Rubber Sole Prank
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15. Rubber Sole Prank

Child's Writing Game

California SignOne of my first calls was to a very prosperous farming family living on the edge of town. Before my visit, I played with a group of barefoot children in the street, and had chalked some words on the sole of my shoe. Forgetful of this, I drove up to a luxurious farmhouse and was graciously ushered into a beautiful lounge by the lady of the house. Lowering myself into a comfortable settee opposite her, without thinking, I crossed my legs. There, revealed on the sole of my shoe, not six feet from her astonished gaze, was my chalk inscription.

Jesus Saves Soles

Soles of ShoeA child's game writing with chalk the words Jesus Saves Soles upon the bottom of a running shoe breaks a home visit's awkwardness. Suddenly this prim and proper lady sprang like a grasshopper from her chair and crawled on all fours to where I sat! "Whatever has come over her?" I puzzled. For an embarrassing moment, silence descended upon us both as she carefully read what remained of the message on the sole of my shoe. The real meaning of her actions had not dawned upon me.

Jesus Saves

Laughing JesusThen, looking up into my eyes, she suddenly asked, "Jesus Saves?" Realizing in a flash what she had seen, I replied, "He does, you know!" We laughed heartily, and from that time became the closest of friends, all because of the chalk text on the shoe's sole!✞

Grapes of Wrath Country

Grapes of Wrath BannerLater, I ministered at a Christian camp in the shack homes site of the grapes of wrath country. The comfort and strength brought by the Holy Spirit were to be vital keys in subsequent work later. I ministered among the poverty-stricken crop pickers in the area known from John Steinbeck's novel as the "Grapes of Wrath Country" and the 1940 film by the same name. Impoverished farm workers seemed to provoke little concern among the many denominations in Arvin where they settled. Even our Episcopal congregation was doing nothing to help these poor folk! To try and discover why this should be, I decided to visit every member of our congregation. In stark contrast to the few in Arvin's luxurious living was set the of the fruit pickers' grinding poverty in the towns' squalid camps.

One about Jesus

Tin Shack HomesWhile visiting their tin shack homes, I met a keen young Christian worker from Germany named Arlim Waldow. We were both concerned about these unfortunate folk and disappointed because all the Christian organizations welcomed social aid but tried to dampen our Christian witness. In one camp, we had shown health films for several weeks but had never been allowed to speak about our faith. However, an opportunity seemed to have arrived one night when we projected some missionary films and one about Christ's life.

A Mexican Social

Outdoor Movie ShowingA Mexican Social with colleagues in grapes of wrath Christian camp turns into a Gospel opportunity. It was a bright summer evening as the movie flickered on to our giant outdoor screen. I casually suggested to a social worker, "Why don't we end with a few Gospel songs?" His face lengthened in astonishment, then he retorted fearfully, "Whatever would the camp manager say? We would offend these people if we even mention religion!" Disgusted, I turned sharply away to where a group of Mexicans was standing.

Speak about Jesus

As the lights flickered off at the end of the film, a hubbub of conversation swelled up. A Mexican approached from out of the crowd. In broken English, he suggested kindly, "Someone ought to sing some Gospel songs and speak with us about Jesus!" The social worker's mouth dropped open! That was it. He could hardly refuse such a compelling invitation! The Mexican community encouraged our evangelism but had many other social needs than what we wanted to alleviate. One of these was for holidays for their young people.

Calexico Youth Camp

Redwood TreesA film evening at the Calexico Youth Camp in the pine forests' snow turns young hearts and minds to Jesus. Then, one day the opportunity came to use the Calexico youth camp in the pine forests. Leaving behind the wayside peach and apple trees laden with blossom, our youngsters motored up into the magnificent snow-capped mountains. We had grand plans for camping, fishing, and climbing out of doors in the beautiful "Big Redwood Tree" Park near the Calexico youth camp. Swirling snow and blustery winds that night left an impenetrable white wall of ice and snow around the cabin.

Boisterous Kids

Mounties PosterThe peaceful picture-postcard scene outside contrasted sharply with the twenty-five boisterous young people who charged around inside that confined little cabin. With such a demand for amusement, we soon worked through our film' supply and decided to ask the young people what they would like to see again. "How about a western or a "Mounties" movie?" we asked. In unison, they yelled back to my surprise, "No, we want the one about Jesus!"

Tom's Rescue Shop

Calexico RavenI had grown to love these Mexican teenagers at the Calexico youth camp. In the little town of Calexico, Tom Packard, our lay reader, and I had set up a "rescue shop" in Tom's apartment. It helped boys who had escaped from poverty in Mexico and crossed into the US. In the twin town of Mexicali, dark-skinned migrants squatted in the makeshift tin and plywood shacks by the riverside awaiting the slightest opportunity to get across the border. How strange that the twin towns of Calexico and Mexicali, representing California's plenty on the one hand and Mexico's poverty on the other, should have intertwined names in this way!

"Rubber Sole Prank"
by Ron Meacock © 2021

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