Although small, Norway has been a pioneering nation in world missions for quite some time. Unfortunately, it has become increasingly difficult to recruit new missionaries to tell unreached people groups the good news. The focus among new generations has been on relief work without the eternal perspective of missions to go alongside. As Christians, we should of course not preach the gospel to empty stomachs, but to merely feed the body is indeed short sighted. We need effective tools to teach coming generations of holistic missions where relief efforts and the good news of eternal salvation go hand in hand.
For several years, some of the largest missions organisations and children’s ministry organisations in Norway have joined forces to create websites for children. The aim has been to present the gospel to those who do not know it, and to teach the gospel in depth to those who already profess the faith. Several methods have been used along the way, but after several years of both failing and succeeding, the conclusion is clear: if we want to teach children something through the Internet, nothing beats games.
Values-based games are hard to make. When you have an underlying agenda for making the game, it will often reflect negatively on the game, making it less fun and with a much poorer gameplay. After years of experimentation, several games have been produced which are engaging and attractive to children. Many of these games were presented at the issue group for media and technology at the Lausanne 2004 Forum in Pattaya.
In the spring of 2005, the largest secular television station in Norway aired a show in prime time which featured Norwegian missionaries in Mali. Inspired by this major opportunity to show what everyday life as a missionary looked like, work began on The Missionary Game. The first version was launched both online and in twelve thousand CD copies in the summer of 2005. The second version was launched in the summer of 2006. The game was first released in Norwegian; however, during the June 2006 Global Christian Internet Alliance conference in Seoul, Korea, the English version was finally released (along with the web address of www.themissionarygame.com).
The Missionary Game: An Overview
The game takes place in an country where the gospel is not well known. The Ì¢âÂÒplayerÌ¢âÂå travels from village to village, sharing the good news, handing out Bibles, building churches and providing food, water, medicine and clothing. The player travels through jungles, savannahs, waterfalls, mountains and swamps. After providing Bibles, the player can build a local church together with the people he or she meets.
If the player also provides for the congregation’s needs, the church will stand. If not, the church will disappear after a short while. This reinforces the idea that missions is indeed holistic. When the player has planted a few churches, he or she is given the option of letting the nationals take over the mission. If the player is in a tight spot and no natural solution seems at hand, he or she can press the ‘P’ button to kneel down and pray for God to intervene. Every missionary, both in games and in real life, depends on God’s provision and intervention. During the game the missionary can: see logs surfacing in a river where the distance is too great to jump; streams freeze over, thus offering a safe path for travel; snakes dying; lions falling asleep; and more.
The Missionary Game aims to instill values of evangelisation and world missions in children in a way that is fun, interactive and adventurous. So far the feedback has been encouraging, and thousands of games have been played. Although providing inspiration and training for world missions cannot be achieved through games alone, The Missionary Game helps children to view missions work as both natural and filled with joy.
Although the online game that is currently available at www.themissionarygame.com is in English, work is in progress to translate the game into Spanish and other languages. Since Africa has been an important mission field for Norwegian missionaries, the environments and peoples of The Missionary Game might resemble what one may encounter in parts of Africa. The initial players/characters also have a Caucasian look (similar to the majority of Norwegians). Future plans for the game include internationalisation, with missionaries coming from all parts of the world and reaching lost people everywhere. Spoken in Lausanne terms, this means that Ì¢âÂÒthe whole Church can take the whole gospel to the whole world.Ì¢âÂå In order to achieve this, the project is dependent on establishing international partners.
The Missionary Game might become one of several effective tools for inspiring new generations of missionaries. Try it out at www.themissionarygame.com.
All inquiries can be sent to Anders Torvill Bjorvand at firstname.lastname@example.org.