Soccer Outreach Has Higher Goal
Christians mobilize to reach a multitude of World Cup fans.
"Gooooooaaaaaaal!" With that trademark expression, Andras Cantor, Univision's soccer play-by-play announcer, broadcast the decisive goal against Italy in Brazil's 3-to-2 victory at the Rose Bowl to win soccer's World Cup July 17.
Nearly half the world's population—2 billion people—watched the game. No wonder Christians were eager to piggyback on the quadrennial event that is bigger than professional football, basketball, and baseball combined. During the monthlong tournament that began in Chicago's Soldier Field, a loose coalition of several hundred churches and more than 1,000 Christians mobilized throughout the country to deliver the gospel to soccer fans.
They used every tactic in the evangelistic play book: massive rallies by evangelists such as Luis Palau and Nicky Cruz; 200,000 copies of the Christian magazine Sports Spectrum in English and Spanish, profiling World Cup players who are believers from Brazil, Norway, and the United States; more than 2 million tracts with a soccer theme and World Cup information; and hundreds of soccer clinics and parties.
"There is a great advantage in using the hype someone else paid for," says Steve Quatro, executive director for Sports Outreach Los Angeles.
In Dallas, 11 churches and parachurches came under the rubric of Together '94 to capitalize on the Cotton Bowl site for six games. Their most effective efforts were soccer clinics where children heard Bible lessons in between developing soccer skills and playing in mock World Cup games.
With the participation of professional and semiprofessional soccer players belonging to Missionary Athletes International, 77 of the 200 children attending the five-day event made ...