Sue Carlson, Women’s Ministries director, believes women want more than to be nurtured and inspired at retreats—they also want to be able to make a difference in their communities.
Carlson first learned about God in Shoes while attending the NAD Ministries Convention. She was impressed that this program was needed in the Kansas-Nebraska territory and decided to experience it herself by attending a God in Shoes event in the Kentucky-Tennessee Conference. That life-changing week was the catalyst for our conference’s very first God in Shoes event, held in September 2011 at Scottsbluff, Nebraska.
God in Shoes is about meeting people’s needs in the community. The week-long event begins with a Family Fun Day at a park that includes a picnic lunch and activities such as Skits Alive Mini Bible Story Dramas, water balloon toss, face painting, Super Science Stunts, a Children’s Health Expo. Friendly and helpful church members lead out in every activity.
Each week night free seminars and suppers are provided. Childcare is made available for toddlers through fifth grade. Each evening ends with a devotional thought by one of the local pastors. During the Ladies’ Free Spa day, volunteers give facials, manicures, paraffin dips and foot washing. Women also have the opportunity to choose a new pair of shoes.
Prayer plays a huge role in preparation for this event—for the right location, volunteers, donations, wisdom to know the needs of the community and that the Holy Spirit will tug on the hearts of those who would benefit most from attending. Church members and volunteers canvas their communities with surveys asking which ministries and events might be helpful to the public. The free seminars are planned based on survey results.
Church members become energized through touching their communities for Christ in this ministry. In September 2016, God in Shoes was held in Great Bend, Kansas. “My most memorable experience was the foot massage at the spa day! I got to meet and pray for people. For me, it felt like the foot washing at communion!” shares Dr. Harimahefa Ratsimbason, a member at the Great Bend Church. “I truly felt the Holy Spirit’s presence. At times, I wouldn’t know what to say so I silently prayed and asked God to give me the words, and as soon as my short prayer was finished, words just came out of my mouth to open up a conversation.”
Dorie Reile-Kneller, another member at the Great Bend Church, says “All members—men, women and young kids were involved. Even the little girls were so important carrying water for the various stations during the Spa Day. One teenage boy chose to stay and help with the bounce house rather than go to the State Fair for his birthday. True dedication from everyone involved! This was an amazing week of activities, fun and cooperation but most of all we were doing it for community relations to show our love for God through our love for others.”
March 22-23, 2017 there will be a God in Shoes Training in Topeka, Kansas for churches who want to organize their own God in Shoes ministry. Sue Carlson shares, “I’m so excited that local churches can be part of this type of ministry that provides a venue for every person in their church to experience the joy of being used by God to bless others! It is my prayer that those who experience the training will come away energized with a vision of how God could use them and their church members in their own communities!”