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Off Camera . . . with Louis Henry Mitchell

An intriguing conversation with Dan Rupple and Louis Henry Mitchell, Creative Director of Character Design at Sesame Street Workshop. They discuss how Louis’ love for the Lord and his love for people come together in the workplace.

DAN: Your love for the Lord just radiates from you, Louis. Tell us about how you see your role and why you believe God put you at Sesame Street.

LOUIS: I know that [Sesame Street] is the backdrop for what He actually has me doing. Sesame Street has a big vision, but the bigger vision—my vision—is reaching out to touch people’s hearts.

Years ago, I was called “the pastor of Sesame Street.” People will say, “Louis, can I talk to you?” “Sure, what’s going on?” (I’m thinking it’s about work) One co-worker said, “I know you really love kids, right? I’m having trouble with my son.” He told me about the situation and after a while he said to me, “Would you mind speaking to him?” “Not at all if you feel like it would help.”

When I mention I’m at Sesame Street people’s hearts open up, and it’s the perfect opportunity to talk with them on a deeper level. Generally I just start sharing about the love of God. I love my work, but I love the people where I work even more than the work itself.

DAN: I know how sincere you are in your love for these wonderful people you’ve built relationships with. How do your conversations transition into the moment when it’s right to share the gospel?

LOUIS: Eventually people start asking me things like “What’s your life like outside of Sesame?” It’s not me trying to shove it down their throat; I just share with them in love and they ask, “Tell me more about you. Why do you love this so much? What’s going on?” After a while I say to them . . . “Do you really want to know?”

At that point God has prepared their hearts to receive whatever He’s going to give to me to share. It’s fun. That’s the best part of my job—co-workers asking me so I can lead to why I’m here and who I belong to.

DAN: What role does a Christian community of media professionals like Mastermedia or others have in your life?

LOUIS: The more I’m involved, the more encouraged I am because I don’t have a lot of believers around me. It’s been a blessing to engage with other brothers and to come back to work knowing that in a couple of weeks I’ll be able to be with them again.

It’s a ministry at Sesame Street, and that ultimately makes it worth it, even during the most difficult times. I don’t have to worry because it’s not me, it’s God at work in me. So I rest on that. It makes it fun, actually.

DAN: Louis, it’s always a pleasure to talk with you. Thank you so much for giving us a glimpse of how you walk out your faith as you fulfill your career calling within the entertainment industry. Blessings my friend!

Star Wars’ Spiritual Legacy

Why has Star Wars endured for four decades? It’s simple—story.*

“On May 25, 1977, director George Lucas forever altered the cinematic landscape by introducing theatergoers to an exciting galaxy far, far away. He gave us Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Leia Organa, two lovable droids and arguably the greatest villain of all time in Darth Vader. This film went from a niche genre to being in the mainstream. Indeed, everyone knows about Star Wars now.”

Good Stories Transcend Generations. 

“The Star Wars narrative unpacks the far-reaching struggle between the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire for control of the galaxy through the respective journeys of numerous characters.

“The Scriptures . . . also unpack dozens of smaller stories, but they are all pointing towards one—the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.”

Good Stories Accurately Portray What We Value.

“Values like courage, friendship, heroism, sacrifice, loyalty, redemption and hope are all evident in Star Wars—and all are rooted in the Scriptures.”

“Hope drives the narrative of Jesus, the son of God who took upon our sins that we would become reconciled to God. Hope in Jesus is never misplaced hope; it is mighty and lasting and reassuring.”

Good Stories Capture Our Imagination.

Why does Star Wars generate new fans year after year? It deals with big ideas: life and death, how we should live, and how to make a difference or have an impact in a sweeping conflict.

“The overarching story in Star Wars can be traced back to Genesis 1 . . . good versus evil. Unlike Darth Vader, who let go of his hate and saved his son from the Emperor, Satan, our enemy, will not release his seething disdain for those who cling to the saving, supernatural power of Jesus. His days are numbered . . . .”

A Force for Good

“Forty years ago, audiences watched as [Luke Skywalker] emerged as a new hope for the Rebel Alliance. Christ followers have a hope too. He’s not a fictional character . . . . He shaped all of the galaxies, and He is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).”

“This man Jesus is not a new hope . . . He is the only hope.”

*Highlights and excerpts from Relevant Magazine 5/25/17

 

Bridge Builders

by Dan Rupple

In the 1989 Disney classic The Little Mermaid, the mermaid princess Ariel is dissatisfied with her underwater life. Spotting a reflection at the bottom of the ocean, a sunken fork provides Ariel a glimpse into a different world . . . a human world.

As she fantasizes about what it might be like “up there,” she longs to be “part of their world.” But it’s not until her father, King Triton, provides a way—a “bridge”—that she is able to cross over into a life above the sea.

We’ve all seen movies that introduced us to lands we’ve never known or human struggles we’ve never experienced. I’ve seen so many films, especially documentaries at the Sundance Film Festival, that have provided a “bridge” of understanding to a world of which I was previously unaware. These cinematic bridges made a new connection possible for me.

But despite this digital age of unprecedented global connectivity, as a culture we seem to be more divided than ever before. Movies may serve as bridges, allowing us to cinematically travel across the great divide from the known to the unknown. But oh how we need far more kinds of bridges built than movies can ever provide . . . bridges that connect two things that are presently disconnected, bridges that make a way where there wasn’t a way before!

Deep in the heart of God resides a bridge builder. Long before mankind put an insurmountable divide between himself and God, the Lord had conceived His plan to provide a way—a bridge—for mankind to cross back over the divide, reuniting  mankind to his Creator.

God calls us to be bridge builders as well.

Throughout the Scriptures, we see God’s people creating bridges that didn’t previously exist. Jesus with the Samaritan woman at the well creates a bridge between ethnicities and genders (John 4). The Apostle Peter creates a bridge between Jew and Gentile when he enters the home of Cornelius (Acts 10). And the Apostle Paul crosses the divide between Jew and Roman when he appeals to Caesar (Acts 25).

I was asked recently, “If Mastermedia had a symbol, what would it be?” Without hesitation I answered, “A bridge.” Our mission is to bridge the gap between the Christian audience and the media producers who fill our screens, to connect the Christian community with the Hollywood community, and to create a respectful dialog about faith with the secular media professional. These are the divides that God has called us to bridge.

To whom has God asked you to build a bridge?