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.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only Anti-Conversion Conspiracy
Buddhist nationalists in Sri Lanka step up violence against churches.
Current IssueWho Comes to Steal, Kill, and Destroy?
Subscriber Access Only
Who Comes to Steal, Kill, and Destroy?
The ‘thief‘ may not be who you think it is.
Current IssuePutting Pastors to Pasture in Nigeria
Subscriber Access Only
Putting Pastors to Pasture in Nigeria
Churches protest law requiring ministry leaders to resign after age 70 or 20 years.
RecommendedIn ‘Logan’, Wolverine Confronts the Wages of Sin
In ‘Logan’, Wolverine Confronts the Wages of Sin
Hugh Jackman's final performance as the iconic mutant brings him face to face with his own mortality.
TrendingThe Real St. Patrick
The Real St. Patrick
A look at the famous saint, and his strategic missions.
Editor's PickThey Will Know We Are Christians by Our Drinks
They Will Know We Are Christians by Our Drinks
In the Muslim world, Christians have a complicated relationship with alcohol.
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.