The World Will Be Watching

23 February, 2010

Futebol, Patacas, Brasil, 1996.

Futebol. Patacas, Brasil. 1996.

As I begin to write this post there are a mere 107 days, 14 hours, and 32 minutes until the start of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa (I owe the exact timing to the ESPN FIFA World Cup iPhone app). The actual number of eyes to view this sports event is widely debated. Some say half to three-quarters of a billion and others say tens of billions (It has been stated that the total viewership for the 2002 World Cup was 28.8 billion. There were 64 games at the World Cup giving an average of 450 million viewers per match). There is really no way to determine how many will be watching.

This year when the whistle blows on the pitch at Soccer City Stadium in Jo’burg to start the first match it will usher in a transformation in the way people view television in the home. (1) The 95,000 people in the stadium may not have the best seats; that may be reserved for the home viewers equipped to watch the game in 3D, yes 3D!

ESPN announced it will use the starting game between South Africa and Mexico to unveil a dedicated 3D network. Home viewers will now be able to view the event à la Avatar. Granted, this immersive experience will be limited to a wealthy few who can afford the HDTV equipment to take advantage of this new technology.

Yet as in years before, most of the world will watch this event crowded around shared, communal TV sets, peering through the snowy reception just as I did while visiting Brasil in 2006; the last occurrence of the World Cup. As I watched, there were about 30 green, yellow, and blue painted faces crowded into a school room in Patacas, a small Brasillian town on the north-east coast of Brasil. The spotty reception did nothing to dull the joyous exuberance each time the Brasillian national team scored.

When it comes to the number of viewers of such global events and estimates of the percentages of the human populace engaged in such a singular purpose, I don’t compare it to other sports or cultural events. I think rather of one of the last great spectacles of humanity, the ministry of the “Two Witnesses” described in Revelation 11. No other spectacle can compare to the vast numbers of viewers of that event.

I suppose ESPN will have the bugs worked out of their 3D experience by then, but it won’t matter. Much of the 1,260 day ministry of the “Two Witnesses” will be all too 3D for the hapless inhabitants of the earth as the rain ceases and waters turn to blood. As plagues of every sort strike the earth, people will not need technology to feel immersed in the event.

It is when these two witnesses are killed in a beastly manner and lie in the streets of Jerusalem that the number of world-wide viewers peaks. The celebrations over the murder of these emissaries of God will far surpass the celebrations of sporting victories, carnivale, Mardi Gras, or other human celebrations . This will be the celebration of the “world’s team” defeating God’s. Or, so they think. You see, there will be a quick severance of the celebrations when these witnesses arise after three and a half days. It will literally shake man’s shoddy foundations.

Granted, there are readers of this blog who may differ in their view of the message of the book of Revelation. The exegesis of scripture is outside the scope of this blog, but the point can be well taken regardless of your view of Revelation: A time of accounting and judgment is promised and God keeps promises.

Don’t take this particular post as an attack on the World Cup, soccer (futebol in Brasil), or other like events. It is not. I enjoyed the three games I saw while in Brasil in 2006. Even more so because we used these games as a gathering point for the youth in the community and a time for ministry and fellowship. The games were secondary to the goal of ministry. We used these games for a greater purpose and it made an eternal difference.


© 2010 A Mission Proclaimed

A Mission Proclaimed is a federally recognized 501(c)(3). Your support is greatly appreciated.


Family Blessings, Part I

27 November, 2009

Woman with portrait, Patacas, Brasil, 2008.

Dona Beneca with portrait. Patacas, Brasil. 2008.

For the next few weeks I want to focus my photos on the subject of family. During the holiday season, from Thanksgiving to Christmas, our thoughts turn to those we love. We are blessed (whether we care to admit it or not) with the company of relatives and loved ones as we celebrate this special time of the year. I wanted to explore this family theme through images I have taken on the mission field. This was one of the first photos that came to mind.

During my time in Brasil last October, I followed the ministry of Pastor Kosmo as he went about his small rural community of Patacas, Brasil. This ministry involved many visits to members of the community, this could be a time of Bible study, prayer, or merely an occasion to connect socially.

As with all members of the community we visited, who were all incredibly hospitable, always welcoming us in with an offer of fresh juice or coffee, Dona Beneca welcomed us into her home. As they spoke I was caught by the expressive way she animated every story, her arms gyrating and her face contorting with every sentence she spoke. I don’t think I have but a couple photos where her hands aren’t blurred by movement.

Since I know very little Portuguese, I couldn’t follow the entire epic score she was conducting with her hands, but what I did comprehend was the story of the portrait she held in her hands.

She was extremely proud of the image and was blessed by the modern technology that brought it to her. Being from this poor, rural, farming community, personal photographs are rare, especially rare for a person of her generation. She had no photos of herself and her late husband together. Yet, with the help of digital photo manipulation she was able to have the one image of her husband and the one image of herself scanned and brought digitally together into one frame. Even though they are now separated in death, they have been brought together into this one frame she now lovingly cherishes.

There were three of us; Pastor Kosmo, Elizeu, and myself, who spent that hour or so together with Dona Beneca in her humble home, captivated by her energy and animation, enjoying the coffee and friendship. Although I did not speak the language well, we shared a moment of being family. Such is the blessing of the Body of Christ. That brief time in that home blessed me, and I came from that encounter a richer person. Those encounters are available for all of us wherever we find ourselves.

© 2009 A Mission Proclaimed

A Mission Proclaimed is a federally recognized 501(c)(3). Your support is greatly appreciated.


Happy Black Friday?

27 November, 2009

Homeless family, Patacas, Brasil, 2008.

Homeless family. Patacas, Brasil. 2008.

It is the day after Thanksgiving and malls are being overrun by “Black Friday” shoppers. I assume this is in order to procure more possessions for which to be thankful?

The photo for today is intended to reveal how the majority of the world celebrates the day after Thanksgiving (if they had such a holiday in their country). The family in the photo are homeless living in a lean-to constructed of scraps and throw-away pieces of building materials and trash. It is an intact family of seven, the father, mother, and five young boys.

They found themselves in this condition due to a myriad of factors including the general poverty of the area in which they live, but most importantly the abuse of alcohol. Around them are boxes containing all of their possessions. In the center, under the lean-to lies their one mattress, a ripped and matted slab of foam rubber.

Their Friday today is black not because of some hoped-for profit, rather due to their uncertain future. For them every Friday is black Friday. Black from concern for their boys, of whom the older boy is already slipping into the spiral of poverty and substance abuse. Their black Friday is better described as a black hole. For many, the pull into this cycle of poverty and abuse is something they cannot escape on their own. Who will tell them about the Light that will negate the blackness of their situation? Fortunately, this family has the Christians of the Patacas church who are there to assist them.

What about the multitude of others who do not have such a witness, a rescuer? Proclaim your mission.

© 2009 A Mission Proclaimed

A Mission Proclaimed is a federally recognized 501(c)(3). Your support is greatly appreciated.


On the Outside

25 November, 2009

Sunday School Fortaleza, Brasil, 2008.

Sunday school. Fortaleza, Brasil. 2008.

As we gather with friends and family for Thanksgiving, we are reminded of the blessing we have been given of love and belonging. While looking through images for this post I found this one which brought to mind those who are outside our circles.

I have seen this occur on several occasions while in other countries. As we would gather around God’s word for church, Sunday school, meetings of various kinds (in this case a Sunday School class for children), there would be those who would come to watch, yet they would not partake. Myself and others would attempt to let them know that they were welcome to come in and partake if they wanted. Most of the time they would not join in.

So, while the Sunday school class was singing and praying, this one boy listened from the outside, unwilling to enter, or possibly feeling unwelcome. The only thing indicating his presence were his small fingers that gripped the jalousie.

This has me questioning, who are the those on the outside in my sphere of influence? Who are those who feel unwelcome to join with me? And, most importantly, what am I doing about it?

© 2009 A Mission Proclaimed

A Mission Proclaimed is a federally recognized 501(c)(3). Your support is greatly appreciated.