The last pair of shoes I bought was in April of last year. They’re super comfy, too. They have memory foam bottoms that make me feel like I’m walking on little rubbery rainbows.  Or at least they did.

For the last month or two, they haven’t been as comfortable as I’d like. The upper that was once nice and white is a dull tan color. Those rubbery rainbows I mentioned in the last paragraph have turned instead to hard, uncomfortable cement blocks. They have been worn almost daily since the day of purchase, so it’s no shame for them. Let’s be honest, if three hundred(ish) pounds of pure sexiness walked on top of you for eight to twelve hours a day for months on end, you’d be a little worn out, too.

I’ve spent the last couple weeks looking at possibly purchasing some shoes that I can wear as work shoes. Ideally, I’d like to own a couple pairs so I can mix and match as well as alleviate the wear on one pair. For most folks finding a couple pair of decent shoes isn’t a huge deal.  I have an issue, though. Big feet. Size fifteens to be exact.

You know that crass saying, “You know what big feet mean, right…?” Well, let me clear it up for you: Having big feet means that you have a huge problem when trying to buy shoes. Sure, every once in a blue moon you might find a pair that has been on a shelf at the Reebok outlet that is two or three years out of style. I’ve even been known to find size fifteens for ten bucks at K-Mart. #Velcroes4Life

I decided that my best bet is probably to find something online. I found a couple pairs of shoes that I liked and I thought would be comfortable for work.  Are you ready for this? $243 dollars if I bought both pairs. To some, that’s not that much, but to me it just doesn’t make sense. It’s not even about the total amount of the purchase, either. Two hundred and fifty bucks for something that is going to spend all of their time on the filthy ground? Ugh.

I’ve been busy these last few weeks and have put off purchasing anything. Okay, so maybe it’s because I didn’t want to spend the money and not so much that I’m too busy to make a few clicks on a mouse, but that’s neither here nor there. I was upset with myself because I had wanted to get a new pair before this past weekend, but I didn’t.

This weekend was Winterfest, a retreat that I have attended since I was a senior in high school.  I now attend yearly as a staff person and have the honor of playing guitar in the worship band. Every year brings a new blessing to me and this year was no different.

The camp pastor this year, who you will learn more about in a future post, was Jay Trainer. Trainer, amongst other things, is a representative for Compassion International.  Compassion, if you are unfamiliar with it, is an organization that unapologetically focuses on developing the minds, bodies, and spirits of children and their families living in poverty.

When Trainer arrived at the camp on Friday afternoon, the band was finishing rehearsal and he began setting up the table he uses to display his stuff for Compassion. He had the typical signage along with a few photos of children who are in need of sponsors.

Ben, who is a fellow member of the worship band and a member of the Keystone Conference Youth Ministry Team, noticed and commented on how glad he was that Trainer had brought the material. Turns out Ben, his wife, and two children had been discussing the possibility of sponsoring a child.

Trainer was a fantastic camp pastor. His passion for youth and his life goal of “depopulating hell” was so apparent that you couldn’t miss it if you were both deaf and blind.

As I was listening to him speak on Saturday morning, I looked down at my shoes and immediately got distracted. I noticed how filthy they looked, partially because of their age and also because the campground was mostly mud due to the sudden thaw of a few inches of snow that disappeared faster than it had fallen. I decided then and there that I didn’t care how much it cost, I was ordering at least one pair of those shoes first thing Sunday night when I got home. I was tired of those stupid shoes. They weren’t as comfortable as I wanted them to be, they were dirty, and they just weren’t working for me anymore. And, to borrow Raymond Carver’s epic closing, “In this manner, the issue was decided.”

That’s when I looked to my left and, not realizing I had placed my chair next to the Compassion table, saw a face just like this one:

Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of

And I lost it.

Silent tears started down my face. I think my eyes understood my heart before my brain did.

I felt so stupid. I was complaining about and distracted by my stupid shoes. And to top it off, I was so worked up about spending money on them. An amount of money that many people will never see. There are people, and even moreso, children, all over the world who don’t understand what shoes are. They just think that barefoot is the only way to be. They walk miles everyday on ground that is rocky and dirty just to survive, but I can’t stand being seen in or wearing dirty, ten-month-old shoes?

During free-time that afternoon, I prayed over the table of kids and as I looked through the children who are in need of sponsors, I found Rico.


So, Imperfect Collective readers, meet Rico Adriyan Putra.

Rico just turned four this past Thursday, February 18. He lives in the mountains of Indonesia. I’m happy to say I have chosen to sponsor Rico through Compassion so that he can have access to a better life.

I want to encourage anyone who reads this to consider sponsoring a child like Rico. There’s no guilt trip or clever sales pitches, just pray about it. And, if it’s something you want to do, please consider Compassion.

Compassion currently has more than 1.7 million kids being sponsored all over the world. Their overarching goal is to live out The Great Commission. They have led more than 123,000 children and mothers to the cross of Christ over the past year. That’s 33,000 more people than live in my county. They are depopulating hell on a daily basis.

And Compassion is an organization that can be trusted. They have consistently earned a perfect, four-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluation organization, with only 6% of the total income going to overhead at Compassion HQ in Colorado Springs, CO.

So, am I still going to buy a new pair of shoes? Yeah, I am. But I’m not going to worry about the ones I have or complain about having to spend a few dollars to get them. That isn’t where my joy should come from. I want the type of joy that doesn’t rely on tangible things. I want the joy that comes from seeing someone happy or from knowing that someone else is thinking about you and loves you. That’s what joy should be.

9 thoughts on “I Need New Shoes”

  1. This is beautiful Brandon. You are such a talented writer, always have been. More important is what a sweet, compasionate human being you are. I love you. You make me proud everyday. –Mom

  2. Wonderful, Brandon. Both you and Rico will receive joy and blessings from your newfound friendship. Our collective family sponsors several children that we are blessed to receive letters and updates from…it is a joy. Bless you!

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