N.C. Baptists help at World Cup
Charles Braddix, Baptist Press
June 30, 2010

N.C. Baptists help at World Cup

N.C. Baptists help at World Cup
Charles Braddix, Baptist Press
June 30, 2010

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa —

While the world’s focus has been on 32 national teams competing for the

prestigious FIFA World Cup trophy, activities of high significance are taking

place behind the scenes.

Christian volunteers from

around the world have ventured to South Africa to work with local ministries

and churches, tapping into World Cup fever.

Hundreds of volunteers with

ministries such as the IMB’s International World Changers and Athletes in

Action arrived in South Africa to conduct soccer camps, holiday Bible clubs and

specialized sports ministries. The workers have traveled from the United

States, Canada, Brazil, France, Liberia and Ethiopia, among other nations.

BP photo by Jacob Alexander

Evan Musten, a volunteer from Forest Hills Baptist Church in Raleigh, stirs his team to sing louder at the Life Champs Day Camp in Nyanga township, Cape Town. Musten was a coach during the camp, held in conjunction with the World Cup competition in South Africa.

In addition, churches

affiliated with Baptist conventions in North Carolina and Virginia joined South

African Baptist churches and International Mission Board missionaries to

strengthen and expand local ministries.

IMB missionaries themselves

organized evangelistic initiatives, match and film showings in church

facilities, and church planting efforts.

The fruit of their labor is

evident. In Cape Town alone, where North Carolina Baptist volunteers served

alongside IMB missionaries, local Baptist seminary students and a nearby

Baptist church, 287 youth and children in three Life Champs Day Camps professed

faith in Jesus Christ.

IMB missionary Bonnie

Doughtie, evangelism team strategy leader in Cape Town, said, “It’s been a huge

impact, and now our work is to disciple (the youth and children) and point them

in the direction they need to go.”

While volunteers and

missionaries see the World Cup as a platform and opportunity for sharing the gospel,

the message they share is that life not only goes on after the World Cup, but

that there is more to life than sports.

“Yes, sports can transform

your life, but what about life after sport?” Sylvester Harris asked eager young

South African athletes at a soccer clinic in Johannesburg. “Most professional

soccer players are finished at the age of 30. Remember, sports is temporary,”

said Harris, a member of an Athletes in Action team from Liberia.

His team leader, George

Blackstock, told Baptist Press, “Though sports teaches many good life skills

that are key to leading a successful life, many young men only see the glamour

and money that sports can bring. They don’t realize that they must prepare

themselves for life after sports.”

Providing a safe haven for

children on school holidays has been a key emphasis for those ministering

during the month-long World Cup tournament in South Africa, where children can

be at risk for crime, drugs and human trafficking.

During activities organized

by mission volunteers, local churches and missionaries, children learned about

the day-to-day dangers they face and how to stay clear of them.

“It’s important for the

church to have an image in the community of being a place where their children

will be safe,” said IMB missionary Jeff Holder, who serves in the coastal town

of George. “It’s a testimony in this community of a caring church.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Braddix is

a writer with the IMB, currently in South Africa as part of a media team

providing sports and ministry coverage during the World Cup tournament. To

learn more about the events and ministries around the World Cup, visit www.WorldSoccerJourneys.com, an IMB website, and www.mReport.org, an inter-organizational website.)