Brazil's lauded soccer team may have failed to win the 2010 World Cup, but the nation's evangelicals were satisfied by their own success in South Africa.
More than 250 Brazilian missionaries were busy evangelizing during Sunday's final match between Spain and the Netherlands. Though disappointed over dashed dreams of Brazil's "hexacampeonato" or sixth championship (after all, they are citizens of the nation's football fever as well as the Kingdom of God), missionaries reported they will return home happy.
"I'll never be the same," says João Batista, one of many who used the universal language of soccer to offer outdoor worship services, impact evangelism, hospital visitations, and even soccer schools for underprivileged children in South Africa's major cities.
"This kind of evangelism during events like the World Cup or the Olympic Games focuses not only on tourists but also local people," said Marcos Grava, sports coordinator of the Brazilian Baptist Convention, whose World Missions Board was one of the entities participating in Connection Africa 2010, sponsored by the Brazilian Coalition of Sports Ministry. Grava said evangelicals should seize the vast preaching opportunities created by the World Cup, including the ability to interact with people from qualifying countries that are closed to the gospel, such as communist North Korea and Muslim Algeria.
"Most people here are concentrated on the games, but we as people of God use several strategies to proclaim the Good News," said Brazilian missionary Vanessa Faustini from the Baptist Church of Curitiba. She came to South Africa in March and will remain until August working for Youth With A Mission. "As our organization mobilizes teams from around the world for such events, ...