Evangelism, education, media. Christians have been making their presence felt at the World Cup in South Africa in a number of ways.
Local Baptists are seeing the event, which began on June 11 and runs until July 11, as a mission opportunity.
Activities planned by Baptists in South Africa include the screening of all matches in churches, witnessing at soccer stadiums, the arrangement of special soccer tournaments, especially for youth and children, the publication of a special World Cup Challenge newspaper, and the distribution of the South African flag with gospel messages.
One initiative is the Ignite Internship Program, a ministry of Eastside Community Church in Pretoria, which aims to create a team of interns in order to partner with other churches during the soccer tournament.
“With the prospect of hundreds of thousands of international visitors arriving for the FIFA Soccer World Cup in June 2010, the South African church is uniquely placed to impact many for Christ,” the church stated. “Not only can the lives of international visitors be touched, but also locals, particularly those who love ‘the beautiful game.'”
The tournament is being seen by many as an opportunity to raise awareness of social issues.
International relief and development charity World Vision in South Africa has joined forces with the Johannesburg Child Welfare and Olive Leaf Foundation to manage a child-friendly space at the Elkah Stadium in Soweto. The charity is calling for the protection of children who will be vulnerable and at risk of trafficking and exploitation during the soccer competition and beyond.
Elsewhere a group of African Christian and Muslim leaders warned of increased vulnerability to HIV infections during the tournament. The faith leaders from Burundi, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan and Uganda have called for intensified services to stop the possible spread of infection.
Reporting on some of these activities will be 2K Plus International Sports Media. The Christian sports media group is producing a daily radio program designed to bring listeners a Christian perspective to the sport, culture and community events in South Africa. The show can be heard online.