As anime grows increasingly popular and etches its place in popular culture, more and more individuals and groups have focused on what we do here – finding an intersection between anime and Christianity. Besides the multitude of blogs that now explore this arena, artists, writers, and entrepreneurs are developing products that bring together anime and faith, crossing creativity with a mission mindset. Inside Surrendering is one such venture, offering “entertaining and purposeful products, art and stories that best represent what the true Gospel is all about: Love, Grace, and Truth.”
I recently interviewed Tim and Yavanna, the company’s founders:
Tim: We originally came up with the idea for Inside Surrendering back in October of 2013. Yavanna and I had met earlier that year in April, and we almost immediately knew we wanted to do ministry together – we just weren’t sure what kind of ministry it would be. I myself was very familiar with the anime convention scene and already had a desire to one day start a convention ministry. Once I learned about Yavanna’s own desire to minister to people through her art, it just made sense to start something like this.
Yavanna: Tim and I originally had a lot of ideas of how we wanted to go into ministry. We were kind of all over the place, and maybe a little too ambitious about wanting to reach EVERYBODY in the world. We even had the idea of starting a church at one point. In the end, what it came down to was focusing on what gifts we had, and who we could reach with those gifts. We love Jesus, but we’re also huge nerds, and combining those two passions is what led us to wanting to go into a ministry of reaching out to fellow nerds, geeks and otaku.
TWWK: Did you have any hesitation about diving into this venture?
Tim: I wouldn’t say that there was much hesitation in the beginning, but there was a lot of doubt. Christianity is very misunderstood among our fellow young people today, maybe even more so in the otaku community. So we weren’t sure how to go about presenting the Gospel to them, or how well it might be received, if at all.
Yavanna: There was a little bit of hesitation. I mean, personally, I questioned and doubted myself a lot. I wasn’t sure if I could bring glory to Jesus with my art, if it was good enough, or if it would even help people. And there were quite a few times where Tim and I were discouraged by the world we live in, and wondered if we could even make a difference. But, thankfully, Jesus has always been there to pull us through.
TWWK: Do you each have a favorite product or print that you sell?
Tim: For me it’s probably our Looks Aren’t Everything design, which is technically an art print, but is also available as a t-shirt. The specific message of that design really resonates with me on a personal level. I’m no stranger to being misjudged based solely on my looks. Plus the design is one of our very first, so it’s special to me for that reason too.
Yavanna: It’s a little hard for me to pick a favorite. I guess I’d say the “Raindrops” and “Bring Your Pain Here” prints are some of my favorites. Raindrops features a character of ours I’m very fond of, plus she’s playing a violin which is an instrument I really love. It’s also just a piece I had a lot of fun working on.
Bring Your Pain Here, on the other hand, is all about Jesus’ love for us, and how He suffered at the cross and took our pain so we could be set free from it. It was inspired by one of my favorite songs, and I just really wanted to “draw” the song and the feelings experienced in it.
TWWK: Can you tell us a little about Do You Believe a Life Can Change? Is there a release date for it?
Tim: Well, it’s a comic we’ve been developing for some time now. I’m writing it and Yavanna’s doing all of the art. It’s going to be based in a world that’s very different from ours, and yet familiar in a lot of respects. It’ll mirror our society. It won’t be an in-your-face Christian story, but it will have a lot of gospel and biblical symbolism. Above all, we want it to be honest – honest about the darkness in human nature and the change that can come if we believe and have faith. I can also tell you that Do You Believe a Life Can Change? is just a placeholder title. The official story title has yet to be revealed, so think of that as its “code name” or temporary title. There isn’t much I can tell you plot wise. We’re definitely trying to build some intrigue! There are no specific release dates set either, but you can expect more info on that in the very near future.
TWWK: Do you have a specific message you want to send to otaku, Christians and otherwise?
Tim: First and foremost that God loves them! That He isn’t mad at them and He doesn’t despise them. You can be a Christian, and still be yourself. You can love Jesus and be an otaku! Trust me, we do it every day. So anyone interested in meeting God, getting to know God better, or just wanting to geek out with a couple of otaku should come by, check us out and say hello!
Yavanna: Jesus loves you, right where you’re at. It doesn’t matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done, His love is far greater than your sin. And you don’t have to “clean up” first to meet Him – in fact, He wants you just as you are. There are some Christians who might want to tell you that you need to change first before God can accept you or even love you, but that’s not true. I mean, come on. He’s God! He knows everything! He knows you, knows that you’re only human. Above all, He knows that you need Him and He doesn’t want to keep Himself from you.