Are you ready for the World Cup? Have you put a World Cup wall chart and England flags up? Have you got snacks and drink in for those long nights screaming at the TV? Or are you planning what you will do to avoid a month of constant football talk?
Host nation Brazil has changed a lot since BMS World Mission first sent workers there 60 years ago but is still in need of prayer. Regardless of what you think of the World Cup, why not pray during the next month for the country using our 4-4-2 prayer guide?
4 problems, 4 projects, 2 people
Here are four problems facing Brazil to pray for:
Poverty has been reduced by half over the last decade thanks to Bolsa Familia, a government programme where families receive income support for each child they send to school. The downside is that for some it is their only source of income and they are becoming overly reliant on it. There’s still a huge difference between rich and poor in Brazil – the richest one per cent has 13 per cent of all household income. Many live in poorly made housing with atrocious sanitation in cities like Rio, where BMS workers Mark and Suzana Greenwood live.
that Brazil’s politicians will tackle the big differences between the rich and poor. Pray that those who receive income support will use it wisely to invest for the future of their families.
Over 15 Brazilian cities are in the top 50 most violent cities in the world, including six where World Cup matches are being played (Manaus where England play their first match against Italy is one of them). There were 1,628 murders in Fortaleza in 2012, the city where Mark and Suzana Greenwood used to live. Sometimes off duty policemen are found to be taking part in criminal activity.
“Crime is just part of life,” says Mark. “A lot of people don’t like that but it is very difficult to do anything about it.”
for communities that suffer from violence. Pray for those who have lost loved ones. Pray for effective policing and that a new generation of Brazilians will grow up who don’t accept theft and murder as part of society and that they will work against it.
Education is receiving increased investment particularly at secondary and university level but primary school education has serious problems. Teachers have been striking for better working conditions for the last two months. It is not uncommon for some 11 year olds to go to secondary school not knowing how to read and write.
that the teacher strikes are resolved so children can get a decent education.
The poor health service was one of the main reasons millions of people took to the streets last summer to complain about the level of spending on public services compared to that being spent on the World Cup. One of the major problems is the lack of doctors working in public health which has led the Brazilian government to sign a treaty with Cuba to get access to additional doctors from there. It is incredibly difficult to get a GP appointment. This means some diseases that could be easily treated are not diagnosed until it is often too late leading to unnecessary loss of life.
that the new government scheme to contract foreign doctors will make a difference to health provision.
Pray for four projects BMS are supporting in Brazil:
Pepe is a pioneering pre-school education programme aimed at disadvantaged children in the slums and favelas, helping them prepare for primary school. Established by BMS in 1992 it is now changing lives in over 12 countries and has been incredibly successful. For more on Pepe click here
that the international success of Pepe continues. Pray for the co-ordination of Pepe in Brazil by the Brazilian Home Mission Board, that it will help the programme to grow and encourage more disadvantaged children.
Space-to-Fly is an education programme run by churches teaching ethical, social, spiritual lessons to eight to ten year-olds from low-income neighbourhoods. It tackles many of the problems of poverty, crime, education and health listed above. Nationally organised by the social action department of the Brazilian Baptist Convention, Suzana has been heavily involved in its implementation. Find out more about Space-to-Fly here
for those facilitating Space-to-Fly, that they will feel encouraged and able to do their work. Pray that their churches will support them.
3 Timothy Project
The Timothy Project is an online church leaders training course, originally developed by BMS and the Brazilian Baptist Convention, to help train those unable to attend a theological college. Hundreds have taken the course which is also available in Spanish and now English.
for the continued success of the Timothy Project and that the transition from BMS volunteers running it to the Brazilian Baptist Convention will go smoothly.
4 World Cup evangelising
During the World Cup, evangelistic events are happening in each host city on match days with Baptist churches near the stadiums acting as centres for Christians taking part.
for these events and the people involved, that they will attract World Cup visitors and get them to think about faith.
People – Mark and Suzana
for Mark and Suzana Greenwood and their work for BMS in Brazil. Praise God that their children, Edward and Ana’s education is going well. Mark and Suzana’s work comes to an end in December 2014. Pray for the smooth transition of passing Space-to-Fly and their work in the Social Action department over to the Brazilian Baptist Convention in the next six months and for God’s guidance for what they do next.
This article first appeared on the website of BMS World Mission and is used with permission