At the turn of the last century, two competing shoe companies in the United States looked to expand their business. Both heard about a developing country in Africa that was opening its doors to foreign companies and investors.
Hoping to gain an advantage on their competition, both companies sent a sales representative to scout the possibilities of opening new markets. The first sales rep got off the boat and began walking around the small coastal community. After a couple of hours, he hurriedly made his way to the telegraph office.
“Halt production. Possibility of opening new market in Africa slim to nil. Nobody here wears shoes.”
The other sales rep soon disembarked from his ship and made his way through the same coastal village. After a short time, he too ran to the telegraph office.
“Build more factories. Send as many shoes as you can. Nobody here wears shoes!”
A recent Gallup poll has many Christians in our country wringing their hands. Since 1937, Gallup has been tracking the number of Americans who claim to belong to a religious congregation. For over 60 years, that number hovered around 70 percent. In other words, 70 percent of Americans claimed to belong to a church, synagogue, or mosque.
That number has steadily declined in the last 20 years. It is now below half. Less than 50 percent of all Americans now belong to a religious congregation.
Such news should sadden us. A shift has occurred in our society. More and more Americans are turning their backs on church and religion—Christianity in particular. More and more people are turning their backs on God.
But we don’t need to wring our hands and throw up our arms in defeat. Jesus himself said that many would turn away from the faith. He said that the love of most would grow cold, but that doesn’t change what we do as Christians.
When we see large numbers of people who don’t believe or who have turned away from what God says in his Word, we don’t say, “Well, I guess we need to close the doors of our churches. There is nothing we can do. Nobody here wears shoes. Nobody knows Jesus.”
No. We say, “Let’s get to work. God is giving us new opportunities to share his message of sin and forgiveness—the message of Jesus and his love—because nobody here wears shoes. Nobody knows Jesus.”
When Jesus saw the crowds of lost and hurting souls, he had compassion on them. “They were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Jesus told his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:36-38). Then he sent his disciples to get to work.
You may be saddened by the state of our country and our world today. I know I am, but I am also excited by the challenge. This just means more opportunities to share and show our Savior’s love.
So, when you see our society turning further and further away from God and his Word, don’t give up. We’ve got work to do. Opportunities abound.
Nobody here wears shoes.
Author: Andrew Schroer
Volume 108, Number 6
Issue: June 2021