How football is being used to share the gospel
The best part of the World Cup has already happened, even if your team wins
We’re in love with football right now at BMS World Mission, and it’s not just because of the action on the pitch in Russia. The reason is far more important than any goal or victory. The gospel is being shared, accepted and lived out thanks to the powerful combination of your support and the beautiful game.
The world cup mission field: introducing fans to Jesus
One-to-one chats about Jesus. New Testament distribution. Booklets answering questions about Christianity. It’s not the usual build-up to a game that football supporters have, but it’s what fans from Iran and the Arabic nations of Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia experienced at the World Cup.
Thanks to a BMS grant, and support from churches and Christian organisations around the world, evangelists from the Middle East and Europe travelled to Russia to meet these fans. In the days before matches, the volunteers approached supporters, and in their own language, shared their faith. Then on match days, they handed out New Testaments in Arabic and Farsi, along with booklets and SD cards that explained more about what it means to be a Christian.
And though none of these five countries made it to the next stage of the tournament, many of their supporters will be heading home having experienced Jesus’ love for the first time, and with the Scripture our Father desires them to read.
The Brazilian footballer in India: outreach goals
Children in Delhi take in every word that Brazilian football coach Joshua says, as do the local coaches behind him. From Brazil to the world: football is carrying mission, with your help.
Joshua* sought fame and glamour when he started his professional football career in Brazil.
After his worldly success, his passion for football still remains, but Joshua’s focus has changed. He’s now a coach and a Christian, and he’s combining these two influential parts of his life to help children who have next to nothing.
Thanks to your giving, Joshua held training sessions in Delhi last year for children aged seven to 14. The children received coaching for the first time, got to play on a first-class training pitch, and sense, often for the first time, the joy that playing sport can produce. But it’s not only the children who attended those sessions who will benefit from Joshua’s work. Christian football coaches from across India were also there to learn so that they could return to their communities and hold training sessions that will help young people.
With your support, Joshua’s work has made an impact in India and he hopes to work in Guinea and Thailand later this year too.
“I know I can get a ball, go on a field and share the gospel with more than 50 children,” says Joshua. “It’s amazing when you go into a place, leave a legacy, and see people becoming Christians.”
The club that teaches a whole lot more than how to play football
These young players in Guinea are becoming better footballers (and people) with the help of BMS worker Ben.
It takes more than skill to be part of Blessed Boys Football Club in Guinea. Players need to show teamwork, discipline and a commitment to putting school first.
BMS worker Ben takes deprived children under his wing and shows them a different way to the one taken by other managers in his community.
Whilst others use aggression and violence to get results, Ben does not. If one of his players needs someone to advocate for them in school, Ben is there. And if they need extra help, they can receive it at the summer classes he helped set up with his wife, Isabelle, a passionate teacher.
Here, football often leads to learning – both academically and values.
Children in a village in northern Thailand had little to keep them busy until a football team was formed with your help.
The team that warms up with worship
Most teams start their preparation for a game with sprints and ball drills. Not so for the team that youth worker Ajarn Tah formed in a village in northern Thailand. For these players, preparation begins with Christian songs in a local church and a short message before they head to their match.
Supported by BMS, Tah formed the team to stop young people from falling prey to alcohol and drugs, like others are in the village of Wang Daeng. It didn’t take much to start the side, just a few hours in fact, and enough players had come forward.
But had it not been for your giving, those ten-to-13-year-olds would have not been able to enjoy the thrill of winning their first game, or the joy of worshipping Jesus together. And this wholesome hobby is, in a very real way, keeping them safe.
Jesus’ love has been felt at the World Cup and on football pitches in Delhi, Guinea and Thailand.
Even if football is the last thing on your mind, consider this: there are people stepping into the freedom of a life in Christ through sport. What a victory that is. What a reason to cheer. That’s something we can all support.
*Name changed to protect identity
This story was originally published on the BMS World Mission website and is used with permission.