By Mark Ellis
With the Pokeman Go craze in full swing, a Texas seminary recognized a unique outreach opportunity to host a “lure party,” which drew several hundred from the community – and six people prayed to receive Christ as a result.
Realizing the unusual occasion for outreach, students and faculty at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary hosted a “lure party” at the Fort Worth, Texas, campus on July 19th, according to Baptist Press.
The seminary campus became home to three Pokémon “gyms,” or virtual meeting places, and nearly three dozen “Pokéstops,” or landmarks.
Then many Pokeman aficionados who wouldn’t otherwise set foot on a seminary campus made their way to the campus to play the game.
Amazingly, about 200 people from the community showed up over a two-hour period.
“Unlike any other time that we have done outreach in either the community or any type of mission trip, this was the rare opportunity where we didn’t have to go find people, but they were coming to us,” Joshua Clayton, a master of divinity student told Baptist Press.
Clayton, who organized the event, wanted “to seize the moment and strategically utilize the game for evangelism.”
Jonathan Baldwin, Southwestern’s housing coordinator, was one of the evangelists, and he witnessed two high school students accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, according to Baptist Press.
“The conversation started about the game, then transitioned into school and future college plans,” Baldwin said. “I took this time to share how God had saved me during my senior year of college, and I boasted in the Lord at how amazing this new life with Him is.”
Baldwin says it’s “always exciting to see God save people and always refreshing to retell His story.”
The seminary produced a Gospel tract specifically for the event, which read: “Hello, Pokémon trainers! You think hunting for Pokémon is exciting? What if you were to find out that you may have just stumbled upon the greatest treasure ever known?”
Water stations were positioned strategically around the campus, where servers offered visitors physical water and “living water,” according to Baptist Press.
M.Div. student Joy Arulogun had a rewarding conversaton with a group of students at one of the stations, which led to two people accepting Christ and one rededication.
At a water station on the opposite side of campus, students Heather Mentz, Mark Becker, and Jessica Wan led a young man named Angel to the Lord. He responded to the Pokeman tract presenting the Gospel.
“So not only did one person come to know the Lord [Angel], but another was encouraged to continue in his faith and find a church home and another heard a Gospel presentation and experienced the joy and excitement we all had,” Mentz told Baptist Press.
Mark Becker has already begun the early stages of discipleship with Angel. Becker told him about the parable of the treasure in the field from Matthew 13 in which a man sold all he had in order to buy a field containing buried treasure, “because what he was getting was so much better.”
Becker compared it to trading an entire Pokémon deck for a Magikarp — a rare Pokémon — to show that what is lost is nothing compared to what is gained, Mentz said.
“He told them that [the apostle] Paul said everything was rubbish compared to knowing Christ, and I think they could tell by our excitement and expressions when talking that we meant everything we were saying,” Mentz told Baptist Press.
Brandon Kiesling, who organized the seminary’s evangelism teams, noted, “When there are so many people involved with something like [Pokémon], you can’t miss the opportunity to use it for good in some way especially when the people come to us. Why wouldn’t you [seize that opportunity]?”
For more from Baptist Press, go here