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Are you ready for some football?

No, I’m not talking about the sport with first downs and two-point conversions. I’m talking about the one with penalty kicks and yellow cards — the sport most nations outside the United States refer to as football.
For the first time in history, the FIFA World Cup travels to the African continent. Fifteen years after shedding its apartheid policies, South Africa will host one of the biggest sporting events in the world. (Bobby Ross was in South Africa last year a posted a story about Churches of Christ in the post-apartheid era.)
Whenever I think of South Africa I think of a song I recorded at the 2008 Africans Claiming Africa for Christ conference in Nigeria. A small delegation of South African church members sang this song for the attendees. I’m not even sure what language it is, but I love it. Please give it a listen.
The official soccer ball of the tournament bears the word “Jabulani,” a word in the Zulu language that means “rejoice.” Back in 2002 African Christians gathered in the Dallas area for “Jabulani Africa!” celebrating 100 years of evangelism by Churches of Christ.
We want to hear from you. If you live in Africa, how does it feel for your continent to host the World Cup?
Are any church members attending any of the games? Better yet, are any church members in the tournament?
Regardless of where you live, are you using the World Cup as a potential outreach (watch parties, other ideas)? Is there such a thing as “football evangelism?”

Two years ago I put together a story and photo gallery of a football fellowship tournament in Switzerland with 150 participants from churches in Western Europe. (The Paris team won, by the way.)
Also, feel free to offer your insights here as to who is most likely to win this year’s World Cup. (But keep it clean. If any international incidents arise here, I’ll start issuing red cards.)

The Paris team celebrates its victory in the 2008 football fellowship tournament in Switzerland. (Photo provided)

  • Feedback
    We are anxiously awaiting the opening ceremony of the World Cup here in Port Elizabeth, one of the host cities. As we have done with the Rugby and Cricket World Cup games hosted here in South Africa, we will share the fun with the local people we work with here. It is an exciting time to live here, and to see the patriotism growing among the locals. Yes, we, along with our ten Adventures in Missions interns, will be in the crowd to watch Chile take on Switzerland in our lovely new stadium. Our guys stood in line over 10 hours for those tickets! Any Americans who might be coming our way, let us hear from you via this email. We’re happy to have you in our midst. Go Bafana Bafana!
    Judy Kendall-Ball
    June, 8 2010

    we’re in tanzania and are excited about the world cup this year — as are our tanzanian friends. tickets are incredibly pricey to get to south africa and for the games themselves, so we considered trying to go for all of 20 seconds. we don’t have cable or satellite, so i don’t know how many matches we’ll be able to see — but, you’re right, it would be a great opportunity to have people into our homes if we did.
    the reason i’m writing, however, is this: coke has all kinds of giveaways here and elsewhere — you know, the kind where you look under the cap to see if you’ve won. the most successful promotion to date (that i can tell) here in tanzania is the current one: an all-expense paid trip to south africa for the world cup. we had a bunch of young men over to our house a few sundays ago, and i bought a couple of crates of various sodas, knowing that these guys generally prefer fantas and overly-sweet fruit-flavored drinks. but every single guy here took a coca-cola on that day, in hopes of winning the big trip.
    as for the winner, i’m going with holland.
    June, 9 2010

    hey hey heyyy
    i see we are even on this webside with our tournement 😉 how amazing!! i ve got all the pics made with the best cam – if you want some ;))
    looking forward to the event in 2011 😉
    god bless gr���x anina
    June, 9 2010

    I’ve been updated on the past two winners of the Church of Christ football fellowship tournament in Western Europe:
    2009: Antwerp, Belgium
    2010: Geneva, Switzerland
    Erik Tryggestad
    June, 9 2010

    The Let’s Start Talking ministry is hosting a free World Cup Bracket Challenge for all of our friends, alumni and Facebook fans. We’re using this opportunity to connect our global friends in a friendly competition.
    We invite anyone that wants to play to join us. It’s free to sign up at: http://y.ahoo.it/eCfbGu69
    The winner will get a free LST t-shirt and bragging rights till the next World Cup!
    Darin Campbell
    Let’s Start Talking
    Darin Campbell
    June, 9 2010

    Greetings from Okinawa, Japan!
    Well, a few of us from the Chibana Church of Christ plan on watching the USA-England game early on Sunday morning (I believe it starts at 0330 local). That’s a little painful but the fellowship will be good and we’ll still have a plenty of time to get ready to worship later that morning.
    I hope everyone enjoys the games!
    Stephen Wolf
    June, 10 2010

    Stephen: Now THAT’S dedication! Please, PLEASE send me a photo or two from your 3:30 a.m. watch party.
    Thanks to everyone for your feedback thus far. By the way, I’ve got my Ghana hat all ready for the games.
    Erik Tryggestad
    June, 10 2010

    Well, we made it! Two of us met over a brother’s house here on Okinawa at 0230 hrs local (2:30 AM!) and enjoyed some fellowship, some grilled hot dogs and a fairly exciting tie between USA and England. We had a wonderful prayer session during halftime, too. It was a pleasant way to start the Lord’s Day…and YES…we all made it to Bible Study and Worship at 0900 hrs :~).
    Erik – I’ll send you a few pics of our morning gathering.
    God Bless,
    Stephen Wolf
    June, 13 2010

    I am a native South African, who studied the Bible in the USA and has been there for the last 10 years. I recently returned to South Africa with my American wife and our 2 children with the sole intent of doing missionary work here.
    We live about 10 minutes from the stadium in Durban, which is probably the best stadium here in South Africa. Games are played at various stadiums and the one in Durban had one game thus far (Germany vs Australia). By the way, John Travolta flew his plane to Durban in support of Australia.
    We have chosen not to attend any of the games at the stadiums but we do follow the games closely on TV whenever possible as there are about 3 games a day.
    Our family along with other members of the church will be carrying flyers out to the Durban beach where they have 2 big-screen TV’s, where people can sit and watch the games. The atmosphere at the beach is exhilarating, bustling with foreigners from various countries. The Durban municipality has done an excellent job of enhancing the true beauty of Durban. In a country where racial hatred still exists, we are hopeful and pray that the unity and commaraderie among the locals will continue well after the world cup ends. In the meantime, we are truly enjoying the atmosphere.
    The winner for the world cup? Well, we are of course supporting both the South African and the USA teams. However, there has not been a single team that has demonstrated such brilliant teamwork and character as the German team has done thus far.
    Joshua Ankiah
    June, 16 2010

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