Jose lives by himself, and when he’s not working, he wears his “Jesus Christ Loves You” hat and jacket out to the heart of San Francisco, holding a sign that reads the same. I passed him a few times walking around San Francisco, as I attended this year’s Game Developers Conference (GDC)– the premier developer event for this 40 billion dollar industry.
So what does it look like to love Jesus at the Game Developers Conference? Well, it kinda sorta looks like this:
Second from the left, that’s Kemp (the one and only). Prior to GDC, he emails to say:
I have a somewhat wacky, strange, and possibly overly-religious idea. What if we got together some of the believers in the industry and prayed sometime for the conference/industry/etc… Or, as CAs, we got together every morning before the morning meeting? Is that something you might be interested in?
Uh, well, I was ALL ABOUT it. Immediately, I forward to those I knew and also sent a mass email titled: “Anyone going to GDC who also happens to love Jesus?”
I’d say we had perhaps 14 people show up to morning prayer and I probably talked to about 20 Christians all together (counting those who were unable to make it). Two years ago, I wrote a blog post in regards to GDC feeling more like church than church did, but this year’s prayer meetings went far beyond what I could’ve imagined.
So, if you’ve ever asked yourself the question, “where are all the Christians in the game industry?” They were at the Moscone Center at 7:30 am every morning for that week. Ok, not all of them, but many of the younger ones. Aside from age (and gender), you see an encouraging diversity of believers (both ethnically and vocationally). We may all be working on games, but there is a huge diversity of gifts and talents that go into making these virtual interactions.
When people seek fellowship, they usually stick to what they feel comfortable with. Here at GDC, we were brought together by our trade, but connected through our faith. What I’m trying to say is: we were faced with fellow “believers” from varying directions in their walks with God. That word, “community,” would be constantly on my mind, as I had numerous conversations about faith each day of the conference.
I found that there were a few Christians I met who were not part of a “church family.” Mostly, it was a matter of just not being understood, not feeling accepted, or just feeling judged for being different. It seemed like it was far easier to worship outside the church than within. At the time, I felt a need to share about the importance of church and community, despite being such a huge critic of churches. I mean, if I could bear with it for the sake of making things better, than so should they!
Then I realized, that I’m just as judgmental as those people in church who make me feel uncomfortable. Long overdue, I was humbled by the clear conviction of the chip I’ve had on my shoulder. I have to give credit to Carl for all our conversations and helping me see all that (I hope he reads this).
A friend reminded me once that actions do in fact speak louder than words, and I realized that instead of convincing people they need community, I was overlooking God at work, making community right there at GDC. So, instead of telling you that you need church, I can be the church that you need. I thank God for these convictions, because they only make me far more appreciative and reverent towards the beautiful connections and friendships that love built at GDC this year.
Walking to Moscone, it was raining and really cold. I saw Jose standing with his sign and I decided to talk to him. That’s how I knew that he didn’t go to church and lived alone. He didn’t really want to say much to me, as I inquired about why he didn’t go to church. He said those details aren’t important. I continued to press him, I suppose, to show that Christianity is so much more than how he’s living. He said to me, “just the other day a woman came up to me, just like you to tell me about the Bible, but I’ve read the Bible, and I was once a Christian like you. I’m not like that anymore, and my message is simple.”
As far as street evangelists go, Jose is the opposite of this. I didn’t understand why I continued to talk to him as I stood in the cold rain, but I eventually realized that: I was his church. If Jose is truly alone, then, at least, I can be his friend. He said that he sees many people and might not remember me next year, so I had my picture taken with him. I told him that I’ll have this picture with me, in case he forgets.
I look him in the eyes, and I say, “thank you for your message to the people here.” I smile, and I’ll never forget the warmth of his smile in response.