Interview with Stephen Brock, Artist and Missionary (Part 2)

On Tuesday, I posted part one of an interview with Stephen Brock, who is preparing to go on mission sin Japan with his family. He is also an artist, drawing in manga-style, and the rest of our conversation below focuses on how he plans on using his artistic talent (and if you’re interested, how you can support him).

4. What are your visions for the manga ministry you’re planning?

Manga is such a valuable tool for communication, especially in Japan. Even outside of the country it could be really effective. Your site, for example, uses it, anime and video games in an awesome way. I love how you guys don’t force Christian themes into stuff, but use all of those mediums as a platform to generate loving, honest and open discussion about meaningful subjects that point people to Jesus. It seems like you’ve established a great community here.

As a ministry, I would love to see a large scale serialized publication in the vein of Shonen Jump or Shonen Sunday, but focused on sharing Biblical truth with its readership. So it would be something that is produced by a number of writers and artists telling stories that are hopefully fun, unique and interesting, which also communicate something about who God is and how we relate to Him. These stories could be straight adaptations of books from the Bible or they could be more allegorical in nature, similar to the Chronicles of Narnia.

The kinds of stories I would like to tell are ones that show who we are apart from Christ and who we can be through Him. What are the consequences of sin? How can we fight against it? After all, as Christians our war isn’t with the world, it’s with our own sinful nature. The world should be the object of our compassion, regardless of whether it is accepting of us or antagonistic toward us.

I also think it would be cool to include conversational English lessons as an ongoing manga. Something where the language has context and life and can become more real for the reader. Kind of like the book “Japanese the Manga Way” uses manga to teach Japanese, but taken a step further.

It’s a dream of mine to see this come to fruition as something that could be sold along side other weekly magazines at bookstores or in convenience stores like Lawson and Family Mart. Of course, the way the industry is heading, it might be better to produce it online. In either case, it is something that would require a lot of people of much greater varieties of talent than I possess. I mean, it would require people who know business and publishing, but are sold out for the cause of loving others like Jesus. We’d absolutely need artists and writers and graphic designers and editors; the list could go on and on.

We went to Japan last May and I was able to meet with a Christian publisher known in English as Word of Life Press Ministries and in Japanese as Inochinokotobashya (いのちのことば社). They had a hand in producing the Super Book and Flying House series back in the 80’s and currently have released a number of manga based projects in addition to a collectible card game called Bible Prayers. So the starting point for an initiative like this could very well start with them.

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5. Is there any way others who have similar interests or goals can support your work?

Yeah! There are a lot of ways actually.

It would be a huge start for the growth of a manga based ministry like this to see other artists come to Japan to serve God with their talent. Through the internet moving may not be necessary logistically, but I believe there’s something to be said for living and breathing with the people you are writing for so you can know them in a way that just isn’t possible away from them. Still, the internet is such a valuable tool, I wouldn’t want to exclude people who have that gifting, but can’t make the move for whatever reason.

Also, plainly speaking, Japan needs missionaries! There’s a lot of work to do and not a lot of people to do it. I think there are currently over 50,000 Japanese to every missionary in the country. I’d really like to encourage people who love God and love Japan to pray about serving Him here. TEAM is a great organization to do that with, but there are others as well.

For Kaytlin and I, personally, we have to raise enough money to not only live there, but also work there. Our job will be to share Christ with people all day long, every day of every week. It’s the gifts from God’s people in the States and elsewhere which will allow this this to happen, since we will not be receiving any income from within Japan. We’ve gone into this knowing there’s no financial gain, so the money we raise goes into living expenses in addition to work funds and other items. I think in some ways it’s like starting a non-profit.

Our total monthly support need is $8,868, of which God has graciously raised about 40%, so far. This figure covers living expenses in addition work funds and other items needed to live in Japan. I think, in some ways, it’s like starting a non-profit. Therefore, we are looking for people that God has prepared to partner with us in the work He’s called us to there.

Regarding giving, we ask people to prayerfully consider if this is something God wants them to be a part of. If it is, think about what sort of sacrifice you can make to do so. It could be giving up one latte a week, that’s $25 a month right there. Maybe it’s packing a lunch for work one day a week instead of going out to eat or giving up one date night a month. Somebody out there might even feel burdened to buy a used car instead of a new one, so they can use the money saved on a monthly car payment to invest in the lives of people in Japan to the glory of God.

We really don’t want to pressure people into doing anything, but we don’t want to limit their God given generosity either. The giving is all between God and the giver and there’s no amount too small or too large. He’s just looking for faith and joy in the giving as people trust Him to take care of them in the same way He’s using them to care for others.

Giving to TEAM on our behalf is easy and can be done online by clicking here.

We also are blessed when people help by networking for us and connecting us with other people that are passionate about Japan and/or missions as a whole.

Even more importantly, we need people who will commit to pray for us regularly. Kaytlin and I are not perfect people. We NEED people to pray for us to be wise and bold and compassionate, to not be discouraged even when it’s easy to become so. We want to love people like Christ loves them and loves us; we need prayer to help us do that because its so easy to get distracted from that. We also need prayer that God would guide us to financial partners and give us wisdom in how we raise our daughters in a foreign country and in general.

We’ll definitely be in prayer for you, Stephen, and I hope some of our readers might consider both praying and supporting you financially as well. Take care and God bless – we hope to hear from you in the future!

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