The most translated comic book: Jesus Messiah

Charisma, september 2022 – Willem de Vink is probably the greatest evangelist The Netherlands has ever had, because of his Comic book Jesus Messiah. It is the most translated Comic book in the world. The book has now been released in 214 languages and more than 100 languages are ready to be printed. By comparison, Tintin has been translated into 130 languages, Asterix into 120.

Jesus Messiah touches people’s hearts. For many, it is a first introduction to Jesus. It is read in the highest mountain villages, on remote islands and in deserts and jungle areas. Each copy is taken in the hands of several people. Readers spend hours and even days on the contents, getting to know Jesus better.

For example, the books are used in Africa for reading instruction. Teachers report that it changes the classroom atmosphere. Often children take the book home with them. That way their parents learn about Jesus.
In India, Bible college students are using the cartoon to explain the Gospel in people’s homes. This is how house churches are formed. Of particular note is the story of Ishaan. He is a teacher in India and was an atheist until he was touched by Jesus. ‘I noticed that this God really loved me!’ says Ishaan, as he recounts what reading Jesus Messiah did to him. ‘I grew up with the many gods of Hinduism. But during my studies, I lost my faith. Until I was given the Comic book Jesus Messiah at a community center. I was very critical, but I was immediately gripped. This God was different! I read the Comic book over and over and got answers to my questions. It was a great start. I recommend the Comic book to all atheists!’

Project explodes
The first copy of Jesus Messiah was presented in 1993 at Dutch Pentecostal conference Opwekking. Since then, a few translations have been realized every year, but in recent years things have been going faster and faster. While the 100th translation was celebrated in 2017 (Mandarin Chinese), just 5 years later that number has more than doubled. In 2021 alone, 32 new languages were added. The cartoon has also been released in small movies. They are viewed by an unknown number of people on social media.

There is no organization behind the success of this book, and there are no commercial interests at play. The creators, Willem and Marian de Vink, make their images available free of charge, and then supporters provide the printing with donations. This is how the books spread around the world. The strength of the book is its simplicity. The drawings are clear, colorful and stripped of distracting details and cultural (Western) ballast. The content is a pure representation of the descriptions of the life of Jesus from the four Gospels.

Special adaptations
With so many cultures and languages, it was sometimes necessary to adjust the Comic book here and there. For example, in some languages people read from right to left. The Comic book was therefore printed mirrored here. And for Muslim countries, the dresses were drawn longer because bare legs should not be visible there. In some African language editions, it was decided to number the text balloons so that people who are not used to reading can follow the reading direction. And for a language in northern China, the speech balloons were adjusted because there they read from top to bottom.

As loaves and fishes
Creator Willem de Vink is amazed and grateful. As a teenager, there was already a desire in him to create a comic strip about Jesus that would go around the world. Now he is seeing that dream fulfilled. He feels like the boy who put his loaves and fishes in the hands of Jesus, who went and multiplied it and instructed His disciples to distribute it.

The illustrator, writer and evangelist hopes many more people will join in, because the demand for the Comic book is high. ‘Jesus is far too important to keep Him only in our own church,’ he says. ‘We have all become citizens of the world, but we have no idea how to live in peace with each other. Jesus inspires us to love one another. Therefore, everyone should have the opportunity to know His simple and humble love. The Comic book gives millions of people that opportunity.’

Jesus Messiah Comic book Worldwide

ln Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), 100,000 Comic books are currently being distributed. This is made possible by a donation following an interview on the Dutch evangelical broadcast with missionary Leo Baan. He says, ‘This is for many people here the first time they get a Comic book. And still about Jesus!’

In West Africa, local classes of children are being taught from the Comic book. Even Muslim classes are participating. There are countries where whole populations can hardly read or write. For them, the book is a great way to still be introduced to the Gospel.

ln Asia, books find their way to the farthest corners. The Comic book is read on remote islands, in desert areas and in the highest mountain villages. And also in “closed” countries. There are more than 80 language editions in circulation in India. In different places, evangelists teach people to tell the Gospel to each other using the pictures. This is how house churches are formed. There are more than 100 translations ready to be printed as soon as funds are available.

In South America, the Comic book is printed in Spanish and Portuguese. From these world languages, translations can be made for smaller language groups. In Suriname, the book has already been printed in 7 different languages distributed to school children. And in the Antilles, the book is read in Papiamentu.

In Europe, 25 percent of the population is low-literate. The Comic book is a godsend for them. This way they too can discover who Jesus is. The videos are currently being provided with sign language. Thus, deaf people are also considered.

In Israel, the Israeli and Palestinian Bible Society has been using the book since 2019. For Willem and Marian de Vink, it was a special milestone that their book allowed them to minister to the inhabitants of the land where Jesus began His work.

Check out the Jesus Messiah website with testimonies from around the world:

About the ministry of Willem and Marian de Vink: