Many of my articles here at Hope for the Sold focus on injustice and exploitation. Whether it’s sex trafficking, labour exploitation, pornography, or some other issue that’s hurting people, my goal is to unpack the topic in a clear and compelling way and highlight helpful actions that people can take in response.
Today’s post is a bit different. I get to interview the author of a new book called Bearded Gospel Men, who also happens to be my husband, Jared (or, as most people know him, Jay.)
While Jay and I don’t incorporate faith into our documentaries because we want them to be accessible to a wider audience, our Christian faith drives the work we do. Jesus always noticed the impoverished, abused, and marginalized, and calls us to advocate for and love the oppressed.
In our work, we’ve noticed that the perpetrators of violence and injustice are often men who – instead of using their strength and privilege to protect and build up others – use it to destroy lives. In contrast, we’ve been so encouraged by the example of faith-filled people who have risked their comfort, safety, and reputation to serve and love others.
Focusing on the negative can consume us and render us ineffective, which is why it’s so important to learn about people who contributed to the world in a positive way.
Oh, and beards. Jay, along with his friend and co-author, Aaron Alford, have an over-the-top adoration for facial hair. Hence, Bearded Gospel Men.
What made you want to write this book?
It was a mix of two things: I had a really great time researching historical figures for my previous book, and have been hugely inspired by their lives. Contrasted with our work – researching about human trafficking and porn addiction – plus everything in the media about sexual assaults recently, and you realize that the world needs more men of character.
Who are some of your favorite gospel men in the book?
There was this guy name CT Studd. He was a rich kid in England who was the Michael Jordan of cricket, but he gave up his massive wealth and fame to serve impoverished people in China. Then there’s Johannes Kepler, who saw his groundbreaking scientific research as a way to love God and serve people.
Charles Monroe Sheldon invented the phrase “What Would Jesus Do?” and lived it out in so thoroughly that a newspaper company let him play CEO for a week and circulation increased by 35X.
My personal favorite is Josiah Henson, the epic enslaved man who escaped to Canada from the U.S. before the civil war, but returned hundreds of times to rescue others and raise funds for the abolitionist cause. He knew that his freedom came with a responsibility and a stewardship.
Why is this appealing to all men, beard or no beard?
Confession time: we actually profile a few beardless dudes and some women. Their character was just so solid that we couldn’t resist. The key word in Bearded Gospel Men is definitely the middle one.
Why use humour as a way to have the conversation of men living more faithfully?
People love to laugh, but Christian books tend to lean on the serious side. We wanted to write a book that was funny when possible but with a serious message: that there’s a higher life worth seeking.
We structured the book as a 31-day journey for guys to go on together, and we’re hoping that it’ll inspire and encourage many of them to step up in their faith, work, relationships, and community.
How do your own bearded gospel friends inspire your faith journey?
I have a group of guy friends who really are like a band of brothers. We laugh a lot, argue constantly, eat, play, and pray. We even cry sometimes. We discuss the heart things, and encourage and help each other to live out our callings. I see Bearded Gospel Men as a tool to help lots of guys go deeper with their own friend circles.
Bearded Gospel Men hits bookshelves TODAY!
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“The Bible tells us to love our neighbours, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people.”
—G. K. CHESTERTON–