Battered rubber soles. Ripped tennis shoes. Chafing plastic flip-flops. Bare feet with blisters.
These are the feet of refugees crossing the Andes mountains in search of a new life.
Fleeing economic and political strife, many families begin the journey already ill-equipped for the hardships of their trek. Upon hiking the first few hundred miles, many find their feet infected from open wounds that have gone untreated and can lead to serious physical conditions or even permanent crippling.
To make things worse, these refugees rarely feel at liberty to ask their neighboring countrymen for help, as xenophobia towards their ethnicity and forced migrant lifestyle is prevalent in the region.
Walking the borderlands is exhausting and dangerous, especially for children, but Send Relief partners were able to set up waystations that distributed nearly 3,000 pairs of sturdy new shoes!
A partnering team leader shared, “Many refugees arrived [to the stations] with broken shoes—or worse—no shoes at all. Both were damaging, causing swollen feet, open wounds, scratches and deep punctures. This project has benefitted so many because the majority of displaced [families] arrive at the border with shoes already damaged and torn and with feet in bad shape and covered in blisters. This [distribution] has allowed us to draw near to a people deep in crisis and exhaustion to show them the love of God. We have been able to hear their stories, their trauma and their needs.”
Upon receiving his new pair of shoes, one recipient with severe wounds exclaimed through tears, “Oh God, thank You for not forgetting me!”
Because the initial project was so impactful, three brand new ministries arose from the distribution: one sharing Gideon Bibles and evangelism bracelets, one dispersing food and one providing bus passage for refugees. In distributing hygiene kits, medicine, New Testaments and clothes along with the shoes, team leaders were able to build strong connections with families and share the Gospel. Some national volunteers even expressed remorse at previously held discriminatory beliefs against migrant families and repented of the xenophobia they had nurtured.
Thank you for being obedient to Matthew 25 in clothing the poor and feeding the hungry. Please pray for migrant families to survive their arduous journeys through the mountains and find respite in their new home countries.
Published February 11, 2021