Every once in a while, you read something that you just can’t shake from your mind. Over ten years ago, I read the poem Little Feet by Gabriela Mistral, a heart-wrenching piece that describes the bare, cold, wounded feet of impoverished children that are ignored by passers-by. While poverty is devastating to all in its grasp, it is especially so for children who depend on the adults surrounding them for food, clothing, shelter and care.
VisionTrust partners with amazing men and women all around the world who have committed their lives to bringing hope to children in need in their own countries. Two of these individuals are Pastor Lenin and Pastora Flor, a couple who runs the Gethsemane Learning Center in Ayacucho, Peru. Pastor Lenin and Pastora Flor are passionate about seeing the children of Ayacucho grow up to live for God and love others. The approximately eighty boys and girls they serve face struggles children should never have to face. Many are left at home alone for weeks at a time while their parents travel to farms outside of the city to try to earn enough to get by. To these children, hunger is no stranger. Loneliness is commonplace. Hopelessness lurks around every corner.
At the Gethsemane Learning Center, the children experience God’s goodness through the care of a loving and attentive staff. From 12:30 to 4 p.m. each day, they gather to eat a nutritious meal, work on their studies and learn about the love of Christ. The Gethsemane Learning Center is not merely a program for the children to attend, but rather it is a community in which they can experience love and belonging.
This past May, the folks of First Presbyterian Church in Charleston, West Virginia, committed themselves to raising funds to provide shoes for every single child at the Gethsemane Learning Center. The fundraiser, which they called “Barefoot Sunday,” was a huge success! With the funds donated, Pastor Lenin and Pastora Flor had enough to buy two pairs of shoes for each child in the Learning Center. Pastora Flor handed out the first pair of shoes at a gathering with the children’s parents this month, using the opportunity to connect with the mothers and fathers about important topics such as hygiene, education, and spiritual development. She looks forward to handing out the second pair of shoes several months from now, which will provide yet another opportunity for her to build bridges with the parents of the children she and her husband so faithfully serve. As Pastor Lenin and Pastora Flor see transformation in the lives of the children, their hope and prayer is that it impacts the lives of their parents as well.
Thank you, First Presbyterian Church, for your love and generosity! Because of your sacrifice, eighty little pairs of feet will be covered, warm and protected this year at the Gethsemane Learning Center. May others take notice of your example and be inspired to go and do likewise!