By Andrea Rhodes
(Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)—As 600,000 football fans across the world poured into Brazil to join the three million local fans attending the FIFA World Cup, the Bible Society of Brazil and its partners began a massive program of outreach and Scripture distribution.
“Brazilians are football-mad and their obsession with football has reached fever pitch , as they host the World Cup,” notes Dr. Rudi Zimmer of the Bible Society of Brazil. “We want the Bible to have a prominent presence amidst all the excitement. It’s an unprecedented opportunity for churches and Christians here to share God’s Word with local and foreign fans, and we want to equip and encourage them to do that.”
The Bible Society has provided four million Scripture booklets and 20,000 copies of the Gospel of John in Portuguese and eight other world languages for free distribution. It has also published special World Cup editions of the Portuguese Bible and New Testament, available at subsidized prices to Christians and ministries wishing to use them for evangelism.
The distribution will take place through the 1,600 churches and Christian ministries that the Bible Society has brought together through its Joga Limpo Brasil movement (Fair Play Brazil).
“Fair Play Brazil was inspired by the vision that led the Apostle Paul to travel to Corinth in Acts 18,” explains Dr. Zimmer. “Corinth was one of the largest and busiest cities of the Roman Empire and hosted one of the biggest sporting events in the calendar—the Isthmian Games. There, Paul found the opportunity to preach the Gospel to people from all over the world. We and our partners share that same vision now—both for the World Cup this year and the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2016.”
Many hundreds of volunteers will be on the frontline of the outreach, helping football fans in the 12 host cities to find their way around, talking to them about faith and offering them Scriptures.
“We want as many people as possible to get the chance to hear about God’s love for them, so please pray for this outreach at the World Cup,” says Dr. Zimmer. “Pray for God’s blessing and guidance for the volunteers and pray that the football fans will have open hearts to hear and welcome the message of God’s Word.”