I Love Your Hairy Feet
OMF Thailand missionaries Bekah and Brian Farber share a conversation about… hairy feet. A seemingly odd topic, but one with a wonderful spiritual lesson. This story is foremost a podcast episode (linked below) but you can also read the transcript.
(Listen to the audio version of this story.)
By Bekah and Brian Farber
Brian: So, Bekah, I have to say, I sort of have a dislike of feet. I really don’t like it when people’s feet touch mine accidentally, or even when our girls might playfully put their feet on me when we’re messing around, or reading books, or whatever.
Bekah: Yeah, I’ve noticed that.
Brian: Yeah, so I’m kind of weirded out by the title of this podcast episode. And, just to check ahead of time – my feet have some hair on them, but they’re not hairy, per se. So… I don’t think you’re talking about my feet… or are you?
Bekah: No, I’m not talking about your feet.
Brian: So… whose feet are you talking about here? And, why are they hairy? I mean, how hairy are we talking? And, biggest question of all, why do you love them?
Bekah: Well, this is going to involve a little bit of backstory – do you remember I told you that last Sunday, a Korean mission team came to our church!
Brian: Yep, I remember you told me that. I wasn’t there, because I was preaching at a different church.
Bekah: Yeah, they sang a song first in Thai, then in Korean. And one of the team members, Hana, gave her testimony. She’s actually Thai, but married a Korean man, and lives in Korea now.
Brian: So do one of them have the hairy feet?
Bekah: No, hang on, I’m getting there! After church, we shared a meal together, as usual, and then the team set up a little hair cutting shop in one of the small upstairs rooms.
Brian: Really? How did they do that?
Bekah: Well, remember how that room already has the big mirror on the wall? They set up two chairs facing the mirror, then set up a folding table behind the chairs, and on the table they laid out spray bottles, combs, and a blow dryer. Then a man and a woman – I’d say they were about 60 years old – started cutting hair for whoever wanted a haircut!
Brian: Well, that’s pretty fun.
Bekah: Yeah, I found out from Hana that they are actually a married couple! And the wife in particular is highly sought out as a hair stylist in Korea! Her haircuts cost nearly $100!
Bekah: Yeah, and here she and her husband were, cutting the hair of our church members. It was mostly the older ladies, like the aunties and the grannies, but also some older men, who were getting their hair cut, and they looked so stylish when they were finished!
Brian: Very cool.
Bekah: Yeah, you know how Thai people love Korean fashion? Everybody was excited to have a Korean hairstyle! And it wasn’t just the older people, some of the younger church members also got their hair done. I mean, it was sort of like an assembly line. For almost 2 straight hours, these stylists snipped and cut and layered and blow dried, and basically transformed the look of about a dozen people!
Brian: They must have been exhausted!
Bekah: I’m sure they were, but they never acted tired or upset. They just kept going! At one point, the husband was cutting a little girls’ hair. He was on the taller side, and she of course was so little, sitting in that chair, which couldn’t move up and down like the type of chair you usually find in a salon. So he got down on his knees for part of the time, in order to cut her hair well. He said he felt like he was cutting a princess’ hair, since he had to kneel! Isn’t that amazing?
Brian: Wow, yeah, I love that.
Bekah: And I forgot to mention, another neat thing about the whole operation is that other members of the team were supporting the stylists in different ways. There was a man there who swept up in between haircuts. Another lady was there to help spray down and comb out people’s hair before the haircuts started. And then Hana was there to help translate.
Brian: I love hearing about that supportive teamwork. But you still haven’t told me about the hairy feet.
Bekah: I was just about to get there! So you know how everybody takes off their shoes before we go upstairs?
Brian: Yes, the Thai value quietness. It’s always amazing to me how they can walk up and down stairs so quietly! And besides that, it also keeps the upstairs cleaner, since no one is wearing their shoes up there.
Bekah: Right. So the stylists were wearing thin little pairs of socks. And like I mentioned before, someone was there sweeping up between haircuts. But of course there was hair dropping to the ground the whole time, and the stylists were constantly moving around, getting the angles they wanted. Well, by the end of the two hours, their feet looked like something out of Bigfoot. Or maybe like hobbit feet, or Chewbacca’s! The bottoms of their feet were just covered in hair, a mix of all the hair they had been cutting.
Brian: I have to be honest, that sounds a little big disgusting.
Bekah: You know, it was a little horrifying! I hadn’t really noticed their feet until the very end. And then for some reason, I looked down, and yeah, it kind of like, shocked me, to see these weird, little, overgrown rugs that were attached to the bottoms of their feet!
Brian: Um, yikes.
Bekah: I know. So here I was, looking at these kind of alien feet, and all of a sudden, I could see how beautiful they were. And then I got like a second shock, because then, I just couldn’t take my eyes off their feet, because they were so beautiful. They were feet so full of the good news. They were feet that had served with no self-interest, with the desire to bless others, to use professional skills, for no personal gain! And suddenly those hairy feet were an embodiment of the gospel, just such a clear picture of how Jesus came and served, and how he lived and died to bless us, through the sacrifice of himself.
Brian: I can see how those hairy feet looked beautiful to you.
Bekah: Yeah, it was just such a reminder of why feet that bring the gospel are beautiful. They are bringing news of how one can be freed from sin and judgment, and how we can walk in Spirit-led freedom and newness of life. And yeah, I got convicted a little, too, asking myself two things. First, do I serve others in the way that I saw demonstrated before me, where I’d be willing to have metaphorically hairy feet? Or literal hairy feet! And second, do I have beautiful feet, that are quick and ready to share the gospel?
Brian: Yeah, I hear what you are saying. Sometimes we can emphasize one of these, to the detriment of the other. Like, we might serve without ever sharing the gospel. Or, we might preach the gospel, but not be willing to serve in practical ways. But it really is a matter of doing both, isn’t it? It’s sort of a dance to not emphasize one over the other, and it takes continual self-assessment to make sure we’re doing both.
Bekah: Yes, it does. You know, I took a picture of the wife’s hairy feet. Maybe I’ll print it out and put it up somewhere, as a sort of reminder!
Brian: Ok, well, maybe just put it somewhere I won’t see it quite as often.
Bekah: Can do.
About the Authors: Brian & Bekah Farber live in Thailand with their three daughters. After being involved in a church planting ministry in Central Thailand for many years, they now live in Bangkok, working in discipleship and equipping roles with Thai churches. To learn more about the Farber’s ministry in Thailand, please visit their PartnerHub page.