PRETORIA, South Africa (BP)–A ministry kit in a trailer is being used by Eastside Community Church in Pretoria to help equip South African churches for ministry during the World Cup.
Ten trailers were loaded with Bibles, tracts, Holiday Bible Club materials, soccer balls and goals, food, blankets and other supplies. Throughout the World Cup, several trailer teams have gone out each week, partnering with local churches to share the Gospel in their communities.
The ministry is part of Eastside’s “Ignite the Flame” ministry to the poor in the Pretoria area, said Greg Moses, a volunteer from the United States, noting, “These people are living in squatter sites or slums in and around the city.”
Churches in these areas do not always have the resources required for large-scale ministry, but by partnering with Eastside they are able to reach out to their communities during the World Cup.
“We’re not coming in to do it for them but to partner with them,” said Debbie McCool, a volunteer who is helping coordinate the ministry. “Local volunteers and our trailer team work together.”
Eastside asked each church to provide 20 volunteers to help with the outreach events. Together, the teams host Holiday Bible Clubs for children, soccer clinics for youth and World Cup match screenings for the community.
Each trailer contains a sound system and projector, so once the clinics are over, the soccer goals can be converted into screens to show World Cup matches. Before the showings, the crowd is presented with the Gospel message.
A key component of the ministry kit is the Super League curriculum, a Holiday Bible Club resource developed by the church.
“We decided to use the Sonlight homeschool curriculum for the basis of the Super League book,” said church member Dave Strehler, who compiled the handbook. “This curriculum offers information on how to put together soccer clinics, but also how to use the arts, drama, music and dance to reach children and young people.”
McCool said the curriculum has been shared with about 250 churches throughout South Africa. Some churches host more than one Holiday Bible Club, so she estimates the material has been used up to 400 times. Churches in the United Kingdom, the United States and Germany also have asked for the curriculum.
The vision for Super League began in 2008, when Eastside began praying about how they could use the World Cup as a platform to reach out to communities.
In early 2009 Baptist volunteers from Virginia came to work with the church. As the volunteers and church members drove to potential outreach locations, they prayed for God to reveal to them what He wanted the church to do during the World Cup event.
“As we drove to these sites, we prayed for the Lord’s guidance and His vision for 2010,” Riaan Niemand, the church’s pastor, said.
After much prayer, the church decided to reach out to children from the preschool level through age 18. They realized there was a need to develop a curriculum that would appeal to this age range, and from their discussions came the Super League handbook.
Long-term volunteers from the United States have worked with the church to develop and implement the entire project.
“I was brought here to help with the logistics of getting people out to various communities throughout the World Cup time,” Annie Maines said. “It has been a daunting task, but God has really taught me a lot and helped me as I took on this task.”
Super League and the trailer ministry are just one part of a larger vision to empower churches in South Africa.
“From the beginning we knew that 2010 was not about the soccer World Cup but about getting churches energized to reach their local communities for Christ,” Niemand said.
McCool said the church doesn’t want the trailer ministry to be a one-time project.
“They want this to be the first step,” she said. “They’re interested in supporting and providing encouragement to under-resourced churches to help them reach their community.”
Compiled by the International Mission Board global communication team currently in South Africa covering the events, matches and ministries related to the World Cup.