International (MNN) — Manga has been a growing sensation in the United States over the last decade. Around the world, Manga has presented anti-war ideologies and entertained audiences in the most unconventional manners. The topics and themes covered in Manga graphic novels are as varied as the audiences that read them. It continues to be a cutting-edge realm of communication.
Taking the hint, Crossroad Bible Institute has been using Manga Messiah for many years to reach children of prisoners and detained youth with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The graphic novel details the life of Jesus Christ and provides Bible study lessons that help the readers interact with and process the material. The kids reached are ages 6 to 19.
And an exciting development took place recently with Manga Messiah. CBI president Dr. David Schuringa says, “For the last several years, we’ve had a Manga Messiah program for kids in English. It’s been my desire to see this translated into Spanish for the kids of our Spanish students, which are increasing all the time.”
With more satellite campuses in Latin America, a rise in incarcerated individuals in Latin America, and increased immigration to the United States from Spanish-speaking countries, CBI has a greater opportunity to reach the Spanish communities.
Immigration detention centers are filling up. CBI is able to connect the families of inmates with Manga Messiah, whether they are here or back in their country. And with more and more child immigrants fleeing to the U.S., CBI is seeing and meeting a greater need.
Schuringa says, “We have 3,000 students in immigrant detention centers. Because they are undocumented immigrants, they have absolutely no rights; they are completely alone. And they really appreciate the fact that the Church is reaching out to them, to comfort them, to guide them, and to show them the love of Jesus.”
The program works like this: the children reading through Manga and doing the lessons have personal correspondence with a volunteer instructor who corrects their lessons and writes them encouraging letters of discipleship.
The correspondence is all handled through the mail.
“It doesn’t matter where they are located. It’s not like we have to find a bunch of volunteers in Texas or Louisiana, or something like that. A Christian who is living in New York or Grand Rapids can be discipling a student that’s in California or New Mexico,” says Schuringa.
Sometimes in developing countries, the mail is unreliable, and in that case the mentoring happens one-on-one.
The correspondence works to answer a child’s questions, disciple him, and mentor him spiritually.
Manga Messiah is deeper than a means of entertainment. “It is the Bible, but think of it in terms of like Sunday-school level with pictures and explaining the Scriptures,” says Schuringa. It is a way for youth to be engaged in the Gospel.
The hope is that students of Manga Messiah will continue on to the Biblical Foundation series of lessons for adults.
Manga Messiah isn’t just for kids, however. In some cases it has been helpful to improve the literacy rates of many adults.
“After they take this first course that gets their literacy level up just enough to get into our first course of our Tier One Great Truths of the Bible (which is geared to about a 6th-grade reading level–even though that might be difficult for them), the Manga course gives them enough tools to be able to get into that. And once they get into that course, it’s incredible.
“After 12 years of working with these folks, [we’ve observed] how everyone’s literacy rates just skyrocket. So there’s a side benefit to studying God’s Word.”
This side-benefit is one thing that can help individuals be successful in society someday. But more than that, the course helps them successfully encounter the truth of God’s love.
“The courses: all of them are based on God’s Word and help them to advance in the knowledge of Christ as their Savior.”
CBI’s presence is strong in juvenile detention centers, and they are excited to be able to minister to Spanish speakers, as well as those speaking English.
Already, CBI is seeing a huge number of enrollments for Spanish Manga Messiah and have received letters from appreciative parents who are thankful for the positive influence on their children while they are detained.
This exciting ministry is well under way, but it could use your help. Do you speak Spanish?
Schuringa says, “Your listeners should know that we are in need of more Spanish-speaking, Spanish-reading instructors. If someone out there understands Spanish, can read it, can write it, you can sign up.” To do so, click here.
Meanwhile, the immigrant crisis continues with thousands risking their lives because of false promises, only to end up imprisoned across the border.
Schuringa explains that while CBI does not believe they have the authority to dictate policies for detained immigrants, they are not meant to keep quiet, either. He hopes Christian politicians will consider the situation carefully.
He says, “We do believe we have a prophetic task to sound the trumpet that in the Bible, undocumented immigrants–called strangers and aliens throughout Scripture, Old Testament, New Testament–were to be treated with the same love and respect as citizens, because we were once undocumented immigrants in the land of Egypt.”
Our job is to “find a way to show them the love of Christ, find a way to understand their plight,” says Schuringa.
He leaves us with an important reminder: “We don’t realize it’s a desperate thing. They’re doing this [immigrating] so they can feed their families. And so how can we best accommodate that in a way that’s healthy for our country and also helpful for them?”