Prayer for South Africa and the World Cup

The World Cup is the most watched sporting event in the world. That is simply amazing (I mean, really? More than the Canadian curling championship? What is the world coming to?).

So, no surprise, it is a very big deal that South Africa is hosting the event for the first time on the African continent, or that they are talking it up as a chance to unite the country, and claim that the people there are all thrilled about the event.

I am sure there are plenty of people who don’t care very much about it, not because they hate football or have no patriotism, but because they are busy trying to survive. Like the 5.7 million South Africans living with HIV and AIDS – more than any country in the world. Or the victims of South Africa’s extremely high crime rate who have seen loved ones raped and murdered.

My point is not to take away from the sporting event. My point is to use it to bring attention to the huge needs in a country known for healing and possibility.

Most of us won’t be in South Africa as it receives the attention of the world. But we can pray:

  • We can pray for the country’s millions of sufferers of HIV/AIDS, and the many children who have the disease.
  • We can pray for the victims of murder and their families.
  • We can pray for the women who live in fear of sexual violence.
  • We can pray for the refugees who poured into South Africa earlier this year to escape political danger to the north.
  • We can pray for the perpetrators of violent crime.
  • We can pray for the visitors to South Africa in the next six weeks.
  • We can pray for Zuma, the President of South Africa.
  • We can pray for the continent, whose brokenness is historically so bound to our own.

And there is so much more to lift up in prayer. In fear of harping on the subject, I haven’t mentioned the uncountable number of women and children being trafficked into South Africa today and for the last few weeks to be slaves for sexual exploitation.

If you are a fan of the World Cup, I encourage you to deepen your experience of the event by visiting this news update from Not for Sale and downloading the prayer guide on the right. It is a fantastic resource focusing on the issue of human trafficking surrounding the tournament. (Just click “download,” and then “free user” on the next page. You may have to wait a moment, but then you can download the full document.)

The guide is an amazing tool for Christians to grow in love for justice during the next six weeks of competition. It also offers practical ways to combat human trafficking and become more aware of the issue in general.

And no matter how you pray for South Africa, pray. It is a wonderful way to watch a wonderful sport, with eyes wide open.

Join in!

What do you add as a prayer for South Africa, or for the continent at large, during this time of increased attention for the region?

Let me know if you decide to follow Not For Sale’s prayer guide. I’ll be doing it, and maybe we can talk about the experience later.

2 Responses to “Prayer for South Africa and the World Cup”
  1. Darrell says:

    I have downloaded the material and will pray as I am able. I just have one question. Isn’t sports intended to be a form of amusement and therefore by definition a non thinking about the world’s problems kind of thing? We spend our days dealing with the problems we face at work as well as problems with finances, family, etc. and we sit down to watch sports and take our minds off it.

    Now you tell us that the sports we become addicted to as a form of amusement is just another reminder of the world’s problems. Don’t we need something we can use to get away from it all? I realize its just bread and the circus as we all should when we watch the stuff, but as you said its fun.

    Or maybe I’m wrong and there is and should be no escape.

  2. Joanna says:

    Well there is no escape for people who are sold into slavery.

    I think there are at least two problems with the way we as Christians deal with the alleged conflict between amusement and justice:

    1) Like Jesus, we must learn to love justice as much as God does and hate injustice as much as God does, too. We would react very differently if these were our own children, or our siblings. We would not be interested in amusement until they were freed and brought to a place of healing. What a sad state of selfishness by Christians! We must be willing, as Jesus was, to set aside our own comforts for their sakes, even for our whole lifetimes if that is what it takes.

    2) Also like Jesus, we must become more able to celebrate even though we are aware of bitter things. Jesus celebrated weddings by eating, drinking and being merry, but he also looked sadly to his coming death. True celebration is a spiritual discipline: it is not distraction at all; rather it is a reminder of God’s character and a chance to renew our hope that justice can and will be conquered. It makes us more able to face injustice with true courage. If cheering along with the World Cup can do that for us, we should enjoy it fully!

    I recommend Gary Haugen’s book “The Good News About Injustice” for more on this topic. I was reading its 10th anniversary celebration prologue last night, and it is a good example of what true Christian celebration can look like amidst a lot of pain.

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