“Walking in Someone Else’s Shoes” (from the Stephen Ministry website)
One cold December evening, a pastor was leading the Stephen Leaders and Stephen Ministers in the closing prayer of their supervision session. All heads were bowed when suddenly they heard the door open. Everyone looked up to see who was there. The pastor asked, “May I help you?” A street woman hobbled in, wearing tattered and torn clothes and shoes with so many holes that they were falling apart. The woman first apologized for interrupting and then said, “I was trying to see if I could find a church that would give me a pair of shoes. I went to another church in town and they couldn’t help me, so I walked over here.”
A Stephen Minister near the door immediately asked, “What size do you wear?”
“Eight and a half,” the woman answered. The Stephen Minister bent down to take off one of her new walking shoes. “That’s my size,” she said. “Why don’t you sit down over here and try this on to see if it fits you.” As the woman slipped it on, she said, “Oh, that feels wonderful. Nice and warm.” The Stephen Minister took off her other shoe and gave it to the woman. “Here’s the other one, too.” The woman looked up, surprised. “I can’t take these. I don’t want to take your shoes.” But the Stephen Minister insisted, saying, “Please. Go ahead and take these. I’ve got another pair at home.” The ragged woman accepted the gift, put on the other shoe and moved toward the door. Her hand on the doorknob, she turned back to them and said, “Thank you so much. God bless you. God bless you all.”
The entire incident took only a minute or so, but it left everyone in the room standing in stunned silence. A Stephen Leader broke the silence by turning to the Stephen Minister and saying, “That was so beautiful. But how are you going to get home? It’s cold and wet outside, and you don’t have any shoes now.” The Stephen Minister replied, “I’ve got a thick pair of socks–and I do have a pair of shoes.” And she proceeded to put the homeless woman’s tattered shoes onto her own feet.
What happened was both a prayer and an answer to prayer that brought to a close that particular supervisory session with a powerful sense of God’s presence. One by one the Stephen Ministers left, quietly and reflectively. Finally only the Stephen Leader and the Stephen Minister with the tattered shoes remained. As the Stephen Minister moved toward the door, the Stephen Leader noticed her hobbling a bit because the old shoes were worn, uneven, and uncomfortable. “Please be careful,” the Stephen Leader said. “I don’t want you to fall and get hurt.” “I’ll walk slowly,” the Stephen Minister replied with a smile. “Now I really know what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes!”
Stephen Ministers at First United Methodist Church help serve this congregation and community. We are here to help in a time of need. If you or someone you know needs a Stephen Minister, someone to listen and care, please contact the church office at (512) 478-5684 and ask for a Stephen Leader or email firstname.lastname@example.org. All contacts are confidential.