Art teacher Brandon Briscoe does more than just make jokes and paint pictures. He spends his free time growing a beard to raise money for his close friend, James Fyffe.
“Just know he’s going to be a white guy in a place where white guys aren’t very well accepted but he’ll be there to help and that’s his heart,” said Briscoe about Fyffe.
Fyffe, a registered nurse and trained minister, plans on traveling to Southeast Asia to give medical care and attention that is not already available to the native people.
“It was honestly never on my radar because I’ve spent time in El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras and I speak Spanish so Asia really wasn’t on the radar,” said Fyffe. “I just met this guy and he started talking about the need. I started considering that and I started praying about it. There’s more need in South Asia than I realized. That’s kind of where it was born.”
Because the expenses to travel and give care are so expensive, Fyffe went searching for a unique way to raise money, Briscoe threw down his razor to join the cause.
Beards on a Mission was the brain child Fyffe after hearing one of his friends talk about a successful beard-a-thon. With the help of Briscoe and a few other friends, Fyffe’s idea became a reality.
“I told a bunch of my friends and said ‘hey let’s all grow beards.’ Everyone was excited and on board except for Briscoe,” Fyffe said. “He was the last one to commit to growing a beard. It was kind of a silly idea because a lot of us are just kind of hairy dudes. It’s kind of silly, but it’s also very visual. Every time people see us, people are gonna be reminded to pray or to give or somehow support medical missions in Asia.”
Defending himself, Brisoce said that he has “grown beards off and on for years. The issue is I have a one year old daughter. She doesn’t like kisses when I have a beard. To have your one year daughter not kiss you drives me nuts. My comeback is that I will do anything for James Fyffe.”
Here’s the run-down: A group of men are growing beards until December 20. Each man had to shave on the same day, and will not shave again until the contest is over.
Each man is then to find sponsors for his beard. A sponsor can donate for every ⅛ of an inch of a beard that is grown. For example, if you decide to donate $1 per ⅛, and the man grows ⅝ of an inch, you donate $5.
“The average man’s beard in four months will grow somewhere between two and three inches. When people donate, we don’t want them to be scared to donate. You can estimate around two and half to three inches. I’ve actually had quite a few students and past students donate,” Briscoe said.
While in South Asia, Fyffe will be doing a variety of different things: from working in a hospital to also teaching nurses there.
“The world is really big and it’s nothing like what we know. I think I want everyone to know that if you have the opportunity, you should go and see the world and see what’s going on,” said Fyffe.
“We’re going to provide healthcare to people who don’t have health care. Did you know there’s only three countries that have polio? Two of those three countries are in South Asia. We’ve completely eradicated polio from the United States, so they deal with diseases we don’t even think about anymore.”
Overall, Fyffe said that there is one thing he hopes to get across to people.
“We are going to provide hope and healing to every life we touch because there’s a very physical component to that,” said Fyffe. “People need physical hope because if you don’t have food, you’re in a really hopeless situation. If you’re dying of diseases that are preventable, that’s a really hopeless situation. And we can provide hope and healing through that. But we also want to tell people that Jesus provides hope and healing. That above all else, even in the things that we can’t fix in this world, Jesus can fix it.”
Briscoe said he had no doubts about helping his friend with his mission.
“It’s tough because it’s sad for me that he’s leaving, and it’s hard because he’s going to a hard place. So there’s lots of things to be worried about and be sad about,” said Briscoe. “But I’m also really excited for him and super proud of him and very hopeful that God’s going to take care of him and that he’s going for all the right reasons. I could do nothing but get behind him.”
Fyffe said that after he got aboard, Briscoe has helped him with his goal the most, “even though we had to pull his teeth to get him to commit. He’s a great spokesmen as well,” said Fyffe. “As much as he whined and cried about getting involved, he is the greatest spokesmen. He’s just a great friend. He gets excited about what’s going on in our lives. He’s gonna commit a hundred percent into what he can do to help us and I know that. So it’s good to have him in our corner.”
Former Titan Montana Rex is also participating in Beards on a Mission.
“I was already planning on growing out my beard and getting my winter beard ready but then I found out that I could do that AND support missions,” said Rex. “I too have a call to do missions work and be a missionary for the Lord and I can’t say I want to do that without being proactive with helping someone else do that; so it all comes from me loving James. I want him to succeed in where he’s going.”
Rex worked along side Fyffe while in El Salvador on a missions trip.
“We’re best friends. He’s my brother. He is like a super missionary. He fears no death. He’s hardcore, which is why he’s doing what he’s doing,” said Rex.
Rex also said that Briscoe might be a deadly competitor.
“Brandon Briscoe already has a lot of people funding his beard. So stop funding him and fund Montana,” said Rex.
“And Brandon–and this can go on record–he may have, like the figure of a male figure skater, and he has very soft features, but he can actually grow quite a grisly beard. So depending on where you stand in the generations going to West, you may not have seen the full extent of Brandon Briscoe’s facial hair growing but watch out because it’s going to be intense,” said Rex.
Overall, the goal of the fund-raiser is to support for Fyffe, and the work of missions itself.
“The actually growing the beard part is the least important part of all of this. The important part is donating and praying for the Fyffes,” said Rex.
“Or just even considering the importance of medical missions. Basically from Spain to North Africa; that whole section like the Middle East, is the most closed off section of the world to not just Christianity, but humanitarian help. So if you really want to help the world, get into medicine. Or learn some type of trade even. The world wants people that can help.”
In the end, Briscoe believes the goal of the mission will be met.
“Well we have to raise $10,000 and that’s a lot of money. We’re gonna hope and push to raise the whole bunch. I believe it’s possible,” said Briscoe.