Prepared to Take A Stand at Otakon 2014

1907409_877897262240266_4340355967927254005_nThis past weekend, I attended my eleventh Otakon in a row. It’s a summer tradition I started in 2004 when I was sixteen, and I haven’t missed one since. While some years are more fun than others, I always leave with the anticipation of the next year in mind (though praise God that He healed me from my absurd depressive states that used to ensue when the convention ended!). This year brought something I haven’t witnessed in previous years: street preachers. While I previously called them protestors (referring in particular to one guy who stood outside the convention center itself, although my friend who actually saw them said there were two), it doesn’t look like they targeted Otakon alone, so I don’t think it fair to say that they were protesting Otakon.

Anyway, there were a total of three groups present this year: the guy pictured above, who my friend posted a picture of on Friday; the Baltimore Israelites, who stood near my hotel on Saturday; and an unnamed group, who simply held signs on a street corner on Sunday. The focus of everything here is on the guy pictured above because (and especially at the time) I was under the impression that he was specifically targeting Otakon.

As I heard it from my friend, what he was preaching was essentially the gloom-and-doom “you’re all going to hell” type of message. In my opinion, this is poor witnessing. At best, you may coerce people to come to God out of fear, but what happens when that fear wears off? At worst, you just give people the occasion to mock the Gospel. I’m not saying that we should be soft on sin, but what good is preaching if it lacks the good news? Again, I will admit that I spent the weekend thinking this guy was specifically targeting Otakon attendees, so what I did (and what I’m about to share) came from that.

Every year, on the last day of the convention, Otakon has a feedback panel, where attendees can line up and share what they liked or didn’t like about the convention with members of Otakorp, the organization that runs Otakon. I hadn’t intended to go this year, but when the dealer’s room closed I wasn’t quite ready to leave, so my wife and I went up to the feedback panel anyway. At some point, a thought occurred to me, and I acted on it. I stood up, got in line, and waited. And waited. And waited. Hey, there were a lot of people. When I finally got my turn on the microphone, this is the gist of what I said:

This is my eleventh Otakon, and it was the first time I have ever seen Christian protestors at the convention. I bring this up because, two years ago, I became a Christ-follower myself, and as you can see I’m still here. Are there things that I see at Otakon that I don’t agree with? Yes, but I deal with them on my own. I don’t take them out on other people. As I understand it, this guy was preaching a gloom-and-doom message, and I just want to say that we’re not all like that. If you felt hated, if you felt condemned, if you felt unloved, then on behalf of all Christendom I apologize.

To be clear (because I worry about lying), the above is not word-for-word what I said. It’s my best attempt at recollecting the general point I was making. Now, in my mind, I figured I might get a round of applause from the room and walk away feeling content that I spoke up. I was not prepared for what actually happened. First off, one of the Otakorp people thanked me for saying that, and then the expected round of applause ensued. As I headed back to my seat, though, a woman stopped me. While I won’t share her story (because it’s not my place), I will say that she was a Catholic who was going through some tough spiritual troubles. I had the privilege to listen to her and, as best I could, counsel her in her worries. I won’t say I did a great job, but I definitely felt like I at least had some answers for her. At the end of it, I was given the privilege to pray for her.

During this time, I also had another woman approach me (it should be mentioned that I mentioned Geeks Under Grace at the microphone to make a point that there are Christians who are into geeky stuff, and that they didn’t have to just take my word for it) who talked to me briefly and said she would be creating an account on the site. A few more people even approached me and thanked me for what I said. In short, it seemed like what I intended to be a simple statement touched a few more people more deeply than I intended. By the end of it all, I was simply blown away (and at one point ready to cry even).

My point in sharing this is that I was able to do something for God in all of this that I never imagined. Sure, my wife and I (well, mostly my wife, because she’s more assertive than I) handed out tracts throughout the weekend, but whether people actually bothered to read them or not I’ll never know. I do know, though, that the people in that room heard what I said. I know that I created an opportunity for doors to be opened and seeds to be planted–that maybe, just maybe, these people will get curious about God from what I said–or, if nothing else, maybe I broke down some stereotypes and showed people that there’s more to Christianity than scary signs and bullhorns (or whatever he was using). I don’t really know how it touched the majority of the people in that room, and that’s okay. What is important is that what seemed like a small, simple gesture at first turned into a much bigger opportunity.

To summarize and conclude, I’ll say this: God can use anything to give you a testimony. There was a time where public speaking scared me to death, and I just didn’t want to do it. Put me in karaoke though, and that was a different story…. anyway. I won’t say I wasn’t nervous up there, because that would be a lie, but I didn’t let that stop me, and as a result I was able to make a potential impact for God. That’s one of the hardest parts about this whole thing for me: keeping it about God. Even now, I feel like there may be too much “me” and not enough “Him” in this article, and I don’t really want it to be that way. Even as I was leaving the convention center, I felt myself being drawn to that point of wanting more people to acknowledge what I did. It’s a struggle, to be sure. I didn’t write this article to glorify myself, or to receive praise. My whole intention was to share this experience, and to share just how amazed I was by it. Blown away is really the best description I have.

Rob M.

Christian, anime fan, and gamer are a few words you could use to describe me. I've been a Christian since 2012 (and thought I was one prior to that), although I'm far from having the Christian walk down pat. At one point I started thinking about how I could use various things for Christ, and eventually put my thoughts to action, resulting in Cosplay for Christ (my attempt at a cosplay ministry) and Christian Anime Review (my review blog). As you can imagine, I enjoy playing games, watching anime, and going to anime conventions. I also like to build Gundam models, fiddle with the guitar (occasionally), and listen to music (mostly Christian rock and metal).


  1. Mali on August 21, 2014 at 3:15 am

    That’s an awesome testimony. And it’s great to hear of other Christians into anime!

  2. Charles on August 15, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    Awesome, Rob! It’s great to see how you opened yourself to letting the Holy Spirit work through you, and how gracious words, reflecting of a loving God, can open doors.

  3. Rob M. on August 15, 2014 at 12:57 am

    Thanks for all of the supportive comments, everyone. My wife was actually told she had to stop handing out tracts in the convention center (because that’s solicitation), so she went outside and finished handing out the ones we had with us that day.

  4. KeikoKup on August 15, 2014 at 12:47 am

    Wow! Awesome post, this greatly encourages me. Thank you, and God bless

  5. Michael M. on August 15, 2014 at 12:09 am

    Great job Rob! God bless ya, glad you said what you said. What you did, probably has never been done and it was a Holy Spirit moment in Christian geek history (doesn’t that sound cool?). But seriously though, God bless you and your wife, glad your doing what your doing! It encourages me to go to the cons here in Miami and spread the gospel to those that need it, especially in the geek community which is so full of hurt and isolated people. Not saying they are all that way, but we all know many geeks who need Christ, and can’t find that peace in a game/con/anime etc.

  6. Devin Phandara on August 14, 2014 at 11:55 pm

    Great article! I applaud your courage and humility. Though I’ve seen my fair share of Christian protesters, I never had the courage to face them like you did. What you did was really awesome.

    OT: In your description, I see that you’re a Gundam fan. I’m also a Gundam fan! 😀

    • Rob M. on August 15, 2014 at 1:00 am

      I should clarify that I did not actually talk to the guy with the sign. My comments were made within the convention center to the staff and the attendees that were present at the time. There was part of me that wanted to confront him, but I don’t really feel confident or qualified enough to successfully debate somebody on an issue like this. I’d predict him pulling the “avoid all appearance of evil” verse on me, though.

  7. Elizabeth on August 14, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    This is awesome. Way to be courageous and step out in faith. And God gave you some pretty sweet follow-up opportunities immediately! I know you said you’re not big on speaking to crowds, and I couldn’t help but think you had a looooong time to punk out while waiting for the microphone. I applaud your dedication and commitment. Would’ve been easy to ignore that “prompting of the Holy Spirit,” and chalk it up to too much wait-time, but you would’ve missed out (or more specifically, *others* would’ve missed out) on the blessing. WTG. 🙂

  8. Josh Mors on August 14, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    Great article Rob! Really enjoyed what you said. I’m glad you did say what you said in the microphone. A lot of time those types of people can give a bad name towards us Christians. We have to tell people about the good news in a better way instead of just condemning people. We aren’t going to win people to Christ if we condemn people to hell.

  9. alexamasan on August 14, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    Thank you for writing this article and witnessing to those at Otakon. I have always been nervous when trying to witnessing to people in general and much more at Otakon. Hearing about you passing out tracts and people responding to your comment at the feedback panel encourages me and shows me that people will be receptive to the gospel. Thanks for what you’re doing.

  10. Kelly on August 14, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    I’m really thankful you shared this! I deal with a LOT of worries, and street preachers scare me to death despite the fact that I’ve been a Christian for 10 years. =P I praise God that He could give you the courage to do this and that He could use it for good. I tend to worry about what God has for me to do, and I often forget the amazing way that God uses us right where we are. Anyways, thanks again. =]

  11. Shawn Bain on August 14, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    Great article! Way to follow the prompting of the Spirit with courage, strength, and wisdom, Rob! I think you touched many people with your courage and gave a good representation of Christ!

  12. Casey Covel on August 14, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    Rob, I just want to commend you for writing this article. It really touched my heart and reminded me of one of the reasons I cosplay–to be a witnessing tool to reach groups of people who aren’t so otherwise reachable.

    Praise God you had the courage and inspiration to stand up and say what you did. I think you were able to impact a lot of lives. The woman who you prayed with… her life may take a drastically different course simply because you came into contact with her.

    I think we, as geeks, cosplayers, Con-attendees, gamers, comic-readers, etc. really have a unique avenue of witness. We are able to more readily reach others for Christ because we can connect with other geeks–secular or otherwise–than perhaps “non-geek” Christians can 🙂 I think that this is a gift and passion that shouldn’t be squandered. You certainly took advantage of your love for the geek culture–and your love for Christ–in getting up to speak to the Otakon attendees.

    Again, thanks for taking a stand. I enjoyed the read. Congrats on the “Editor’s Pick” award.

    • Michael M. on August 15, 2014 at 12:06 am

      I agree with you 100% Casey. Took the words from me. To be honest, that’s the reason why I even write for and am a part of this site (aside from supporting it too).

Leave a Reply