Only at a Comic-Con festival are you likely to find Superman hanging out with the apostle Paul. The apostle, aka Jeremy Williamson, a member of Medicine Hat (Alta.) Christian Reformed Church, returned from the recent four-day Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo exhausted but exhilarated.
Comic-Con, as the Expo is also called, features the best and latest in science-fiction, video games, comic books, fantasy, animation, and more. It’s the second-largest convention of its kind in Canada and the fourth-largest in North America. Among the 102,000 who attended this year were costumed fans seeking autographs and photographs, and numerous celebrities. In the midst of such a crowd, Williamson and other volunteers from Christian Reformed churches in southern Alberta aspired to be witnesses for Christ.
Williamson, who started developing video games in high school, is well connected online and familiar with what he admits is a subculture. He believes that what most individuals are looking for in television shows, comic books, and the like, is a hero. “They see a hero in Superman. I want them to know Jesus is the true Superhero and true Savior. Our aim is to share the gospel while relating it to something many of them enjoy—comics.”
Williamson and the other volunteers engaged “geeks” in conversation and sold Action Bibles and Action New Testaments. They also handed out “The Story of Jesus Christ” tracts from The Action Bible. Action Bibles look like comics and are illustrated by renowned comic book artist Sergio Cariello.
The Comic-Con outreach is a partnership between Medicine Hat CRC and Calgary’s Maranatha CRC, with support from the local Home Missions committee and private donors. Other churches provided volunteers and prayer support.
“It was a marvelous success,” Williamson said. “On Thursday, a man came up to the table and said, ‘This is great. This is really important. A lot of people are praying for you.’ He then left. I didn't even have a chance to find out who he was.”
“We interacted with thousands of people,” Williamson continued. “Our table was in the actors’ hall and people were funneled by us the whole weekend. You could describe it as a river of people. We handed out all our tracts and sold all the comic book Bibles. Two were given away for free. There was mostly support, even from nonbelievers.”
Although Williamson had anticipated significant animosity and insults, negativity was minimal. The first rude comment did not come until Saturday. “One person said we were out of place, and don't fit.”
A bonus for Williamson was having his photograph taken with Harold Perrineau, the actor who plays Dawson in the television series Lost. “Lots of actors charge for photos and some don't do photos at all, but Perrineau was willing.” After the photo, Perrineau joked that he’d never had his photo taken with the apostle Paul.
Williamson is already making plans to go back to the next Comic-Con Expo.