As theological debates on sexuality and marriage become more and more central, many Christian denominations are being asked to clarify their views.
A young company based in Barcelona (Spain) creates digital apps to share biblical stories with children, whilst supporting missionary projects.
A vegetable grows from a seed. It is born. A new star appears in the sky. It is born. An animal grows inside its mother or inside an egg. It is born. Water springs in one direction and forms a river. It is born. Someone develops a gift playing the violin or telling stories. A musician is born or a writer is born. An idea flows from another. It is born. A person decides to follow Jesus. She is born. She is born again. She believes. She has eternal life. A child starts to take an interest in the world around him. That is another form of birth.
That is what Natum Digital Content wants to achieve (‘Natum’ means ‘born’ in Latin). It is a young company in Barcelona which has just launched two new computer applications targeting children between the ages of 2 and 12 with the objective of communicating God’s word in a simple and practical way, using biblical stories with Christian values.
So far, you can download two stories: ‘My favourite mountain’ (the story of the fish and the loaves of bread) and ‘The lost sheep’. They are also in the process of completing two other stories in the next few months, including a very original one about the Christmas story. Each app costs 2.99 euros and can be downloaded through AppStore for iPad, although the aim is to be able to offer them for iPhone and Android devices in the near future.
So, how was Natum born? It came from a group of investors who describe themselves as ‘crazy people with a clear vision’ and who came from the professional world of digital communication.
These are: Miguel Borham, Keila Olmo and Susanna Gonzalez. Miguel is in charge of conceptual art, illustrations and promotion; Keila is responsible for writing the stories, composes the music and sings the songs, arranges the audio-visuals and creates the interactive games; Susanna coordinates the whole thing and makes it happen.
Keila Olmo is the smiley face of the group. At 27, she is the youngest in the team. She is a multi-disciplinary artist who, according to her own definition, is ‘passionate about illustration, music, missions, God, children’s stories, coffee, tea, graphic design, typographic sources, good stories and checked shirts’. All of this is the result of a childhood spent ‘stuck in a book, singing or painting’ and with parents who feared that she might one day become an artist.
So, she studied Marketing, she can draw like an angel and has her own music band, Papel Mache, a mixture of pop, rock and folk with hints of Celtic, flamenco and bluegrass. She defines Natum as ‘a group of people who are passionate about Jesus and the arts’, to which Miguel adds ‘and also about children and technology’.
As for Miguel Borham (whose father is Australian and mother is Spanish), he is also a cheerful character himself, despite his hipster beard. He was born and raised in Talavera de la Reina, lives in Barcelona, belongs to a church in Vilanova I la Geltru and is a fan of one of the most authentic clubs in the world- the Sporting of Gijon.
He came to Barcelona to work as a 3D animator in a company, having been the illustrator of stories such as ‘Igleburger’ (a humouristic book by Alex Sampedro which compares the spiritual life of many consumerist churches with being overweight due to the consumption of fast food) and ‘Play’ (a book by Josue Enfedaque that brings us closer to the Bible through characters in gaming). He also made the cover for an Indian pop group called My dear Flotsam.
Miguel considers his profession to be full of art, even though many are sceptical. It involves drawing, creating, illustrating and imagining worlds and stories, even though his own life does not always reflect that, as he himself admits to not visiting a gym he belongs to.
The third person is Susanna Gonzalez, who is very organized and meticulous when it comes to promoting and selling the work of Natum. As a mother of two children, Ibai and Itziar, she knows fully well that ‘there is a lack of good quality work to be used by the whole family’. According to her, the objective of Natum is to ‘create stories to transmit Christian values using new technologies and being a tool for parents and teachers’, not forgetting that this project to create a small business dignifies and values the creative art that is behind it, as well as supporting missionary work with 80% of its profits.
Miguel’s illustrations, which lie between the classic comic and the Japanese style, are the visuals for the stories of Natum, supported by the strong texts- in Catalan, Spanish and English-, the music by Keila and other extras in the form of games, puzzles or even colouring stunning drawings. The aim is to provide a tool to children who use a tablet or a mobile phone (with that ease that characterises children who live in a digital world) that tells them about God, a living God who is part of our daily lives, not just of Sunday mornings.
The philosophy of Natum (history, message, entertainment and values), is reflected in Keila’s songs, as she sings ‘if you are my pastor, I will not be afraid. If a scary wolf may turn up, you will attack him like a lion’. The stories are no longer than five minutes, they are perfect for a bed time story, to be used in Sunday school or for those moments when one wants to play a video game.
At Natum, they have a very clear idea about the added value of their games and stories- making Jesus known and his values. And we must remember that the wolf that appears in the story about the lost sheep, well, I can’t tell you what happens.