By Josh Christian, student news writer, Office of University Communications
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. — Having created a cartoon series watched by millions, which at its height sold 400 copies a day, and being voted by PBS the top ten people in religion to watch, one would think Phil Vischer, co-creator of Veggie Tales might share what it was like to have been a successful man who was used by God at Campbellsville University’s chapel service recently.
But, he did not.
Vischer explained what life was like after the success — that life did not go quite as he expected.
After the initial success, Vischer said, “Everything started to go wrong.” Without any warning, sales stopped growing,” Vischer said.
Vishcer said Big Idea’s Productions, the name of Vischer’s animation study, had hired hundreds of employees which Vischer could only afford to keep if sales had kept growing. But, they didn’t.
“We had to lay people off. Our company dropped to 180 employees, and every layoff broke my heart,” Vischer said.
Conditions continued to go worst, though Vischer emphasized God could have helped at any point in time. But, he didn’t.
“Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie” was released in 2002, and Vischer thought it was going to be a hit.
“God could make it a success. He can do that. He can do anything,” Vischer said.
But, “Jonah: A VeggieTales Movies” wasn’t a success. In fact, the VHS of the movie, wasn’t either.
After, came a lawsuit, which cost Vischer and Big Idea Productions $14 million.
“The company filed for bankruptcy, and everything was sold at a public auction,” Vischer said.
“Fourteen years of work, gone,” Vischer said.
Vischer began asking God how he could watch something which helped His kingdom so much, fall apart.
Vischer said this was the beginning of the lesson God was trying to teach him.
He used the story of Abraham to illustrate.
Abraham, in the Holy Bible, wanted a son, but his wife was too old. God gave Abraham a son anyway.
“But one day, God called Abraham to put his son on an altar and sacrifice him,” Vischer said.
“What God wanted to know about Abraham was whether or not Abraham was willing to let go of everything else before he let go of God,” Vischer said.
“If you see a dream come to life and God shows up in it, but the dream dies, God might want to see what is more important; God or the dream,” Vischer said.
The remains of his business were bought out and moved to Nashville, Tenn., and Vischer spent a lot of time waiting for ideas to come. He began to read the Bible and pray a lot.
“Whatever needs I had were being met by the scriptures,” Vischer said.
“I felt I was giving up, like something was dying, and one day I realized what it was. It was my ambition. It was my hopes.
“That’s when new stories came,” Vischer said. “I had more ideas than I knew what to do with.”
“Why is waiting on God so important? Because that’s when you can be quiet enough to hear His whispers,” Vischer said.
Vischer encouraged those in attendance to let their dreams go, to give them up, to let them die.
“God created the universe. He is enough without your dreams,” Vischer said.
“In 2008, my dream died. But the impact God has planned for us only occurs with our desire for Him,” Vischer said.
Vischer gave a presentation the evening of the same day talking more about his work.