There’s a question asked of many a child: What do you want to be when you grow up? It’s often followed by a pause as a young one contemplates what they would like to be someday.
But one little boy knew the answer before the question was even asked.
“I was always thinking about writing,” says Rob Loos, producer and writer of a new faith-based series of children’s videos. “When I was 6 or 7-years old, I pointed to Captain Kangaroo on TV and said that’s what I want to do.”
Rob’s parents thought he wanted to be a guest on the show. But the second grader was quick to point out exactly what he meant.
“I said, ‘No that’s what I want to DO,’” remembers Rob of that defining moment. “And 30-years later I was producing the new Captain Kangaroo show.”
How he got from Akron, Ohio to Los Angeles, Calif., and then later writing for the television series “Touched by an Angel”, producing the popular kids’ movies “McGee and Me”, among others, is a story in itself. Rob sees it as the hand of God, starting with a life-changing event.
In the early 1970’s, Rob’s 35-year old mother was diagnosed with lung cancer. For someone who had never been a smoker, the news was shocking. But for a nearby neighborhood couple, the situation wasn’t hopeless. They asked Rob's parents if they could pray for her healing. Amazingly, when his mom went in later for a scheduled appointment, her doctors discovered the lung cancer was gone.
“It changed our lives,” Rob reflects on the turn of events that had he and his parents meeting a new circle of friends. “We started being around amazing Christian people, like (youth evangelist) Jack Wyrtzen.”
It was while his mom lived in remission that Rob observed the way their new friends lived their faith. For an impressionable kid, it had a long-lasting impact on who he wanted to be – in spite of the loss he experienced as a 14-year old.
“The cancer went away, but four years later it came back,” Rob says about his mom’s illness and death. “But during that time I saw the power of God.”
And he still wanted to be a writer, but now one with a deeper faith.
Rob feels the circumstances that later moved him toward his dream were more than just a coincidence. In his senior year of high school, a major film production company chose his Western Reserve Academy small town campus to shoot “The Gathering”.
“I got to learn so much behind the scenes,” Rob recalls. “Every bit I wasn’t in class, I was with the producers and directors.”
Because of his work on the school annual he also met film stars such as Ed Asner, Gregory Harrison, Maureen Stapleton and young Stephanie Zimbalist, who was his age.
“That experience guided me to go to Northwestern University, comments Rob thoughtfully. “And while there, and in my senior year, Hollywood came to me.”
Alums of the university came together to produce a show and again Rob was in the right place at the right time. Rubbing shoulders with celebrities like Garry Marshall, creator of the television series “La Verne & Shirley” and Bob Banner co-producer of “The Carol Burnett Show”, along with many other well-known people, Rob landed an internship in Los Angeles.
But Rob was met with resistance from family who wanted him to stay close to home.
My pastor, David Burham from The Chapel, had to convince my parents,” remembers Rob. “He said to them, ‘If God is calling more Christians to Hollywood, then give him a chance.’ He (the reverend) influenced me by preaching – and I’m not a preacher but a storyteller.”
Actually, Rob does a little of both in the award-winning children’s video series “Iesodo” (YAY-sa-doe) that means “The way of Jesus.” Featuring a flock of birds that live and sing in a Cypress tree on the shores of Galilee, it’s a wise and gentle dove that gives an allegory to the stories and messages of Jesus.
The idea of using animated birds to tell the stories came to Rob while visiting Israel where he was inspired by the huge number of different migrating birds in the Hula Valley.
“I thought, ‘Wow!’ Wouldn’t that be good for sharing the idea of a flock of believers with their different way of talk and approach to life,” Rob reminisces. “Birds are all different shapes, different colors, and birds sing different songs - just like people.”
Earlier, Rob had been approached by Jared and Natalie Hankins (the executive producers) who wanted a faith-centered cartoon series. Now with the concept of how to tell the stories, he was ready to fly with the idea after capturing photos of the birds and area to later replicate in animation.
The first of the episodes was “Believe” followed by “Love” and now, “Faith”, each with two biblical stories and positive messages for kids.
“The titles wrap around themes of virtues – love, sharing, teamwork, kindness,” Rob says about the DVD series. “We want kids to emulate the loveable characters in the stories.”
And who knows? Maybe one day when these children are asked what they want to be when they grow up, their answers will be, “kind to others, someone who shares, a team player, and a believer who knows nothing is impossible with God.”
If you have a story idea for Light Notes, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Lucy Luginbill on Twitter @LucyLuginbill.