Playing video games is something high school student Brian Cullen from Oklahoma has enjoyed for over 6 years. Between eating, sleeping and homework, he finds time to perfect his skills in the virtual gaming world while tapping into a social network of friends worldwide.
In December 2008, Brian was playing one of his favorite games on Xbox Live, a program used to connect gamers around the world via the Internet. A 19-year-old college student named Adam Jensen joined the virtual team from North Dakota to play a few rounds of a combat game.
The guys poked fun at each other, making up competitions to see who could perform the best and help their team win. They joked with each other over headsets, saying things like, "Haha that n00b got pwned," which means, "That inexperienced new guy just got beat."
When Brian said he had to stop to call his girlfriend, the other guys pleaded for him to keep playing. Brian said he would return in 30 minutes, and Adam asked for his phone number, so he could call and remind Brian to get back online to play.
That simple swap of contact information began a series of conversations that continued for weeks, consisting of Adam and Brian text messaging or calling each other.
One night, Brian texted Adam to ask if he wanted to play Xbox Live. When Adam said he didn't feel like it, Brian was surprised; this wasn't Adam's normal response. He sensed Adam was upset and decided to call.
"When I talked to him, he was pretty upset," Brian says. "His girlfriend had just broken up with him, so I called to comfort him and talk through some things." Brian had told Adam to text him anytime he was having a hard time.
Over the course of a few weeks, Adam would continue texting Brian to ask for help, advice or to have someone listen. He said things like, "Nobody loves me," and Brian would tell him how much God loves him and would send Bible verses with explanations.
In one text message, Adam said he was interested in knowing more about Christianity. The next day, Brian went to visit Kevin Bowers, a staff member with Cru's high school ministry, Student Venture.
That day, Brian showed Kevin the text message and asked what he should say to Adam. Kevin sat down with Brian and showed him how to use an evangelistic booklet that communicates the gospel message.
Brian then felt prepared to answer Adam's questions the next time they spoke.
A few weeks later, Brian was out with a group of friends when Adam texted him saying: "Man, I'm not doing well."
Brian took the opportunity to ask Adam if he was interested in hearing how he could know God personally and establish a relationship with Him.
Adam indicated that he was very interested.
Using his iPhone, Brian texted Adam passages from the booklet and waited for Adam's response. The messages were long, including Bible verses and explanations. Adam asked questions and Brian explained the verses and took pictures of diagrams in the booklet to send to Adam. This went on for a couple hours.
At the end, Adam prayed to invite Christ into his life.
Brian and Adam still keep in touch and text each other once in awhile. Adam has pursued spending time with a former youth pastor and decided to attend church again.
Brian sees that Adam has changed. Adam stopped texting as often about struggles and seems happier and more hopeful about life.
With Brian's active social life, people skills and gaming experience, the creative ways he will find to show the love of Christ to others seem limitless.
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We turn to the internet for our ordinary, mundane, and sometimes embarrassing questions. But we also look to this infinite store of knowledge for answers to life's most complex moral, intellectual, and spiritual quandaries.
Understanding the value of community to know others and share your love of Jesus doesn’t just happen – it takes intention.
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