Two motorcycles fly almost recklessly down the highway. It’s a race, and the stakes are high as one rider tries to keep up with his friend, tries to ride with him through his valley of depression and suicide.
This is Risk Ride, a manga comic book written to help those riding their own race against depression. The World Health Organization estimates one suicide every 40 seconds, a rate they predict will double by 2020.
“The Risk Ride story is part of me,” confesses Andy Meeko, who created Risk Ride while serving with Cru in Japan. “I grew up in Tokyo (with motorcycles, ramen and manga). When I moved back after college, I learned about cold loneliness. Millions of people everywhere, but very alone. I began to wonder, could manga be used to melt loneliness?”
Andy reports that Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the world, but that manga can be a tool to speak into that felt need. “Manga represents 40% of Japan’s publishing industry and has become one of the fastest growing segments in the US as well. Risk Ride is designed to take advantage of this potent medium, based on Global Shortfilm’s strategy of using story as a basis for connection and redemptive conversation.” Since its printing last Spring, Risk Ride has been used with disaster relief to minister to those still reeling from the previous year’s Tsunami.
Risk Ride is not designed to be merely a hand out, but as a conversation starter (similar to Cru tools like Soularium leading naturally into a gospel presentation, such as the Knowing God Personally booklet. “The discouragement, depression, suicide theme is a natural, potent ground for deeper communication.”
Having attempted suicide herself, Kelly Shinozawa shares her experience illustrating Risk Ride. “As I drew the pictures, I was right there with [the main character], but then just as he, I encountered that ancient Love that never wavers.”
Andy trains people to give the book to their friends and then ask them these follow-up questions:
Derrick Whitmore of Shattered Studios is working with Risk Ride and other products to share the hope and truth of Jesus through art. “I am passionate about helping people understand the worth they have, designed by a loving God,” Derrick explains. “I am passionate about people, like Andy, discovering the talents they have to help others and honor God.” Derrick plans to develop Bible study resources surrounding the story of Risk Ride for use with youth groups in America.
Fraternity Brother Dalton Hook entered university thinking he it was about partying and studying. He never expected to find God there, and pray and receive Christ in May of 2011 at Greek Summit, a summer trip for Greek Students involved with Cru.
If you’re leading a team then you know you that this is crunch time. There are a few precious weeks with these people who have been entrusted to your care before your staff peel off to focus on MPD and prepare for their summer assignments. You can help your team end well by reminding them that they are not lone rangers. You can lead a discussion on what it means to be a TEAM.
There is tremendous comfort in the knowledge that we are "seated" with Christ. You have a seat at the table with Jesus. You are seated with Him right now. You are at the Greatest Table with the Greatest King.
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