Dave Mattingly is currently the Vice President of the Christian Gamers Guild. He has been instrumental in coordinating worship services and panels at conventions and liaising between several Christian fandom organizations. This article was originally published at davemattingly.net.
I’m a Christian, and sometimes a teacher/preacher.
Here’s a look at my own story of coming to Christ. This is a very personal story, and won’t necessarily have the wide applicability of some of my other sermons and lessons. I encourage all of you to map out your own walk with Christ.
A Reason for Hope
The Bible tells us to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” I am ready. In fact, that 1 Peter 3:15 verse is a good summary of my testimony.
“Come, let us reason together,” says the Lord. (Isaiah 1:18)
I grew up as a rebel. The world stank, and I didn’t like it. I fought the world by looking and acting different, by arguing and debating, and by spending time on what many would consider the wrong side of the tracks.
In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit. (Judges 21:25)
I was a math and science whiz, and I got my college degree in engineering, math and computer science to better understand the physical and digital worlds. I also minored in psychology and philosophy to better understand the mind and reality. Over the years, I’ve worked for NASA, Homeland Security, some intelligence agencies that shall go unnamed, virtual reality tech, and many other brainy ‘science-y’ places.
Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much. (Job 38:4)
I stopped believing in God as a young’un. I believed that “In the beginning was nothing, which then exploded.” When we die, we turn to dust, and that’s that. My time surrounded by rebels and engineers only served to bolster my own opinion.
Only fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and their actions are evil. (Psalms 53:1)
Although I didn’t care much for writing while I was in school, I found after college that I rather enjoyed it. I went on to write hundreds of articles for magazines and newspapers, and after co-authoring some books even founded my own publishing company. Every writer is also a voracious reader, and I was no exception.
See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand! (Galatians 6:11)
After awkwardly trying to fit in growing up, I realized that I wasn’t meant to be like everyone else, and I sort of liked it that way. I am what I am, and that’s all that I am, as the Sailor Man would say.
They admitted that they were strangers and aliens on earth. (Hebrews 11:13)
And of course, I was into all the various nerdy things. Comic books and cartoons, Monty Python, games and toys, science fiction and fantasy, Weird Al, and such. Different from most people, at least at the time. (Nerds are enjoying a bit of a golden age at the moment.)
God gave Joseph unusual wisdom. (Acts 7:10)
Encounter with Christ
That’s who I had been. A weirdo. (Well, I still am a weirdo.)
But my life turned around when I went into business with a Christian who was a real Christian.
Homayoun Sarabi was an engineer from Iran and was also a Christian. (None of the ‘normal’ American Christians could reach me; God had to import a guy.) We went into business and were often on the road together. While on the road for business events, often on the weekends, “Homer” would politely invite me to church with him, and I’d politely decline.
Over time, the peace and joy that I saw in his life, and the obvious care he had for those around him, drew me in. One day in North Carolina, I did go to church with him and accepted that altar call (the first I’d ever heard).
My eyes were opened, and my heart was thirsty for the Lord. I read the scripture. I went to worship. I learned at Bible studies. I took classes at church. My soul was on fire, and I couldn’t get enough.
No one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again. (John 3:3)
Similar to an addict who knows when he’s hit rock bottom, I couldn’t kid myself that I was “doing okay” and could ease into walking with the Lord. My life’s direction did a full 180, and I turned some heads doing it. Not quite to the extent of Paul in Acts 9:26, but drastic enough for me.
If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new is here. (2 Corinthians 5:7)
Now instead of being a collection of chemical reactions drifting inevitably toward oblivion, I felt that there was a reason behind my existence. God had me—specifically me—here for a some particular part of his plan.
Who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this? (Esther 4:14)
Now, I use my nerdy background to reach out to the freaks, geeks, and weirdo of the world. My people.
Through groups like the Christian Gamers Guild, Fans for Christ, Game Church, and Grave Robbers, plus my own activities in the local community, I can set up church services at comic cons, sci-fi cons, gaming cons, and other gatherings of my fellow oddballs. As “one of their kind” I can speak to them without being some outside churchy guy trying to horn in on their lives. I’m already part of their lives. Because they are me. Weird and loved.
I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. (1 Corinthians 9:22)
I can give a reason for my hope because of who I was, and because of who I am.
R – Rebel
E – Engineer
A – Atheist
S – Scribe
O – Oddball
N – Nerd
H – Holy Spirit
O – Overhaul
P – Purpose
E – Evangelism