Mission teams are being assembled to engage in outreach and sports ministry alongside the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in August 2016. Applicants have just over two months to complete their registration to be part of The Salvation Army’s ministry at the first Olympics to be held in South America. Millions of spectators are expected to travel to Brazil, where The Salvation Army has been at work since 1922.
Major Dan Ford, a Southern officer, is the divisional commander in Rio. He speaks warmly of local Salvationists’ profound desire to serve on mission teams while their city is in the spotlight of the world’s media.
“It’s not so much what they are going to do, but the fact that they are prepared to do something,” Major Ford said. “In particular, we’re aware of estimates that up to 40,000 sex workers will ply their trade in Rio during the event. Salvationists here have a real heart for those trapped in the sex trade, and are campaigning against human trafficking.” An initiative in the suburb of Niterói is already ministering to local women engaged in prostitution, offering non-judgmental counselling, refreshments and care packages.
The Salvation Army is also recruiting volunteer team members from around the world. In partnership with Brazilian para-church movement Braços Abertos (Open Arms), these teams are being brought together by Lt. Colonel David Bowles, Europe Zone sports ministry coordinator. He aims to build on similar initiatives undertaken in Brazil during the 2014 World Cup and in the UK during the London 2012 Games.
Several of The Salvation Army’s corps and centers in Rio are already using sport and other forms of recreation as a way to cement meaningful relationships in the community.
Two delegations of international volunteers will be needed to bolster the local team. Block A runs Aug. 3-13 with Block B following Aug. 13-23. Prospective volunteers are encouraged to visit the international sports ministry website at sar.my/rio2016 to find out more about the financial, practical and spiritual commitments required. The deadline for receiving applications is Feb. 29 2016.