He wore rags. He had no shoes. His eye was half-closed with disease or injury. His leg was deformed, perhaps by infection or some long-ago trauma. He looked listless and weak as he wandered the streets, and he was only a boy. I had prayed for ten years with a heart to travel on a short-term missions’ trip, waiting for my opportunity. Challenging life circumstances had delayed my travel, but finally here I was. And there he was. I had nothing to offer him, or did I?
I encountered the boy in a public square along a dusty street filled with stray dogs, and with unfamiliar sights and sounds. I met him as I walked with a group of team members one afternoon in 2012 in Barahona, Dominican Republic on my first missions trip with RAIN Ministries Global Missions*. Our mornings were spent in group Bible study and prayer. Our evenings were spent conducting leadership conferences with local Pastors from churches of every denomination, or in large community-wide evangelistic outreaches. But our afternoons were free. Some of our group took a walk off of the hotel property and into the local marketplace. On the advice of our local contacts, we brought almost nothing of value with us and we stayed together for safety. It was on this walk that we met the boy with no shoes.
My heart was wrenched as I contemplated his overwhelming needs. We could have kept walking and ignored the beggar boy, but we stopped and tried to speak with him. I don’t recall if one of the team knew Spanish or if it was my French, but somehow we were able to communicate with him a bit. (The Dominicans speak Spanish but the Haitian immigrants from the other side of the island speak a Cajun form of French). I recall thinking that perhaps he was an earthquake refugee from Haiti. We did our best to ask him if we could pray for his needs. The boy gladly accepted our payers and our invitation to the community-wide event our group was sponsoring later that evening. It would be filled with local Pastors from all across the region who could perhaps connect him with the local help and resources that we were unable to give him. He was only too glad to accept my half-eaten ice cream bar on a stick that I’d just purchased at a local store. We gave him what we had: our prayers, my ice cream bar and an invitation. I didn’t have shoes for him, that day, but I had something. Seeing this poor boy reminded me that my Savior came to earth as the son of a poor couple, that He was born in a lowly stable, that He was homeless and that He came for the poor in spirit, in soul and in body.
I hoped, prayed and trusted that the Holy Spirit’s presence touched the boy’s broken heart and broken body through our prayers on the dusty road. Later that night, thousands were packed onto the streets to worship and hear God’s word. I hope he was there. The love that these local Pastors (from a wide-range of Christian denominations) displayed for each other, for us and for their community was so encouraging. In the midst of economic poverty, their joy and unity made us all spiritually rich. The whole city had a chance to hear and receive the Good News of God’s love through faith in Jesus Christ. Many in the crowd testified that they were physically healed by a touch from the precious Holy Spirit. I hope the boy was one of them.We met him as he walked the road of his everyday life, without shoes on his feet. I never saw him again, but I know that I’ll never forget the boy with no shoes.
Next Time: Walking With Jesus Along the Missionary Road – Part 2 The Woman in the Crowd
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*I am licensed and ordained for Christian ministry with RAIN Ministries. For more information on RAIN Missions trips go to www.rainministries.org