For 47-year-old Curtis Hawn of Harrisburg, life is changing at a surprising rate.
A husband and father of three, Hawn is in the midst of seeing a lifelong dream develop rapidly. After 20 years of serving as a youth pastor with a passion for reaching kids for Christ, Hawn is now the owner of both a publishing firm and entertainment company.
Hawn began writing comics more than 17 years ago, while he was a Sunday school pastor in Chicago.
"I wanted to introduce kids to the Bible through the eyes of Christ - God's first superhero," said Hawn. So he created Captain Salvation.
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"There are many superficial heroes in this world, but there is only one godly superhero that never fails us or lets us down. When we receive Christ into our lives as Lord, he becomes the 'captain' of our soul," he said.
For many years Hawn's dream developed internally, but over the past three years a series of connections brought Captain Salvation to life.
In 2008, Hawn opened Salvation Comics, a publishing company creating comics that tell the story of Captain Salvation. Captain Salvation and his team of "Kingdom Super Heroes" convey the message of salvation and the hope of knowing Jesus Christ, according to Hawn.
Captain Salvation also has become a live full-size superhero in a spectacular costume, thanks to the efforts of a local football hero. Behind the mask is Shane Burton, retired Carolina Panther No. 98.
"I am honored and thrilled to accept the position," Burton said. "My calling has always been to provide a positive role model to children. My years spent in the NFL have prepared me and taught me many life lessons and values that are important."
Captain Salvation also has a cool sidekick, Joshua, played by David Sparks, 28, of Harrisburg.
Hawn also founded Salvation World Outreach in 2009, a ministry used as the vehicle to take Captain Salvation around the world.
"It is a Christian character-based ministry and entertainment company that creates godly superheroes based on biblical themes," said Hawn. To date, more than 2,000 children around the world have "activated" their faith through this ministry. Although Hawn can't personally travel to every part of the world, the ministry trains and equips mission team members to wear the costume and teach the curriculum.
Georgia Derr, 42, of Harrisburg is leading her first mission team to Nakuru, Kenya, from Aug. 8-18. The team consists of six local residents who have each traveled on at least one mission trip.
"I have never led anyone anywhere, except three kids to the mall, school or the dinner table. This is a real high point of my life," Derr said. Derr is taking the team to assist missionary friends Joe and Molly Bail, a couple she recently reconnected with through Facebook, after 20 years. The Bails and their teenage son live in Africa and recently completed construction on Springs of Hope Kenya, an orphanage for children affected by AIDS.
Derr has coordinated with Hawn to bring Captain Salvation to the children.
"It is so exciting for these kids who have never seen anything like this before," Derr said. "We will have daily Captain Salvation time including stories, games, lessons and crafts. This will be a wonderful diversion from our time visiting children working in garbage dumps, local HIV wards and shelters for physically abused teenage girls."
To offset the expenses for the trip, Derr and friends have planned a fundraising event for April 17, from 7 p.m.-10:30 p.m. at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord. Captain Salvation will attend and sign his comic books; missionaries will share their experiences from Africa and Thailand; hors d'oeuvres, dessert and beverages will be served; and a silent auction will be held.