Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:17-21).

Billy Brasfield or “BillyB” as he’s now known, is a famous make-up artist who has worked with stars like Sharon Stone, Lady Gaga, and Mariah Carey. According to an article in the regional magazine Catfish Alley (“Making Over BillyB,” Fall 2011:61-63), Brasfield’s home in Aberdeen, MS is filled with signed photos of the famous women who have entrusted their public faces to his care.

Brasfield lives most of the time in New York and L.A., but when he’s home in Aberdeen, he continues his campaign to save the disappearing historic houses there. He’s done an HGTV mini-series called “Hometown Renovation” and has visions of restoring one of the city’s run-down diners.

It seems strange that BillyB would be giving back so much to his boyhood town. After all, he was bullied for being gay. But the bullying was part of what led him to go to New York and gave him the opportunity to be someone other than Aberdeen’s “gay guy” (62).

I found BillyB’s story amazing and convicting. If I had endured such scornful treatment, I certainly wouldn’t have wanted ever to go back, much less help the town that so reviled me. But Brasfield has taken “every opportunity to contradict the stereotype” of the South. He told the magazine that his main objective in doing the TV show in which he did makeovers of homes and a country church was to “showcase Aberdeen” and “show Mississippi in a positive light” (62). 

I don’t know if BillyB is a person of faith or ever has read Romans 12. But he’s definitely living the noble, higher way envisioned in that text.

Apparently it can be done, and in the midst of real life, with all its conflicts, hurt, and meanness. Imagine that.

© 2011 Tom Cheatham

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