Monday, January 17, 2005

Online Missionaries

This article is both fascinating and scary. Forward-thinking evangelical churches are targeting online gamers in MMOGs (massively multiplayer online games) for proselytization. It makes a lot of sense. Here's what Billy Houston, a young evangelist had to say:

"I think the reason so many people are open to hearing about Jesus in the World of Warcraft is because the majority of people who play the game are lonely kids who don't have any friends. I doubt any of them play sports so you can pretty much guess that there are lots of gay boys and fat little pale-faced Wiccan girls on the servers who hate themselves and escape into virtual characters so they don't have to deal with their pathetic lives. When they hear that someone loves them, even if it is just the Lord Jesus Christ, they always want to hear more!"

Here's another quote:

"I think that when Jesus said in Mark 16:15, Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, He knew that True Christians™ like me in the future, would be called into virtual worlds where we'd be witnessing to gnomes, trolls, night elves and all sorts of other creatures. I also think that verse applies to Christian astronaut missionaries in the future who will encounter and evangelize unsaved alien life forms on other planets. I believe with my whole heart that Christian gamers are sincerely answering the Great Commission of Jesus and we are able to do it without getting out of our chairs or leaving our bedrooms. I bet the Apostle Paul is so jealous!"

Or how about this:

"Sometimes you have to pester people for weeks before they listen to you. I followed some stupid gnome around for 8-hours until he finally told me that he would accept Jesus as his Personal Savior if I would just promise not to contact him anymore. Now that rocks!"

And this is truly frightening:

Christian gamers are also excited that they are able to live out their faith in the same way the early True Christians™ did, before their religion was sissified by liberalism, science, and political correctness. "It is such a rush to kill other players who refuse to accept Jesus Christ as Lord," says one gamer. "I feel like I can really practice my faith the way God intended it. It is like I'm fighting alongside Christians of old, instead of the pansies and sissies from my Sunday school class."

Just one more:

"I follow them around the game, across snow-capped mountains, and blasted wastelands until they accept Christ or persecute me so much that I have to report them to the server administrators for making fun of my religion. I think I've been responsible for getting over thirty accounts suspended for bigotry directed at me because of my faith."

I think religion has an important place in the world, but I also believe that people have a right to live their lives free of persecution. Persistent preaching is griefing by any other name. I wish that the online missionaries would practice tolerance as well as passion.

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