The Brazilian Bible Society will distribute four million Bibles in an effort to reach the multitude of soccer fans that will trek to Brazil to attend the FIFA World Cup.
Leaders of the international outreach organization say over half a million fans from around the world will descend upon Brazil to join three million local fans, all of whom they hope to share the Gospel with.
"Brazilians are football-mad and their obsession with football will reach fever pitch over the next few weeks …," said Dr. Rudi Zimmer of the Bible Society of Brazil, reports the United Bible Societies. "We want the Bible to have a prominent presence amid all the excitement. It's an unprecedented opportunity for churches and Christians here to share God's Word with local and foreign fans, and we want to equip and encourage them to do that."
In addition to the millions of Bibles, 20,000 copies of the Gospel of John will be distributed in Portuguese and eight other languages. The organization has also published special World Cup editions of the Portuguese Bible and New Testament.
Although the distribution effort is massive, 1,600 churches and ministries have partnered with the Bible Society through the "Fair Play Brazil" movement. In addition to passing out the scripture books, volunteers will be spread throughout 12 cities where they will help fans to find their way around the soccer festivities.
"Fair Play Brazil" was inspired by the vision that led the Apostle Paul to travel to the city of Corinth as noted in Acts 18, explained Zimmer.
"Corinth was one of the largest and busiest cities of the Roman Empire and hosted one of the biggest sporting events in the calendar; the Isthmian Games," said Zimmer. "There, Paul found the opportunity to preach the Gospel to people from all over the world. We and our partners share that same vision now – both for the World Cup this year and the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2016."
He added, "We want as many people as possible to get the chance to hear about God's love for them, so please pray for this outreach at the World Cup," Zimmer saidl. "Pray for God's blessing and guidance for the volunteers and pray that the football fans will have open hearts to hear and welcome the message of God's Word."
While spreading the Gospel during the international soccer tournament is a priority for Christians, churches throughout Brazil are also tackling human trafficking through nationwide campaigns to raise awareness of the hundreds of vulnerable children at risk of sexual exploitation during the event.
The 2014 World Cup is played every four years and kicked off in Sao Paulo on June 12, where 32 teams will compete over the course of a month.