Via video games, brothers are online missionaries
WENTZVILLE, Mo. (BP) -- Video games -- with their reputation for violence, sexual content and profanity -- are probably not the first thought in anyone's mind when it comes to evangelistic outreach.
Joshua, 19, and Daniel, 16, use Twitch -- an online platform for players to stream their games for people to watch around the world -- as their vehicle of outreach. Viewers can watch in real time as the Greenings play their games, and Twitch also offers a chat function so that viewers can talk to the streamers and to each other.
"We love to talk to people and we love to play games," Joshua said. "Twitch allows us to do the things we love and honor Christ at the same time."
And for anyone who might be led to their channel, it's quickly obvious that it is Christ-focused. The name of the channel itself -- TheWay_TV -- is a reference to John 14:6 -- the favorite Bible verse of Joshua and Daniel's grandfather, Ken Greening.
Greening and his wife Mary Sue ran a youth center in the 1970s also called The Way. That center is no more, but it lives on through Joshua and Daniel's outreach.
Their Twitch channel, Joshua noted, has become "like an online virtual youth center where kids can spend time, have fun and hear about Jesus while they are watching games being played."
On their channel's main page is a section where the Greenings explain who they are and the purpose of their channel, and where they proclaim their faith. For them, Twitch is an untapped mission field and they are the missionaries.
And in fact, their efforts are reaching all over the globe, with viewers from all across the United States as well as from Canada, Great Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Serbia, Japan and the Philippines.
The brothers interweave their testimony into their gameplay, and if you tune into one of their streams, you will often find them offering advice and encouragement to other Christian streamers.
"As Christian channels, we have to not care what the world thinks about us," Joshua said in a recent stream. "As long as we're cool in God's eyes, I don't care what human beings say about us."
Joshua is enthusiastic, welcoming every new follower or viewer with a shout-out. Daniel is a bit quieter, but the two together create a team of positivity and light, reflected in their channel's tagline -- "all the love and hype you can handle."
Viewers and other streamers appreciate that the brothers are passionate and open about their faith. "They love that we are what they call 'surprisingly upbeat' and positive," Joshua said.
The brothers work hard to maintain that image. They choose to play mostly family-friendly games, and if they ever play a game with profanity, gore or sexual content, they put a warning on the screen so young people know to stay away.
When one of their regular viewers says in the chat they're going through a hard time, Joshua and Daniel will pause the game to pray for them.
When one of their viewers had a birthday, the brothers threw her a surprise virtual birthday party complete with party hats, streamers and a large cookie cake with her username on it.
"We want the channel to be a place where people can find some love and joy and entertainment no matter what's going on in their everyday lives," Joshua said.
Joshua and Daniel's approach to their channel has paid off. They first started streaming in March of this year and have grown to nearly 300 followers and gaining every day.
"When we first started, we felt good to have two or three people watching us," Joshua said. "Now we may have 30 people watching us and we are, Lord willing, just getting started."
For Joshua and Daniel's parents, Becky and Jim Greening, this experience has been amazing to see.
"We are just thrilled to see the boys being so passionate about something that is truly a ministry," Becky said. "They are definitely being used to shine God's light in the darkness of the online world."
Joshua and Daniel stream several hours a day on their channel, but when they're not streaming they are active in their home church, First Baptist in Wentzville, a St. Louis suburb. They take Kenpo Karate through their church and work with their youth group.
When it comes to the future, they're open to whatever God has planned for them. "We just want to be open to His will," Joshua said. "If that happens to be Twitch, that would be awesome!"