By Jason Wenell
An online magazine that attempts to challenge men in particular, Prodigal Son publishes every other Thursday. Right now they feature Gary Carter: an Exclusive Interview of a former pro baseball player, The Devil’s Wedge: an examination of the effect sexual sin is having on men, and more. Here’s what the founder Jason Wenell has to say:
What is Prodigal Son?
Prodigal Son Magazine is a Christian Men’s portal or ezine which aims at engaging a conversation among Christian men, wherever they are at in life or their walk with God. The magazine is generally made up of reader-submitted articles, which helps build a community of two way conversation, not just the editor to reader relationship. The articles of regular guys on their journey through this perplexing life, helps the content act as a pulse of the emerging generation of Christian men. We tackle any topic in a manner that is not watered down and don’t shy away from the hard issues that men face.
Who started it?
I founded this publication while I was in Japan on a missions trip. God really put it on my heart about three years ago, and then while I was away teaching English…he gave me the time and tools to get it started. I literally couldn’t sleep for three nights straight, as God continued to wake me up and urge me to get going. With no background in journalism and no design experience…it was strictly up to Him to guide me through…and now two years later here we are…going on issue #50. I must also thank my wonderful wife Shanelle, who has not only helped me with the vision of the magazine but also helps bring the finished product to your laptops as she does so much of the data entry.
How long has it been going?
The magazine has done very well considering it is only supported by word of mouth advertising. We receive anywhere from 600-1000 unique visitors per day which has grown steadily over the last two years. I told my wife when I started this that I don’t care if fifty people read it in the first year. As long as it touches men’s lives and encourages them, then we are doing what God has asked.
The coolest thing is how God keeps writers coming on board. Our network of writers is always changing, from Doctors, to Authors, from pastors, dads, moms and even young people that have a nugget of truth to throw out there. This is what makes us unique and every time a new issue comes out (every other Thursday) I always wonder where all the content will come from and somehow God delivers it right to my inbox!
How did it start?
I stood in front of a magazine stand, scanning…GQ, MAXIM, STUFF, FHM…can I take any of these magazines home and still honor my wife? I felt their was nothing for me…nothing that was cutting edge, slick to look at, relevant and clean. All the publications at the Christian book store reminded me of an old orange church pew…something had to be done. At the same time…I felt the church was losing its men. The church was nice, comfortable and kosher. This was the extreme opposite of the conversations I would have with my close Christian brothers…which was about the raw, tough struggles in life. Somewhere there was a disconnect…and I wanted to bridge the gap.
The timeline for how it started was pretty simple…I began doing mock ups on Photoshop of the look and feel of the site…I shot those ideas over to a programmer in Canada, and he helped me create the site over emails back and forth. (I still have never talked to him in person)…I then posted “Writers Wanted” ads all over the internet, which generated a good two issues of articles before we went live…meanwhile God put a former magazine publisher at my school in Japan. She told me about the ins and outs of the magazine world. All God’s handy work. As you can see, it was nothing about me and all about him.
The Path to Launch…
I should back up…I never wanted to serve God with my work until 2003. That is when my father was diagnosed with Lung Cancer and given three months to live. This event changed the path of my life and planted the seed for Prodigal Son. The name of the magazine spurs from my relationship with my dad. You see, I was always a rebel and he was always the big open arms welcoming me back. He lived out the parable and gave me a small peak into the love that God has for us…His sons and daughters. Fast forward and the magazine was set to launch Sept. 1st, 2005. Two days before launch, I got an email at my Japanese apartment, that dad was taken to the hospital. I took the next day flight home and stood by my dad in the hospital room as he struggled to breathe. As he was drugged up and hadn’t spoken for many hours, he whispered to my mom that he was speaking to the King. Not too long after that, early on Sept. 1st, he passed away. We celebrated his new birth into the Kingdom. That event also acted as a confirmation for Prodigal Son Magazine…dedicated to this wonderful man and launched the same day he went home to his Father.
What is your vision and/or mission?
My vision is to get this magazine into print and be able to encourage men worldwide. I believe more and more readers are going online…but I get so many emails from people in different countries or guys in prison or from people that want to give a copy to a friend who just doesn’t have the internet. And they ask me to send them a print version but I have to deny it to them. I want this ministry to have that type of reach.
Who is your target audience?
Christian men 16-40 would be our broad target audience…but you would be surprised how many women readers we get as well! I think that they just want to know what we are thinking about.
What kinds of stories/articles do you feature?
We offer a range of articles that fall under three sections…Your Walk, Your Life and Your Free time…The “Walk” section contains articles that encourage your faith; the “Life” section covers lifestyle topics such as career, relationships, sports and style; and the “Free” section highlights new gadgets, websites, videos and reviews.
How can some become more involved in what you’re doing? Do you have any needs?
We can always use writers…we really need a couple guys that want to cover music. That is one area that I want to cover more. Other than that, if you don’t like to write, just spread the word…and pray for the success of the ministry.
Jason Wenell and his wife Shanelle share their home with our two babies, a Great Dane named Auzlan and a Persian cat named Majubean. In his free time he loves to wake surf, write spoken word poetry and dream up new business ideas. Jason also loves the song “Nothing Left to Lose” by Matt Kearney and Spaghetti with his mother’s meat sauce. Check out Prodigal Magazine (formerly Prodigal Son).