When a Central American businessman decided to befriend a shoeshine boy, he had no idea how many people on the streets and in his church would benefit from his act of kindness.
They earn their living on the streets of Quito, shining shoes, sometimes stealing or begging. One day, Oscar Aguirre offered to feed one of them.
"I went to the bread shop and I said, 'Juan, come in.' And he said 'no, because the owner won't let me in,' and he showed me his hands and said, 'I'm dirty,'" Oscar Aguirre recalled.
The next time, three of Juan's friends joined them.
"I bought some rolls and a yogurt, and shared it with them," Aguirre continued. "I said 'I'm going to read you a children's Bible story' and opened my Bible. But to my surprise one of the three boys had been a Christian. He took off his cap and said, 'we have to pray before we start.'"
Aguirre shared the story with the people in his church, and soon a group of volunteers joined him to feed the children. They called the ministry "Bread of Life."
Today, they feed hundreds of needy children and their mothers three times a week.
"They always need volunteers to cook the food, cut vegetables and also to talk with the children," explained missionary Linda Marferian.
"It's fulfilling to help them, to do something different for them," another volunteer, Daniela Erazo, said.
Volunteers cook and serve the food, wash the dishes, and find creative ways to share God's message of love with children and adults alike.
"I come here and I'm very happy," Luis' mother said. "Every Sunday I hear the Word of God and leave with a lighter burden."
"I didn't obey my mother. So sometimes I took things," her son added. "Now that I know God I've changed a lot."
To make sure these children can get off the streets, the ministry also provides specialized classes, school supplies, clothes, and medicine.
It's a dream fulfilled for a Quito businessman and the shoeshine boy he befriended eight years ago.
*Original Broadcast Date: August 7, 2009.