Five Loaves and Two Tennis Shoes

In the midst of the coronavirus and some major civil unrest in our country, the Renton, WA church decided to take to the streets. They were able to locate 50 brand new backpacks and fill them with stuff for kids. They put out a call to their members for food, hygiene items, toilet paper, bread, and anything else a needy family might appreciate.

By mid-afternoon, so much stuff had accumulated they jokingly discussed the need to set up a neighborhood store in the entry of the church. They sorted and packed and prayed and loaded the cars. And the heavens opened. I mean it rained – as it can in the Pacific Northwest. Undeterred, they headed for the parking lot.

But as they splashed through the rain someone spotted a destitute man sitting in the entryway of the church across the street. Since it wasn’t Sunday the church was closed so a couple from the group ran across the street to see if they could be of help. Maybe they could begin their charity close to home. They learned his name was Lee. “No,” Lee said, he didn’t need any food, thanks. “Is there any other way we could be of help?”

“Well, what I really need is some dry sox. And a pair of dry shoes.” It was obvious the shoes he was wearing were high mileage. And wet. But the group had not been asked to bring clothing; they really couldn’t be of much help. Or could they? When the group found out about the need one of them called, “Hey, wait a minute..” She ran to her car, opened the trunk, and pulled out a 3-pair packet of brand new sox. “My husband bought them; I forgot they were there,” she explained. As you already have assumed, they were the very size Lee needed.

Half the problem solved. The easy half.

It is not typical for someone to drive around with a pair of brand new size 9 tennies in their trunk. But, not knowing about Lee, a family with a teenage boy had just purchased a pair the day before and hadn’t even taken them in the house yet. Have you noticed that we serve the God of the untypical. You already guessed that that’s the size Lee wears and you’d be right. The group was rejoicing over the miracle-working hand of God before they even left the parking lot.

The food distribution in the rain was a holy parade. The grateful recipients received them with deep appreciation. They prayed; they ministered; they loved on folks. And back at the fellowship hall in the afternoon, where they came to share their stories, the energy in the room was palpable. Something happened that rainy afternoon, not just to the neighbors, but to the Renton church. Unanimous vote before they left: Let’s do this again. Soon.

By Don Jacobsen (

Written by Diane Levy


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