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Boots for 3,000 orphans give glimpse of Jesus’ touch to his disciples’ feet


RUSSELLVILLE, Ala. (BP)–Jesus provided the primary example of humble servanthood when He washed the feet of His disciples prior to the Passover Feast, which marked the nearing of His crucifixion.

Members of an Alabama church experienced a taste of what that might have been like when they traveled to Moldova late last year.

A team of seven from First Baptist Church, Russellville, including pastor Gene Balding, helped fit more than 3,000 orphans from 24 children’s homes with winter boots.

“It was the most powerful thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Balding, choking back tears as he reminisced memories of the missions experience. “We saw God pick us up and carry us.”

Noting that team members sized the children’s feet, removed their current shoes and socks and placed the new boots on their feet, Balding said, “Handling somebody’s feet is such a privilege.

“The children came in with sad looks but went out with big smiles,” he said. Enduring frigid cold temperatures during the winter, many of the children had inappropriate shoes and socks, Balding said, noting most of their socks had holes in them and many of the shoes were thin and worn.


“We gave each child a pair of boots, two pairs of socks, a banana and a Beanie Baby,” Balding explained with a twinkle in his eye and smile stretching across his face. “This was my first overseas missions trip ever … and the first for the church,” he said. “We were out in the middle of nowhere and some miraculous things happened. The team came back transformed.”

Not only did the church quickly raise the $10,000 to purchase the boots in Moldova, it exceeded the goal. Church members also gave almost $10,000 to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, which was nearly $3,000 more than their goal of $7,000. “I am seeing a difference in the church,” Balding said. “Members are already asking where we’re going next.

“We’ve changed our focus. We are now all about hands-on missions,” the pastor said.

First Baptist partnered with church members from First Baptist Church in Kingwood, Texas, for the missions trip. “The pastor of the church is an old Navy friend and very active in missions,” Balding said. “He has been going to Moldova for a while.”

The team worked with the local Baptist churches in the area and were able to share the Gospel as representatives of those churches. “The mission was conducted in partnership with the Moldovan churches so that they would receive all the credit for helping relieve some of the nation’s suffering. Such alliances create good will for local churches as well as open the door for ongoing ministry and mentoring by their congregations,” church member Lynn Suddith noted.

Balding said the team also worked with Children’s Emergency Relief International (CERI), a division of Baptist Child and Family Services. Headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, CERI has an office in Chisinau, Moldova. “CERI immensely assisted us by coordinating all the details,” said Balding, who stayed in the home of a local pastor.

“I also saw Lottie Moon dollars at work,” Balding said. “I stayed in a Lottie Moon house. I slept in a Lottie Moon bed. I rode in a Lottie Moon van. I ate Lottie Moon food.

“I am sold on Lottie Moon,” Balding said. “The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering greases the rails for ministry. It facilitates the way for people to come to minister.”
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: MEASURING UP, REMINDER OF JESUS and MINISTRY AFOOT.