Art by (left to right) Masumi Goto, Kelly Shinozawa, Robin White, Irie

For some reason, I’ve always liked the term POV. It’s a nice short-hand for point of view — a term with a lot of meaning in both art and in life. 

If you study creative writing or literature, you’ll learn about different points of view that writers use (first person, third person, etc) and how they can affect a writer’s storytelling. If you practice drawing, painting or photography, you’ll learn that the point of view you choose can change the feeling or message of an image; it can even make or break a piece. 

Of course, point of view can also refer to our opinion on a subject or our way of looking at life. In that sense, we’ve all got a point of view, a unique way of looking at the world.

And when we do ministry, especially evangelism, we’re both attempting share a point of view (ideally a biblical one) as well as change another person’s  point of view. 

Today I’d like to share a little bit about our first project, tentatively called “Project POV.” I say tentatively because I’m not sure how well that name will work for a Japanese audience or whether a better one might come along. But whether that’s the name we end up using or not, it’s definitely our theme, because it’s all about looking at Jesus from different points of view.

But first, let me share the vision for our ministry, so you can see how this first project fits in.

Manga (Japanese comics) are a large, influential and unique part of pop culture in Japan. They’re so popular that in one week Japan buys more comics than the US does in an entire year. Japan is also one of the most “connected countries in the world, with over 90% of people online, and about 99% of university students owning smart phones. Meanwhile, Japan is about 99% un-reached

Drawbridge Creations is a web-based manga outreach with the three-fold purpose of reaching the unchurched, resourcing the Church, and empowering Christian artists, in order to bridge the gap between Church and culture; between Jesus and Japan. 

We will follow a web comic model, serializing the content for free online, collecting the stories for print publication later on. If this project is successful, it could grow into a larger, multi-series/multi-platform ministry. But the goal is to start small with a self-contained series — “Project POV.”

“Project POV” is an anthology series, meaning it’s a collection of short stories rather than one ongoing story. These short stories will be taken from the New Testament Gospels, with each tale told from the point of view of someone whose life was changed by encountering Jesus. So, rather than telling Jesus’ life story, we might have one story told from a disciple’s point of view, another from the viewpoint of someone Jesus healed, and another from the perspective of Jesus’ mother Mary.

For example, we could tell the story of Jesus healing a blind man. It would have a beginning, middle and end, all told from his perspective. We’d imagine what it was like to be a blind man in first century Israel. We’d explore how he felt about life and God. We’d show him hearing about Jesus. What would his reaction be? Hope or skepticism? Faith or doubt? What changes his mind? And how does his life change when he finally meets Jesus — and sees Him — face to face?

The focus in this series will be on simply but creatively showing how Jesus changes people’s lives, rather than on doing educational material or even a complete biography of Jesus. By focusing on regular people in the Gospel stories, we will tell stories people can relate to. By showing them how He changed those characters’ lives, we will whet readers’ appetites to know Jesus for themselves. 

Art by Kelly Shinozawa

Another sense in which this series will reflect the POV idea is that each story will be illustrated by a different artist in his or her own style. There are a few of reasons I wanted to do the series in this way. As a new ministry with a limited budget, I think it would be difficult to get any one artist to commit to a long-term project. This anthology format will allow us to hire artists on a short-term basis as we need them, and also let us adapt the length and scale of the project based on how much funding we actually have to work with.

Also, I just think this could be a fun creative exercise. But at the same time, as I hinted at, it goes along well with the theme of looking at Jesus from a fresh point of view. Each artist will bring a unique perspective to the project, as both artists and Christians from various backgrounds.

As we look at Jesus from various different viewpoints, both in terms of the characters and creators, it’s our hope and prayer that God will use us to open readers’ hearts to seeing Jesus Himself from a new point of view.

Isn’t that something we could all use?