BRAZIL - It's another game day here in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, and thousands of fans have arrived to support their teams in the World Cup.
The government reports 600,000 foreign tourists visited Brazil this month. Many come from Muslim countries like Algeria and Iran, where they may have never heard about Jesus.
It's a unique opportunity to help them hear the Gospel message. That's why churches and ministries have deployed a small army of evangelists to the streets and parks of the city. They're enthusiastically greeting soccer fans and sharing the good news of salvation.
"We understand that the Word of God completely transforms the life and history of a person," Marcos Lovera, of Brazil's Bible Society, explained. "That's why the Bible Society of Brazil prepared special literature for this World Cup period. We prepared 100,000 copies of the Bible with covers for each host city of the World Cup."
Young people are leading the effort to take this festival of evangelism to the streets of Brazil. Their joy and enthusiasm attracts the visiting fans.
One fan, who had just experienced a personal tragedy, found a sympathetic listener in Vaneide, a personal evangelist.
"This man lost his wife in a fire and became blind," she recalled. "He stopped and talked with me for half an hour. I told him about Jesus and suddenly he said, 'Now I understand the way to the truth!' And at that moment he gave his life to Jesus."
Youth With A Mission (YWAM) is helping to coordinate evangelism efforts. They say that if churches and ministries carry out all their plans in the 12 host cities, over a million and a half people could become followers of Christ during this World Cup.
"It's great because we have a population from all over the world," André Valadao, of Lagoinha Baptist Church, said. "So they're coming; they're getting to know our nation."
"Brazil is as big as a continent, so on those 12 cities, in all of them we have great ministries," he continued. "And they are all involved. That helps the unity of the church to work for the kingdom. Having people saved."
For Brazilian Christians the "goals" during this World Cup are salvations. They are confident that their celebration here will be echoed in heaven.