Redemption is a very important game for me. Not just because it’s fun, helps me learn about the Bible, and leads to great fellowship, but because of how it has shaped my life. Redemption has been a focal point of two of the biggest changes I have ever gone through, and I feel like now is the time to share with the community how much this game means to me and how it can be used to reach those who need God’s love.
I grew up in a non-Christian home. My family never talked about beliefs, emotions, or anything serious. We were taught the basics of the world’s version of right and wrong, but we were never taught any kind of moral center. My brother and I were basically “good” kids, so my parents just expected us to do the right thing and we would do it (most of the time). What my family did talk about was games, especially card games. We would play games every night after dinner, usually card games like Spades, Hearts, Skip-Bo, Phase 10, etc. This would be the way we would communicate; through inside jokes and analysis of the latest hand of cards. When I had a real problem, I didn’t feel like there was anyone I could turn to. I learned early on that if I was feeling bad or down, I had to deal with it myself.
In late elementary school, we got some new neighbors. I instantly fell “in love” with the girl that moved next door. We became friends, but because I was too shy and didn’t know how to talk about emotions I didn’t say anything for the next several years. These pent-up emotions I had for this girl eventually turned into an obsession.
When I turned 16, I finally worked up the nerve to ask her out, and she said yes! I thought that nothing could be better. I was dating the girl of my dreams, my life was complete. I had everything I had ever wanted…until I noticed she didn’t feel exactly the same way I did. I saw her as the end-all-be-all of everything, but she saw me as just another boyfriend. Over the next 6 months, I started to see her slip away. Every time she was “too busy” to hang out with me or didn’t want to hold my hand was a knife to my heart. I knew where things were heading, but I couldn’t bear to admit it. My world was ending.
Eventually, my girlfriend’s family announced they were moving 45 minutes away next year and that she would be going to a different school. Soon after that, she broke up with me. I ran to her front door, crying, asking for her to take me back, that we could work with the distance, that she was my whole world. She said she was sorry and closed the door. I was totally and completely lost.
A few months earlier, a friend invited me to a game club at school to learn a Christian card game called Redemption. He said I didn’t need to be a Christian to learn it, that it was just a cool card game. I decided to go because I loved games and it was just nice to be invited to something. That is where I met Joey. I played a few games with the starter decks (G/H was new back then to give you a time frame) and had a blast. Joey invited me to an unofficial tournament at his house that weekend to see more of the game. That is where I bought my first starter decks and pack and became hooked on Redemption. I didn’t have much interest in the Christian aspect of the game, however; it was just a cool game to me.
When my girlfriend broke up with me, I slipped into a deep depression. Since she was my whole world, I didn’t see anything left for me in this world. I couldn’t even get away from her to forget and move on since we were next door neighbors and rode the same school bus. I had nothing left and nowhere to run to, so I started making plans to take my own life. I didn’t see any other way to get away from all the pain I was dealing with; I had no one to turn to and no experience with dealing with my emotions in any meaningful way.
Joey could see something was wrong with me, but I couldn’t bring myself to tell him about it. He then did the something that would save my life: Joey invited me to church. I had nothing left to lose, so I went. He sat with me through a new believers Sunday school class, and for the first time, I saw hope. I saw that there was more to life than this girl I had put on a pedestal; that I had put in the place only God was meant to be in. After Sunday school, we just stayed in the church hallway and talked; we never made it to the sermon. Joey showed me when you put your hope in anything other than God, you will be let down because nothing but God is meant to carry that kind of burden. I felt the love of God in me for the first time that day. I confessed to Joey what I was planning to do and that he had saved my life by inviting me to church. That day I was Saved.
What started out as an invite to play a new game at a game club turned out to be the thing that led me to be saved. Redemption is a cool game, but it is also a ministry tool. Even when I didn’t believe in God, through Redemption I was still being exposed to the Bible and learning about the Bible from the cards. I had fellowship with believers that I would never have had without the game, and when I was ready to learn about Christ, I had a body of people I could turn to. Redemption is the tool that helped prepare me to accept Jesus as my Savior, and for that, I am eternally grateful.
Stay tuned for Part 2!