Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Becoming the “Bad Guy”

Written by: on June 21, 2018

Anime(Wikipedia): a style of hand-drawn and computer animation originating in, and commonly associated with Japan

Manga(Wikipedia): comics created in Japan, conforming to a style developed in Japan in the late 19th century.

Hentai(Wikipedia): a form of manga and anime pornography

Henna (Wikipedia): can refer to the temporary body art resulting from the staining of the skin from dyes.

Graphic novel (Shawn’s definition) : a broad spectrum of artist works that tell a story through anime, manga, hentai and various other art forms.


I should begin this post with a warning: be careful how you classify this reading. Though I actually knew the difference beforehand, it still did not stop me from telling my kids that I was reading some “hentai” for my homework this week…I meant to say anime. Following the laughter, my son began my re-education lesson on the genres of oriental art. Without lingering any longer on that lesson, I must admit that this book was very difficult to put down, due to the historical and the imagery that filled its pages. Three strong lessons kept resonating with me through this reading, one of which was so strong it actually became the topic of discussion in our Wednesday evening class. That particular lesson revolved around the approaches in mission work that could actually become effective in a society that has already been so indoctrinated against it. The lesson was similar to my post last week that still ponders how a society actually views Christianity when those who are preaching it are also behind an aggressive colonization effort. And lastly, I was wondering who the hero of this story actually seemed to be?

First, the ideology that is presented in these two graphic novels regarding the attitude held against Christianity was quite fascinating and ironic; after all, the fact that Christians were repeatedly referred to as the “devils[1],” definitely causes one to pause. I could not help but wonder just how poorly must early representatives of Christianity presented the gospel message of Jesus Christ that they were seen as devils rather than saints? Perhaps is what not all just the offensive nature of those bringing the message that caused offense, but also the fact that the “religion” of China seems to be more than just a “worship to a deity” type of religion. Their faith is so intricately intertwined into their culture because it is about faith, family, culture, structure, and tradition. Therefore, when anyone comes in and tries to tell them that what they have is wrong, it is not merely a challenge to their view of their god, but rather an insult to their entire system of living. Ironically, Christ came to challenge everyone’s understanding of the world that they are living in. John 15:19 reads, “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” This fact reminds all of us that we have to change our world-view of things…the gospel is supposed to be offensive in that regard.

Second, and still strongly tied to the first topic, I thought about the methods of the Westboro Baptist church movement with their picketing and signs of “hate” for so many, that it is easy to see why people fail to see a message of hope and love coming from their ministry. Last week I commented on the realization I had regarding the early colonization efforts of Catholicism, only to see this week’s story demonstrating that exact perversion of Christianity. I wondered how many of us have become over zealous in our eagerness to stand up against sin that we were seen as haters instead of lovers. It is that fine line of discerning the need to preach hard against sinfulness as Paul does in 1 Timothy 6, and still managing to preach the need to love as Paul also teaches in 1 Corinthians 13. As preachers of the gospel, we must preach against sin, but as doers of the gospel, we must make sure to do it in a manner that truly demonstrates the love of Christ toward the people we hope to win. For this reason, I struggle with the methods of evangelism that could prove effective through war and “colonization;” I believe immediately the people would only see Christianity as an offence.

Lastly, I kept wondering who the hero of the story was actually supposed to be? In our story, Bao saw what he perceived as injustices against his family and as a result fought against the “devils” that were harming not just his family, but rather, his entire country. He tried to listen to his ancestors and the “gods” that were guiding him in his quest for vengeance and justice, all in what seems to be a pursuit of, again, his perception of right. However, along the way, Bao stops listening to his gods, he stops listening to his rules, and he even stops listening to his conscience. We see that he gives into his rage and hate, and as a result, he becomes a child killing soldier. The Christians are just as guilty though, in that they have not shown the love of Jesus, but rather forced Christianity upon the people of China through aggression and violence. Through our discussions, I keep hearing about the dangers of short-term mission work, or dangers of failing to learn about a culture before truly interacting with that culture; so the question I ask myself is “How do we not end up the bad guy in our mission work?”

The nice thing about this reading is that we are given a glimpse into the other side’s view of Christianity. If we take information like that and work to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, perhaps we can increase our chances at a successful mission work. However, I believe it also provides us with a realistic attitude toward pressing forward, in that, we are always going to face the chance that our audience already views us as the bad guy, and therefore, the battle to preach the gospel is going to be a tough one. That doesn’t mean we admit defeat, it just means we are honest about the challenges before us.



Yang, Gene Luen. Boxers. China: First Second; an imprint of Roaring Brook Press, 2013.

—. Saints. China: First Second; an imprint of Roaring Brook Press, 2013.


[1] Yang, Gene Luen. Boxers. China: First Second; an imprint of Roaring Brook Press, 2013. P 246.


About the Author

Shawn Hart

7 responses to “Becoming the “Bad Guy””

  1. M Webb says:

    Thanks for the introductory definitions and then Shawn’s integration into graphic novel.
    The hero I saw was Christ, who repelled the Boxers and attracted the Saints characters in Yang’s comic book novel about good-versus-evil during the Boxer Rebellion in China. The Boxers where not fighting over God or their gods because everyone knows a god. They were rebelling because of Christ, the sovereign son of God who is the only “way” to the Father. Christ as the “only” God that matters is what outraged the Boxers because He interrupts their worship of many gods, spirts, and how they manage and make merit. Paul said, this is not a battle against “flesh and blood” and I think that is the challenge for Christian leaders to remember surveying how to engage evil and tear down strongholds through the power of the Holy Spirit.
    Stand firm, 站立得住
    M. Webb

    • Shawn Hart says:

      I guess that was my point Mike…Did God actually win in this story? Don’t get me wrong, I know God will always WIN ultimately; however, was He victorious through the actions of the Christians represented in this tale? Furthermore, is God victorious in the way that we as individuals choose to reflect Him to the world? It is the challenge of Christianity to show the true natures of God…not just the love, grace and mercy, but also the wrath, judgment and authority; and all while not corrupting His Word in the process. The ultimate message of Christ is Love…but Christ also said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” So we must show love and obedience…not always an easy line to discern both.

  2. Jennifer Williamson says:

    I enjoyed reading your response to this book. Your question, “who is the hero?” is interesting. I think Yang did a great job of showing how humanism will always fall short–we can’t be heros, only Jesus can. The characters in B&S were flawed–and in that way realistic. I was especially moved by the Doctor figure in Saints, who becomes a “hero” to Vibiana, only to later fall off his pedestal when she learns of his opium addiction. I actually liked that Yang didn’t give us a “hero” to latch on to. Hus characters are loveable, relateable, and messy.

    • Shawn Hart says:

      I too appreciated the “human” aspect to the characters here. The implication of my question was not to suggest that there be a hero, but to realize that we all fall short; but how can we do better. Too often we act according to perception rather than fact; offense rather than right; and political rather than spiritual. Imagine what would happen if we all truly just wanted to please God instead of ourselves.

  3. Jay Forseth says:

    Hi Shawn,

    Well done for going “deep” this week and digging into even the definitions.

    I have found myself wondering how Paul would have brought Christ to China? He obviously had “Cultural Intelligence” while going to Greece and finding the statue for the unknown God as a means to open the door to discussion.

    Your thoughts?

  4. Shawn Hart says:

    This reading makes you wonder if there was a reason Paul’s three journeys seemed to stop shy of China; perhaps he saw the obstacles that lay ahead. I believe that Christ’s commission in Matthew 28:18-20 tells us that there is potential for conversion throughout all the world; however, I also know that Christ also taught to “shake off the dust from your feet,” in regard to the places that were not receptive to the Word. Therefore, Christ was prepared for immovable people…as I suppose, we should be.

  5. Jason Turbeville says:

    How did you like the use of the spiritual guides in both novels, one starts as a benevolent guide (for Bao) and ends up a murderer, the other starts as a warrior for Four Girl and ends a martyr. It seems to trace the individuals trajectory through the story.
    Thanks for the definitions at the beginning most do get them messed up.


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