Pat enjoys writing with his wife, Sandy.
Tell us about how Jonathan Park first began...
For years Sandy would come with me as I would have the opportunity to present the creation
message at Churches and conferences. After the presentations, families would come up and ask for
good materials to train their children with scientific evidence that’s in harmony with their faith. At the
time, we realized that there weren’t that many creation materials for children. Since we both had a
background in radio, and were fans of Adventures in Odyssey, we began to dream of a story about a
boy and his father -- a paleontologist. Many times as we were driving in the car, or in the evenings, we
would talk about how the story would go. One night, we went to a restaurant called Pat and Oscar’s in
Encinitas, CA with a yellow tablet. That’s when we wrote a few paragraphs describing characters that
would later become the Parks, and their friends, the Brenans. We outlined a ten year-old character by
the name of Jonathan, his father the paleontologist, and a ten year-old girl by the name of Jessica.
For a few months after that, the yellow pad sat in a drawer. Then one day, Dr. John Morris, the
President of the Institute for Creation Research suggested that the ICR Radio Department should
begin considering a childrens’ broadcast. Sandy and I knew it was time to write the story. We wrote
most of it over a weekend and then polished it for many weeks after that. It was titled, the Secret of the
Hidden Cave. At the time, Sandy was reading a book by Mike Trout (the former announcer for Focus
on the Family). In his book, he told a story of a cave. Sandy and I knew this setting would make for
great adventure. We also felt that it had to be about dinosaurs. And with the help of Dave Phillips (a
professor of paleontology at The Master’s College, we determined that it had to be about Ghost
Ranch. This site showed huge evidence for a worldwide flood, and yet nobody was really talking
about it. We wanted to run this dinosaur graveyard up the flagpole and get people familiar with this
incredible discovery. On a trip to Ghost Ranch to do research, Sandy and I saw dogs running all
around the area of Abiquiui, New Mexico. That’s when Sandy got the idea for the dog in the story --
Shadow. It was at this stage that someone made the comment, “With a cave, dinosaurs, and a dog,
how could this story not be a hit?
As Director of the Radio Department, and with Kathryn Mokan, our script writer at that time, we
submitted a few concepts for different children’s programs to Dr. John Morris for him to consider.
Jonathan Park was just one of those. In the end, I was excited to learn that ICR was willing to give the
Secret of the Hidden Cave a try. Sandy and I finished polishing the story and went through several
major story changes after having a few scientists edit our work. Eventually we wrote the story as a
manuscript, and it was soon published by Master Books. Because I did not feel that we were
competent in writing a radio drama, we hired a young-earth Hollywood screenwriter to adapt the book
into a radio drama script. Unfortunately, after several revisions, the script did not seem to capture the
story the way we wanted. However, this screen writer graciously took the time to mentor myself,
Sandy and Kathryn in script writing. Out of discouragement, I decided to adapt the story myself. When
I was done, I handed it off to a few writers who had written for successful radio dramas for their
critique. None of them liked my script. They said that it was terrible, that no one would like the bad
guys -- that they were too stupid. They thought that the plot was uninteresting, and that it could not
ever lead to another story. One of these mentors actually went as far as to say something like,
“The only thing that works about the script are your characters’ names and you should change
everything else”. Ouch! Just a side note, for many years now people have been listening to Secret of
the Hidden Cave, and I’ve heard from tons of listeners that say that the “bad guys” -- Simon, Marvin,
and Vinnie -- are some of their favorite characters. We’ve also learned that first episode really could
lead to many more episodes. It helps me to realize that even when the experts say that something
will fail, instead we have to turn our eyes toward the Lord. He is the One that decides what He will --
and will not -- use to serve Him. I’ve learned that we all need to dream big dreams for His glory, and
leave the results up to Him. When we put our eyes on the Giants, we most certainly face defeat, but
when our eyes are on Him, He leads us to victory, in His way!
When my mentors so severely criticized the script, I became horribly discouraged. I had wasted so
much of ICR’s time and money, and now I had a script that everyone seemed to hate. At this point, I
gave up. How could we do a radio drama with no script? Then came encouragement from my wife
Sandy. Also, Kathryn advised me to go on with the script anyway. She pointed out that we had come
this far, we just needed to produce it as it was. If it failed, then so be it! We put it in the Lord’s hands. I
had my friend Kelly Ruble give the script a once over since he’s actually written several screen plays.
He added quite a few of the funny lines, and made some good suggestions. Dorothy Daly who
served for a while as a script-writer for ICR’s Radio Department also gave it a once-over, as well as
Dr. John Morris.
Next was casting. Since Sandy and Kathryn were going to co-direct the recording, it was natural that
they played a key-role in choosing our actors. We got the word out to Churches around San Diego
and we had a large group show up on a Friday evening and Saturday. We had made the decision to
go with non-union actors who believed in the message we wanted to communicate. And now looking
back, I see how much the Lord was watching over us that day. I truly believe that we have ended up
with the best actors in the world. And boy, do they have a heart for the Lord. As you will see as you
peruse these pages, we have lots of families working together on this project!
Our next hurdle was recording day. We chose to record at Fanfare Studios in El Cajon. Owner Ron
Compton was our audio engineer. It was a very stressful day. We were running hours behind. We
started at 8am and went clear until 6pm. Kathryn and Sandy did a fantastic job, and the actors were
very patient. Although things seemed to not be working out very well, at the end of the day we walked
away with the dialogue tracks we needed. The Lord was good.
The most grueling phase was production. Tim, Jonathan, and I spent weeks in a small studio at ICR
editing dialogue, building sound environments, and cutting up music to fit as best as we could.
Sometimes it seemed overwhelming and like it would never end! However, it reminds me of I
Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding
in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” I think one of
my most precious memories I have about Secret of the Hidden Cave is that the Lord took a team of
people that had absolutely no idea or experience about how to make a radio drama, and yet saw us
through. Every morning our team -- Kathryn, Dorothy, Tim, Jonathan, and myself would gather for
prayer. We asked the Lord to help us to complete a task that we did not know how to do. Finally, when
we were finished, Secret of the Hidden Cave went out to radio stations around the world -- and they
liked it! Praise the Lord for his kindness and allowing us to live a dream!