RIO DE JANEIRO (BP) -- With 64 soccer matches contested by 736 players on 32 teams in 12 cities, the month-long 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil is the most watched sporting event in the world.
RIO DE JANEIRO (BP) -- With 64 soccer matches contested by 736 players on 32 teams in 12 cities, the month-long 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil is the most watched sporting event in the world. In addition to the 1 billion people tuning in around the globe, an estimated 600,000 visitors are converging on Rio de Janeiro and the 11 other host cities in Brazil to watch and cheer for their country's team. Other visitors to Rio, however, have another goal in mind -- sharing the message of Jesus Christ with those who have never heard the Gospel. A team of 11 Southern Baptist college students and two student ministry leaders traveled to Rio de Janeiro for the World Cup as part of the International Mission Board's student mobilization efforts to partner with Brazilian Baptists in outreach during the world-famous soccer tournament. The students, their Brazilian co-workers and some IMB missionaries are spending two weeks witnessing in communities around Rio and evangelizing near the city's Maracanã stadium, where tens of thousands of fans attend World Cup matches twice a week during the June 12-July 13 competition. "Yellow Card Strategy" After arriving in Rio, the student volunteers spent time learning about a specialized witnessing technique developed by the Brazilian Baptist Home Mission Board. Diogo da Cunha Carvalho, coordinator of evangelistic strategies for Brazilian Baptists' domestic missions efforts, helped to develop the "Yellow Card Strategy" for Brazilian churches to use at a regional soccer competition in 2013. In soccer, Carvalho explained, a yellow card is displayed by a referee as a warning or caution to a player regarding conduct that could lead to expulsion from the match (signified by a red card). "It's a sign to the player that he is getting very close to severe consequence for his actions," Carvalho said. This visual understanding is the perfect direct approach for witnessing against the backdrop of a soccer match, he added. Carvalho demonstrated the witnessing technique, which begins by approaching someone and raising a yellow card while blowing a whistle -- just like a soccer referee. This warning, though, is a message from God, the Baptist volunteer tells the person. "In Brazil, probably 90 percent of the people will say 'yes' when asked if they want to hear the Gospel," Carvalho said. "With such an interest in the Word, we can take a direct approach like this yellow card."
RIO DE JANEIRO (BP) –– There were no flashbulbs or television cameras, only teammates -- mostly children half his size and barefoot -- who celebrated and mobbed Dane Van Ryckeghem after he assisted in a goal during the game. The frenzy of World Cup soccer had nothing on the jubilant Brazilian neighborhood kids playing with visitors from the United States on a soggy field on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro.
RIO DE JANEIRO (BP) –– There were no flashbulbs or television cameras, only teammates -- mostly children half his size and barefoot -- who celebrated and mobbed Dane Van Ryckeghem after he assisted in a goal during the game. The frenzy of World Cup soccer had nothing on the jubilant Brazilian neighborhood kids playing with visitors from the United States on a soggy field on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. Van Ryckeghem, a student at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, traveled to Brazil with a team of 12 other student volunteers with a mission of sharing the love of Christ against the backdrop of the largest sporting event in the world -- the 2014 FIFA World Cup. "I really wanted to spend my summer doing more than just working at a job and then going back to school," Van Ryckeghem said. "I wanted to do something that made a difference, and I wanted to see the world." After hearing about a World Cup-focused trip -- one endorsed by the IMB -- for students during a missions conference, he knew immediately he was going to Brazil. "I absolutely love soccer and love the idea of spending part of my summer in this setting," he said. "This is a dream come true to be here." James Dubuisson, a junior at the University of North Alabama in Florence, took the first airplane ride of his life to travel to Brazil with the group. As a youth minister at First Baptist Church, Lawrenceburg, Tenn., he said a big part of his decision to come to Brazil was to serve as an example and encouragement to his youth group. "I've been talking to my youth about being different and showing people [that believers] are different," he said. "So often we go to church, but don't act differently. I feel like this [mission trip] is me living that out -- showing the kids 'this is how to live out the difference of what Christ has done in your life.'" After Dubuisson and the rest of the team arrived in Rio de Janeiro, they spent their first days ministering in an impoverished community. They served alongside members of a Brazilian Baptist church by playing with children, helping with a medical clinic and walking through the neighborhoods sharing the Gospel with the help of translators. "We're here for the World Cup, but more importantly we're here to share the love of Jesus with anyone and everyone we can," Lee Dymond, campus minister at Auburn University at Montgomery (Ala.) and leader of the volunteer team, said. Jordan O'Donnell, a student volunteer from Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Va., confessed feeling apprehensive at first about sharing the Gospel in neighborhoods. But the nervousness quickly diminished, he said. "It's challenging to share through an interpreter, but it got smoother as we went along," O'Donnell said. "I enjoyed the whole experience. It's interesting because sharing about Jesus in America usually gets a negative reaction. But here, walking through the community, everyone responded that they wanted to hear about Jesus -- even a couple who had never even heard about Jesus before. "I'm pumped," O'Donnell said. "I'm ready to get out there and do it again." The team of students will continue to share the Gospel during their two-week stay in Rio. During some of their outreach, they are partnering with the Brazilian Baptist Home Mission Board in a soccer-themed evangelism strategy to share with fans arriving at Brazil's national stadium for World Cup matches.
RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–Unlike most journeymen, T.J. Alderman hops an international flight to reach his people group. He also moves a lot — four countries in a year. Despite the transition and travel, home “is anywhere I can plug my laptop in,” Alderman says. His present home is on a beautiful tropical island. Here Alderman mobilizes […]