New York, NY - June 12, 2014
In a greeting message for the Opening Ceremony of the FIFA World Cup that started today in Brazil, the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) highlights the uniqueness of this sports event in bringing people together in diversity. However, the WEA also joins its national member body, Aliança Cristã Evangélica Brasileira (ACEB), in expressing concerns over the potential exploitation of those who are vulnerable that this global sports event might entail.
“Today, the eyes of millions around the world have turned to Brazil for the World Cup, which is likely the biggest sporting event in the world that amazingly brings together people from different nationalities, cultures and languages,” says Dr. Geoff Tunnicliffe, Secretary General of the WEA, who also sent a greeting message for the World Cup Opening Ceremony upon request from the Brazilian President.
“It is an event that seeks to encourage peace and respectful coexistence and an opportunity for the world to gather together in the spirit of unity,” he continues. “However, sporting events can break that spirit when sideline events through human trafficking become opportunistic with tourists and vulnerable children and youth.”
In its statement on ‘Pentecost, Brazil and Soccer’, ACEB writes that Brazilians are friendly people and rejoice in welcoming visitors from other countries. Foreigners should enjoy the natural beauties and wonderful flavors of Brazil. However, they must not in any way get involved in sexual exploitation of children and adolescents.
Brazil is not a sex tourism destination! We do not accept that this party, which is costing us so much, will be used for ulterior purposes such as sex tourism and exploitation of minors, nor that this festive time is used for purposes that hinder people's lives and will destroy the national heritage. We want this party to be marked by good relationships and respect for everyone, whether foreign or Brazilian.
Therefore we pray for our nation, its people and its rulers, at this very special moment for us all. We pray for our children and the disadvantaged, so they are protected and safe during this period. And we pray that the various initiatives of many of our churches these days have the mark of the Gospel and lead many to celebrate the new life in Jesus Christ.
“We join our brothers and sisters in Brazil in this prayer for protection and Gospel opportunity amidst the World Cup festivities,” Dr. Tunnicliffe says. “And specifically, we would encourage the nation of Brazil to host local neighborhood events for children and youth in places of safety - places where everybody wins.”
Over two billion Christians in the world today are represented by three world church bodies. The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) is one of those, serving and representing more than 600 million evangelicals. Launched in 1846 to unite evangelicals worldwide, the WEA continues to be a dynamic movement with 7 regional and 129 national Evangelical Alliances, and over 150 member organizations. WEA's mission is to speak as a trusted voice, to equip members and leaders for global impact and to connect its members and others for common action in the furtherance of God’s reign. For more info e-mail at [email protected] or go to Worldea.org.