TENT CITY HAS SPRUNG UP AROUND SCHLOSS HURLACH THIS PAST WEEKEND TO ACCOMMODATE HUNDREDS OF YOUTH FROM AROUND THE WORLD preparing for the World Cup outreach in Germany starting this week.
From South Africa, Egypt, Brazil, America and numerous other countries, teams have arrived in a cold and wet Bavaria for four days of training and orientation. Schloss Hurlach is the YWAM castle and training centre, just south of Augsburg, purchased prior to the 1972 Olympic Games Outreach in Munich nearby.
On Tuesday evening the teams will be commissioned to be sent out to World Cup venues including Munich, Leipzig, Nuremburg, Hamburg, Koln, Stuttgart, Dortmund, and of course, the site of the final on July 9, Berlin. Other teams are going to smaller towns and cities to assist local churches running their activities. These include football camps for children, barbeques, live game broadcasts in church halls mixed with testimonies from Christian professional players, and prayer tents and healing rooms.
Over one thousand youth are expected to be engaged in the YWAM outreaches, with a large contingent of several hundred deployed in Nuremberg alone. Churches all across Germany have been gearing up for this event for many months in one of the biggest and best-planned evangelistic efforts in recent times.
However the influx of evangelists appears to have been greatly outnumbered by the trafficking of East European prostitutes into Germany for the Cup crowds. Earlier this year, an initiative called ‘Red Card for Forced Prostitution’ was launched to fight this influx. The German Protestant Church and the German Police Union were two of several bodies joining forces to arouse public awareness of prostitution as a form of modern slavery.
An estimated 40,000 prostitutes were expected to swell the existing ranks of ‘sex workers’ (some say 175,000, others 400,000) to satisfy the demands of fans and players alike. The popular press in Britain and the US have joined in the outcry about the officially condoned prostitution, in headlines designed to boost sales: “Scandal of Cup Hookers”; “Dortmund aims for whore and peace in plans for World Cup”; “US lawmakers push Germany on World Cup sex trade”.
The Swedish justice minister, Thomas Bodstr√∂m, himself a former professional player, publicly expressed his concern that trafficking of women would only increase with the promotion of prostitution during the World Cup. Unlike Germany, Sweden has reversed its stand in recent years, outlawing the sex-trade.
Meanwhile, back at Schloss Hurlach, director Sokol Hoxha compares this outreach with the 1972 Olympic Games outreach when the castle hosted a thousand young people. On the opening night of the Kickoff celebrations, he stated his fervent hope that the World Cup outreach would signal new releases of ministry as happened in 1972.
Footage from the Olympic Outreach, ‘Revolution of Love’, recaptured poignant moments of that defining event in YWAM’s history. The video stopped on the face of a 25-year-old Dutch girl translating the teaching sessions in the large meeting tent. Stage lights went on to reveal the same face 34 years later‚Ä¶
Romkje Fountain-then Ronnie de Graaf-now reminisced with her youthful audience about the crowded sleeping conditions and washing facilities at the local municipal swimming pool; the horror of the PLO slayings of the Israeli team members; and the request from city authorities for Christians to hand out flowers to the stunned public, opening many opportunities for deep conversations.
Thirty of the fifty Dutch participants of that outreach had returned to Holland to engage in ministry of some sort, she explained. And YWAM in Holland was started the next year as a result. Romkje’s prayer was that the majority of this year’s outreach participants would also hear God’s call on their lives. And that new ministries would be multiplied into other countries too.
Till next week,