Kids love cartoon characters. Because of this, One Mission Kids had used them to teach kids for many years. Charles M. Schultz, creator of Peanuts, once said, “Cartooning is preaching. And I think we have a right to do some preaching.”
Since the days of the quarterly Missions to the Max newsletter, One Mission Kids (OMK) created and utilized cartoon characters to teach kids mission concepts. From simple conversations between Mira Mefirst and Otto, to KimmiKindheart sharing ideas for kids to try missions, OMK understands that cartoons speak to kids (and kids at heart).In fact, we even created an entire VBS-type missions program around the character of Max the Dog, entitled Making Trax with Max!
OMK also designed boy and girl characters wearing traditional clothing for many of the countries where OMS ministers. The international characters introduce kids to worldwide destinations on the One Mission Kids website.
The original characters were hand drawn by Susie Howard based upon sketches created by her sister. When Amy Nelson joined OMK she brought the characters into the computer age. Then, OMS friend and Sonny Solar artist David Oldham completed the remaining international characters.
OMK is now working with illustrator Brian Rees to update our existing stick figure characters to help prepare them for future animation. The original characters had black hair, black eyes, and many were missing noses. By simply adding a nose and giving each character their own eye and hair color,OMK can better reach an international audience and specifically the iGeneration (those born after 1996.)
The OMK animation project will take considerable time and nearly $3,000 to purchase the necessary animation software, cartoon backgrounds, and artist fees. More than 65 characters need to be redesigned in multiple formats so they will be ready for future animation. More than 42 international characters will be redrawn to include many new countries of OMS ministry from Thailand to Venezuela and even Israel.The original 7 main characters will welcome some fresh faces, including Grammy Rose (married to Globe Trotting Gramps), a boy in a wheelchair, an adopted girl from Asia, and even a cat.
These dynamic changes, along with updating the OMK website to be mobile friendly, are ways for One Mission Kids to effectively continue to help grow missionary hearts.
More than four generations of youth have been impacted by the children’s ministry of One Mission Kids (OMK). During these 10+ decades, every OMS missionary involved in children’s ministry has found himself or herself asking the same basic questions. How do we reach the present generation with the Gospel, and how do we inspire them to do the work of a missionary?
As unique as each individual child is, so is the generation they are born into. For example, the present generation of youth that OMK is reaching, Generation Z (those who were born after 1996), represent more than 23 million young people under the age of 20 in the United States alone. They carry the appropriate nickname iGen, due to the high-tech world they live and thrive in. This simple fact, along with the list of other unique characteristics of iGen, such as innovative thinking, increased access to information, and heightened desire for visual stimulation, is shaping and molding the way OMK helps to grow missionary hearts. Now more than ever, technology and visual approaches are key to developing programs and resources.
Recently, OMK developed a mission-focused evangelistic program entitled One Night in the Wax Museum. Jason and Lora Campbell drew upon what they learned about iGen to create this visually appealing and interactive program. It is designed with high tech visuals, sound effects, costumes, and props that are used to present the Gospel and challenge young people to take the Gospel to their family and friends. They have been able to share this dynamic presentation at events in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
How exciting to see God reach the hearts of young people as they respond to this interactive program. For example, one young man who trusted the Lord as his Savior, enthusiastically took the Gospel tool that was created for the program and immediately ran up to his parents and began telling them how they too can trust the Lord as their Savior. This is what One Mission Kids is all about, helping this generation to both hear and understand the Gospel and equipping them to reach future generations or, as we like to say, helping them to grow missionary hearts.
Statistics Source: Genhq.com, The Center for Generational Kinetics.
One Mission Society’s children’s ministry began more than 100 years ago when Aunt Julia Kilbourne introduced the monthly prayer coin calendars. The money collected supported mission projects around the OMS world. News articles were even written for kids in the OMS Standard publication (today’s OMS Outreach magazine).
OMS family conferences introduced the PALS program, allowing kids to rub shoulders with OMS missionaries. They also raised funds for OMS projects, which helped them learn firsthand that OMS is a family. Kids knew by name Pat Winfrey, Gwen Pinkerton, and Aunt Ruth Hunter (see clown photo).
Their use of puppets, songs, games, clowning, and exciting missionary stories brought missions to life every year.
In the 1990s, God burdened Susie Howard to bring missions to kids beyond missionary conferences through the quarterly Missions to the Max newsletter. Cartoon characters Otto the Missionary Sender and Max the dog joined the One Mission Kids (OMK) team to introduce each article. Each issue focused on a specific country or region, allowing kids to get a snapshot of what God was doing. A prayer and birthday calendar for OMS MKs was also included.
In 2004, OMK partnered with Men for Missions to produce the first Kids Can Do (and Big People, Too!) book (KCD) of 10 lessons to help raise funds for the Operation Saturation solar-radio project in Haiti. Soon, more mission projects were given the Kids Can Do treatment so kids could “experience” a mission trip at home, through the interactive Missions to Go lessons.
In 2006, Jason Campbell brought his audio skills to the team and produced the Music-to-go CD for kids. Workshops became a yearly focus with trips to EQUIP in Peoria to educate parents, teachers, and church workers to train their kids in missions.
In 2007, Jason created the MAXers summer program (previously PALS), resulting in the creation of the Good News Reporters, later released as a VBS in 2013. Jason continued his summer ministry of speaking at youth camps as a way to test the VBS-type programs. To date, One Mission Kids has developed 8 VBS-like mission programs.
In 2009, Missions to the MAX! morphed into an interactive website, allowing kids to explore the world of OMS. In 2010, when OMS changed its name to One Mission Society, OMS’ children’s ministry rebranded to become known as One Mission Kids. During this time, the Champions of the Great Commission book series began with the story of Charles Cowman.
In 2015, Lora Jones Campbell joined One Mission Kids, bringing her skills as an educator and curriculum developer.
This year, with the help of a cartoonist, OMK is updating the Missions to the MAX! cartoon characters for web animation to breathe new life into the OMK website. Mr. Jason and Aunt Lora continue the long-honored tradition set by Aunt Julia to find new ways for kids to grow their missionary hearts through the ministries of OMS.