The Intersection of Faith and Play

When he was at a crossroads, Bethany helped Raul Rivera Arroyo decide which path to take. 

In 2015, Dr. Dan Ulrich was leading a student trip to Puerto Rico. Raul (whose hometown in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico) served as a translator and guide for the group. This was Raul’s first encounter with Bethany, but talking with a professor and students led him to consider attending the Seminary himself. At the time, he was discerning a call to ministry, while also considering how he might incorporate his passion for video game development into his life and work.  

“I was active in my church, but I was also looking for something new,” Raul recalls. “I was trying to figure out how to harmonize my gifts for ministry — which others saw in me — and my interest in gaming. The opportunity to attend Bethany has allowed me to flesh out my calling and seek clarity about the work I want to do.” 

Raul earned his Master of Divinity degree from Bethany in 2020, and he incorporated gaming into his ministry with youth as an intern at Happy Corner Church of the Brethren. He says he succeeded in “bringing people together for joy” with games of Mario Kart while also encouraging youth to consider how perspectives can change over time through the playing of a game called “Passage.” As players progress through the game, they begin to be able to see less ahead of them and more behind them, which can provide a lens through which to view aging, maturity, and the passage of time. 

“This game asks us to consider what choices we will make in life,” says Raul. “Will we seek God out, serve others, and shine?” 

Raul now works for a game development company. He and his wife Stephanie, a registered nurse, have a daughter, Adelyn, and a young son, Max. They live in Kettering, Ohio. He says he still figuring out other ways to weave together ministry and gaming, but he is deeply appreciative of Bethanysupport and encouragement to follow his calling. He also notes that the Seminary opened him up to a variety of theological perspectives and approaches to faith, and that it made it affordable for him to pursue advanced study. 

“At Bethany, it is okay to challenge one another in an environment of community and discipleship,” says Raul. “My classmates and I were able to have conversations that addressed theological differences, and I know I have moved in my understanding. I have always had a heart for the underdog and the person who doesn’t quite fit, and Bethany has helped me have empathy and understanding towards people very different than myself.”