The faith of some local men is as plain as the hair on their face.

They are two months into the Year Beard campaign to raise awareness and funds for The Tide, a global ministry based in Chambersburg. The money will be used to purchase more airtime for The Tide's Gospel radio broadcasts in Asia, Africa and Europe.

"The mission of The Tide is to creatively share the good word of Jesus Christ worldwide," said Mark Story of Greencastle, The Tide's director of development, who came up with the Year Beard idea.

He read a book on the 12 disciples and wondered if he could find 12 men willing to grow their beards for one year and share the mission of The Tide.

Including himself, Story actually found 14 men who have pledged to raise $1,000 each and shelve their razors for a year: Matthew Link, Abraham Riggin and Micah Story, all of Lancaster; Seth Miller of Dillsburg; Mike Shank of Marion; Don Shenk Jr. and Corey Weaver, both of Shippensburg; Joel Black and Dave McKee, both of Chambersburg; David Mongiovi of Lititz; Don Shenk of Orrstown; David Baer of Newville; and Brad Graham of Greencastle.

Story says he figures that around June when the beards are getting longer, people will start asking about them.

That will open the door for the men to talk about The Tide and they are equipped with missions cards with Year Beard inserts to give to those who ask. The Tide offers audio programming in 25 languages and radios or media players for where listeners are too poor to buy them.

"Beards are free and fun and this gives the men an excuse to do it," Story said.

Phony $50 bills are a fund-raising tool in the fun category. The $50 bill bears the image of Ulysses S. Grant, the most-bearded U.S. president, and the men can tell people they are "seeking a Grant for world missions."

When they started their journey, Story also gave each man a "beard box" with a T-shirt, wooden beard comb, organic beard oil and the devotional book "Bearded Gospel Men," with accounts of 30 men and one woman — Mother Teresa, who received an honorary spot.

The group is trying to get together every other month to encourage each other, share funny stories and trade methods of fundraising success.

Many of the men usually sport facial hair, but this is the first time they will go a full year without a shave or at least a trim.

Story noted he got the go-ahead from his wife, Jill, before proceeding with his hairy idea. He used to have a beard, but started the project clean-shaven.

Brad Graham, Antrim Township administrator, also got permission from his wife and bosses to let his beard grow.

He's had facial hair most of the time since high school and his kids don't remember seeing him without a beard. He shaved the whole thing off right after Christmas to get ready for the Year Beard.

"It's a pretty easy way to spread the Gospel just by using my facial hair," Graham said.

The Year Beard will conclude on Jan. 4, 2020, with a beard-judging competition with the categories longest, whitest, best try, wild and free, trimmed and tidy, and head start, for those who did not start out clean shaven. Prizes include gift cards, sports tickets for the man who raises the most money and bragging rights, Story said. A photographer and barber will be on hand, too.

Men can still sign up to participate for three or six months at:

www.yearbeard.org

For more information, contact Story at 717-264-7288 or:

mark@thetide.org