context that is suitable for a student.

5.  The experience

  • Youth camp is still fun!  Where else can you ride a zip line, play paint ball, swim, and have a snow cone in one day?  The fact that you get to do these activities with your closest friends only makes the experience better.  Everyone should go to youth camp at some point in their lives.

Do I think that youth camp is the only way for a student ministry to grow?  No!  But I do believe that it STILL works.  Sometimes, we make our jobs too hard.  What’s wrong with gathering students around the message of the gospel of Jesus and at the same time have a blast in the woods?

24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. – Hebrews 10:24-25 (NASB)

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Why I believe in this current generation of students.

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Me and the Vstudents got home from Washington DC today.  It was an incredible trip!  I’m pretty tired and little nervous to write hoping that I’ll be able to put together sentences that make sense but I also want to make sure that I express to you why I am convinced the current crop of students are poised to make a great impact on our world.

In my opinion, there is no darker time in the American culture than there is today.  As a student minister, I am constantly battling the present darkness as I try to help students realize their potential in Christ.  It’s pretty much a guarantee that any time we experience a powerful night of truth and worship, the rest of my week will be a struggle to lose my hope and confidence to minister to young people.

As we made our way to DC, I could sense that there were going to be several different obstacles that we would have to work through in order to make the week run smoothly.  On the bus, I found myself asking God to bind our students and adults together because I knew that we would be working in areas that would challenge our students physically, mentally, and spiritually.  We walked almost 15 miles every day!  I asked God to keep us healthy, full of energy, and for us to make good decisions as we walked through busy areas.  Our main task for the week was to hang 10,000 door hangers for Pastor Zack and Waterfront Church.  As I looked at the areas we were going to cover, I knew that this task would seem overwhelming. I asked God to give us a fire in our bellies to do whatever needed to be done in order to accomplish this goal.  Spiritually, we were tasked every day to treat each other with the Fruits of the Spirit.  (Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control)  This is hard to do with 55 people including several 6th graders!  There were many small logistics that we had to work through but my attention was drawn to really just one major issue.

I knew that our plan to 1. Help people know that Waterfront Church exists and 2. Help people know about Jesus was not something that would be welcomed by people or the enemy.  This mission trip was simple and yet challenging.  We did not go to build a house, feed people, or do any kind of social work.  We went to blanket as much of Washington DC with information about how to connect with a local church.  Some people would think that this is silly and does not really draw a return for people to see why they are getting their hands dirty.  In most cases, we have no idea how effective our work was.  All we know is that we did exactly what God wanted us to do.  As we set out to make a difference in our nations capital, I observed our students and came to several resolutions as to why I believe in this current generation of students.

1.  Students respond when you give them something tangible.  

Students don’t need hypotheticals.  Tell them what needs to be done.  Give them a true goal.  If you are motivated as a leader to see something happen, help the student see your passion for what you are doing so that they can feel it too.  Don’t give them a task that you think they can do easily.  Make it hard!  Back in the early 1900’s D L Moody, said, “If you really want to get ahold of a young man, give him something hard to do.”  It was D L Moody and many others that started the great Student Volunteer Movement.

If you as a leader will work diligently to make clear what needs to be done, more often than not, you will see your student respond.  It has to be clear though.  Don’t just assume they will follow you because you told them to.  Show them the timeline and what the end result goal is and you will quickly see that you can motivate your student to go much further beyond what they think they are capable of.

2.  Students don’t need your message to be sugar-coated.  

When you have been a consistent leader in the life of your student, you will gain the opportunity to correct them in their actions and deeds.  Over the last few years, I have noticed that young people can sense very easily when a leader cares about them enough to tell them the truth.  They won’t respond to someone who doesn’t value them, but they will give you their ear if they know that you are there for them.

During our trip, our students had an off day.  By off day, I mean that they were not acting up to their potential.  There were many variables at play like lack of sleep, lots of walking, and several emotions that were completely out of whack.  (Being a junior high student can be hard!)  As the day wore on and on, I could not help but feel disappointed that our students were not working to the best of their ability or treating one another with love and respect.

As the leader, I knew that there was a problem.  Many of our leaders may not have seen or noticed, but I could not allow our students to go a second further without correcting them.  So as the bus pulled out to go to our sleeping quarters for the night, I told our students that we were going to have a talk that night and that they needed to be quiet on the 15 minute bus ride.  As we sat in silence, I found myself second guessing my decision to correct my students.  I was afraid that they would not understand what I was trying to tell them.

As we sat down that evening, I told the students that I felt like they had not seen their potential for the day and had not been very loving to one another.  I pointed them to Psalm 19:14 and read, “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you my Lord and my Rock.”  I told them we did not have to be best friends but we were definitely going to be a family.  As I talked further, I noticed that our students leaned in to hear me as I corrected them.  Instead of getting upset at me, their eyes got sharper and I could tell instantly that what I was saying mattered to them.

I was so proud of them.  I knew that they had reached a level of maturity that could only come from God.  As we prayed that night, i could sense the power of the Holy Spirit and knew that something was different.  The next day, I watched as students that had not seemed friendly to one another before were making an extra effort to treat each other better and that new friendships were beginning to brew.  Students respond to our messages when we don’t sugar coat them.  They crave to be told the truth.  

3.  Students love to be a part of great movements.  

We have a 7th grade boy named Joseph who worked his tail off this week.  On Sunday, Pastor Zack gave out cards to promote Waterfronts Easter Sunday and events.  Joseph was captivated by these cards.  He took his bundle of 5 and gave them out to people within seconds.  He desperately wants Waterfront to grow and have the ability to reach people.  Throughout the week, I watched him tirelessly give out cards to people telling them to join Waterfront for Easter.  When I asked him about why he felt so compelled to work so hard, he simply stated, “Because I’m a disciple.”

I had to step back and catch my breath when I heard this young man share his calling with me.  Joseph knows that Jesus is leading the greatest movement that this world has ever seen and he is going to do everything he can to promote the cause of Christ with all of his heart.  I have no doubt that God will use this young man for many other tasks because Joseph gets it.  He’s a disciple and will do whatever God asks of him.

4.  Students love adults that are willing to pour into them.  

I watched 15 adults (many who teach Sunday School) pour into our students this week.  All of them are different ages, perspectives, and attitudes.  Our students welcomed them whole heartedly because we knew that in order to fulfill our mission, we had to be binded together.  I’ve never seen an adult pushed away from a student ministry when their heart is in the right place.

We need as many adults possible that will teach our students to love God and follow Him.  The key to winning the heart of a student is being a consistent leader that will stop at nothing until they have helped a student along in their way to know and love Jesus.  in one week, I watched students latch on to adults that many of them did not know before.  What a blessing.

So why do I believe in this current generation of students?  Because they are moldable, bold, and willing to listen to the hard truth.  If enough people will believe our students, we will begin to pray for our students to see their potential.  We will teach them the truth so that they can have every possible tool to grow.  We will realize that they won’t fly until we teach them how.

Students are ripe and ready to work.  Will you join the effort?  Below are ways you can make a difference.

1. Choose a student in your church and pray for them every single day.

2.  Write letters to students in your church with words of encouragement and scriptures.

3.  Commit to mentoring a student.  Take them to get a coke once a month and ask them how you can help them in their daily life.

4.  Be mindful that many students don’t have a mom and a dad at home.  Find out how you can fill a fatherly or motherly void in the life of a student that needs it.

5.  Find the youth pastor in your church and ask how you can volunteer in the youth ministry.  This could mean teaching Sunday small groups, working special events, going to camp, helping with registration, follow-up, etc.  Just find a way to jump in and get involved.

6.  Be an encourager.  Find out when students have sporting events, musicals, or any other event and let the student know that you support them.

Find out how you can help and jump in!  It’s time to see our world change and I believe that it can happen if we will invest in young people.

Lessons Learned From a Child.

My wife and I have just recently dealt with the loss of two of our foster children twice in the last couple of months.  Just recently, our latest foster daughter has gone home to be with her blood family right before Thanksgiving.   No one really knows what to say to you when you deal with this kind of loss.  Even other foster parents who have been doing it longer than we have.  I’ve only been a foster parent for 11 months but one thing that I have learned to be true is the fact that every situation is different and every child has its own kind of struggles.

Out of respect for our foster daughter, I will not go into details about her struggles but there are just a few honest feelings that I am experiencing right now that I would like to share with you.

1.  I am selfish. 

Marriage five years ago taught me that I had to change better habits like picking clothes off the floor, washing dishes, and noticing the things that are important to my wife to make peace.  Becoming a father to Landry and Norah (My two blood children) has taught me that my time is not my own and I have to fight every day to be available to my kids in order to give them the proper care and example.

Becoming a parent to a child that is not my own has shown me that I have issues within my heart that I didn’t even know I had.  I didn’t like having to see children come into my home with unimaginable issues that they did not know how to deal with because they are too young.  It makes me mad that I have to answer to more people now with these children than I have ever had to with my own.  Between every appointment, home visit, and parent visit, it has truly blown my mind just how much work goes into being a foster parent.

It has caused me to look at my life so differently and question everything that I’m doing.  Not in a bad way.  Just enough where I start to wonder why I’m willing to put up with every issue that this kid has to deal with.  Every time I thought about losing hope and throwing in the towel, God would whisper the same sentence into my heart.

“It’s not their fault.”
 
No matter how difficult things have been raising this child, there is not an ounce of blame that I could ever place on them.  For me to look at this child with any contempt gives me a vision into the darkness that is in my heart.  God called me to care for this child because they were not able to care for themselves.  He did the same thing for me when my sin was too much for me to handle.  This is why He sent His son to die for me.  Did I deserve it?  No way!

Fathering this child has given me an avenue into bettering myself by working on my selfishness and I am now much more patient and loving as a result.

2.  God is faithful.

The most powerful moment of my life happened as a result of one of my foster children.  Every morning, I do my best to teach Landry (My 3 yr. old boy) scripture.  So far, he has mastered Acts 16:31 (Believe in Jesus and you will be saved.)  and Romans 5:8.  (While we sinned, Jesus died for us.)  Out of my own ignorance, I have not made the same effort with my foster children.  In fact, I have looked past my foster child many times who is sitting at the same breakfast table to teach Landry.

I guess in my mind, I thought that there was no point to teach scripture when I didn’t know if they were staying or going.  (I’m sorry if this sounds terrible.  I just want to be honest.)  I make it a point to talk about Jesus regularly to all my family but I have never expected my foster children to learn as much as I have Landry.

Our latest bible verse has been Matthew 19:26.  “With God, all things are possible.”  Landry is getting very close to knowing his verse because we have worked on it so many times.  Some days are better than others.  It all depends on his mood.  A few days ago, we were having a bad day.  Landry was not willing to participate in his scripture memory so I decided to try again the next day.

As I followed my foster child into their room to help them pick out their clothes, the child motioned for me to lean down so they could say something.  I was astounded when they whispered, “With God…  All things are possible.”  My jaw hit the floor.  As I collected my thoughts, it dawned on me that this child who has been through terrible horrors in their life has been listening every day as I taught my boy.  This child has been taught too.  They just hadn’t been asked if they knew the answer.

Out of my own ignorance, the Lord has taught this child that He is capable of doing amazing things in their life no matter how things turn out.  He is fully invested in this child’s life and has made His word known.  This child may have been taken out of my home, but no one can take Matthew 19:26 away from them!

God is faithful.  I knew this before I became a foster parent.  Now I know this beyond 100%.

3.  Bring on the next one!  

I may sound crazy, but after 5 foster kids, I’m ready for the bell to ring and Round 6 to start.  Do I know that it may cause me huge amounts of heartache?  Oh yeah!  Do I need someone who knows nothing about it to tell me how hard it is going to be?  Sure!  Many foster parents get that “chip on their shoulder” attitude with people who question fostering.  For some reason I don’t.

The reason that I understand people questioning foster parenting is because I used to be one of them.  Everything that you hear about fostering is true.  It’s hard, frustrating, and causes you to feel a roller coaster of emotions.  People are constantly saying things like, “I could never do that”, or “You are such a great person”, and my personal favorite, “Is that kid a drug baby?”

Anything that we do can be done well when we decide that the heartache is worth it.  Starting a business is hard but people do it all the time because they want to make their mark on the world.  Sports is hard but athletes know that holding that championship trophy is worth the blood and the sweat.  I have personally decided that fostering is worth it because I have seen the power of God work through every child that has come into my home.  I don’t care how crazy I look to people, how much sleep I miss, or how many tears I cry.  God has given me more joy this year than I have ever experienced.

I have learned my most powerful life lessons from a stinking kid.  
 
Praise God for His promises.  Praise God for the opportunity to show his love to a child that has never had it before.

“Ding Ding” Bring on round 6.

The Barefoot Run.

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During the week of October 4th-11th, I’m going to run 5 kilometers.  If you know me and you are reading this, you can go ahead and start laughing for the next 5 minutes.  I am not what you might call a “runner”.  I love to do athletic things but it usually involves a ball in which I use to cross a goal line, put in a basket, or attempt to hit over a fence.  I ran the Color Run 5k last year with my wife and let’s just say that I finished out of pure pride but definitely was not able to break any world records.

Over the last weeks, I have started to make the effort to be more active through running through my neighborhood, working out at the gym, and doing P90X in my living room.  (That yoga workout is a killer!)  I want to be more active and healthy in order to use my body to continue to give glory to God and to be around for my wife and kids.  I have a good understanding of health and fitness.

But, that is not why I’m going to run 5 kilometers during the week of October 4th-11th.

There is a clear reason why I, along with many people in our country are going to run.  We are not only going to run 5 kilometers.  We are going to do it barefoot!

Now hang with me for a moment.  If you have never read any of my posts before, I need to get you up to speed.

My family and I have been a foster family through Buckner International since January.  We have two biological children and two foster children.  Our house and our lives move at very quick pace and the only reason that we have chosen this lifestyle is because we feel that God has led us to help orphans.  Foster care has given us an avenue to live out our calling.  Tricia and I are the kind of people that do things running full speed.  Many people look at us and seem confused.  We don’t blame them.  If we are going to do something, we want to do it at 100%.  We are not perfect, but we try our best.

So when I heard that Buckner and Shoes For Orphan Souls was sponsoring a Barefoot 5k, I knew that this would be a wonderful opportunity to grow personally and attempt to make another difference in the life of a child.  Please read below and learn about the purpose of the Barefoot Run according to Buckner’s website.

The Barefoot Run is a movement of runners across the country who are passionate about the needs of orphans and vulnerable children. You can join the movement when you sign up for the Barefoot Run in Dallas, Texas on Oct. 4, 2014 or the Barefoot Run Where You Live!Join an existing team in your community or sign up yourself, your friends, your church or family. Dallas Barefoot Runners will join together Oct. 4, 2014 at Bachman Lake to raise support and RUN for the cause! Others across the country will be running during the week of Oct. 4 -11, 2014 to help raise awareness and participate in the Barefoot Run movement. Running barefoot in the United States may be a trend, but for millions of orphans worldwide it’s a daily reality. Your support of the Barefoot Run will help provide new shoes to the world’s orphans and vulnerable children through Buckner Shoes for Orphan Souls®. Since 1999, Shoes for Orphan Souls has delivered almost 3 million pairs of new shoes to children in 76 countries.

As I read through this explanation, I started to think about how many pairs of shoes my wife and I own.  I have two pair of sneakers, 2 pair of Toms, 3 pair of shoes I wear to work, 2 pair of flip flops, 1 pair of cowboy boots, and tons of shoes that I don’t even wear.  I have a pair of golf shoes and I don’t even play golf!

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I see two issues with the picture above.

  1.  I feel like a girl with the large amount of shoes that I own.  I think that subject is for another post.  Let’s not go any further with that.
  2.  I only really use about 25% of my shoe collection.  There are people that live within miles of my home that could really use what I set in my closet to never wear.

I’m not trying to write a blog that makes you feel bad about all the stuff you have.  I’m just trying to help you understand something that many of us fail to pay attention to in our busy lives.  There has never been one point in my life that I have ever worried about what shoes to wear.  I’ve never feared how my shoes would get me through the winter.  I’ve never had to deal with holes in the bottom of my sneakers.  This has never been a problem.  I’ve been to other countries where culturally it makes sense to be poor.  There are areas where everyone is in the same boat dealing with hunger and lack of resources.  But I’ve truly never worried about the people that live within my doorstep.

This never crossed my mind until I became a foster parent.  On two occasions, we have taken children into our home that only had one pair of shoes.  One poor child had a pair of flip-flops in the middle of February.  Tricia and I were able to quickly meet this need and buy her a pair of closed toe shoes that would make the winter much easier.  Not every child that goes into foster care lives in these circumstances, but many of them do.  In your city, there is someone fearing for the coming winter because they are unable to meet the needs for their children and family.  Being aware of this, I know that there is something in your closet or money in your bank account that you can use to help meet very real needs in your community.  We cannot, in good conscience see needs around us and neglect others.

As a Christian man, I cannot see my brother and sister in need and do nothing.  God gave his only son to die on cross for my sin in order to meet my greatest need.  If Jesus can do something so large for me, why can’t I do something to small for someone else?

This is why I choose to run.  I want to raise awareness for a great cause so a child can have a pair of shoes.  Plain and simple.

If you are reading this post and want to join me in my effort, you can sign up to participate in “Run Where You Live” race like I am.  You can participate in the online contest on Instagram and Twitter by posting a creative picture during your run using #barefootrun.  You can learn more information about the Barefoot Run by clicking the button below.

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There may be no point to running a long way barefoot when I know that I have perfectly good set of shoes in my closet.  The bigger problem is that there are children that live in America and in our world that don’t have that choice.  You and I can quickly make a difference if we will use our resources to meet the needs of children and their families.