A prominent Evangelical pastor is launching a new cartoon series based on a character he first created several years ago that he hopes will serve as both a source of entertainment and education about Christianity and the Bible.
In a statement posted on X Tuesday, Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in California, announced, “my cartoon character, Ben Born Again and his buddy, YellowDog are now animated and our first cartoon is coming very soon!”
Laurie, 71, vowed that “these cartoons will be both entertaining and evangelistic” and shared a “sneak peek” from the first episode of the forthcoming series, which is titled “The Bridge Is Out.”
The 52-second clip features the main characters, including the anthropomorphic Yellow Dog, introducing themselves at the beach. The main character indicated that his name is a play on words, reflecting the fact that he has “been born again.”
I am excited to announce that my cartoon character, Ben Born Again and his buddy, YellowDog
are now animated and our first cartoon is coming very soon!
The first one is titled, “The Bridge Is Out”.
These cartoons will be both entertaining and evangelistic.
I think you are going… pic.twitter.com/9S3sjnIC1a
— Greg Laurie (@greglaurie) January 23, 2024
The animated series, scheduled for release in spring 2024, is produced by Trilogy Animation. Trilogy Animation describes its mission as to “tell purpose-driven stories that are inspirational and fun.” Other productions from the animation company include “VeggieTales,” “Earth to Eden,” “Jay Jay the Jet Plane” and “Tutenstein.”
Laurie first unveiled the characters in a video published last year, recalling how “drawing and art played a huge role” in his tumultuous childhood during the 1960s. He said, “I just opened this portfolio up that’s been sitting in my closet forever, and it contained a bunch of my old artwork that I haven’t seen for years.”
The pastor said he had wanted to become a cartoonist and, at one point, corresponded with Charles Schulz, who spearheaded the legendary “Peanuts” comic strip. After coming to Christ and taking an art class in high school, Laurie submitted a comic strip titled “Living Water” that he saw as an effective way to integrate his passion for art with his newfound faith.
He noted in a 2020 Facebook video that he developed the comic strip as an evangelistic tract as a teenager, over 1 million copies of which had been distributed around the world.
“So I developed a character in the ‘Living Water’ tract, he didn’t really have a name,” Laurie added. “This character eventually became a little guy I’ve been drawing since then named Ben Born Again.”
Laurie identified Ben as “a caricature probably of me,” adding “I decided I would tell my stories through Ben.”
“This took a lot longer than I thought it would take but it was a lot of fun,” he said. “I would hope that when people see this animation, it’s not just kids that like it, it’s people of all ages.”
“I want to tell these little stories but they have a heavenly meaning,” he added. “I want to reach people with humor but then they have something bigger to say. Through ‘The Adventures of Ben Born Again and Yellow Dog,’ we feel like we can take animation and sort of turn it on its head with something they haven’t seen before: an animated cartoon that has a wholesome, good, family-oriented message but even more, a message of the Gospel.”
The video included footage of Laurie collaborating with an animator to digitize his character. It concluded with an animated version of Ben Born Again appearing on screen with the pastor.
“The Adventures of Ben Born Again and Yellow Dog” is far from Laurie’s first venture into mass media. Last year, the film “Jesus Revolution,” which tells the story of Laurie’s conversion and is based on an autobiography of the same name penned by Laurie, became a surprise hit and brought in more than $50 million at the box office.
Laurie’s Harvest Christian Fellowship has grown from a home-based Bible study featuring 30 people to a community with more than 15,000 members spread across multiple campuses in southern California and Hawaii.
Laurie received a Pillar Award for narrative from the Museum of the Bible at a ceremony last year, which is reserved for “those who have brought the stories of the Bible to life through cultural mediums.”
During the ceremony, Laurie cited “Jesus Revolution” as a way to “reach unexpected people in unexpected places with an unexpected message.”
“When you have a film on Netflix, you’re … on Delta Airlines as ‘Jesus Revolution’ has been playing or on other platforms like Apple and Amazon, you reach people that would not necessarily go to church.”
“Jesus did not say the whole world should go to church, but He did say the church should go to the whole world, so we’re always looking for creative ways to get to people,” Laurie added. “A lot of times as Christians, we want to isolate from culture, but in reality, we need to permeate and infiltrate culture with the message of the Gospel.”
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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