Intertain: Chapter 13

As new parents, Robin and Angela couldn’t make it to this first Intertain session of 2019. They were with me since the beginning, so I was a little sad and powerless, to be honest. But seeing good friends show up at my place with enthusiasm gave me energy and cheered me up!

We had Ashley as a newcomer. Though she doesn’t play games much, she was curious to check out the ministry. Hopefully, the experience did not disappoint.

Theme: POWER

Our society has a fascination with power. Those who do have it would do anything to maintain the status quo, while those who don’t often desire a good taste of it.

So I guess it is fitting that videogames offer ample opportunities for players to feel powerful, even for kids with disabilities — see commercial: We All Win (Microsoft @ Super Bowl 2019).

In what situation do you feel the most powerful?

SHARING

Some of us have felt a sense of power in work environments. May mentioned a case where staff submitted to her leadership in humble willingness. Ashley, a recent graduate, expressed joy in being able to command interns. David shared the satisfaction of being correct on a day he argued with a colleague. As a company manger, Han Sol wields power during office hours, yet revealed to us that it doesn’t quite carry over to family affairs.

In other news, Daniel recalled how great it was when he first got a car, and the superiority of driving faster than those still on a provisional licence. Anthony, who frequents the gym, said that he actually doesn’t feel that powerful because there is usually someone stronger working out in the same room.

GAMING

Of all existing land animals, elephants are the most powerful in terms of brute strength. With that in mind, Daniel went on a “power trip” in Tembo the Badass Elephant, which is essentially a side-scrolling platformer starring the amalgamation of Rambo and Dumbo.

After a bit of training, Daniel took on a mission in the city. Nothing could slow him down as he rampaged, sending enemy soldiers flying, destroying vehicles, and even crushing buildings. However, he became a little too reckless when charging straight into flames without first dousing them with water sprayed from Tembo’s trunk. That costed an elephant life (plus a can of peanut butter).

Lights, camera, ELEPHANT!

WISDOM

We read from Psalm 66 for some reflection. The verses are a reminder of God’s great power, of how we are to acknowledge and rejoice in it.

Shout for joy to God, all the earth! Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious.

Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you. All the earth bows down to you; they sing praise to you, they sing the praises of your name.”

Come and see what God has done, his awesome deeds for mankind! He turned the sea into dry land, they passed through the waters on foot — come, let us rejoice in him. He rules forever by his power, his eyes watch the nations — let not the rebellious rise up against him.

What sort of powers and abilities do you use in life?

GAMING

With great power comes great responsibility. We offered the PS4 controller to Janice, granting her great power in becoming the titular superhero of Spider-Man, thereby expecting her to fulfil the heavy responsibility of protecting citizens in New York City amid a crazy gang war.

The task wasn’t easy, even involving Spider-Man chasing down a helicopter while rockets fired and metal structures fell. Janice had to shoot out a lot of spontaneous webbing to keep things from hitting people, though property damage couldn’t be avoided. The scene ended with pieces of the helicopter suspended between two skyscrapers.

We also allowed time to explore the city. Viewers were impressed with the lively, detailed map of the entire island of Manhattan. Janice swung by landmarks such as the Empires State Building, Times Square, Madison Square Garden, and Central Park. Eventually, we got her to climb the Avengers Tower (a fictional structure, of course). The wall-running Spider-Man reached the peak in no time. Tony Stark wasn’t home, so Janice just perched on his balcony as we admired the view.

A friend in the neighbourhood.

I went into the menus and pulled up the characters page, with each bio containing a section on the individual’s powers and abilities. Not only did we read about Spider-Man’s amazing skills, but there was also info regarding what the villains could do, such as Electro’s lightning blasts, Scorpion’s poisonous injections, or Rhino’s elemental resistance.

Beyond that, I drew attention to the characters with no superhuman talent, but who were still capable of contributing to the world. Everyone had something to give, as exemplified by Mary Jane Watson’s rich investigation skills, Yuri Watanabe’s confident leadership under pressure, and my wife’s favourite: May Parker’s generous spirit inspiring people around her.

WISDOM

Truly, we all have powers and abilities given by God. Romans 12 encourages us to not hold back, nor be selfish, but instead use them to serve others — especially the church.

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;  if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

But as we saw in Spider-Man, some capable characters go down the wrong path in life. The sad reality of our world is that people may use the good things given by God for evil. Gaining power, therefore, doesn’t guarantee blessing, as Abraham Lincoln once said:

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.

How does true power show itself in a spiritual reality?

GAMING

Ever since Hearthstone released, card battle games have become quite popular among those who enjoy strategy. A recent favourite of mine is Gwent: The Witcher Card Game, which distinguishes itself from other titles in the genre by introducing tactical elements of bluffing and timing. Every match is played as a best of three rounds; players win by concluding each round with a greater power total than the opponent. It is common to intentionally lose one round in order to gain advantage in the other two. The outcome of the match often hinges on one’s ability to dictate tempo, establish synergy, and perhaps most importantly — know when to pass.

For the night, I set up a private match using a pair of PS4s, allowing two teams to go head-to-head. Jimmy rose to command on one side with a deck named “Feisty Elves” from the Scoia’tael faction, while May fought back with the “Rise of the Beasts” from the Monsters faction.

Curious about how it went down?

ROUND 1: Both sides stumbled through the first few turns, as they were still a bit unfamiliar with how things worked. May eventually played a Prize-Winning Cow [base power: 1] that, if left unchallenged, could transform into a mighty Chort [base power: 10]. Jimmy, however, had a Dol Blathanna Archer in hand and proceeded to nip that in the bud. Sensing an uphill battle in the early game, May decided that it was wise to pass, holding on to an extra card for whatever came next.

Game night at the local tavern.

ROUND 2: Jimmy was in the lead, but down a card. He could pass as to regain balance for the final round, but the taste of victory gave him the confidence to make an immediate push. Nevertheless, he was met with stiff resistance when May produced the king of the Monsters, a giant ogroid known as Old Speartip [base power: 13]. My ferocious wife then followed up with two cards that took full advantage of having a big beast on the field — Adda the Striga [if you control the highest unit, damage an enemy by 5], and Imlerith’s Wrath [damage an enemy by the power of your highest ally]. Jimmy’s elves didn’t live long. He expended all his cards and still lost the round, while May managed to preserve card advantage going into the final showdown.

ROUND 3: Between rounds, Jimmy drew from the deck and landed the protagonist of The Witcher series, Geralt of Rivia [destroy an enemy with 8 or more power]. He also activated the ability of his elven leader, Filavandrel aén Fidháil [boost all units in your hand by 1], and was ready for a fight.

There were a few decent beasts left on May’s end, yet the most potent manoeuvre was dependent on the ability of her leader, The Woodland Spirit [boost a unit in your hand by 8]. She just needed a way to finish strong without being cut down by the witcher. And that turned out easy. Having an extra card guaranteed May to have the last say in the round, so all she had to do was to boost a beast and play it after Jimmy had depleted his hand. She concluded the match by playing Morvudd [boosted power: 14], overpowering all the little elves in the process. The beasts growled in victory!

WISDOM

Beyond creative activities and supernatural miracles, God’s power is most clearly seen in his humility, his passion to reach the lost. The gospel of Jesus serves as a powerful statement of love to the entire world; it is worthy of embrace and celebration. Romans 1:16 declares:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.

We often associate power with the ability to do whatever one pleases. Yet the all-powerful Son of God came to live a life not of boasting, but of servanthood. John 13 contains a good example.

Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

To this day, many wouldn’t consider the life of Jesus as a demonstration of power; many who await the Messiah still reject him. I suppose a man nailed to a cross would appear to be a picture of defeat. But to those aware of the spiritual reality, we understand that Jesus — in line with the Father’s great love and supreme strategy — was simply “passing the round” at the right time. Romans 5:6 emphasises the precision and effectiveness of that historical moment:

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.

With God having the last say, we who were powerless can now share in the victory of our Saviour. Thanks to his sacrificial work and perfect execution, death no longer holds power over us!


Attendance [9]: Anthony Byun, Ashley Zhao, Ayk Iano, Daniel Juhn, David Ahn, Han Sol Kim, Janice Lee, Jimmy Wong, and May Chien.

Giveaway: Gwent: The Witcher Card Game to everyone, because it’s free.