An Unfolding Backstory
Mike Schrage, Executive Director
Sometimes life unfolds like a newspaper whose headlines strike you. This story dates back thirty years.
Meet Eko, a Christian media entrepreneur from Indonesia. Years ago he was close to graduating from college in the U.S. and still directionless, so he went to Joplin, Missouri, to check out a ministry called Good News Productions, International. Eko went with nothing to lose and everything to gain. As he listened in rapt attention to GNPI founder Ziden Nutt, Eko discovered a clear calling in his own soul to use media for the Kingdom.
Meanwhile, an American printer turned missionary was working in Indonesia. Frank Preston pursued a doctorate in his spare time focusing on how fundamental Islam is propagated by its followers through media strategies. He studied, learned, and began the Kingdom journey of sharing this knowledge with GNPI and others willing to listen.
Another ten years passed. A missions pastor, Danny, asked Shawn, a former missionary, how much money it would take to fund 10,000 copies of a children’s book series Shawn had written? Providentially, that conversation took place in Mbale, Uganda.
The estimated cost for 10 stories with 1,000 copies of each one was $100,000. Within 24 hours Danny made a call and had the money! Jerry, a member of Danny’s congregation, was dying and had lost his wife recently. They had no children, and Jerry wanted to bless ministries which reach children. Jerry loved the children’s book idea and agreed to provide the funds.
The children’s stories were a “new angle” on familiar Bible stories. Imagine, for example, a child listening to her grandfather Jairus tell her how Jesus raised their mother from the dead. Several artists were invited to do the illustration work, but nothing seemed to work out. We wondered, “Why are there delays? Why is this vision to reach the next generation through children’s stories stalled again? Why, God?”
Then new questions were considered: What if the books were animated and included a social media strategy? What if a place outside of the U.S. could do the work for a lower cost? What if the project design was under the expert eyes of Frank, the former missionary in Indonesia and well-educated mentor in media design? What if there were 10 stories from the New Testament and 10 stories from the Old Testament? Since the project would be launched in a challenging Muslim audience, why not start with the stories the Muslim audience identifies as true prophets, men like Abraham, Moses and David?
Meanwhile, GNPI was invited by another missionary serving with a different organization in Indonesia to visit a Disney-like media ministry. Hidden behind the vegetation on the edge of the city was an economically-sound media company and the skillful workers were willing to help with creation of relevant Christian media for their country, the most populous Muslim nation in the world. On the back patio of the office was a small globe, which looked very similar to the one outside of GNPI’s office in Joplin. Eko had built the globe in recognition of the ministry that had changed the trajectory of his life so many years ago.
God brought GNPI and Eko back together at the perfect time, and Eko made another generous contribution to the project. When he heard that the project cost was three times the designated amount, he matched the generosity of Jerry with a gift in kind. The largest project in the history of GNPI history was half funded by two families before the contract was even signed! Not to mention the fact that it turned out Frank and Eko’s wives knew each other from the time Frank’s family was in Indonesia.
Only God could weave together so many details and people, and He is finally unrolling the newspaper in order to let us see His purposes tucked in the headlines of Good News in the New Angle Media Project!