Blow the whistle!

Kick off about persecution during the 2018 World Cup

This World Cup blow the whistle on persecution and cheer on followers of Jesus who courageously live out their faith in places of intense hostility.

Love football? Of course you do! This summer, as you watch some of the best footballers in the world do their thing, follow one of the teams which feature on the Open Doors World Watch list (the 50 toughest places on earth to be a Christian) and kick off about the injustice and persecution millions of Christians face on a daily basis.  Check through the ideas below to ‘Pray When They Play’, hold some World Cup gatherings or even raise some funds in the process!

Who should I cheer on?

The following eight teams feature in the 2018 World Cup and are also on the current Open Doors World Watch List (the toughest 50 places on earth to be a Christian).

1. Iran (No.10)
At least 52 Christians were imprisoned last year alone
2. Saudi Arabia (No. 12)
Saudi believers from a Muslim background can face death threats from extended family
3. Nigeria (No. 14)
In northern states, Christian villages can be denied basic services
4. Egypt (No. 17)
In January, a man was killed simply because he had a tattoo of a cross on his wrist
5. Tunisia (No. 30)
No new church has been granted registration since 1956
6. Mexico (No. 39)
Those converting from indigenous religions can be forced from their homes
7. Colombia (No. 49)
Christians who stand against criminal gangs receive death threats
8. South Korea (which we’ve included as neighbours of North Korea who are No.1)
The amount of people in all of North korea’s political prison camps would fill two Wembley stadiums

So, choose one, some or all and take time to cheer on Christians in these countries during the World Cup!

Pray when they play

Whenever South Korea*, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Egypt, Tunisia, Mexico or Colombia, play, take a moment to pray!

Download, print off and cut out our Panini inspired prayer cards and use them to help you pray. Before kick-off have a minute’s silence and remember what Christians are going through in these countries. During the game, whenever the ref blows the whistle, someone scores, or during ad breaks, grab your card, read the stories, facts and go through the prayer points! We’ve also added some graphics you can use on social media to show others that you’re praying for these countries too!

It’s time to kick off and blow the whistle on persecution.

There’s also some phone-friendly versions of all the cards in one file in the resources section below – download it and scroll through if you’re not a fan of cutting, sticking and pasting!

*We’ve added South Korea, so we can pray for their close neighbours, North Korea, the most extreme place on earth for Christians to live. In North Korea Christianity is outlawed and estimates suggest up to 70,000 Christians are locked up in prison camps, denied basic human rights and tortured for their faith.

Host a World Cup party!

The World Cup brings people together – not just nations, but friends and families! So, host a World Cup party/gathering with your mates, your family, your youth group, or even invite the whole church!

Plan a great afternoon or evening focussed on football and include some extra time to think about the challenges facing persecuted Christians. It doesn’t need to be complicated – you could just hold it in your living room – but if you want to scale things up and go big – then do.

Use these ideas as a starting point and add your own too:

Raise the fun(ds)

Use these ideas to raise some much needed funds for persecuted Christians during the World Cup! Try a sweepstake, put a big screen up and charge entry, get sponsored to wear one countries kit or get your hair cut like Neymar!

Any money you raise will go to cheer on Christians where the needs are greatest. That could mean providing trauma care for widows and orphans in Nigeria, supplying Bible’s and Christian literature across the Middle East and North Korea or helping the church around the world to keep shining God’s love during the darkest of times!

Kick off with this stuff!

'Pray when they play' cards (to cut out and stick together)
Download now...
'Pray when they play' cards (phone friendly versions of all)
Download now...
'Pray when they play' social media images (3 per team)
Download now...
'Pray when they play' info graphics (1 per team)
Download now...
Instagram/Twitter profile icon
Download now...
Facebook profile icon
Download now...

Raise money, or want to give?

to cheer on Christians where most needed

We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.