FIFA World Cup 2010 and Evangelism – World Cup Final Update

I had been looking forward to the Final match and the opportunity that will be presented to preach the Gospel and distribute as many tracts as possible. I had planned to spend the whole afternoon outside Soccer City Stadium, as there was going to be a closing ceremony which meant that people will go earlier to the stadium while others will just come for the match only. But everything that could go wrong went wrong.

11 July 2010, Soccer City Stadium

The last thing I expected on that Sunday morning was to find myself driving to an emergency room of our nearest hospital. It was the worst nightmare we have ever faced as a family. We woke up with everybody sick, including myself, and our two oldest sons were so sick we decided to take them to an emergency room. We knew there was a strong possibility that they would both be hospitalized, but we had decided that hospitalization is not an option and we’ll refuse if doctors suggested it. Our fears came true, and our second oldest son was hospitalized and they disregarded our pleas not to. Right there was the whole Sunday ruined, and it dawned on me that perhaps there’s more to this sicknesses than meets the eye. I mean what are the chances that a family of 5 could go to bed perfectly well with no sicknesses, yet when they wake up all of them are sick with the different sickness and symptoms?

Even though I had a son in hospital, while the other two were sick at home with my also sick wife, my mind was still made up that I needed to go to the stadium and at least speak to one person about something as important as eternity. I had planned to go to the stadium before the game with my Ugandan sisters (Mirriam and Helen) and other local Christians, and they were disappointed when I couldn’t go anymore. I knew I couldn’t make it before the game, but my mind was now set on going after the game. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I knew that some of the Spain and Holland fans may never ever hear the Gospel again in their life, as Europe is a very secular place nowadays, and my presence could change their destiny forever.

The game started on TV, and I made up my mind to leave at half-time so I can give myself enough time to drive to the stadium (60km drive), find parking and walk to the spot I use to preach from so I can meet people when they come back from the match. Just as I was about to leave (when the match was 30 min in the first half), something said to my spirit: “if you leave, I will kill your family”. I had a mini debate in my mind, and it was settled when I remembered that my family was saved and even if they die they’ll be in heaven forever, but the majority of the football fans on the night were lost for all eternity. The decision was simple, and that made me even more determined to go to the stadium and preach. God revealed to me and showed me that when you preach to people before the game then they are likely to forget the message during the game, but when you speak to them on their way home then the message lasts in their mind and they are likely to debate it over and over again in their minds while they are driving home and just before they sleep. I knew that the message might be the last thing some of the Europeans remember about their trip in this country, while it will occupy the minds of the locals for at least one night. The World Cup would be over, but the last thing they would remember about going to the stadium during a World Cup Final would be some guy making a noise about Jesus. I could understand why there was so much opposition.

 I arrived at the stadium an hour later (30 min into the second half), and thinking the match was about to end in 15 minutes I then proceeded to where I was to wait for the masses to leave the stadium. I was about to begin a 2 hour wait, in temperatures of 4 degrees with strong winds, as the match went into extra-time. That was the most chilling time I have ever endured, and what kept me going was the scripture that says ‘offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God” (Romans 12:1). Finally people left the stadium, after Spain had won the match, and I prepared to preach while my body was as cold as it gets. Just as I started preaching, a middle aged local woman went pass and said ‘stop irritating us with your babblings’ and right then I knew I was in business. Some women who were selling alcohol came and stood next to me listening, but they continued selling their beers. I kept pleading with men and women from scripture, and not compromising the message in case I offended anyone, and I’m certain that God used the message.

I had planned to preach twice, but the cold weather forced me to retreat, and the time was way pass 12pm. At this point I started walking back to the car, and thanking God for giving me an opportunity to share in His will for the world. While walking back to the car, it was as if my joints were coming loose and my body was separated from the hips. I struggled to walk, and I was certain that I was going to fall down and die. I kept praying for God to help me just so I can get to the car. I had walked that distance (perhaps 400m) many times without problems, but this time it was different and I knew that it could be my last day on earth. I wanted to shout for help from people who were also walking to their cars, but I couldn’t. Every small step I took was making my pain worse; it was the most extreme pain I have ever felt. But thankfully God gave me strength to get to my car, and the pain disappeared as soon as I entered the car. It was a victory for the Kindgom of God!

Nobody I know of gave his life to Jesus on that night, unlike in previous nights, but God’s Word doesn’t come back without bearing fruit, so something happened on that night. Heaven will reveal what happened, and why there was such opposition, but it’s not my business to concern myself with the details. I ignored my weaknesses, fears, discouragement and went and did what Jesus commanded me to do, so I did my part and I’m also certain that God did His part.

Lessons learnt:

  • Open air outreaches are spiritual warfare that is as intense as anything we have ever seen. If God can withhold His grace even for one moment, then demons won’t hesitate to knock Christians dead just for preaching.
  • There is no reason that is good enough to block a Christian from open air preaching.

 

As I’m writing this (a Sunday later), my family is in perfect health, except my wife who has a stomach bug. Thanks for all those who prayed for me and my family. And most importantly I thank God for being my Father who is always willing to make me share in what He’s doing in this world. Given the love I have for sports, it was a miracle from God that enabled me to ignore so many high quality football matches so I could speak to people about their destiny. It’s a real joy when God is at work in a life, and I can say that God is really at work in my life. Today is a better day for me spiritually than yesterday was, and that’s how is supposed to be for a Christian. I believe that all great men who were used by God always had an image of people in hell on their minds, and this gave them no rest day after day. Far be it from me that I should sin against God by not having an image of hell in my mind and the horror sinners will find themselves in for all eternity.

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