Anime Expo is always a crowded, good time, filled with fun events, including the Masquerade, a competition featuring choreographed, costumed performances. Beforehand, groups are able to play a short introductory video. For one group, cosplaying as Magi, that video gave them an opportunity to showcase their message:
You are loved just as you are.
Based in Orange County, the group, Jesus Otaku, focuses on “creatively modeling the love of Jesus to bring otaku and the church together.” Sssociated with Saddleback Church, pastored by Rick Warren, Jesus Otaku is an active group of about 15 members who cosplay and attend area conventions where they purpose to let anime fans know just what they expressed in that video – that they are loved just as they are.
Jesus Otaku was co-founded by Jonathan and Cecilia, each impressed upon by God to start a ministry for otaku. Emphasizing Saddleback’s church planting (including a church in Tokyo), the idea for such a ministry had been in Cecilia’s mind for years, though everything came together when Jonathan returned from a mission trip and independently announced his ideas for something similar. And from there, a ministry was born.
The first big event for Jesus Otaku was last year’s Anime Expo. As perhaps a sign, when the group formed, they realized that they were 40 days (a very biblical number) away from the convention, and decided to go to work in preparing for the con. They participated in the AX Masquerade and won honorable mention at the event. Since then, their ministry has grown. At this year’s Anime Expo, besides the Masquerade, Jesus Otaku had a booth in the exhibitor hall, passed out materials, ran a bingo scavenger hunt, and incorporated Instagram into their presence, among other activities.
But that isn’t the extent of their work. Otaku Jesus is working toward non-profit status and is looking to be involved in more conventions and to connect with local churches. They’ve also made a long-term commitment to send missionaries to and operate out of Japan, which has a less than 1% Christian population.
For now, though, the group continues to minister to the sizeable otaku population in southern California. As Cecilia empresses, they’ll seek to “be a light wherever they are.”