"There seriously were people who stayed up all night waiting in line to get it, and most stores sold out of it in minutes," stated Lane Palmer, Director of Equipping of Dare 2 Share Ministries International. "Now four months later it is still flying off the shelves."
Palmer, talking about Xbox's popular game, Halo 2, teaches youth how to use the game as a vehicle to testify the faith.
According to a November 10, 2004 press release from Xbox, "Halo 2 broke entertainment retail records in its first 24 hours on store shelves." Microsoft Game Studios announced that the highly anticipated game sold 2.4-million units in the U.S. and Canada, grossing $125-million and breaking all records in the gaming and entertainment industry, generating more money on day one "than any of the biggest movies in box office history, including Spider-Man 2, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and The Matrix Reloaded."
Recognizing that this "culture is out there," and not fighting the tide, evangelical youth ministries are using XBox and Halo 2 for outreach. What's Next has used the online gaming capability of XBox to fund world media missions through a national tournament to be held April.
Another ministry, Dare 2 Share is educating the youth populace through its national website, with an article titled, "How to Witness Using Halo 2."
The article discloses that Dare 2 Share is not trying to promote the game. Halo 2 is "an extremely violent game with plenty of cussing, so PLEASE understand that as a ministry we are not saying 'everyone run out and start playing this game as soon as possible!' "
"The point is that almost everyone already has run out and played it, so we think this is an awesome opportunity to take something hugely popular in our culture and turn it into a way to share the most important message," states Palmer.
"What we need are people who approach their Christianity with the same passion and concentration as they do with video games. Will you plug in and take action today?"
He begins his article with the storyline - a hero trying to save humanity from aliens.
"Dont you just hate it when a bunch of outer space freaks get together and decide its their mission to torch humanity?" Likening the "outer space freaks" to Satan, he states, "In fact, the Halo storyline is remarkably like a major theme of the Bible."
"God created people in a perfect world in a perfect relationship with Him, which made Satan and his angels very jealous. So since the beginning of time, they have been on a mission to destroy all humans. Heres what Jesus said."
"A thief (Satan) is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. (John 10:10)"
Here, the article goes into detail on Jesus as the hero in the Bible, analogous to the hero of Halo 2.
"Jesus came to this planet to save the planet from a group much worse than the Covenant (the aliens) and from a fate much worse than physical death."
"Satans goal is to make sure people have a miserable and short life that stays as far away from the gospel as possible so he can have company in hell."
After teaching this basic precept, he writes, "Remember this: for the Christian, this life is the only hell we will ever experience. For the non-Christian, this life is the only heaven they will ever experience."
"So the next time you are hanging out with friends who know Halo but dont know God, try bringing up a conversation about the storyline behind planet earth."
Another great way to witness is to bring up the subject of death. Although violently graphic games, such as Halo 2 tend to mute and dull the senses of this generation, called "Millennials," born between 1980s and 2000 - Youth Evangelism Explosion describes this generation as desensitized - the many deaths in the game will allow a Christian youth to ask questions about the after-death, states Palmer, and opens up a conversation about Christian beliefs.
"Then after they share their beliefs, ask them if you can share yours. Be sure and mention that of all people on earth, Christians dont need to be afraid of death because our ultimate destination is in heaven," he states in his article.
This article is part of a database called the Culture Commission Archive, written by a number of people on "How To Witness Using ___" and several topics fill in that blank. For example, there is one on 'Reality TV,' 'Hotel Rwanda,' 'Super Bowl Ads,' and 'Saved!' the flopped movie about "hypocritical" Christians.
Another great way to witness, he writes is through the online multi-player option, which is an option to "share the gospel with some guy in England," while you both "have the headsets on." What a great way to do "overseas missions work while sitting in your boxers on the sofa."
This generation of youth is most interested in being "cool," said a broadcaster on the Family Radio Network, and Palmer's emphatic, "How cool is that?" may be just the perfect line to reel in the "fish" as another youth ministry, Youth Evangelism Explosion calls non-Christian youths.
Dare 2 Share has a mission to "Energize a Generation To Evangelize the World!" with the goal of training 1 million teens to share their faith, more specifically, to establish 30,000 evangelism teams (e-teams) by the end of 2010. 35,000 students have already signed onto e-teams.
This year, "Blaze" 04-05 tour will ignite passions of the youth," states their press release. Impelling a sense of urgency through the use of drama, "Twenty five movie clips, eight original skits, a full 40 minute production drama, a 4 hour outreach project and a worship concert all intermingled with powerful training will set teenagers ablaze with the glory of God and advancement of his kingdom!"