The best a man can get

Bakers Posted by Paul and Tania Baker on Wed, 20 Feb 2013 | 5 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to Post this to Facebook

There are many common questions associated with overseas’ mission, such as:

How are missionaries ‘called’?
Do missionary women always wear long skirts?
Is it essential for all missionary men to have a full beard?

I want to focus on the third question.

Most well known missionaries had/have a full untamed beard. Hudson Taylor, John Brew from Peru… the Apostle Paul probably had a beard. My neighbour/colleague/friend Rory Wilson has a most impressive beard which I am told he was born with and therefore had no choice but to go into overseas’ mission work.

For many missionaries, which is a term/title I struggle to associate with myself, the beard completes ‘the look’, along with Khaki trousers, an un-ironed shirt and sandals. For me, it’s a matter of cost and practicality. Mach3 blades are about £15 for a pack of 4 in Kampala which makes a daily shave financially unfeasible. I could opt for a cheaper brand but my sensitive skin would then require moisturising and male missionaries definitely do not moisturise.

Today, as I look at this pathetic beard in the mirror, wondering how professional beardists like Rory can handle the excruciating itch, I am looking forward to my Saturday morning shave.

Driving through Jinja recently (the Portrush of Uganda) we couldn’t miss the 20-foot bill board advertising one of the many churches which have blown in from America over the years. The picture was of Jesus wearing a spotless flowing robe, with 4 or 5 smiling children sitting around him. In the picture, Jesus was of course Caucasian with a beard and shoulder length brown wavy hair. It’s the textbook Jesus image.

I wonder what Jesus actually looked like. Being born and raised in a middle-eastern country I am fairly sure he was not white. Whether he had a beard or not I don’t know, but I guess he did. In Africa it is assumed that Jesus was a white man, mainly because of the bill boards and the bearded western visitors talking about him and trying to imitate him. We seem to have made Jesus in our image.

Of course we should be more interested in how Jesus acted than how he looked. His life and teachings were counter-cultural 2000 years ago and they definitely still are today. We are often too busy trying to look like a Christian by going to Church, saying the right things, not swearing etc. that we forget to follow Jesus’ example in how we live.

We should be continually challenged by the example Jesus gave us…with the central theme being how he loved people. Jesus taught that rather than any outward show of holiness, it is our inner lives (attitudes and motives) that really matter to God. Having an impressive beard does not make you a missionary any more than looking like a Christian makes you a follower of Jesus.

I suppose the biggest question is: ‘Are you saved?’ Not ‘are you shaved?’



Eddie Currie said Wed, 20 Feb 2013 04:23PM
I like it. Especially the bit at the end 'are you saved' rather than 'are you shaved'. Nice blog - thought provoking! You should write more often. Eddie p.s. blades are not much cheaper here!
Julie Tomes said Wed, 20 Feb 2013 08:41PM
Hi to both of you. Hope you're well. Always good to read your blog updates - and I echo Eddie in encouraging you to share more musings. Love to you both.
Dennis Christie said Thu, 21 Feb 2013 09:57AM
Great blog! If Jinja is the Portrush of Uganda, does it (or should it) have a Barrys? Portrush could probably be doing with a few giant posters of Jesus though!
Louise williamson said Thu, 21 Feb 2013 02:28PM
This is lovely Paul. Especially portrush aka jinja link! After my white water rafting experience in jinja I don't think I can face portrush! Hope you and Tanya are keeping well, kiwoko is on my mind everyday. Hopefully I can visit when I get some more experience and be a little more useful!
Myra Moody said Thu, 07 Mar 2013 11:34PM
preparing to chair Dublin/Glendalough G.f.s. Diocesan Council. This years bible syllabus just completed by the girls based on a heart for God - People look at the outer appearance but God looks at the heart. Our prayers and thoughts are with you both in your work.

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