12.21.2009

The Parable of the Good Samaritan: Shoes of Hope Houston and Samaritan's Feet touch the sole of 5,000 Houstonians

(Thousands of shoes in boxes)

by Jesse Muhammad

I am sure you have heard of the parable of the "Good Samaritan" in the Bible, who saw a wounded man lying on the side of the road in need. Instead of passing by him like the others did, the Good Samaritan took care of the wounded man.

According to Emmanuel Ohonme, founder of Samaritan's Feet, a "good samaritan" met him in his hometown of Lagos, Nigeria without any shoes on his feet. That man gave him his first pair of shoes and nearly 30 years later Ohonme is on a mission to give away 10 million pairs of shoes by the end of the next decade.

"Some one blessed me so I want to bless others," said Mr. Ohonme, as I interviewed him on December 19.

It was on this day that his organization partnered with Bishop James Dixon's Shoes of Hope Houston organization to distribute 5,000 pairs of new shoes to needy Houstonians. The huge event took place at The Community of Faith Church and the line wrapped around the domed center stretching to the adjacent Pinemont Street.

(Thousands lined up to receive free new shoes)

(The line stretched all the way to Pinemont Street)

(Thousands lined up to receive free new shoes)

I had to witness this for myself. I had to park three blocks away. I walked on the grounds of The Community of Faith Church and it was a remarkable sight.

"More people than we anticipated has shown up today, so we are inspired to do this again in the city. So many people are in need," says Mr. Ohonme.

The entry process was smooth and was one of humility. Volunteers ran back and forth from the shoe storage areas to pick up requested sizes. Throughout the hallways, hundreds of volunteers could be seen washing the feet of the people before placing on new socks and shoes. As the volunteers washed their feet they shared words of inspiration as well.

(Volunteers washing feet before placing on new socks and shoes)

(The humility of volunteers at The Community of Faith Church)

"We not only wanted you to leave here with a new pair of shoes. We wanted you to leave here with inspiration and for you not to feel hopeless," said Bishop Dixon to the audience inside the sanctuary. Performances also took place as people waited patiently to receive their gifts.

Mr. Ohonme stated that he plans to achieve the goal of reaching 10 million by duplicating what took place in Houston. "I want to reach out to churches, organizations, political figures, athletes, celebrities and anyone else who will help us to reach this goal. We want to empower the people," he says.

This was his organization's largest single day giveaway and to his knowledge Mr. Ohonme says "I don't know of anyone who has done this in one day in the country."

"I can't thank them enough," says Barbara Jackson, who received shoes for her four children. "So many people promise but don't deliver on their promises. Today they delivered! I am so grateful."

(A family showing off their new kicks)

By the end of the day they had distributed a total of 4500 pairs of shoes and contributed the remaining 500 to Madd Hatta's Annual Elves Toy give-away on December 21. Madd Hatta is a radio personality for 97.9 The Box.

(For more information of Samaritan's Feet visit http://www.samaritansfeet.org and Shoes of Hope Houston at http://sohhouston.tumblr.com)

(Emmanuel Ohonme, his wife Tracie, and Bishop James Dixon)

(Thousands line up to receive free new shoes)