The following post is from Brenda Lisenby, who serves in China as one of CBF’s field personnel.
The Chinese pastor proudly showed me around the new church. I walked around and appreciated the worship space, the space for small group Bible studies, the guest room for visiting evangelists, the small kitchen and fellowship hall for church dinners after Sunday worship.
As we came to the choir room, I noticed a bench with rows of shoes lined up neatly beneath them. Because there was a door with stairs next to the bench, I presumed there was an apartment there, maybe the pastor and other families lived behind the sanctuary. But the pastor noticed my look, and said, “Do you know what those are? They are the shoes of the choir members—their good shoes. Because they must walk a long ways to come to church, and the road is often dusty or muddy, they leave their best pair of shoes here. On Sunday mornings, when they robe themselves they also change into their best shoes in order to honor the platform where they will sing praises to God.”
I walked away from the choir room humbled. The shoes lined up so neatly in the choir room were a powerful testimony to me—these brothers and sisters are simple farmers, they do not have much. It reminded me of the story of the Widow’s Mite. So often I give from my abundance, yet here were brothers and sisters who give what they can, even if all they have to offer are clean shoes in which to lead the congregation in singing praises to God.
The testimony of the shoes also reminded me that prayer and worship can and should be a time we set apart, a time to meet God. Not something to be hurried into, or born with until time for lunch and fellowship with friends. When I am preparing to come before God, do I plan ahead, do I give my best, do I leave my “good shoes” there to change into and honor the time and space I have set aside? Although it has been many months since this experience, it still is with me, those shoes lined up so neatly beneath the bench, in silent testimony, ready for the choir members and Sunday morning worship.