A holiday trim

By Tianna Haas | Canada in north-america

Jesus’ gracious gift of salvation inspires many people to charitable acts, especially during the holidays. But would you let someone you don’t know cut your hair? Or be prepared to give a haircut to a trusting soul?

Last Christmas, around 50 people gratefully received free haircuts as part of an outreach programme in Downtown Eastside, Vancouver, which is the poorest postal code in Canada. “Christmas on Hastings” distributed meals to the hungry, gave away clothing and connected people to their far-away families over the phone.

SIM Canada mobiliser Lydia Nigh recruited volunteers, and with shears in hand, took part in the Christmastime trimming herself. She was also able to emit the light of the gospel in the midst of the event.

Lydia became passionate about the event after meeting the founder and organiser of “Christmas on Hastings,” Cody Bates, a year earlier. Cody, a former drug dealer and ex-con, experienced a drastic change after committing his life to Christ. Now he ministers to those who struggle with addiction and hopelessness, as he once did.

In preparation for the outreach, Lydia sought out resources from local hairdressers. As she explained the vision for “Christmas on Hastings,” a professional stylist stepped forward to support the event by donating their time and expertise. Cody recruited many others to serve in the event.

While some of them were Jesus followers, several were not, which opened further opportunities for Lydia to minister. One stylist in particular saw value in their gospel-driven work.

Lydia said: “I just dropped in [to a local salon] looking for donations of capes and shampoo, and this guy offered to come himself. He was not a Christian, but afterward he said he appreciated the heart we had toward people.”

The volunteers served a diverse group, as some recipients lived on the street, in a shelter or in a nearby home. Lydia said: “Several of them had not had a haircut in months and even to have their hair washed was a treat… The change in their appearance was astounding.”

Lydia, the only non-professional haircutter, was worried about delivering adequate haircuts, but most people were appreciative and even helped ease their novice stylist with uplifting words.

Lydia said: “Just one guy was hesitant, and we encouraged him by just offering to wash his hair… It's one thing to give your family haircuts, but then to have total strangers trust you with their ‘do was a bit nerve wracking.”

Lydia prayed with people as they came and left the event, and some volunteers built relationships with those waiting in line. This opportunity sparked the interest of one of Lydia’s young friends, and he decided to invest more time in service to the neighbourhood after the event.

She said: “My friend, who is in his teens, connected with the local church there and began to visit the community on a regular basis. The leaders mentored and trained him, and he is now doing discipleship training with YWAM.”

Evidence of a haircut soon fades, but the impact of this outreach is profound. Lydia, Cody and others ministered like Jesus as they told of eternal joy and tangibly helped their neighbours.

Pray for:

• the young man mobilised to serve with YWAM through this event.

• Lydia’s mentoring and mobilising work in Vancouver.

• Cody’s testimony to bring more people to know Jesus.