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ASTRO BOT Rescue Mission and The Good Shepherd

A month ago, I finally purchased ASTRO BOT Rescue Mission—a PlayStation VR game which had been high on my wish list for a year. In the game, a spaceship housing hundreds of little Bots is broken apart by an alien in a spacecraft. This scatters the five key parts of the ship and the Bots, except one, across different worlds. Now, with the help of the remaining Bot, Astro, you have to seek out and rescue the others.

Over the following weeks, I joyously played the game along with my two sons, who watched my progress on the TV while I was strapped into the VR headset. Each level is a beautiful 3D world where you control Astro and collect coins to find the other lost (and sometimes hidden) Bots. Each time you save a lost rescue Bot, they fly into your PlayStation controller, which you can see at all times within the game—never separating the gamer from the gameplay. You and Astro are on this journey together. This is sometimes highlighted in the game with mirrors as you enter levels, showing you and your Bot companion. You are in the world and a part of it.

God opened my eyes to see how ASTRO BOT Rescue Mission is a modern retelling of the Good Shepherd parable.

One of my favorite parts comes when you reach the end of a level, and a platform appears that you have your Bot partner jump on. It raises a flag of victory, and all the Bots you found in the level jump out of your controller and onto the platform. As they do, it counts them off so you know how many you have found. Once they are all out of your controller, party lights come out and all the Bots have a dance party (the game is not only fun but also ridiculously charming).

Each level has eight Bots to find. In the first level, I only found six. I felt terrible. As a good gamer, I was determined to check every corner and angle (bending my body so I could look everywhere with the VR headset) to find the Bots I had missed. I didn’t even want one of them to slip by.

During a play session, probably halfway through the game, I finished a level. All eight Bots had their dance party along with my partner, Astro. My five-year-old son asked, “What would the little Astro Bot do if he only found one of the lost Bots?” I quickly responded, “He would probably still have a dance party for the one that was found.” And at that moment, my perception of ASTRO BOT Rescue Mission completely changed.

As a youth pastor, one of the things I try to help my students realize is how God can speak to them through their hobbies and passions. If we are open to hearing God speak, he can do so through a book, a movie, a video game, etc. It was in this simple question my son asked me, where God opened my eyes to see how ASTRO BOT Rescue Mission is a modern retelling of the Good Shepherd parable (Luke 15:3-7). Within this parable, Jesus shows the love God has for us all in how He seeks us out individually and rejoices when even one returns to a relationship with Him.

Like Astro, you and I are partners with the player (God), who leads us along our journeys to help find those needing to be saved. In my own journey, I might not save everyone, but I will dance with God over the one that was found.

Zach is a youth pastor at Valley Shepherd Nazarene, in Idaho. He loves God, his wife, his children, video games, board games, and being up to date on anything techy. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @ZachWCarpenter.

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