Guest / Limited Access /

It was early 1992, and Phil and Lisa Vischer were down to their last $10. Phil had quit his job to work on his "big idea"—a video series for kids starring computer-animated vegetables that loved Jesus. But all he had to show for his efforts was a stack of unpaid bills. There was no food in the pantry for their large and hungry dog. The cost of a large bag of dog food: $10.

While Lisa went out to buy dog food, Phil sorted through the bills and pondered what do next. Then he found an envelope containing a cashier's check for $400. An anonymous note inside read, "God laid it on my heart that you might need this."

The next year, a couple in their Bible study lent Phil $60,000, saying, "Go make your movie."

By Christmas 1993, Vischer and two friends completed the first VeggieTales episode, Where's God When I'm S-Scared? Over the next 10 years, VeggieTales sold more than 25 million videos. The Abbot and Costello-like Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber, stars of the series, gained millions of adoring fans. And Big Idea Productions—which Phil started in a spare bedroom—grew to a 210-employee animation studio and entertainment company that he hoped would one day rival the Walt Disney Company.

Whenever there was a need, especially in the early years, something extraordinary happened.

"There were many times Big Idea was dangling on the edge," Lisa Vischer says. "It seemed that every time we were in need of a miracle, we prayed for and got a 'dog food story.' "

Big Idea ran out of miracles last fall. After a series of financial crises, the company filed for bankruptcy, and in December it was sold to New York-based Classic Media.

The low point for Vischer came in April 2003 in a federal courthouse in Dallas. Lyrick Studios, ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only Amazing Sin, How Deep We're Bound
Finding the courage to trust in grace.
Current IssuePete Docter
Pete Docter
The genius director of Inside Out and other Pixar favorites shows off the power of animated storytelling.
Current IssueProfessional Soccer Was My God
Professional Soccer Was My God
My sense of well-being depended entirely on my on-field performance.
RecommendedCT Makers: 20 of the Most Creative Christians We Know
CT Makers: 20 of the Most Creative Christians We Know
Meet the artists, entrepreneurs, and philanthropists using fresh ideas for common good.
TrendingDobson Endorses Trump, While Evangelical Leaders Advise Voting for Lesser Evil
Dobson Endorses Trump, While Evangelical Leaders Advise Voting for Lesser Evil
Pew tracks how many evangelicals came to pick Trump for president.
Editor's PickMy Encounter with Ken Ham's Giant Ark
My Encounter with Ken Ham's Giant Ark
A four-hour visit to the massive replica of Noah's boat left me with a flood of questions.
Christianity Today
Running Out of Miracles
hide thisMay May

In the Magazine

May 2004

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.