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Germany’s hour?

THE WORLD’S TOP GLADIATORS CONVERGE ON GERMANY THIS SUMMER FOR THE LONG-AWAITED SHOWDOWN IN THE STRUGGLE FOR GLOBAL FOOTBALL SUPREMACY. German believers are sending out a Macedonian call for help during the World Cup Football, kicking off in just four months. Literally millions of guests are expected from all over the world to join in festivities hosted in twelve cities.

Churches and organisations in Munich, Stuttgart, Nuremberg, Leipzig, Berlin, Hamburg, Hanover, Dortmund, Frankfurt, Kaiserslautern, Gelsenkirchen and Cologne are calling for teams to join them from around the world, to bring colour, vitality and diversity to a kaleidoscope of activities. Brazilians and Africans with rhythmic drums and passionate dance will draw street crowds and share with unashamed and disarming boldness their love for Jesus. Europeans will be exposed to a Christianity they didn’t know existed.

We European believers can also be infused with the faith and enthusiasm of the growing two-thirds world churches: on prayer walks together, in international services, street concerts, coaching clinics and festivals. Multinational football teams will also fan out to towns and villages within 50 kilometres of the World Cup cities, to play friendly games opening opportunities for friendship evangelism in the relaxed festive atmosphere.

A nation-wide spirit of cooperation has been fostered by a German network of youth ministries, churches and agencies called kickoff2006, including the sports ministries of the Lutheran and Catholic Churches. Kickoff2006 has produced an outstanding handbook of creative outreach ideas downloadable from www.kickoff2006.org/channel.php?channel=60. Many of these suggestions for street football tournaments, thematic services, ideas for the workplace, creating events around football broadcasts with big screens, children’s events and football camps, among others, can be used during the World Cup, but also anywhere at anytime.

YWAMers Frank Bauer and Jan Schlegel challenged colleagues at the recent YWAM European Leadership Forum to bring teams from YWAM centres across Europe. Schlegel and his staff from Herrnhut will lead an outreach in Nuremburg. “We need several hundred participants,” he urged. Bauer passed on invitations from churches in Frankfurt for 400 participants. A contingent of 80 or so Egyptians is expected, they reported. “How many Europeans can we expect?” they asked.

The YWAM outreach (www.YWAMkickoff.org) starts with a multicultural Nations to Nations celebration, June 3-7, in the YWAM castle in Hurlach, south of Augsburg. Schloss Hurlach was the birthplace of international YWAM sports outreaches during the Munich Olympic Outreach in 1972. A thousand youth crammed the castle, hearing inspirational addresses by Brother Andrew, Corrie ten Boom, Loren Cunningham and Joy Dawson, before taking trains into Munich. When the terrorist tragedy struck, the city became wide-open for serious conversations about the deep questions of life.

A week or so ago in Berlin, at the second Transforum event organised by Gemeinsam für Berlin (www.gfberlin.de), I heard from pastors from other German cities also calling for international teams to come and work alongside local believers. Berlin, which hosts the final of the World Cup on July 9, is emerging as a model for city-wide cooperation for other German cities represented at the Transforum, a forum to explore partnership towards social and spiritual renewal in the city. I joined Robert Calvert, convenor of the Cities Network of Hope for Europe, and GfB convenors Axel Nehlsen and Hans-Peter Pache, in a promising discussion with leaders from a number of German cities about future directions.

Six days after the final, on July 15, the Olympic Stadium in Berlin will again resound to roars, singing and cheers, this time to honour the Champion of the Universe! Noel Richards is also Calling All Nations to come to Germany for a global worship gathering, with worship leaders from around the world (www.callingallnations.com).

Could this be Germany’s hour?

Till next week,

Jeff Fountain

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