Cindy is the illustrator and creator of Matthew Mouse Bible Stories. She decided in the first Lockdown in March 2020 to use her passion for children's illustrations and create physical letters containing bible stories, which were posted out to children by a cute little mouse. Since starting the initiative, the popularity for Matthew Mouse and his stories has grown significantly, and the letters are now also shared digitally so that they can be shared across the world.
Read Cindy’s story below about the creation of Matthew Mouse:
'Matthew Mouse is a little mouse that found out quite by chance, he can hop through the pages of the bible, meeting interesting people and seeing amazing events right before his own eyes. He then writes a letter and gets me to illustrate them, so that he can post them monthly to young children and some that are just young at heart, telling them the bible stories from his perspective.
I created Matthew Mouse in our first Covid Lockdown, because I realised that there were children who were not attending Sunday School each week, and they battled to engage in the zoom church that had replaced it, and were missing out. I also chose to write about the stories in the bible because my husband, who helps with Sunday School, and I had noticed that many of the young people don't know the actual stories from the bible. I thought this would be a fun creative way of filling that gap for them.
I started with a physical subscription of one a month that sent out illustrated envelopes addressed to the child, and inside is a letter that I illustrate on both sides. I also include little gifts in each letter that normally connect to the story of the month. Matthew Mouse, however, has grown from this. Originally I would pray and ask for direction on what story to tell next, then I read the story in the bible from three different editions, A children’s bible, the NIV and the Message. I then also have two research books to help with traditions and other background information on each story. My aim is to make each story as accurate as possible, but still keep it fun and engaging. I also deliberately stay away from church language in the stories, so that if a child or someone with no church connection, can read it and understand it. I also tell the story from Matthew's perspective of just being there and witnessing the event. So there is no emphasis on a moral to the story or any religious or specific doctrine. This is left for the individual reading it to add if they choose to.
I was originally going to have Matthew Mouse hop between the new and old testament telling his stories, but I soon realised that this would become confusing for Children, having Jesus in one story and not in another. So it has changed and I have concentrated on Old Testament stories this year, with the exception one one or two New Testament stories I had already sent out. Next year 2022 my plan is to only tell the story of Jesus for the year and in a fairly understandable order of events. My plan is to then turn these stories into two books or letter packs later.
I also have a heart for children and young people that don't have access to these letters. I originally come from South Africa and I wanted to share them further than just the UK. I decided to start with our own home church in Ely, and our connected church in Sierra Leone. I decided to send out the same letters, each addressed to the individual young person at Bethesda and I sent them to Bishop Magnus to distribute. It took a long time for the letters to arrive but it was so worth it. He sent me photos of everyone with their letters, and then they all sent back letters of thanks to Matthew Mouse. This, along with the contact that was helping me in the UK, saying that these young people have most likely never received a letter addressed to just them, brought a rather large lump to my throat. I have also had two of these young people sponsored by older church members here in the UK, to help with some of the printing and postage costs. The next set of letters have been sent, and we hope they arrive faster than last time.
Originally, I had only had a physical letter subscription option in the UK, but I have decided to offer the letters as digital downloads now. This opens up the whole world to receive Matthew’s letters. I have had adults ask for subscriptions as gifts for children and I have quite a few older people subscribed so that they can enjoy getting a letter through the post from Matthew. All of these things help me to continue writing, illustrating, printing and sending out letters, but more importantly it helps to retell the stories of the bible and spread God’s word in a new and exciting way to young and old all over the world. I am also learning so much about the bible that I thought I already knew.
My hopes and prayers for Matthew Mouse, is that it spreads far and wide and becomes something too big for me to do from my little home printer!'
Cindy (and Matthew Mouse)
To visit Matthew Mouse's website and learn more about receiving his letters, click on the link below.