There is a local shoe repair business in Gretna that Mrs. H. and I have been frequenting for many years: Moran's, located at 301 Westbank Expressway.
It is a husband and wife business run by C.J. and Mary Moran. They always give prompt, courteous and professional service. They have facilitated the near-miraculous reincarnation of my loafers many times beyond their normal lifespan with sole and heel replacements - as well as repairs to the stitching. They have also provided Mrs. H. with countless heel tips for her boots and shoes.
I want to give C.J. and Mary a public pat on the back for going "above and beyond." I have a pocket-sized leather-bound ESV Bible that I bought while I was still a seminarian. It has given me years of excellent service. There is, however, a weak link: the leather strap that holds the bible closed. It had frayed to the point of wearing out.
The bible really needs a way to hold it closed. I could not find a good solution. I certainly did not want to discard the Bible. I'm always loathe to do so as this is God's Word. Moreover, I like it. It is "comfortable." It is also well-made. Aside from the Achilles Heel of the strap, it could last for decades more. It has already been with me my entire ministry, from my vicarage in South Carolina, to teaching and pastoral work in New Orleans, and on planes, trains, and automobiles across North America for private meditation and public lecture. It even went with me to Russia two years ago - from Moscow to the mountainous Republic of Khakassia in Siberia just north of Mongolia. In fact, my colleague, the Rev. Dan Johnson, made use of it in the pulpit of St. James Lutheran Church in Novokuznetsk where he preached a sermon. This proclamation of the Word of God and the open carrying of an English Bible by an American clergyman would have been unthinkable only twenty years ago. My little globetrotting ESV has quite a story, and it is clearly not finished yet!
Looking for a solution, I took the Bible to Moran's. Mary looked it over, and said that she could replace the leather strap and have it for me within a week. It would cost me the princely ransom of $8.95 plus tax. I was thrilled!
She actually called me back about an hour later to let me know the job was done. I picked it up right away, and it looks great! She has breathed new life into this little Bible. I wonder how many other shoe repair businesses would have just automatically said "no." Mary Moran didn't! She thought outside the box and found a way to meet her customer's needs. That, to me, is the greatest argument for a free market: everybody wins and the standard of living improves for all involved. And it also gives us the opportunity to serve our neighbor and glorify God by our life and work.