‘Barefoot Tribe’ gets to heart and sole of giving
By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
Christians talk about getting their hands dirty and their feet wet in practicing their faith. Dr. Palmer Chinchen takes it to a whole new level on the lower extremities.
Chinchen, lead pastor of The Grove in Chandler, spoke and his pastor of worship, Josh Havens, sang Monday in the second installment of the Grand Canyon University College of Theology’s Ministry Forum. Together, they challenged audience members to practice what they preach.
“A lot of people are willing to follow Jesus into an air-conditioned church,” said Chinchen, whose mantra is, “Take off your shoes and walk the holy ground of a broken world.”
Not long ago, Chinchen created what he calls “The Barefoot Tribe” and challenged his congregation to wear their favorite shoes to church, then take them off, throw them in a pile and walk barefoot the rest of the day. The shoes would be donated to people who don’t have any shoes to wear, and for one day the Chandler churchgoers would know what it feels like to walk in the footsteps of those people.
He wasn’t sure how many people would participate, but he was overwhelmed by the response. A movement was born. Call it sole music.
“The world is a broken place, but God wants to use you to change that,” Chinchen said.
Growing up in the West African nation of Liberia, Chinchen saw firsthand what going without shoes did to other kids. He told stories Monday of kids who get various diseases, including Ebola, from walking in their bare feet.
“You put a pair of shoes on them,” Chinchen said, “and you give them esteem and worth and values and dignity.”
That was his impetus to change that, both in Liberia and Haiti, which he visited just days after its devastating 2010 earthquake. While in Haiti he met Del Monte Wedner, who was serving as a translator, and Wedner, a GCU freshman, was in attendance at Monday’s gathering.
Maybe the most interesting aspect of Chinchen’s talk was about where the church goes from here. “Justice is the raging heartbeat of the Bible,” he said, and he sees sustainability as the future of the church.
“If we pool our resources among churches, we have the means to end extreme poverty,” he said.
The Grove will continue to try to do just that when it stages The Barefoot Tribe Gathering on Oct. 16-18. For information, click here and choose the “Gathering” tab.
Contact Rick Vacek at 602-639-8203 or [email protected]