Redemption: More than a Magical Gathering

When I first found out that my husband played a CCG (Collectable Card Game), I began to worry that he was a closet gamer-nerd. At one point his Redemption card collection totaled around 5,000 plus. He would spend hours sorting these cards, and playing against grade school children at the after school program where he was a recreation specialist.

Panic entered my heart as I wondered who I married. But my fears subsided when I discovered the biblical background for the game. At first glace Redemption appears to be just another CCG like Magic: The Gathering or Pokemon. However, this game reaches beyond monsters, wizards and dragons, and strives to teach, evangelize and bring families closer together.

After a friend introduced, Pastor Josh Randolph (my husband), to Redemption, Randolph saw it as an opportunity to reach out to kids who attended the after school program where he worked. At the time most of the kids were playing other popular CCG games. Randolph instead taught the kids Redemption.

Randolph used the game as a way to minister to the kids and teach them about the Bible. The administration of that school didn’t see it as a Christian teaching tool, so they had no objections. All they saw was a game, but Randolph saw much more than that.

“I found it really neat to challenge the kids to learn the cards, and also learn about the person on the cards. To seek out what the Bible says about those people, the occurrences, and the Bible stories,” Randolph said.

The reason these cards are so effective in teaching is because of their strong biblical background and spiritual references on each card.

“The thing that makes these cards different is cards themselves. The ability, the power are all based on who that person really was in the Bible. Each card includes a verse to demonstrate why that card is the way it is,” Randolph said.

“The Bible is a wonderful source for this kind of game,” said Rob Anderson, creator of Redemption and founder of Cactus Game Design Inc. “It contains both very good people and very evil people. It has a wide variety of concepts, tools and artifacts that can be used as enhancement cards. It also contains a wealth of spiritual information from which all can benefit.”

When Anderson first found out about secular CCGs he was intrigued by the concept of the games. “I found many aspects of the game idiom intriguing. To me, being able to create my own deck and play it against an opponent’s deck was a wonderful aspect of the game” he said. However, Anderson wanted a game that he could play with his family and one that would teach them about the Bible.

Since introducing the game to grade school children, Randolph has slowly transitioned from teaching just kids, to teens, and is now using the game at his church, Bethel Baptist Church in Aumsville, as a way to minister to families. Randolph has a Redemption Family Day in the works, in which he will teach families how to play together.

Randolph holds a play group at Bethel a couple times per month for children (seven and older), teens and their parents. Randolph also hosts tournaments in which anyone can attend. Randolph has had people from Medford, Ore., Yakima, Wash., and Susanville, Calif., attend his tournaments.

This year the Redemption National Tournament will be held in California. It’s the first time in 15 years that it has been on the West Coast. Many of the teens that play in Randolph’s play group are excited to attend.

Randolph would love to teach people from other churches how to play so that they can start their own play groups.

He said, “It’s always been a goal of mine to expand to other churches and Christian schools so that there becomes a link or connection between kids and families no matter what church they go to. It’s fun to meet and play against new individuals. That’s why the tournaments are so much fun; there’s always new people coming to play.”

Randolph has thought outside of the evangelism box and has used this game to get kids and families interested in God.

“Redemption tends to be a nice foot in the door, when it comes to telling people about God, or the Bible. It’s not threatening, it’s a game, but it has a deeper meaning,” he said.

While I am not totally convinced that my husband is not a gamer in disguise, at least I have a really good Christian excuse to tell people.

If you’re interested in getting more information about this game or how to start a play group of your own, email Pastor Josh Randolph at josh@bethelaumsville.org.

Shawnee Randolph is a freelance journalist and the managing editor of Rethink Monthly magazine who lives with her husband near Salem, Ore. She graduated in May 2008 from Corban College with a Bachelor of Science in English-Journalism. She currently works as the Office Administrator at her church. Shawnee has been working along side her husband in youth ministry for four and a half years.

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