A leading charity dedicated to fighting persecution of Christians around the world has called on believers to use the World Cup as an incentive for their prayers.
Open Doors UK highlighted that the seven countries participating in this year’s World Cup are on their World Watch List of countries where Christians can suffer for their faith.
“While we recognize that many people will choose not to watch the tournament for various reasons, we believe that the tournament offers a great opportunity to support persecuted Christians living in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Tunisia, Mexico, Cameroon and in host country Qatar,” the organization said.
Iran is in the same group as England, Wales and the United States in the opening stages of the tournament, with matches scheduled over the next two weeks.
Open Doors on Iran: “Teaching the Bible, teaching others about Christianity or praying to Jesus can lead to arrest in Iran. More and more people are rejecting Islam and choosing to follow Jesus, but there are dangers: house churches are being raided by the authorities and many leaders have been sent to prison.”
Christians are urged to pray that believers in Iran will “gain wisdom and courage to share their faith with others.”
About host country Qatar, Open Doors says: “The only churches allowed in Qatar are for foreigners. A small number of Qatari Christians are not allowed to attend these services or have their own church buildings. Most new converts will retain their full Christian faith in secret because Qatar does not officially recognize the conversion from Islam.”
Christians are asked to pray “that God will use the World Cup to encourage the authorities to grant the believers of Qatar more freedoms.”
The organization has prepared a special wall chart, which can be downloaded from their website, which lists when the matches will take place. Christians are encouraged to pray for countries on the World Watch List as their teams compete. The Open Doors call it “pray while they play”.
Open Doors also released the 2022 FIFA World Cup Overcoming Persecution Prayer Diary for Christians. It says: “The last FIFA Men’s World Cup, held in 2018 in Russia, was watched by about 3.5 billion people around the world. That’s over half of the world’s population. This is one of the most popular sports tournaments in the world, attracting even those who are not particularly interested in football!
This means the tournament offers a precious opportunity to draw attention to the seven participating countries that are also on the World Watch List, including host country Qatar. It can be expensive to be a Christian in these countries and watch their teams play so the next few weeks could be an occasion to pray for them.”
The charity has also developed World Cup-related fundraising ideas for churches to use.
The World Cup in Qatar on November 20 and will last until December 10.