Gaming community helps reach marginalized in Georgia
Rebecca Moisio has served as a cross-cultural worker in Georgia for the past year. Previously, she served as a media missionary on the Eurasia Region communication team, based in Manchester, England. She has also served the Nazarene church in the Philippines. This story is a first-hand account of what God has been doing in Georgia.
When I first arrived in Tbilisi, Georgia, I was concerned with finding a group of friends that would breathe life into me during my yearlong assignment here. I joined a worship team at the English-speaking church I attended, but there was still more I felt I needed to do. I thought to myself, “I love playing games. I wonder if there is a group here that plays my favorite game?” After some thorough research, I found no such group (or, at least, none that spoke English). So I thought, “I wonder if I could start one?”
I’ve never started a gaming group before, and I’ve certainly never done it in a culture outside of my own. But I went out and tracked down the nerdiest establishment I could find: A café and comic book store, the only one of its kind in the city. The managers agreed that hosting a gaming group in their store could bring in some great new customers. So they invited me to advertise the free gaming group if I agreed to manage it.
I advertised the gaming group on Facebook, but I doubted if anyone would to show up. When I arrived at the café the night of our first game, there were nearly 15 people waiting to play. I was really surprised. We started in May 2019 and have a group of 12 to 15 people who show up to play games every week. I have gotten to know so many new people from all around the world. And it all sprang out of what I assumed was my need for friends. I assumed it was for my own comfort. I thought this plan was about my own resilience in ministry.
God has since proven me wrong. It’s a highly social game that requires lots of speaking and relationship skills. It’s an amazing way for people to practice their English skills. I have seen amazing leaps in language proficiency from players who started in May and have been playing for just a few months. But it’s also a place where those with social anxiety or depression can work out their fears and needs in a safe environment. I have many players who have deep wounds that are slowly healing among trusted friends.
Slowly, carefully, we’re untangling the messes that society and culture have created in these lives, and we’re doing it with Jesus involved every step of the way—even if they don’t know Him yet. I don’t ever preach at them, and this will never be an “officially recognized” ministry. But that certainly doesn’t stop God from accomplishing His will!
For the rest of the story, see the February 2020 edition of Where Worlds Meet, the Eurasia Region newsletter.