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Shoe-shining church member serves African preachers — heart and sole

When Shad Hunziker packed his bags for a two-week trip to Africa, he took care to include shoe polish, brushes, mink oil and shining cloths.
On his knees, the American Christian shined the shoes of more than 600 African ministers during a preaching conference in Awasa, Ethiopia.
“I shined the shoes of anyone who put their foot down — kids, women, police and lots of farmer-preachers,” said Hunziker, a member of the North County Church of Christ in Escondido, Calif. “Every shoe — no matter how old, torn, mended, poor quality or nice — went away with a smile.”
Hunziker, who owns and operates a recycling company in San Diego, has visited Ethiopia before. On a previous trip, he noticed that the lowest class of people — street kids — eked out a living shining shoes.
When he returned to the U.S., Hunziker polished shoes outside the North County church building. As payment, he accepted donations for a church-run school for the deaf in Ethiopia.
Outreach to the deaf has played a large role in the growth of Churches of Christ in Ethiopia, said Behailu Abebe, a longtime minister in the East African nation. The communists who controlled Ethiopia in the 1970s and ‘80s allowed churches to stay open because of their work with the deaf. In the 1980s, famine claimed more than 1 million lives in Ethiopia. Churches of Christ sent aid, and the Gospel spread, Abebe said. Today, churches sponsor well-drilling efforts across the nation.
More than 900 ministers attended the seminar. About 20 of them gave a report on their efforts to save souls near the sites of new water wells. In the past 15 months, the ministers have helped plant 48 congregations, Abebe said.
The 20 ministers received backpacks donated by the Church of Christ in Falls Church, Va. The congregation sent 800 pounds of clothes, shoes, backpacks and handbags to be used in benevolence.
Habtu Zemech, a native of Ethiopia and a deacon of the Falls Church congregation, delivered the donated items and met Hunziker at the conference.
The African ministers were thankful for the donations from their American brethren. They also were humbled by Hunziker’s example.
In Africa, “a white man shining a black man’s shoe is an unexpected and extraordinary thing to look at,” Abebe said. “God is praised by Shad’s humility and meekness.”
Zemech added, “I know my people well enough that this experience will be talked about wherever they go, as they share the saving Gospel of our Lord with the people of Ethiopia.”

Filed under: International

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