My Shoes are Your Shoes

January 11, 2016 • Haiti

A teenage girl learns how to give unconditionally

Carolyn Julien is the wife of a pastor who works with Samaritan’s Purse in Haiti.

“… It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35f, NKJV). Christians quote this verse regularly, but sometimes it’s difficult to grasp the concept. It can be especially challenging to share with others while living in an impoverished environment where there is hunger, hopelessness, and misery.

But this wasn’t the case with two 13-year-old Haitian girls, Seleina and Kettelie, after they participated in a training conducted by Samaritan’s Purse. The program isn’t just making a difference in the lives of individuals but is also transforming families as a whole. It covers values, respect, responsibility, empathy, and conflict resolution.

Haiti children

Children receive certificates at the Samaritan’s Purse program

Selenia and Kettelie grasped the concepts rapidly, and because of this confidence and retention of the class information, both girls were asked to participate in a parent program the following week to capture the highlights of the classes. Seleina agreed immediately, but Kettelie’s countenance quickly digressed from joyfulness to sadness. She refused to take part in the upcoming program.

The following week, Kettelie returned to class and said she would participate. When asked about her change of heart, she said the reason she had initially refused was because of her flip-flops. Kettelie said other students had ridiculed her because her shoes were too small and not stylish; she was too embarrassed to stand before people in them. However, Seleina volunteered to help by sharing her pair.

Seleina, inspired by the training, felt a desire in her heart to share her one good pair of sandals with Kettelie. She said the teaching taught her that teasing and bullying hurt others. Seleina further explained that she shared her sandals with Kettelie because she would have wanted to be treated the same way.

“I thank God for this program, and can see a big change in my daughter,” said Seleina’s mother. “ I want my other daughters to be like her. Before this training, she was disobedient and talked back to me. Now, she helps out with cooking and cleaning, and I don’t even have to ask her.”

The girls’ presentations were a big success. They alternated the pair of sandals during their performances and both presented with confidence and winning smiles.

Seleina and Kettelie

Seleina and Kettelie

The circumstances we are dealt in life are not always easy or fair. However, our approach to life makes the difference. Possessing good moral values is a good place to start—blessing both the reaper and the sower. The valuable lessons acquired and applied by Seleina solidified an impact that will resonate with her and this community for a lifetime.

Seleina’s noble deed spoke to my heart and compelled me to look more intently at myself. I don’t believe I’m a bad person and, up until now, was confident that I’m a kind person with a tender heart. Yet the idea of sharing my footwear with someone else initially didn’t rest well for me. Does that make me selfish? Do I think that I’m better than others? Do I have a heart that God can use unconditionally? The answer is no to the first two questions and yes the last; I do have a heart that God can use unconditionally. Even with good-hearted people, circumstances can dictate our mode of giving and serving.

Seleina, divinely transformed by training she received and moved by compassion, desired to assist a hurting and disadvantaged girl. She helped according to her minimal resources and made a difference by taking her sandals off to allow a peer to wear them. This was a thoughtful and selfless act of kindness. After completing my introspective search, I’m confident that I too would have rendered the same gesture under similar circumstances. When we receive divine revelation and inspiration from God, there’s no end to the depths we will go to serve Him.