Brazil Vs North Korea
June 2010 brought in a whirl wind of mixed fortunes, after a financially depressing global recession, a catastrophic earth quake in Haiti and a sea-sickening multi billion oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico there was bound to be something to bring a smile to Earthlings. With all roads converging for soccer to the southern tip of a continent that is the second-largest of the Earth’s seven continents – covering about 30,330,000 sq km (11,699,000 sq mi), which makes up about 22 per cent of the world’s total land area. Africa has more countries than any other continent and South Africa the host of the FIFA World Cup is said to be the only country with three official capitals: Pretoria, Cape Town, and Bloemfontein.
As the rest of the world sits in the comfort of their living rooms from across the globe screaming at their 3-D, High Definition and in some cases make shift black and white analogue television sets, a small adventurous group of Christians from Brazil had packed their rucksacks heading to the footballing village. Their target for quite a while had been a very specific group: North Koreans.
“We were praying for North Korea to qualify and when we found out they [the North Koreans] would be playing in the same city as Brazil we glorified God for the opportunity to announce to their fans the message of Jesus,” said the pastor leading the group, according to the Guardian news paper.
You see, the World Cup presents a rare opportunity to reach the people of North Korea, which is “a champion in the persecution of Christianity.” How much the missionary groups achieve in preaching the gospel and reaching a few of the tourists or players will remain a divine secret till God in his Sovereignty makes all secret things plain. North Korea’s closed regime has imposed travel restrictions on all but a few government officials. North Korea last competed in the World Cup in 1966.
There are many players, members of the football back room staff and commentators who profess to be Christians. Per chance we have caught a glimpse of an inscription underneath a foot baller’s shirt or two during and after a game. But putting on a Christian T-shirt doesn’t make you a Christian just as blowing a vuvuzela (South African stadium horn) doesn’t make you South African. The Christian should never think that God has chosen him to salvation because he is any better than others. Paul spoke of sinful humanity as one common lump of clay, and of God as the divine Potter who chooses from this common lump some clay to make vessels unto mercy (Romans 9:20-23). God chooses His people not because they are naturally better clay than others. In fact, God’s chosen people before their salvation are often the more foolish and weak and lowly so that God will have all the glory for their salvation (1 Corinthians 1:27-29). God’s choice is not because of human merit but according to His own purpose and grace (2 Timothy 1:9; Ephesians 1:5).
“It was strictly forbidden to preach to other prisoners. It was understood that whoever was caught doing this received a severe beating. A number of us decided to pay the price for the privilege of preaching, so we accepted their [the communists’ ] terms. It was a deal; we preached and they beat us. We were happy preaching. They were happy beating us, so everyone was happy.” — Richard Wurmbrand (Tortured for Christ)
Could this World cup have been in God’s Sovereign plan to reach just one lost person in North Korea? Pray for all those who heard the gospel and responded to God’s effectual call during the World Cup and may God bless North Korea.
At best we are but clay, animated dust; but viewed as sinners, we are monsters indeed. Let it be published in heaven as a miracle that the Lord Jesus should set His heart’s love upon people like us -Alistair Begg