Co-founder of Big Idea Entertainment Mike Nawrocki spoke to students, faculty and staff about how his faith in God steered his career path during a convocation event on Wednesday in the Massey Performance Arts Center. Big Idea created the popular animated series “VeggieTales,” for which Nawrocki is the voice of Larry the Cucumber as well as writer and director of both short and feature-length films. The convocation was part of Belmont’s annual EMERGE, a spiritual emphasis week held near the beginning of the semester designed to encourage campus to reflect, refocus and renew. Other EMERGE speakers this week included author/Storyline founder Donald Miller and Porter’s Call founder Al Andrews.
Nawrocki explained that while he loved comedy from a young age, he originally wanted a career in the medical field. He studied at St. Paul Bible College where he met fellow Big Idea co-founder Phil Vischer while serving with a puppet ministry. He had always found church as an outlet for his creative side.
Nawrocki later enrolled at the University of Illinois-Chicago in pursuit of medical school. He took a job with a video production facility to finance his medical education. There, he gained experience in video production and animation. He finally decided that God was calling him in a different direction from medicine, and he and Vischer began working on “VeggieTales,” which is celebrating its 21st anniversary this year.
“I felt a real confirmation by God that I made the right decision so long ago,” Nawrocki said. “I had a moment where I realized that God had led me to the right place at the right time and had given me the talents and ability to do his will.”
Nawrocki concluded his presentation by encouraging students to be open to surprises.
“Here is my advice: Work hard. Make your plans, but always be open to how God can use you at a time like this,” he said.