Pampering with a Purpose

How hairstylists are bringing their talents—and the Truth—to people in need.

Once a month, a group of dedicated professionals ventures into their community to serve those less fortunate than themselves. They're not carrying hammers and nails to build a house, or ladles and pots to work in a soup kitchen. Rather, they're armed with blow dryers, scissors, and nail polish. Oh yes, and love.

The volunteers of HIM—Hairdressers in the Marketplace, a ministry at Willow Creek Community Church in suburban Chicago—host monthly "day of beauty" sessions where women in need receive free pampering, from haircuts to manicures, but also hear about God's love for them. HIM also goes to nursing homes for the poor, homeless shelters, and facilities for the mentally handicapped to provide free haircuts.

Hairstylist Teresa Russo-Cox founded the ministry in 1998 after trying numerous volunteer positions at Willow Creek, where she attended. None felt like the right fit for her skills and passions. For a while, she wrestled with God. "Why did you give me a talent that's so much about vanity?" she prayed. "How can I serve you?"

She says God answered those prayers with a vision for a group that not only communicates God's love and care to women in need but also reaches out to stylists themselves. "That's what sets us apart from other ministries that offer haircuts to the poor," explains Teresa. "We focus on evangelism to the beauty industry, which is filled with so much darkness. Its underlying message is all about external things—glamour and glitz. I want to bring the light of God's Word into our industry."

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