As the the World Cup in Russia approaches the halfway stage, Christians there — including a small team from South Africa — are raising their game in a bid to reach as many as three million people with the Gospel, despite tight restrictions against missionary activity in the country.
Because the law requires evangelism to be confined to officially-recognised churches and led by Russian nationals, more than 200 evangelical congregations across Moscow, Saint Petersburg, and other host cities are partnering in a massive outreach led by Mission Eurasia, by opening their buildings for game viewings and fellowship during the month-long international tournament. They plan to distribute some 600 000 pieces of scripture, including 100 000 copies of the Gospel of John with addresses of local churches.
And according to testimonies being shared on social media, despite the tight restrictions, the outreach teams are finding ways to engage people with the love of Jesus outside of the official church venues.
Soon after arriving in Russia, the SA outreach team shared this update: “Yesterday was supposed to be a day where we get oriented on how to use the metro [underground train system]. It ended up being 4 hours of ministry as everyone wanted to take photos with us. This poses as a great opportunity to witness as we have people ‘following us’ tomorrow we will be at the square for an open air evangelism as we already have a crowd who wants to interact with us. We used the opportunity as we posed for hundred photos to tell people about the love of God.”
Another outreach team shared: “Our adventure with Christ doesn’t stop! Yesterday we had an intensive day and one of the our activities was a soccer match of Brazilians versus Russian. It was really interesting, we were 5 Brazilians and they were around 30 Russians. For us was hard to change players. We played around 2 hours! It was nice, we won the game, but it was not the best part of this.
“After the game, they were really happy because we spent time playing with them. So I asked them to talk to them! In that moment I shared my testimony about how Christ met me and after that I shared the gospel with them and I did an altar call! What was the result of this? Around 15 people surrendered their lives to JESUS! Wooooow! Hallelujah! Can you imagine our happiness? This was a great manifestation of the Power of God! Our desire is everyone can hear the Gospel! Let’s share #Jesus4all.”
Mission Eurasia also shares this on its Facebook Page: “Police officers were in every corner of the Red Square, but even that couldn’t stop the message of the gospel! Last week a team of 25 of our School Without Walls (SWW) students in Russia organized an evangelistic flash mob in the middle of Red Square in Moscow as part of our Scripture outreach during the FIFA World Cup games this month.
“The goal of these flash mobs is to share the gospel quickly and spontaneously in a public place (since open evangelism is now illegal in Russia). As soon as the first flash mob started, people from all over the square came running over to watch it. Amazingly, the students were able to do the gospel presentation four different times, and each time they drew a large crowd to watch and listen. Even though a few people in the crowd mocked them for sharing their faith, many others applauded and were open to praying with them and receiving copies of the Gospel of John.
“Through the four flash mob performances that day, our SWW students were able to talk with 200 people about Jesus and pray with 80 of them! They also handed out 500 copies of the Gospel of John. Our students shared that 14 people accepted Christ as their Savior because of the flash mob outreach. Praise God for keeping our students safe during their evangelistic efforts, and please continue praying that many more people would be reached with the gospel through our World Cup Outreach in the coming weeks!”
Christians around the world — including SA — are also using the opportunity provided by the World Cup to advance the Gospel, for instance by showing the games on big screens and using the opportunity to reach out to people. If you are involved in a World Cup outreach campaign anywhere in Africa and would like to share your testimony, we would love to hear from you. Please send your testimony to firstname.lastname@example.org