Monthly Archives: June 2014

A Shoe Story: Buckner’s International Shoes for Orphan Souls

You would think the life of a running shoe would be boring and I must confess I have a few friends who have spent their lifetime stuffed away in the back of a closet under a pile of other shoes, but boy do I have a story to tell. I started out like most tennis shoes in a factory in China molded and sewn together by the nimble fingers of a Chinese craftsman who turns out dozens and dozens just like me day after day. Once the last stitch was in place and my shoe laces traced my smile and I found myself nestled in a box, I was off on a great adventure…at least I hoped so.

Like most running shoes I found myself soon aboard ship heading for the good old USA. I am a size 6 so I hoped and prayed I would find myself in New York City or Los Angeles on the growing foot of an aspiring athlete. I could envision endless games of soccer in lush grass or running through Central Park nestled under the skyscrapers of Manhattan.

Of course I had little to say about that, my main objective was to survive the nearly month at sea trying to avoid being seasick or lost overboard. Once we arrived in port just outside of Houston, Texas, I realized quickly I was going to need to get used to the heat and humidity. I had heard horror stories about the impact of heat and sweat on socks and shoes.

I waited in a warehouse for what seem like eternity until I was loaded on a truck and shipped to the border of Texas and Mexico to a city called El Paso. Being from China I knew little about living on the border, but when I was placed on the shelf for display I smiled at every little boy who passed by hoping he would choose me to be his own, and that we could share the adventure together.

My wait was longer than I expected until a big red sale sticker was placed on my box. I must confess I was a bit embarrassed to consider myself a “sale item.” To make matters worse, instead of a young boy trying me on and picking me out. I found myself dropped in a shopping cart by an old man. He had to be in his 50’s. I knew immediately I was not his size, and besides he must have bought at least five or six pairs of shoes.

The sales clerk rang me up. Soon I was loaded me in a big bag. On the drive I hoped the old man had a grandson, but sadly when we arrived in the house there were no children there, just a couple of dogs who looked longingly at me.

The old man ripped me out of the comfort of my box. Tied my laces together, and put me back into the sales bag. I waited in limbo for a couple of days along with several other pairs of shoes, and we were all confused at the prospects of our future.

On Sunday, the old man loaded us and took us to church of all places. I heard about being “saved” but this was a bit strange for a shoe from China. To our surprise, the old man placed us in a corral at the end of a great hall under a big sign reading “Shoes for Orphan Souls.” I thought to myself, what in the world does that mean and where in the world am I going.

A few days later I was lovingly placed in a box with dozens and dozens of other shoes and we took off by truck to Dallas. I arrived at a warehouse with Buckner’s on the outside. From there I took my first flight. Yes, I flew by jet to Africa landing in Nairobi. We were driven to an orphanage filled with little bare-foot boys and girls. A volunteer took me out of the box and knelt down in front of a little six year boy who had just slipped on a new pair of socks. Then with a big smile on my face, the volunteer slipped me onto his little foot. I was the first pair of shoes he had ever worn. We ran, jumped, and danced together. We went everywhere together. We went to school, and to church. I need not worry about being lost in a closet. We are inseparable.

Who would have known a running shoe could change someone’s life! Don’t forget to bring tennis shoes for our “Shoes for Orphan Souls” drive. Boys and girls around the world are counting on us.

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Dr. Paige Patterson’s Apology to the Southern Baptist Convention in Baltimore

Rarely in a large convention gathering to you witness a man humble himself and ask for forgiveness. Too often we hid our need for grace on the platform and seek to “put the best face forward” under any and all circumstances. Dr. Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, found himself in need of grace and asked for it from his brothers and sisters in Christ.

Dr. Patterson made an executive decision to admit a practicing Muslim into the PhD program of SWBTS in the discipline of archaeology. By this own confession, Patterson has deep feeling for this young Muslim scholar who wanted to assist in some archaeological digs in the Holy Land and also study under the scholars at this Baptist seminary.

The standards for entering a Southern Baptist Seminary are quite high and rigid. Much like a military academy the students are expected to be the best of the best. To a man and the occasional woman, each student must profess faith in Christ, a calling to ministry, and adherence to the principles and values of the faith. Clearly Muslim student cannot meet any of these qualities. This is where the rub begins and ends.

Dr. Patterson confessed he opened the door to the young student for his future education and for the opportunity for him to come under the influence of Christian scholarship and faith. Much like St. Patrick of old who invited pagans into the circle of Christians long before declarations of faith, Patterson hoped and believed this young Muslim man would turn and choose to follow Jesus. So he violated the time honored rules he had fought to establish in defense against the creeping liberalism of our day to admit this man in hopes of his coming to Christ. He confessed his heart for the “lost” inspired and moved his decision.

Clearly one can stand on either side of the argument, and feel a sense of justification. However, sadly leaders don’t often have the option of standing on both sides. Decisions must be made. Prayers for guidance heeded. Courageous action dictates decisions. Patterson made a bold courageous move. I for one, affirm him in  his decision. I have great confidence in the power of the light of the gospel, and I fear not the influence of a Muslim in the halls of SWBTS. By his own confession, Patterson sought to open the door to a seeker on a quest for knowledge. Does it not seem odd that a devout Muslim would choose to study openly among infidels. By this principle alone it appears we see the fingers prints of the Holy Spirit of God at work. This “wind” I believe moved Patterson to action.

Were his actions right or wrong? It appears the answer is yes. He violated the standards of admission into the seminary, and he erred on the side of the gospel and grace. The board of trustees will deal with him and I trust they will deal with him fairly. I hope the young Muslim will be allowed to continue his quest. In the end, ultimately Patterson stands before His Lord Jesus who metes justice with nail-scarred hands. For those of us in the stands, we watching from a distance, we would be wise to pray, and to be slow to judge.

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Heroes

Growing up as a typical boy I must confess I had my share of heroes. Of course many of them emerged from the world of sports like Baltimore Oriole Brook Robinson with his golden glove, and Jerry West of the LA Lakers with his sweet jump shoot, and Dallas Cowboy fullback Walt Garrison with his grit and determination.

 
Like most boys of my era I was drawn to the heroes of the black and white television in the living room or on the silver screen like the Lone Ranger, the Rifle-man, Daniel Boone, and my favorite, Sheriff Andy Taylor, who could keep Mayberry safe and secure with wit and wisdom and no need for a firearm on his hip. Needless to say these were actually imaginary heroes. I could look up to them, and immulate them but it was not likely I was ever going to become a foot-ball star or crime fighter.

 
No, my real hero, the one I knew better than any other was my dad. Like almost every child I know, my dad started out as my hero and remains my hero to this day. The truth is dads have the corner on the market for being heroes in the eyes of their children. It is a place God gives us at birth without earning it. In fact, it is ours to keep until we prove time and time again we cannot carry the burden of being looked up to by our children.

 
I fear we underestimate the significance and importance of fathers in the lives of children both young and old. When there is a dad in the house, children are less likely to drop out of school, get in trouble, end up in poverty or worse, in prison. Little girls wait for the right man and don’t give themselves to the wrong boys who would use them and toss them aside and little boys grow up to be responsible, hard-working and trustworthy.

 
Put a dad in a house, and God has a good chance at living in the hearts of his children and mom does not have to take on the role of Wonder Woman. Yes, a dad in the house can make all the difference in the world.

 
In my case, my dad had all the qualities of being a hero but not because he was the best preacher I ever heard, nor because he was respected and admired in circles far and wide. No, my dad was my hero because of how he loved me and my brothers. His in-vestment in my life followed by his consistency at church and at home.

 
One of my fondest memories was as an older teenager hiking up Lowrie mountain deep in the back woods of the Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee and looking at the rumble of my dad’s childhood home, that was none other than a log cabin with no electricity or running water. Yes, my dad actually was born in a log cabin on the side of a mountain. Needless to say, we had very little opportunity to complain about the trials and tribulations of suburban life !
The writer of Proverbs got it right when he observed :
Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers. (Proverbs 17 :6 ESV)

Father’s Day waits just over the horizon, so to the dads out there—THANK YOU—you really are heroes in your own way. I cannot imagine where we would be today without your strong steady influence for good. Keep up the good work. We need you.

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