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Pastor drafts his 2 sons for ‘P.K.’ cartoon strip

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (BP)–Pastor David Ayers of Roaring Fork Baptist Church is more than a minister of the gospel — he’s a self-described “cartoon evangelist.”

In April, Ayers’ ongoing comic strip, “P.K.” (Preacher’s Kids), was picked up by The Mountain Press in his hometown and current home, Gatlinburg, Tenn.

Since then, a few other Christian publications have begun publishing the cartoons.

“I see it as an extended ministry,” said Ayers, who is serving in the church where his grandfather, Shirl Compton, was a charter member and where Ayers himself was an active participant during his late childhood and teenage years.

“Somebody might read a cartoon who would never come to church,” Ayers observed.

Thus Ayers often tries to put an “evangelistic message” in some of his cartoons. “I have to be humorous, but I try to bring out a point or a Scripture,” said Ayers, who signs his cartoons as “Dr. Dave.”

He has been drawing for years. One of his “heroes” as a child was cartoonist Charles Schultz of “Peanuts” fame. Ayers once sent some of his drawings of “Peanuts” characters to Schultz and the cartoonist sent him two signed Snoopy cartoons. Unfortunately, Ayers sighed, that was in the 1970s and those cartoons have long since been lost.

About a year ago Ayers began to see a purpose for his talent: He began to draw pictures of his two sons, Aaron, 12, and John-David, 5, putting them into various situations.

When he decided to begin a strip based on his sons, he went to them and asked if he could use their names. He reminded them the characters would always remain ages 12 and 5. He didn’t want them to be embarrassed in their teenage years by the cartoon bearing their names.

“They were fine with it,” Ayers said. “They look forward to the cartoons.” Ayers also involves his sons and his wife, Tammy, by having them critique the cartoons before they are published.

The cartoons also include three other regular characters — Chris, Buddy and Heather — who are loosely based on “real” people, Ayers said.

“The cartoon is about how they look at life, especially how they look at church life,” he said.

Drawing the cartoons on a weekly basis is time-consuming, Ayers acknowledged. He draws the cartoons freehand but is learning how to use the computer to add color and enhance the appearance of his work.

After his cartoons began appearing, Ayers began praying for the Lord’s guidance on whether to continue the cartoons as part of his ministry.

“I prayed that God would let me know the cartoons are making a difference,” he recounted. “That afternoon I received a card from a lady who said she always gets a message out of the cartoon strip and asked me to keep it up.

“That confirmed that I needed to continue pursuing the strip as a ministry,” said Ayers, who has been pastor of his home church since 1996. Previously he served as associate/youth pastor at Cartertown Baptist Church in Gatlinburg, a non-Southern Baptist church where his brother, Mitch, is pastor.

One of Ayers long-term goals is to have the strip syndicated in newspapers across the country. “If it’s the Lord’s will, it will happen,” Ayers is convinced.

Ayers has a passion for the cartoon ministry, noting, “It’s a different feeling from preaching a message God has called you to preach, but at the same time, it’s fulfilling.”

With encouragement as one of his strongest gifts, Ayers said, “I want these cartoons to be an encouragement to people, to make them smile. I guess I sort of break out of the stereotype of what people think a pastor is supposed to be like, but I really enjoy life.

“I am not a great artist nor do I claim to be, but if these kids can make someone think of Jesus, my talent has found a purpose,” Ayers said.
(BP) images posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: DAVID AYERS, P.K. PREACHER’S KIDS and THE GANG.

    About the Author

  • Lonnie Wilkey

    Lonnie Wilkey is editor of the Baptist and Reflector (baptistandreflector.org), newsjournal of the Tennessee Baptist Convention.

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