“[Here’s] the story of how I became a Christian.”
The 14-year-old girl was writing a letter about her conversion to Christianity.
But she wasn’t writing to a friend, a family member, or even her pastor.
Instead, she was writing to the producers of her favorite radio show!
“I grew up in a Christian home and had always gone to church and have known about God,” the girl shared in her letter.
Despite learning about Jesus, however, she didn’t fully understand the Gospel and what being a Christian would mean for her.
That is until she entered the world of Adventures in Odyssey.
Adventures in Odyssey (AIO) is a dramatic, half-hour audio show created for kids and families. Set in a small Midwestern town named Odyssey, the drama features a cast of quirky and loveable characters who work out their Christian faith in diverse ways.
The show originally aired on religious radio stations in the 1980s, and it has since become one of the longest-running audio dramas in history!
“We weren’t entirely convinced it was going to work,” admitted Paul McCusker, who was one of the original writers and producers for AIO.
“At the time [we] started, we were dealing with the MTV generation. We knew we were up against a visual reality and our medium would work against us.”
But McCusker and others firmly believed that it was important to provide clean, family-friendly entertainment for Christians around the nation — and it was also an incredible opportunity to teach biblical truths through engaging stories.
These original stories and characters were what captivated the fourteen-year-old girl who shared her conversion story.
“One night I was listening to my Odyssey tapes,” she wrote. “[I was listening to the episode] where Connie comes back from California and becomes a Christian.”
The episode in question describes the conversion experience of Connie, one of AIO’s most beloved recurring characters.
Connie enters the show as a rebellious teenage atheist, but through the influence of Whit, a wise and kindly Christian man, she comes to see the truth of Jesus’ love for her and surrenders her life to Him.
“I remember praying along with Connie and Whit,” the listener wrote. “I felt really good. It was cool [to share that experience].”
“Even though I go through tough times I know God is always here to help me,” she continued. “It’s all thanks to you guys who spend so much time doing this radio drama…it has really changed my life.”
“I really appreciate all you do!” she finished.
This letter touched the hearts of the AIO producers, whose hope is always that their stories and characters will lead young people closer to Christ.
“We [want] to deal with living out one’s Christian life fairly realistically,” said McCusker. “The characters have to be real…they can’t just be mouthpieces or PR advocates.”
“To make them real, you have to have conflict and mistakes.”
It’s this sense of honesty that draws many young people into the world of Odyssey. The show covers current issues in engaging and relevant ways that even kids can understand—but kids are always encouraged to talk to their parents about topics addressed in the show!
Long-running characters in AIO include Whit, a mature and loving Christian who runs a soda shop in Odyssey; Connie, a spunky young event planner, and writer; Eugene, the town’s “resident genius”; and Wooton, everyone’s favorite mailman.
More recent additions include Jules, a teenager who grapples with philosophical ideas about truth and God, and Buck, a reformed juvenile delinquent who’s discovering God’s love.
With such a diverse cast of characters to populate the town, it’s no wonder that the stories of AIO are captivating and relevant!
“Ninety-five percent of what kids go through is timeless,” noted Nathan Hoobler, another producer for AIO. “All kids need to learn about honesty, integrity, responsibility, respect of authority, and other life lessons.”
One of the show’s most recent albums, “The Ties That Bind,” dealt with the culturally tense issues of marriage and family.
Throughout the album, the people of Odyssey questioned why family matters in God’s plan and why it’s important to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
It seems amazing that a half-hour radio show could address such weighty topics in terms that kids could understand, but AIO accomplished just that.
The album worked through real-world discussions in simple terms—with plenty of examples that listeners could use in their own conversations—and demonstrated how to gracefully engage those who are opposed to biblical ideas about marriage and family.
It’s just one example of how this simple but beautifully executed radio show has impacted thousands of listeners for the kingdom of God.
And so many of those listeners, like the young woman above, have shared that they deeply appreciate the work of AIO!
Want to start listening to Adventures in Odyssey? Find a station near you, or visit the show’s website to hear the most recent episodes. Or, visit your local library to see if they have any AIO collections to check out!