Submitted by Stephanie Strang (Milwaukee, WI)
One woman takes action to put shoes on thousands of feet, so they can attend scool and walk in safety!
In the fall of 2009, Diane Studer, went on her first mission trip to Ethiopia, Africa. On this trip, Diane was standing in the hut of a village pastor, when she had a powerful vision to start an organization called Soles For Jesus. This plan was for people to collect shoes in the U.S., send them across the ocean and distribute them to the under-served, while sharing the life-changing message of Jesus Christstarting in Ethiopia and spreading throughout Africa.
As soon as Diane returned home, she began sharing her vision to start Soles For Jesus with others and received donated warehouse and office space. This allowed SFJ to be up and running, just weeks after the return of her first trip! Diane quit her full time job to serve (unpaid) as the Director of SFJ. A board of directors was formed, and volunteers began serving in the warehouse to sort and pack shoes for Africa. The web site went live in December of 2009, and immediately emails, shoes and donations arrived from across the country. SFJ became an official 501©(3) in January, 2010 (only a couple months after Diane’s initial trip to Ethiopia).
Since the start of Soles For Jesus, strong partnerships in Africa have been formed, over 80,000 shoes have been sent to Africa and thousands of lives have been changed! Many reports, photos and stories pour in about children being able to attend school because they have the proper shoes or people receiving their first pair of shoes. They can now walk in safety for many miles to find food and work.
This gift is free to the people who receive it, and over 80,000 people have shoes because of Diane’s response of compassion to a need she saw so clearly.
Here in Milwaukee, hundreds of volunteers come together each year to advocate for the well being of thousands across the globe by sending shoes. For example, children have hosted birthday parties where they collect shoes instead of presents or have a ‘party’ where they volunteer with their friends in the warehouse to pack and sort shoes for Africa. This movement of generosity from one woman’s response is seeping into the hearts of those in Milwaukee who want to be a part of it too!