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From: Urban renewal – Footsteps 67

How slum dwellers are transforming their own communities

Read Isaiah 52:7

This passage from the prophet Isaiah is also quoted by the apostle Paul (Romans 10:15).

Here where I work in Kong Toey slum, Bangkok, most people have ugly feet. Wearing fl ip-fl ops on hot concrete makes even the softest feet tough and worn. Such feet are often an indication of poverty here. People may put on a clean shirt but their worn feet tell others where they are from.

Photo: Isabel Carter /Tearfund

Photo: Isabel Carter /Tearfund

What a contrast to the feet of well-paid workers. They probably wear socks every day and use transport! Some even get professionals to massage, trim and make their feet smell sweet!

However, I don’t think Jesus had beautiful, sweet-smelling feet. He walked those dusty, dirty first-century Palestinian roads on his travels. His rough feet were finally scarred with a nail hammered through them. His feet took him to difficult places, where he showed a new way to live. We can only share the good news of the Gospel by living it and making it real for the poor.

The Greek word for beautiful is horaios. This is actually closer to our word ‘timely’. The verse is more about feet bringing timely news, which has an eternal beauty. In a world with one billion urban slum-dwellers, what should our feet look like? Feet that become ugly for the sake of the poor, helping to fi ght poverty and hardship, have real beauty that counts for eternity. Much that is considered beautiful now is an ugly waste of time in eternity. By 2025 there will be two billion urban slum dwellers, so we could do with many more ugly but ‘beautiful’ feet!

The author, Ashley Barker, works for Urban Neighbours Of Hope in Kloeng Toey Community Centre, Bangkok. He has recently published a book on his personal reflections, Make poverty personal.
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