Gamer Pastor Helping to Spread the Love of Christ Through Tech
Pastor Matt Souza uses Twitch to model virtuous behavior in the Gaming Community by helping those in need.
What has 2.2 million monthly broadcasters and 15 million active users? The live streaming video platform Twitch. Rev. Matt Souza is using the Amazon subsidiary to share the Good News and help those in need.
Twitch is a live streaming video platform, launched in 2011, that is primarily used as a way to bring people together online in the Video Gaming world. Souza, who goes by SouzyLIVE online, is an active video gamer and uses the Twitch platform to broadcast his game play, leadership classes, and even workout routines to his viewers. His goal is to help gamers to live better lives via the teaching of Christ and by modeling holistically healthy living.
His efforts seem to be appreciated. With over 16,000 followers, Souza’s streams draw over 4,000 weekly viewers. The Washington Post reports that “He teaches congregants how to be good Samaritan gamers: Don’t get too ‘salty’ when you die in a game. In multiplayer games, always thank your teammates for their efforts. Don’t curse. Don’t play ‘Grand Theft Auto’” – as it is too violent.
An online church for gamers: Va. pastor draws thousands to worship on Twitch
“I’m telling you, God is in this," says Houston gamer and online church member Valerie Lennert. "I don’t really know why because I wouldn’t think God knows video games. But he does.”
Additionally, maybe the most compelling part of Souza’s efforts is his attempt to help those in need. He has been regularly raising money from Gamers for those who need a helping hand.
Souza helped mobilize funds for 44-year-old gamer Valerie Lennert who had her home broken into while at her mother’s funeral. The thieves stole all of her gaming equipment – which had served as her primary coping mechanism in dealing with stress. Souza responded by raising roughly $5,000 for replacement equipment.
When Elijah Clayton (22) and Taylor Robertson (27) were shot and killed while participating in a video game competition in Jacksonville, Florida this past August, Souza mobilize the Gamer-based church he founded, God Squad Church, to host a 12-hour fundraiser on Twitch that raised roughly $1500 to help the families of the young men with funeral costs. Reuters reports that Clayton had been saving his winnings from competitive gaming to help pay for college.
Gamer killed in Florida 'never even had a fist fight'
Elijah Clayton, one of two men killed on Sunday at a video gaming competition in Jacksonville, Florida, was a peaceful young man who had "never even had a fist fight," his cousin said.
Souza has also held a fundraiser to help a fellow pastor who has fallen on hard times. After the local church that Souza’s friend worked for had to make significant fiscal cutbacks, he was suddenly let go. With a newborn in the family, Souza’s colleague was left destitute. Souza and his wife decided to take them into their own home and help them get back on their feet.
The fundraiser will sought to raise money to help his colleague’s family be able to put a down payment on a new place to live. The event offered a whole host of wacky incentives to encourage people to give in love.
Reality Changing Observations
Q1. With 15 million active viewers on Twitch, what additional efforts do you think the church universal should be making to reach people for Christ using that medium?
Q2. In what ways do you view charity to be an active part of your faith walk?
Q3. How might you leverage doing something that you love to show someone the love of Christ?