LYNCHBURG, Virginia – Shoes. They are an ordinary, everyday part of life. You probably didn’t think twice about them today, except perhaps, deciding which pair to wear. There are hundreds of thousands of people – perhaps millions – around the world today who don’t get to make that choice. They have either one pair or none.
Three Christian men – a former refugee from the Second Congo War, an NBA all-star, and the CEO of an organization called Kick’n It – recently collaborated with Gleaning for the World and Liberty University to send 20,000 pairs of shoes and other items to eastern villages in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The outreach is part of a growing project of the Ntibonera Foundation, whose mission is:
To spread the love of Christ while providing relief to women and children, young and old, who have been traumatized by war in the Democratic Republic of Congo and to those suffering in Africa.
Emmanuel Ntibonera began the foundation after he graduated with an MBA in Health Promotion from Liberty University in 2013. Although he and his family had found safety in the United States, Emmanuel’s heart was still passionate for the people of the DRC, more than five million of whom had died over the past 10 years as a direct or indirect result of the relentless civil war – and for the millions who had been displaced.
What he found upon his return home in 2015 was the countless people walking barefoot because they had no shoes. He was troubled by the diseases that were being contracted and spread with so many people without shoes in such an unfriendly and unhealthy environment.
Upon returning to the United States to share his burden at evangelical churches and conferences, he started a successful program of collecting shoes. The response was so overwhelming that he eventually realized that he had no idea how to navigate the complexity of red tape or how to pay for the shipment of the shoes to the DRC.
Liberty University Senior Vice President for Spiritual Development, David Nasser, directed him to another Liberty alumnus who heads the Kick’n It organization. That led to another meeting with Stephen Curry, an NBA legend, two-time MVP, future Hall-of-Famer, and unashamed follower of Jesus Christ. During his first acceptance speech as the NBA MVP, Curry said,
People should know who I represent and why I am who I am, and that’s because of my Lord and Savior.
With the three men pulling together, and with the assistance of Liberty University Students, they raised $10,000 – and gained another 20,000 pairs of shoes. Volunteers from the school packed the shoes for shipment at Gleaning for the World (GFTW), a Lynchburg-based humanitarian organization that handled the shipping of the shoes.
When the men traveled to the DRC, Emmanuel and his crew visited the eastern villages while the others ministered to multitudes in refugee camps. It didn’t take long for Emmanuel to realize that the difficulties his native people faced were almost unimaginable.
I would talk to the children. So many were orphans; they lost their parents during the war. We were meeting kids who were kicked out of their houses, out of the family, because they came as a result of rape. Some of them have no place to sleep.
They tell me they have no parents. Some of their parents went to work in mines and they died there. I met so many kids who were just about to die because they have not eaten for three to five days; they have no idea where their meals are coming from.
Emmanuel’s team also delivered 3,500 pounds of rice, 2,600 pound of beans, 2,200 pounds of cornmeal, soap, clothing, and other items contributed by GFTW.
The Ntibonera Foundation has just begun its work, but the group’s commitment is that “We Will Stop at Nothing” to share the love of God through Jesus Christ to the people of the Congo.
To read more news on the Democratic Republic of Congo on Missions Box, go here.
- The Christian Post, Steph Curry and Liberty University Graduate Donate Thousands of Shoes to Children in Need
- Gleaning for the World, Helping Persecuted Christians
- Ntibonera Foundation website