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Former OBU basketball player uses shoes to spread Gospel

SHAWNEE—Hayden Blessing has a fascination for shoes.

“Every chance I got, I was picking up the latest pair of shoes to add to my collection. No matter what bills or priorities were in front of me, I made room for a shoe purchase,” he said.

After his basketball career at Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU) finished, Blessing began teaching physical education at an elementary school. One day while he was teaching a class, one of his students asked him to tie his shoes. Blessing said he looked down and noticed the student’s worn out, beaten, untied shoes were also a few sizes too small. Then Blessing looked at his own shoes.

 Hayden Blessing and a friend collect donated shoes for Witness Kicks.

Hayden Blessing and a friend collect donated shoes for Witness Kicks.

“That day I wore a brand new pair of Air Jordan Retro 4s. I was frozen in the moment,” he said. “’What am I doing?’” he told himself. “’Here I am stock piling shoes for my own satisfaction and here is a little boy without a care in the world other than his shoes came untied.’”

This moment caused Blessing to begin a spiritual journey. He said he did some searching of what made him happy. Was it shoes? Playing basketball? Teaching little kids?

Blessing said he did some reading of Scripture and came across Rom. 10:13-15: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on the One they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the One of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’”

This passage sparked him. He said from that moment on, he rearranged his priorities and made God first over anything else he loved. From there, he concluded that he would start a ministry involving his personal interests.

Members of Broken Arrow, Battle Creek took 75 pairs of shoes provided by Witness Kicks to Ethiopia.

Members of Broken Arrow, Battle Creek took 75 pairs of shoes provided by Witness Kicks to Ethiopia.

That’s how his shoe ministry, Witness Kicks was born.

“I love shoes, and I love helping people. It was perfect,” he said. “I could spread His Word and provide shoes to those in need. How cool is that? !”

The mission of the Witness Kicks Foundation is “To plant the seed of God’s word and spark a flame of His joy in the heart of anyone and everyone we can, one pair of shoes at a time.”

Through monetary donations as well as gently used and new shoes donated, the ministry is already having an impact. In less than a year since the ministry began, Blessing said they have been involved in mission trips to Ecuador, Haiti and Ethiopia, delivering shoes.

On the trip to Ethiopia, nearly 450 pairs of shoes were provided.

“There is a need all over the world,” Blessing said. “A need for shoes and even more of a need of God’s message. Witness Kicks helps deliver both.”

Bennett Morris sports one of the Witness Kicks hats that were given away at OBU’s Witness Kicks Night. He helped collect 61 pairs of shoes from fans that evening.

Bennett Morris sports one of the Witness Kicks hats that were given away at OBU’s Witness Kicks Night. He helped collect 61 pairs of shoes from fans that evening.

OBU got involved in supporting Witness Kicks. On Feb. 27, the last regular season home basketball game, the Bison featured Witness Kicks Night, inviting fans to bring shoes to donate the night of the game.

“As an athletics department, we were beyond pleased with the response to Witness Kicks Night at OBU,” said Brian Morris, OBU associate athletics director for external operations. “Through the kindness and generosity of our fans, 61 pairs of shoes were donated to the Witness Kicks Foundation. We are especially thrilled to partner with a former OBU student-athlete and are proud of Hayden and what he is doing to change the world for Christ. We look forward to hosting other Witness Kicks events surrounding games at OBU in the future.”

For more information about the Witness Kicks Foundation, visit www.wit
nesskicks.org.

 

Chris Doyle

Author: Chris Doyle

View more articles by Chris Doyle.

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