If you like to talk to tomatoes and a squash can make you smile, Southern Adventist University’s latest guest speaker, Phil Vischer, had a show for you. The creator of VeggieTales, and voice of numerous characters in the series, spoke at two convocations on January 11 and provided a separate question-and-answer session with art students.
During the morning convocation, Vischer talked of how he worked tirelessly to create VeggieTales before losing everything in a bankruptcy court. His company and everything the team created was sold in a public auction, leaving Vischer to wonder why God would take away something he used for good. But once he stepped away from the situation for a while, the answer became clear.
“Dreams, even good dreams, can become idols if they become bigger than God,” Vischer told students. “The work I was doing for God was not as important to Him as the relationship I had with God.”
Students who were fans of the show but didn't know Vischer's testimony got more than they expected from the talks.
“He taught us a lesson about putting aside our own dreams to follow God,” said Kevin Gutierrez, senior mass communications major. “That's the ultimate calling for our lives.”
Later on in the day, Vischer stopped by the School of Visual Art and Design for a question-and-answer session. He conversed with students about his new animated series (What’s In The Bible), the importance of knowing your audience when setting out to create something, and how to understand God’s will.
“God wants you to walk with Him,” Vischer said. “The more you walk with God, the more the creative ideas coming out of your head will be in line with what God wants. Don’t focus on outcomes, focus on obedience.”
Vischer’s topic for the evening convocation was burdens. The success of VeggieTales was bittersweet, as he was overcome by self-imposed pressure even during the show’s most successful days. Within the course of only a few months, he developed pericarditis (an infection in the areas around his heart), strep throat, and shingles.
“I was under so much stress it was killing me,” he said.
After bankruptcy forced him to take a sabbatical from the entertainment industry, Vischer found that replacing his burden with God’s—which is always “light”—allowed him to continue doing God’s work without the enormous strain and burnout previously endured. His new series, What’s in the Bible, is the product of that newfound energy.
After he spoke, Vischer spent a gracious amount of time answering questions from the audience, doing the voices of Bob the Tomato and other characters for the “children” in attendance, and emphasizing one of VeggieTales’ biggest messages: “Remember kids, God made you special and He loves you very much.”
The views and opinions of campus guests do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Southern Adventist University. An individual's or group's invitation to speak or present on campus should not be regarded as a university endorsement of their philosophies and beliefs.