TRUE STORIES OF WORLD CHANGERS WHO STARTED ALONE: This month we share stories of individual Christians who couldn’t wait for others to tell them when to help the hurting and share the gospel. Their clear vision of a pressing need pushed them to do what they could as soon as they could.
SOLE TO SOUL / www.facebook.com/ShoesForKenyaKids
By Janet Smith
As Andrew and Rachel Scott and their four children, members of Crossway Christian Church in Nashua, New Hampshire, prepared for a mission trip to lead a VBS program at Missions of Hope International in Nairobi, Kenya, an event occurred that sharpened the focus of their trip: the boys’ dorm at MOHI’s boarding schools in Joska burned to the ground.
The Scotts’ daughters, Vienna and Hayleigh, twin 13-year-olds, and Sarah, 10, were upset by photos of the children who were barefoot or wearing plastic soda bottles as shoes.
“The girls said, ‘We should do something! Those kids lost everything, so let’s raise money to at least buy them all new shoes,’” said their dad, Andrew Scott.
The family decided to take action. The girls and little brother A.J. launched “Sole to Soul,” a project to raise money to take new shoes to all the kids at the Joska schools in September 2012.
“They put together a flyer, started pounding on doors, and raised $500 in two days,” said Andrew.
In addition to the extensive door-to-door fund-raising, the family participated in some special community events and set up a Facebook page. They also contacted CMF International, MOHI’s U.S. partner, and CMF set up an online giving page on its website. Within a couple of months they raised about $5,000 and were thrilled with their progress.
The children got a reality check, however, when they e-mailed a question to MOHI asking about the number of students who attend the Joska schools. The girls had originally thought they would need about $10,000 to purchase the shoes, but learned there are a LOT more children at Joska than they realized.
“I wish I’d had a camera on their faces when I told them we needed to raise about $30,000,” said Andrew. “They said, ‘There’s no way we can do that.’ So they started praying that God would show up and ‘help us get it done.’”
After about another month of the campaign, though, the girls were getting tired.
“The initial zeal had worn off, and it was becoming tough to get motivated to go out, knock on doors, and raise money,” Andrew said.
He remembers one particular evening after an especially difficult night of fund-raising. He had gone out with Sarah and collected only about $40 in two hours, way below their normal amount.
“She got back into the car, dejected,” said Andrew. “She looked and me and said, ‘Daddy, if we don’t make it to the $30,000 goal, will you pay the difference?’ I smiled at her sweet little face and said ‘no.’”
“You have a great chance here to see how God works,” he told his daughter. “You are definitely acting in his will with this project, so pray that he will help you achieve the goal and watch what happens.”
Within another month, the hundreds of hours of hard work and the prayers really began to pay off. They raised more than $30,000—enough for 1,500 pairs of shoes. Then came the fun part: the family trip to Nairobi, Kenya, in May.
Their visit to Kenya began with a week of VBS in the Mathare slums, which the Scott family planned and led. Each day they set up four stations, and groups of 50 to 60 children rotated around to each spot. Vienna Scott led the singing and dancing, some of the MOHI high school kids presented skits, Hayleigh and Sarah were in charge of arts and crafts, their mother, Rachel, told the Bible story, and Andrew presented visual science lessons that tied in with a biblical theme.
The family also visited the homes of families in the community in the afternoons, where they used EvangeCubes to share Jesus and information about HIV/AIDS and malaria prevention.
At the end of that week, the family moved on to the MOHI campuses at Joska, a region about an hour from the slums of Nairobi. They were inspired and touched by the excited reception they received at both the boys’ and girls’ schools, and worked with staff members to personally fit all 1,200 students, plus some younger children who attend day classes at Joska. Thanks to the Scott sisters’ efforts, and a special deal MOHI was able to arrange with a Kenyan shoe manufacturer, a total of 1,500 children received new shoes.
“Throughout the two days we were at Joska, I was touched watching my girls get down on their knees to put new shoes on these kids’ feet,” Andrew said. “I couldn’t help but think of the last supper where Jesus was down on his knees washing his disciples’ feet.”
As the family prepared to leave Joska, they met with all the students for a final good-bye program, and Andrew shared his family’s story with the children.
“It’s a story of how when you ask God to help you and you are acting in his will, there’s nothing you cannot accomplish,” he said. “We serve a mighty and awesome God!”
Janet Smith works in the urban poor/marketplace ministries division at CMF International and is a member of Hazel Dell Christian Church in Carmel, Indiana.