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Video Games Open New Opportunities for Evangelism

Until the COVID-19 pandemic, Roman Khripunov didn’t realize the missionary potential of video games. Khripunov ran soccer academies for refugees and immigrants in Houston, using the sport as a platform to share Christ with children. When the coronavirus paused in-person outreach, the ministry came up with an alternative: Soccer coaches would begin playing video games on the livestreaming platform Twitch and invite players to watch and ask spiritual questions. On Twitch, participants talk with each other as they play or type back and forth in a chat box.

It was a hit. Teenage soccer players reluctant to spend 15 minutes discussing spiritual matters in person were willing to engage for three to four hours over video games online. Eventually, the ministry opened its Twitch channel to the public and began to establish a presence on other gaming platforms as well, with coaches talking with people online.

Among the success stories, a man from the Netherlands professed faith in Christ while gaming, then brought five friends to hear the gospel too. Khripunov said, “The people that we’re starting to observe on these [gaming] platforms are actually seeking a lot of spiritual things. They’re very hungry for the gospel.”

Some Christians have moral qualms about video games and have shied away from esports. Many video games are of real-world sports, but many others include sexualized and violent content. There are also concerns about other negative effects, such as gamers who show signs of addiction, and video game abuse has been linked to anxiety and depression.

Canadian Stefano DiSalvo, the most prominent professional esports player to share his Christian testimony openly, has experienced the dark side of esports. He said that many teenage gamers are “escaping from their own reality and kind of taking out that anger, taking out that depression on other people online. It creates this toxic environment at times.” That may be a reason to avoid esports. Or it may be a reason to find lost souls there.

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