The International Human Rights Group at Germany 2006 and What That Means for 2008 and Beyond

I was not prepared for what I saw in Germany during the 2006 World Cup outreach.  I have been to Olympic outreaches in Atlanta and Athens.  I have helped missionaries at Olympic outreaches in Salt Lake City, Sidney, Torino.  I have helped missionaries at major sporting events in the US and beyond.


I thought I had seen what these outreaches were all about.  I have seen big screen televisions projecting both sporting events and Christian ministry.  I have seen concerts in public plazas.  I have seen individual outreach going on throughout the cities where these events occurred.


So naturally, when David and I flew into Germany I thought I would see more of the same.  Don’t get me wrong; more of the same is quite impressive—and more important than that, these outreaches are extremely effective.  Local mission leaders help link up those who respond to the Gospel message and local churches who are prepared to disciple these folks.  This means that those who respond to the Gospel message are not left to find their own way.  They are given the opportunity to grow into mature Christians within a local Church community.


I was shocked when we arrived in the small German town of Altenkirchen of some 6,700 souls.  Altenkirchen is about thirty or forty minutes from Cologne.  You can walk from one end of town to the other in a little over fifteen minutes.  This was the headquarters for Kickoff 2006.  I thought this would be a place where no outreach occurred.


Yet, as we were getting over our jetlag David and I walked through town.  In the center square of the city we found a pavilion that had been set up to house outreach during the entire month long World Cup Soccer Tournament.  This pavilion had an area where missionaries could purchase t-shirts and caps and other tools for outreach.  The far right corner of the pavilion had a small grill and drink area where people coming in to watch the games on the huge screen television could purchase snacks, sausages and drinks to unknowingly support the outreach they were partaking in.  While all this was going on the soccer games were being broadcast live on the largest television screen in the city.


During halftime, instead of running the secular halftime show, a national Christian station had lent its studio to produce a live Christian halftime program complete with an accounting of what we believe.  I watched as hundreds of people in this village in Germany were ministered to at a time when they were more than willing to sit and listen.


What a remarkable moment this was!


That is not the end of the story, however.  The outreach at the pavilion was only the beginning.  As we walked through town over the next week David and I found outreach going on in the public park just down from the pavilion.  In a separate area of Altenkirchen the outreach team had set up a small portable enclosed soccer field.  Here they were having a three on three soccer tournament.  This outreach was so dynamic that the local schools had a field day where the local school children were brought during school hours to participate in the festivities. 


During the soccer tournament there was a parade of Christian missionaries who played Christian music and danced and waved flags celebrating Christianity.  At the same time there was a clown who was making animal balloons.  There was a kicking contest and a variety of other events going on simultaneously around this square.


It was a remarkable outreach in this small town.


I began asking questions and learned that these types of outreaches were going on all around Germany.  Outreaches were being set up and participated in that would reach the people who were coming from around the world to attend the world’s largest soccer tournament. 


I had the chance to see further outreaches in cities like Stuttgart and Cologne.  In these larger cities the outreach was broader.  People were distributing literature on the streets, they were preaching to those in public places around these cities.  Literally thousands of people were being ministered to by missionaries who were so passionate about their opportunity to reach the world while the world was in Germany.


We were there because a part of what we do is monitor these events to make sure that missionaries were able to present the Gospel without threat of arrest. 


I am happy to say that because of the great work of groups that prepare the missionaries and our work to educate the organizers of the event as to the rights of Christians to share their faith in public places.


These types of outreach inspire me.  The creativity that goes into putting together outreach that can attract the attention of people who are coming to an incredibly dynamic sporting event is more than I can imagine.


I admire the workers and the work that goes into making these outreaches successful.  For one thing, the expense is greater because hotels and local restaurants often jack up their prices in anticipation of the huge crowds of tourists that will come to the event.  And many of the people who come to share at these events are taking their vacation time to come share their faith.  They are not going to the beach.  They are not headed to the mountains.  They are vacationing with purpose.


We will take the expertise we continue to gain at these events and refine our abilities.  We are committed to standing with these men and women who are giving everything to minister to those who are lost and dying in this world.


We will be there for them—after all, they are there for us and they are there for Him.


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C.S. LEWIS--Mere Christianity; CLAIRE BERLINSKI--Menace in Europe: Why the Continent's Crisis is America's Crisis, Too; BRUCE BAWER--While Europe Slept: How Radical islam is Destroying the West from Within; DAVID LEVERING LEWIS--God's Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215; THOMAS SCHIRRMACHER--The Persecution of Christians Concerns Us All; PHILIP JENKINS--God's Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe's Religious Crisis

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