World Cup 2014: Bibles being distributed to thousands

Boys watch as another boy practices his soccer bicycle kicks at a Rio de Janeiro slum, Brazil, Monday, June 9, 2014.AP Photo/Felipe Dana

International outreach organization the Bible Society will minister to thousands, if not millions, this week in Brazil during the FIFA World Cup.

Through the organization's Joga Limpo Brasil movement (Fair Play Brazil), the Bible Society of Brazil will distribute four million pocket-sized Bibles, 20,000 copies of the Gospel of John in nine different languages, and World Cup editions of the New Testament and the Bible.

Over half a million soccer fans are expected to flock to Brazil this week for the world's most popular sporting event, and there are millions of Brazilians expected to attend the games. Rev Dr Rudi Zimmer of the Bible Society of Brazil described the excitement in the country surrounding the games, and his motivation for embarking on the huge outreach campaign.

"Brazilians are football-mad and their obsession with football will reach fever pitch over the next few weeks, when we host the World Cup," he said in a press release.

"We want the Bible to have a prominent presence amidst all the excitement. It's an unprecedented opportunity for churches and Christians here to share God's Word with local and foreign fans, and we want to equip and encourage them to do that."

The Bible Society's 1,600 churches and ministries in Brazil will carry out the distribution. Zimmer compared their work to Apostle Paul ministering to the Corinthians in Acts 18.

"Corinth was one of the largest and busiest cities of the Roman Empire and hosted one of the biggest sporting events in the calendar - the Isthmian Games," Zimmer explained.

"There, Paul found the opportunity to preach the Gospel to people from all over the world. We and our partners share that same vision now - both for the World Cup this year and the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2016."

The Olympic Games will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in September 2016.

Zimmer encouraged Christians worldwide to pray that the Bible Society reach the hearts and minds of those they minister to.

"We want as many people as possible to get the chance to hear about God's love for them, so please pray for this outreach at the World Cup," he asked.

"Pray for God's blessing and guidance for the volunteers and pray that the football fans will have open hearts to hear and welcome the message of God's Word."