The wiggly children giggled at the thought of feet being beautiful. Where they lived, almost no one ever wore shoes, and one walked everywhere, so feet were anything but beautiful. Tough and rough, useful and important, but beautiful?
The Sunday School teacher read the verse again: How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!
Magda, ever pensive, thought about the mysterious words, tasting them, sifting through them like she often sifted through newly milled grain. How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!
After class, she asked the teacher where she could find these words in her Bible--she wanted to read more, and understand this intriguing idea. Ever since she had enrolled in the new program offered by the church, her world had become crowded with new ideas.
She had heard about God, for the very first time in her ten years, and how He had created the earth and everyone in it. She had learned about Adam and Eve, and Noah, and many other exciting stories. Her African culture put a high value on storytelling, and the children were comfortable with the use of a story to communicate morals.
As the teacher introduced the children to Jesus, the Son of God, the children devoured the narrative, especially the accounts of the healings. So many in their village had diseases or injuries, and medical help was only a distant dream. Jesus could touch the old blind man who lived in the valley, and heal the lame baby boy, and banish the devastation of AIDS forever!
It wasn't hard for the children to fall in love with Jesus, and to believe in His healing power.
It was a great challenge for them, however, to accept His self-sacrifice--they were outraged! When the lesson covered the garden betrayal, the children stomped with anger at the mention of the name of Judas, and child after child asked the teacher why Jesus didn't call heaven down as His defense, or command a storm to arise, or many other creative alternatives to His chosen path. The teacher had to spend quite a lot of extra time explaining that Jesus accepted God's will, and let Himself be arrested, and flogged, and crucified in our place.
The execution on the cross stunned the children, who wept, despairing that their new hero, their 'special man' had suffered and died.
As it happened, the lesson on the resurrection fell on Easter Sunday, and the sound of children shouting and laughing in a joyous uproar could be heard even to the outskirts of the tiny village.
Magda had faithfully passed the stories along to her family after each Sunday School session, and that Easter Sunday she could barely speak as she explained that Jesus had defeated death. The family swayed in an expression of joy and gratitude that day, thanking God with raised hands for sending "His boy child" to show His love for us.
Later in the day, after the 'feet' lesson, Magda settled down to read the passage the teacher had pointed out to her. How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" (Romans 10:14-15, NIV)
"So, maybe my feet are beautiful, because I took the Good News to my family." Magda smiled in wonder. She had never thought to use the word 'beautiful' in connection with herself, as she considered herself to be plain, but strong.
She drifted off to sleep that night, dreaming of walking the whole, big, world, telling everyone she could about Jesus.
The next days were busy, and Magda didn't have a lot of time to dwell on the funny idea of beautiful feet, but she did get an idea. The next time she wrote a letter to her sponsor, she very carefully traced her feet on a piece of construction paper, then wrote the words to the Bible verses, too. In this letter, she wanted to express her thanks to her sponsor family for the introduction to Jesus that she might never have had without them.
At the bottom of the letter, she wrote: "I am they, and I have heard. Thank you, and thank the Lord."
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