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Man Raises Millions for Families in Need by Sleeping in His Tent

People call him "Shoe Bob," but his real name is Bob Fisher. He owns a small shoe repair shop tucked in a corner of a little strip mall in Wayzata, Minnesota. Average height, average build. Shoe Bob looks like your average, hard-working, churchgoing guy.

But he is not an average guy.

Shoe Bob is a radical servant who has found a way to help the homeless. He helps the homeless by rallying his whole community, and he does it in his sleep.

In 1995 Bob was invited to go winter camping, something a man with a childhood fear of freezing to death had never considered. He kept his fear a secret from even his closest friends, hoping to one day overcome it with God and Minnesota.

"I purchased a pup tent, pitched it in the backyard, and bundled up in the warmest clothes I had," Bob recalls. "My plan was to sleep in the tent for one night without retreating to my house." Bob tried, but sleep eluded him. And each breath he took felt like sucking polar air. He was cold.

So he prayed. …

Bob prayed that he could last the whole night outside so he could tell his friends he gave it his best. But while he was tossing and turning trying to stay warm, God spoke to him. "This is a good idea, sleeping out here," [God] seemed to say. "Why don't you move the tent to the front yard and sleep outside to help the needy in Wayzata?"

Bob thought he heard God wrong. …

[But after doing a little] homework, [he] discovered that despite Wayzata's affluence, there were still needy people in his midst. He made a connection with the Interfaith Outreach & Community Partners, a local nonprofit organization that provides food, financial assistance, and emergency shelter to those in need.

In November 1996, Bob committed to sleeping in his tent on his front lawn, as God had suggested, until he could raise $7,000 to buy Thanksgiving dinners for 100 families. In 14 days, Bob was back in his own bed—he had raised $10,000. When Bob realized the most pressing need facing the needy in and around Wayzata was housing, he resolved to repeat his sleepout each year, dedicating the funds he raised to help meet housing needs of families in his community. …

[Since 1996], Shoe Bob has raised more than $5,500,000 for the Interfaith Outreach ministry.

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