Several years ago for my birthday, I received "Jonathan Park -- The Adventure Begins", a creation-adventure audio series produced by Vision Forum. Not really knowing exactly what to expect, I popped it in and started listening to it. About 6 months later, I owned every single album and was an avid Jonathan Park fan. Then, just about a month ago, at the homeschool conference, i got to meet the creator of this audio drama, Pat Roy, a very helpful and encouraging man. Mr. Roy was kind enough to do an interview for CFC and share some of the insights he has learned through making Jonathan Park. Please read on to hear what he has to say:
Q: First of all, can you tell us a little bit about the Jonathan Park audio drama?
A: Jonathan Park is produced by the Vision Forum. It is designed to present the scientific evidence that’s in harmony with God’s Word. Each half-hour adventure is packed with action, and follows the lives of the Creation Response Team, a group of family and friends who love to find the evidence for creation. You can learn more about it at www.JonathanPark.com
Q: What originally inspired you to go into Christian media?
A: When I was 16 years old, I got my first job at a Christian radio station. Right away I learned the power of Christian media. Think about it, if you walked up to a stranger and confronted them about their sin, and then told them they needed to repent and follow the Lord, they may put up an instant wall. Yet, with Christian media, you can go into thousands and thousands of homes simultaneously, and tell the truth without offense.
At last year’s San Antonio Independent Christian Film Academy, Stephen Kendrick recounted the story of writing the script for the movie Courageous sometimes while sitting by a pool with his laptop. He said only a short time later, he sat in a theater, and watched the very lines he wrote. Then he thought about the millions who had seen it. Then he asked the academy crowd something like, “How many Churches would I have to preach in to reach that many people?” He couldn’t preach to that many if he talked at a different Church every weekend for the rest of his life! Understand, he wasn’t downplaying the importance of Church. But I agree with him when he talks about the power of Christian media! It is the ability to reach lots of people with an eternal message!
Q:How did Jonathan Park get started?
A:My wife, Sandy, and I were both working for the Institute for Creation Research. Even though I was the radio producer there, I would occasionally go out to speak at Churches on behalf of ICR. After the presentations, my wife and I would be at the book table, and parents would often ask for materials for their children. We realized that, at the time (about 15 years ago), there weren’t many materials available to teach children about creation, and they were the ones getting hit the hardest by evolutionary thinking!
So my wife and I started praying and brainstorming about what we could do. And since we both had a background in radio, we decided to try a radio drama. ICR was kind enough to take it on as an official broadcast. And then a few years later, Vision Forum gave the project new life!
Q:What has been your favorite thing about making Jonathan Park?
A:My Favorite? I love it all! I love working with my wife as my writing partner. I love working with my family. I love that the JP team has become some of my best friends! I love recording days. I love production. I’m grateful for the chance to work with Vision Forum. But most of all, I love hearing all the stories about what the Lord has done in the hearts of so many people!
Q:And on the other side, what has been the biggest challenge in making Jonathan Park?
A:It takes a LOT of time to produce an album of Jonathan Park – more than a year of my time goes into each one (and then think about all the hours from the rest of the team). My biggest challenge is, as a husband and a father, to balance my time.
Q:What have you learned through making the Jonathan Park series?
A:Wow! That could fill a book! Of course I’ve learned a lot about writing and production, and have so much more to learn. Also, I’ve spent years of my life researching all the material on Jonathan Park – the evidence that’s in harmony with God’s Word is never-ending. I should mention that we have scientists that review every script, and I learn a lot from them. Also, my supervisor, Michael Gobart, reviews every script for biblical content – and often suggests ways to communicate spiritual truths, so I learn then, as well.
I guess I’ve also learned that it’s okay to dream big for the Lord, and if He says “no”, we thank Him for His direction. But if He says, “yes”, that He is a God of adventure, and will do things beyond our wildest imagination! I’ve also learned that God works how and when He wants. Thirteen years ago, my wife and I had no idea that our silly idea would still be going to this very day!
Q:Can you talk some about the album you are working on now?
A:This is the first album that was written entirely (except parts of the teaching) by another family. Duane and Andrew Riffenburgh wrote half the episodes in Jonathan Park and the Voyage Beyond. This father/son team did such a great job that we invited them to write this entire album. It is called, The Whispering Sphinx. And the Riffenburghs have packed more action and humor into this album than ever before. It’s an exciting adventure that will take you on a journey through Egypt. Think passageways under pyramids, motorcycle chases, cobras, mummies, boat rides on the Nile, and so much more!
Q:When is it expected to come out?
A:I believe Vision Forum plans to release it sometime in August.
Q:Just for fun, what is your favorite episode of Jonathan Park?
A:I think my favorite episode will always be Hidden Cave because it was the first big writing project with my wife. My favorite album to write was The Journey Never Taken because I enjoyed researching all the history behind evolutionary thinking. But my favorite to listen to is The Voyage Beyond. I love the high-tech submarine and the spaceship. That was also my favorite to sound-design. We have a whole team that does production (anywhere from 2 – 10 people depending on how fast we are working). I told them to make the Manta Submarine sound like a starship. And when it came to the spaceflight, it was so much fun trying to create a space launch that sounded similar to something you’d hear at NASA.
Q:And finally, what advice would you have for young people aspiring to go into Christian media?
A:Four things, I guess:
- Go for it! Dream big, but follow the Lord! If He says “no”, thank Him for it. If He says “yes”, give it your all! And at all times, hold your project with a loose grip. I’ve notice the Lord will often test us to see if we are more about following Him, or about our project! As a matter of fact, He will often kill a dream, and then rebuild it His way.
- Don’t worry if you don’t know how! When the JP Team first started, we had absolutely NO idea of how to do what we dreamed of doing. But we prayed everyday as a team, and learned as much as we could – and much of that was through trial and error. So go for it, and if you do something wrong, you’ll figure out a better way! It’s better to try and fail, so you can correct, than to never do anything at all. And remember, there is incredible power in learning from others.
- If you’re going to make a production, make it something that counts with a strong eternal message! We’ve got enough entertainment out there. We need young people who are willing to be used by the Lord to change lives!
- Remember that whatever happens, work for the Lord’s glory, not your own! At the end of your life, if you built your own kingdom, it will have no value. But using your talents for His glory… ahhhh, there’s nothing better than that!
A special thanks to Mr. Roy for taking the time to answer these questions for us. To find out more about Jonathan Park, go to www.jonathanpark.com to find out more. Also, who would you like us to interview next? Please let us know who you want us to interview next at email@example.com.