Salvation on the Set of "The Simpsons"?
Kenji Ono couldn't get a job after he graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1998. He had moved to L.A. to live out his dream of working in animation but wasn't having any success. As Ono tells it, "I started praying every night for a job, although I was not a Christian. At one point, I became desperate and made a deal with God that I would follow Him if I got a job."
"Originally published in the November 2002 issue of CCM Magazine, copyright 2002, CCM Communications. Reprinted with permission. For CCM Magazine subscription information, please call: (800)333-9643."
When Ono was suddenly hired to work on the series "The Family Guy," he forgot about that deal with God. But God didn't. Six months later Ono was transferred to work as a character artist on "The Simpsons." It was there that he met Chris Bolden, another animation artist for the show. As Ono tells it, he struck up a friendship with Bolden for one reason only - "I asked him if he could teach me how to surf."
In between surfing lessons on the weekends, the two started to talk at work about art, punk rock and Jesus. The discussions never got too intense until Ono decided to borrow a sermon tape from Bolden and "listened to it while I drew Homer choking Bart."
Ono continues, "I dropped by Chris' office to give him the tape back. I was on my way out to party for the weekend when Chris asked me, 'So what did you think about it?' Another Christian animator on the show, Oscar, was in the room as well, and the three of us started a heavy conversation about heaven and hell, Jesus, my sins and God's love. Chris left the room an hour later. Oscar and I talked for a few hours. Finally, everything Chris and Oscar said to me made sense, and I decided to accept Christ into my heart. After the prayer, Oscar said, 'Angels are partying in heaven right now. Pass me a Sprite.' My life has never been the same since then."