GRAND PRAIRIE The World Cup of Soccer is over, and the vuvuzelas — those horns some found insufferable — are silent. But for some youngsters in Kayamandi, a township outside of Capetown, South Africa, the ministry of Daniel Thomae will resound for a long time, even for eternity.
Thomae (pronounced Tommy) spent almost three weeks in South Africa helping in a ministry called Kids Games, a sports and arts program designed for pre-K-sixth grade children. The ministry includes compassion projects, Bible story time, life lessons and music. Originating in 2000 in Cairo, Egypt, Kids Games is gaining acceptance worldwide as a ministry effective in reaching children with the gospel.
“Against the backdrop of the World Cup competition, the kids had a chance to feel like they were a part of a sporting event,” said Thomae, a member of Inglewood Baptist Church in Grand Prairie.
Each day of ministry had opening and closing ceremonies, and included a series of games and events as the children went from station to station. The stations had Bible verses related to life skills or lessons like teamwork, friendship, etc., the 26-year-old explained. “It was a good way to teach the kids biblically-based ethics and morals.”
Also included were “Compassion Day” projects, where the children would serve their communities by picking up trash, painting playground equipment?even helping to build a house. “We wanted to teach the kids the value of their own communities, and of serving them,” Thomae said.
The Kids Games ministry included about 300 children and 60 workers from Brazil, Germany, the U.S., and from local churches. Thomae served as an intern for a group called Sport for Christ Action SA (South Africa), the group that sponsored Kids Games.
“There were many local community leaders who helped, too, like teachers, and high school and university students,” Thomae said. “It was an opportune time to minister to them as well.”
But for Thomae, it was all about the kids.
“The kids love soccer, so we offered some soccer camps and organized some pick-up games, and shared the gospel,” he said. Having to leave before the completion of the ministry, Thomae had no final statistics about how many children came to Christ, but was aware while on-site that the gospel took root in many of the children’s hearts.
Despite the comparative economic status of South Africa to the rest of the continent, Thomae says the country still has vestiges of racial Apartheid.
“The relationships among different races there are still difficult. But is was good to see people coming together for ministry,” said Thomae, who noted the World Cup had a unifying power and provided an avenue for Christian ministry and gospel proclamation.
“There is a void in the kids’ lives as far as leadership and those who will invest in the lives of these children,” Thomae said. “There are lots of drugs and violence, but the kids were so hungry for real leadership, and had a real openness for the gospel, too.”
While claiming he’s no expert on such matters, Thomae said his observations of the local culture revealed that children and young teens in the townships “face many of the same problems that children in inner-city America face. In poor communities children and youth are faced with the universal dangers such as sex, drugs, and violence. There are many broken homes, where children don’t have fathers to look up to. In Africa, there is a general problem of men not investing in youth, children and young people, so they ar