By Linda Grigg
Who is going to win the Rugby World Cup 2011 – God, or Satan?
Recently staff at the Baptist Union National Resource Centre had a guest speaker at their weekly devotions. Alan Bell, National Director of ECPAT (End Child Prostitution and Trafficking, www.ecpat.org.nz) told the Union and tranzsend staff that the Rugby World Cup will bring sex tourism to NZ.
Such a large event, drawing men from all over the world who will be away from the moral constraints of home, will mean a busy and lucrative time for our nation’s sex workers. ECPAT’s concern, of course, is that some of these prostitutes will be children.
It got me thinking. Rugby officials, the New Zealand Government, local authorities and businesses – perhaps even the Prostitutes Collective – are all gearing up for this event, but are our churches?
The Government’s “New Zealand 2011 Office” website says the World Cup will attract 60,000 international visitors and rugby fans from across New Zealand. That’s a large mission opportunity coming to a town near you. Especially so if you consider that some of those international visitors may include prostitutes coming into New Zealand specifically for the business opportunity. Don’t laugh – some are saying that South Africa could have an influx of 40,000 prostitutes in the leadup to soccer’s FIFA World Cup this June.
Several Baptist churches in the UK are preparing to show the soccer World Cup games as a family-friendly alternative to pub screenings, and as a way of connecting with people in their communities that would not normally venture into a church building. Maybe your church is thinking of doing something similar for the Rugby World Cup.
Rugby not your thing? Never mind, the Government is planning a nationwide festival in the lead-up to, and during, the tournament. Supposedly this will be the biggest festival ever staged in New Zealand, with every region involved. So, there will be other ways to tap into the events surrounding the World Cup.
For example, in Auckland, events will include heritage tours, film screenings, the Diwali Festival of Lights, an arts festival in Manukau, a Chinese cultural festival in West Auckland, and a mass public celebration at Auckland’s waterfront on the opening night. Some may say it’s not the place of the churches to be involved in such things. But perhaps it is a perfect opportunity to reclaim territory back off you-know-who.
As Joseph once said, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”