Posts Tagged 'World Cup Soccer'

South Africa and the World Cup, IHRG is getting ready

            We are getting ready to head to Johannesburg, South Africa to meet with some of the ministry leaders who are preparing for a huge outreach during the World Cup Soccer Tournament this June and July.

            Since the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta we have been providing religious freedom legal help at many of the major sporting events around the world.  This year we are personally working with ministry leaders and FIFA officials to make sure that the free speech and religious freedom rights of the missionaries who will come from around the world are respected by local and tournament officials.

            At the same time, I am working, even now, to establish meetings with other ministry leaders in South Africa and local Christian attorneys.  These meetings will allow us to have an even greater effect during our time in South Africa.

            There is a lot of preparation that goes into these meetings.  We have to do all the normal travel arrangements, determine where is the most strategic location to set up as our camp in Johannesburg.  We have to prepare legal documents and then we have to get those legal documents to the key mission people and the key people with FIFA and the local law enforcement.  We have to make sure they understand their rights and this involves some training before and during the tournament.

            Our job is to make sure everyone understands the protected speech rights.  Our job is to make sure that police officials do not overstep their bounds during the tournament.  Our job is to make sure the missionaries do not get too aggressive on their part as well.

            So, we are preparing to leave in just over two weeks for our first on the ground meetings in Johannesburg, South Africa.  Please continue to pray for our team.  We have a lot of work in the next few months, and a lot of travel as well.


The IHRG at Major Sporting Events

I think it is important for us to explain what we do at major sporting events around the world—events like the Olympic Games and World Cup Soccer Tournaments.  These events attract tens or even hundreds of thousands of visitors who are perfectly willing to have conversations with people from other cultures about a variety of topics, including religious belief.  These events are an ideal place for Christian missionaries to share their faith.


The only problem with these events is that often overzealous government officials, both local and national, attempt to stop the exercise of free speech rights in public places.  That is where the IHRG comes into these events.


We have a complete program that works to stop problems before they happen.  This program is has been tested live at a number of major sporting events.  At the same time, we are on the ground during the events to make sure that problems that arise at the last minute are taken care of quickly so that ministry is not stopped or hindered.


Our program is simple; we begin with written legal documents that explain the law to government officials and organizing committees on the ground in nations where these events are taking place.  Our letter methodically lays out the law regarding freedom of speech in public places.  It shows the longstanding right to share your faith in public places.


We also work with missionaries, mission organizations, and ministry leaders to educate the men and women who will be on the street sharing their faith.  We help them understand how to interact with police officers and other government officials to avoid being arrested or run off the streets.


We also are on the ground during these key events to quickly resolve any problems that occur early in the events.  Our experience, as far back as Atlanta 1996, is that when we are there we can resolve problems instantly and keep missionaries on the street sharing their faith without threat of arrest or other harassments.


These outreaches are incredible to watch.  They include everything from one-on-one evangelism as simple as handing out Christian literature to mass outreaches at concerts drawing thousands of people into a public square where they hear the Gospel presented clearly in the local language and English.  They include rebroadcast of the games with Christian discussions during intermissions, through local Christian television.


These events include soccer tournaments that double as Christian outreach in local communities throughout the country hosting the events.  These tournaments are participated in by students from the local schools.


All of this works to provide a great outreach throughout the country hosting the major sporting event.  And we are in the middle of this protecting the overall rights of those who are performing the outreach to make sure they are able to exercise their rights.


We believe these outreaches are critical to the furthering of the Kingdom of God and we are honored to participate in them as legal counsel for religious freedom.


Books Worth Reading

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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