Games as a ministry

I’ll be leading games with a team of other college students at Cobán.

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🎮 Gamez @ Guatemala

I’ve been assigned to lead games with a team of other Southland college students – Harrisen and Elizabeth – as we do Vacation Bible School (VBS) in Cobán, Guatemala. We’re actually doing two VBSes (is that the plural? Or is it VBees? VBSi?), La Gracia (the AMI church in Cobán), and another for the AMI International School.

Although I’ve been “assigned” to this team, I don’t see it as by chance.

🤪 I be playin games

For the past sixteen years, I’ve been playing games at church. I’m thinking of going Pro (pls sponsor me). Awana was a constant in my life since I was seven and I served there from middle school until I left Sacramento for college. My summers were the same story, but instead of Awana games I participated and led VBS games in the Sacramento heat.

Even in college, organized games in Christian ministries are still somewhat of a constant – for some reason every college Christian fellowship had their own Beach Olympics. I’m not complaining though. These activities served an important part for me to grow closer to spiritual community and invite friends to join me.

🙏🏾 Games as a Ministry

I think that’s why you always see games as a part of children’s Christian ministry. It’s how you get to them, how they get to you, and how they grow closer to each other.

Awana games are serious matters
Awana games are serious matters

I’ve been blessed to see this happen in Awana as I’ve grown. These kids are stuck in a team for a year to memorize the Word and play games together. They develop a dynamic of cheering, who’s good at what game, and even “healthly” rivalry. And it’s been an opportunity for me, as a student leader, to have a way to support these kids, especially when they are not confident in a game they are playing.

So once we go into the Word after games, I have a better handle on what questions to ask them to personalize the Word they are memorizing. And they listen to me, because now there’s this bond and trust between us.

Needless to say, I’ve enjoyed serving through games over the years!

⛪ Guatemala and Games

Harrisen, Elizabeth, and I have been meeting regularly for a few weeks now as we prepare for VBS games. We have over a dozen games planned, with some inspired by Awana games. This past week we’ve been writing up a Games Handbook that we’ll be gifting to La Gracia (the AMI church in Cobán).

The challenges we face are communicating and playing these games in a language not native to Harrisen nor myself. We also have logistical issues with materials and what kind of space we will have for these games. In the midst of the planning, it’s honestly easy for me to forget this is a ministry, not just some logistical plan with spreadsheets.

games spreadsheet

Remembering my heart with games over the years, I hope to preserve and grow that core of Christ-centered bonding with these kids – to intentionally connect with them while we have fun! Honestly, the language barrier leads me to have low expectations for how I’ll be able to build bonds with these kids. Today, a friend reminded me that God works in my own weaknesses (though not an excuse for me to not learn spanish haha).

Who knows how God will work through these games! My prayer is that we are aligned with His plan, even in something “small” like games 😉.

Feel free to respond to me through any of the ways below. Love to hear your comments, prayers, and encouragements!

Nathaniel Louis Tisuela