by Captain Will Richardson
It was gift from my wife upon my commissioning as an officer from the College for Officer Training that led me into an unlikely ministry. Who knew you could use an Xbox for ministry? But that was exactly my desire after receiving it.
“Lord, how can I use even this down time for you? Since you have allowed me to have this gift from Larisha, show me how I can use it for your glory,” I prayed.
It wasn’t long before a random online pick-up game with other people across the country led me to a conversation about Christ with a gentleman who, after a few more games, shared he was searching for meaning in life.
I started hosting Bible Q&A sessions at the request of some regular players which eventually led to full Bible studies. I continued this for a few years and when Xbox added clubs I found a like-minded group where our sole mission was to play games with people and build relationships in the hope of having conversations about Christ and salvation.
In time this ministry at home spilled over into my corps appointments in Iowa City, Iowa, and East St. Louis, Ill. (now St. Clair County, Ill.). We used video games to build relationships to have Christ-centered conversations. I’ve now been having online Bible studies on Xbox and talking with people about Christ for eight years. It’s not all just digital video games either; we started a Christian “Dungeons and Dragons”- type game called “Holy Lands” that helps youth see the importance of making good choices and is an outreach for evangelism.
I love that The Salvation Army gives us freedom to be flexible in our ministry and outreach opportunities. That freedom is allowing us to build a game room at the Pontiac, Mich., Corps for a video game ministry, continuing something I submitted to God my first year of officership.
Gaming has only been one of many unique ministry opportunities, and they haven’t all been indoors. For instance, we participated in The Salvation Army Outdoors (TSAO) ministry called “Experiencing God Outdoors” that involves camping, fishing and wilderness survival, utilizing the retention pond behind our house as a place for youth to fish, to teach them how to live and take care of the world God created.
I have enjoyed being an officer and am thankful God continues to give me ideas for creative ministry to lead people to Him.