By Tyler Raborn
“It all started with a 17-year-old boy in hot pink Nikes.”
Shelby Ausband was on a mission trip to Guatemala when God began to lay out his plan for Pur[SHOE]ing Joy.
One day when she had some free time during the trip, Shelby spent time getting to know a local family. A family who had nothing.
Heartbroken for this family, she began to exclaim to the mother what she was going to do for them, but was only met with humble refusals.
“I’m going to build y’all a house!” exclaimed Shelby.
“You can’t. We don’t own the land,” said the mother.
“Well then, I’ll just give you money,” replied Shelby.
“We can’t accept that. Besides, we’ll just use it for food, and it’ll be gone in a month,” answered the mother.
Shelby wanted to make a lasting impact on this family, but wasn’t sure how she was going to.
As she continued to visit with the family, she learned of a cyclical process in regard to Guatemalan socio-economics. Children who don’t own a pair of shoes can’t go to school. In turn, they don’t get the education needed which leads to jobs that can adequately support their families.
That night, when Shelby returned to where she was staying, she got her pair of hot pink Nikes from her suitcase. And the next day, she returned to the home of the family and offered them to their 17-year-old son.
In the later months, that boy would get a job and support the family. Shelby had impacted one life, but there were so many more left untouched that she couldn’t help but get discouraged.
“Shelby called her close friend Ty New, who was also living in Guatemala at the time, and the two went to grab a burger and discuss her idea for a nonprofit that she wanted to start with the mission of delivering shoes to Guatemalans. Ty told Shelby, “I do not think you realize just how BIG the Lord is going to make this, and I want to be a part of it.” At that moment, Ty began encouraging Shelby and then throwing out HUGE ideas.
The two became a team with “One Sole Purpose” and the roller coaster hasn’t stopped. Shelby says, “The Lord has been so faithful in providing strengths through Ty where I am weak and I am pretty sure I would have given up if it weren’t for Ty!”
Shelby explained, “I know that I’ll never get a pair of shoes to every child in Guatemala, but I can try.” She went on to say that discouragement often leads to people doing nothing, rather than simply offering what they can, no matter how little it may be. She said, “Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone, or do for none what you wish you could do for everyone.” Shelby and Ty chose the former.
“Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required,” Luke 12:48.
On Pur[SHOE]ing Joy’s first delivery trip to Guatemala, they were delivering shoes to a local Sunday school class. Kids from the class had gathered around to receive their very own pair of shoes, when one boy appeared that no one knew. He was not a member of the Sunday school class, and he did not know the Lord.
“We’ll give you a pair of shoes if you promise to come to Sunday school next week, deal?”
“Deal!” the young boy agreed.
Pur[SHOE]ing Joy had planted the seed.
The following week, he did show up for Sunday school. And the church watered that seed.
And later that year, the boy was saved. God had harvested what Pur[SHOE]ing Joy had planted, and the church had nurtured.
Shelby said, “Last time I spoke with someone from that church, he had brought 16 additional people to church that have subsequently been saved.”
God has already immensely blessed the Pur[SHOE]ing Joy mission in a number of ways. The 501(c)(3) already has seven sponsors (Ole Miss Orientation, Run Fit Sports, Ole Miss SAAC, Champs Life Skills/Rebel Ready, Puddleduck Paper Co., Servpro of Norcross, and First Baptist McDonough), and due to local shoe drives and Sole Trains, they currently have in the neighborhood of 8,000 pairs of shoes ready to go to Guatemala.
Ty and Shelby view Pur[SHOE]ing Joy as a lifelong mission, yet neither draws a salary from the nonprofit, with 100 percent of donations going to operational expenses. They both work in the United States, and view the opportunity to serve God through this mission by spreading his grace to the Guatemalan people as a privilege.
“We just feel blessed that he chose us.”
Tyler Raborn is a digital marketing consultant for Raborn Media, LLC. He and his wife, Amanda, have one daughter, Ann Brees, and they live in Ridgeland, Mississippi.