A Storyteller Finds His Story

Today, Craig Detweiler is the author of five books, including iGods: How Technology Shapes Our Spiritual and Social Lives, a professor of communication, and the director of the Center for Entertainment, Media, and Culture at Pepperdine University.

Back in 1984, Craig was in InterVarsity at Davidson College when a friend invited him to come to Urbana. At the time, Craig had no idea what Urbana was. But a few short months after that initial invitation, he and his friend were packed into a Honda Civic headed to Urbana 84, then held at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.

Once there, Craig was captivated by the videos sharing compelling stories of what God was doing around the world and was challenged to consider what it would be like to go overseas. While exploring the Exhibit Hall, wondering what he could do after he graduated, Craig found an organization that could use his skills as an English major.

He decided to take a risk and by September, he was teaching English in Tokyo, Japan, serving as Jesus’ hands and feet in a cross-cultural, and sometimes uncomfortable, context.

Now What?

Craig returned to the States two years later and struggled to incorporate his faith into post-college, post-missions-experience, everyday life. He worked for a time with Young Life, nurturing his passion for telling stories by writing skits for their youth camps.

Eventually that passion for storytelling, along with a lifelong interest in film and entertainment, brought him to graduate studies at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts. He devoted the next decade of his life to becoming a good storyteller, integrating his faith into the ways he approached projects and told stories.

Craig’s time in Japan helped him develop his skills and hone his passions. The decision to spend that time of his life overseas ended up having a profound impact on the way he lives today.

God's Bigger Story

In Hollywood, Craig has been part of a growing community of Christ-followers who are committed to their craft and to their faith. But he believes strongly that God can speak through you no matter what vocation you choose. Now a college professor, Craig considers himself a story-enabler as he encourages young people to develop their skills and passions as characters in God’s bigger story.

Each student has a unique story to tell as part of God’s story. You tell that story as you live your life, whether you’re a storyteller with media arts skills, or an English major willing to teach overseas, or an economics major whose heart breaks for the poor. Maybe you’ll follow a path similar to Craig’s friend, who invited him to Urbana 84. He didn’t end up going overseas on mission. Instead, he went on to serve God as an accountant and was Craig’s biggest financial supporter during his time in Japan.

For Craig, the beauty of the Urbana experience is that everyone has an opportunity to get involved in a larger vision. Your life will tell a story, no matter what choices you make. When you say yes to whatever God may be calling you to, your story aligns with God’s story.

Every life tells a story. What story will you tell?


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