A few months ago, Jeremy featured an article on ChurchMag covering some Christian streamers, of which I was included. He recently followed up and asked me to write something about what makes me different from the other streamers in that article. You see, I’m on the autism spectrum. I have Asperger’s syndrome. I was diagnosed in middle school, which raised its own challenges, along with being a teenager. It’s those experiences, though, that shaped me into who I am today. In learning to deal with ridicule both at school and church, I’ve grown to know the Lord better and, through His grace, show His love to the world.
I was raised in a God-fearing home. My parents would take the family all over the northeast for bible conferences or a series of gospel meetings. I was raised from birth with the gospel being told (and sometimes shouted at me) from the pulpit by men in suits. As a kid with autism, I just couldn’t keep still. (This was in the 90s when autism acceptance was still a new thing and they were just starting to roll out tailored classes for those with different needs). The place I worship is a relatively tight community, so everyone knows everyone (but to this day I still have to identify myself by my grandfather who died in ’96).
So when I screwed up some social queue at a meeting, it didn’t take long for my peers up and down the east coast to hear about it. Needless to say, I was shunned at meetings. There was a place all the kids would go after gospel meetings on Sunday nights where everyone would hang out and play games. I was only invited a couple of times a year. When I was invited, I got picked on more than the others and was left on the outside looking in. Everyone had their groups and in-jokes I never understood. So what was a young, lonely teenager to do by himself on a Sunday night? My answer was video games.I am different, but that makes me stronger because He made me that way.
It was from that ostracism my love of video games grew. When others found out, they laughed but that didn’t stop me. I played whatever I could get my hands on. I was enthralled by them. Civilization, a game where you can take over the world any way you want. Star Wars Battlefront put me on the front lines of the planets and battles I knew and loved from my favorite science fiction universe. Call of Duty and Medal of Honor, games that allowed me to scratch an itch I had for history, allowed me to experience the front lines of Normandy and the allies march to victory. I soon found people that would talk to me about the games. We would debate the best map in Battlefront (which is Bespin), discuss what we did to make Gandhi nuke us, or talk about the latest news from Game Informer.
Gaming For Jesus
In high school, I met Matt Souza, a friend that would come to be a big influence in my life. He was the first Christian I knew that loved gaming as much as I did. When I heard that he was going to be a “gaming pastor,” I was shocked. I thought to myself, “You can use gaming for the gospel? That is amazing.” I knew I had to do it myself.
So I started streaming from my laptop with a built-in microphone and camera. The quality wasn’t great, but I didn’t care. I was following what the Bible says in Mark 16:15:
And he said unto them, ‘Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.’
I’m spreading the Good News to those that haven’t heard it before. When I stream, everyone is welcome. Christian, non-Christian, gay, straight, Internet trolls, and those who have been rejected because of their love of gaming. I’ve had people I used to look up to ask me, “How are you glorifying God when all you are doing is just sitting there playing games by yourself” You should get a real hobby.” Some would even say things like, “Andrew, you are in your late 20s. You should stop playing video games and get a life. You know where I was in my 20s? Settling down in my career and starting a family. It’s time to grow up.”
I hate hearing that as much as you, dear reader, hate reading that. I stream because of ideas in the church like that. I feel like it is my calling to tell people that God Loves Gamers. God doesn’t hate you just because you are different. He made you that way. It is my job – my obligation – to love. The bible states in John 15:11-12, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” It further goes onto state in 1 John 4:19, “We love, because HE first loved US,” and in Matthew 7:12, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” I am different, but that makes me stronger because He made me that way.
If you want to check out my stream, I’m live weeknights except for Thursday, starting at 8 PM Eastern.
God Bless and always remember.
GOD LOVES GAMERS