Gotta Catch Them All!

     Pokemon Go is the latest craze among young people. You may have noticed in the past week, groups of young people in parks and neighborhoods staring intently at their phones. I actually had the privilege of experiencing a Pokemon hunt last Sunday evening with some of our youth. The object of the game is to catch as many Pokemon characters as you can utilizing a smartphone app that merges virtual reality with the real world. The characters are unusual little creatures that appear on your screen as you approach a designated spot, and appear to be part of the landscape in front of you. You then use the phone to throw virtual Pokemon balls at the characters in order to capture them. The goal is to capture as many characters you can as the game’s tagline proclaims, “Gotta catch them all,” and accumulate points to reach new levels. I attained level three on my first try. It is certainly a fun game, sort of a high-tech scavenger hunt, not unlike some of which we may have played many years ago. At least the kids are getting out and getting exercise instead of sitting in front of a screen at home.

    It is only a matter of time that there will be a Christian version of the game released to the general public. I can see it now, the search to gather all the animals to bring to Noah’s ark, or find the prodigal son. There could be challenges to find lost sheep and lost coins. The possibilities are endless. I am reminded of the challenge Jesus gave to the disciples before he ascended into heaven, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations….”  (Matt. 28:19). Jesus was literally challenging the disciples to a scavenger hunt of sorts, except they were to be “fishers of men”  (John 4:19). The object wasn’t to gain wealth, accumulate friends or even personal status, but to glorify the Father and win lost souls to Christ. There would be “treasures in heaven,” however, as their reward (Matt. 6:19).

    That challenge is the same for us today. We meet a variety of people of every gender, race, ethnicity, political and social-economic background, everyday in our communities and workplaces. Jesus challenges us to make them disciples of all people. We don’t, however, simply throw out a bunch of scriptures at them, as we throw Pokemon balls at the virtual game creatures. We are to love them, respect them and build relationships with them, regardless of our differences.

    A great way to win souls to Christ is through Christian service. The youth group and I will be doing that in the coming week. Please remember to pray for us daily as we travel to Washington D.C. on Sunday, and serve through the following Saturday. Our mission trip team consists of Jaykuhn and Emily Song, Josh and Emily Baldridge, Jesse Zhu, Quinn Hunt, Ben Keip, Jenny Chun and me. We look forward to sharing our testimonies and stories about the trip a couple of Sundays after we return. Thank you to everyone who supported us in our fundraising efforts to make this trip possible. There is still a chance to help with travel and van rental expenses by designating a portion of your offering “Crossing Youth Mission Trip.” May the Lord bless you in the coming week!