Written by 6:47 am In the News

Sportsmen’s gala for Christians

Chelsea’s Olivier Giroud and Liverpool FC’s goalkeeper, Alisson Becker, along with several other sportsmen, have taken part in an online fundraising gala for the persecuted church.

Giroud gave several items, including the jersey of his 100th game for the French team, an autographed shirt for the 2020 FA Cup final against Arsenal and two pairs of shoes, worn and also signed by the French player.

Brazilian defender David Luiz, Liverpool FC goalkeeper, Alisson Becker, NBA basketball player, Kevin Durant  and handball player Astride N’Gouan also took part in the auction, offering their jerseys.

The T-shirts of French footballer Aurelien Colin, Major League Soccer champion in the United States (MLS), Astride N’Gouan, French Handball champion and others also went under the hammer.

Aurélien Collin, French central defender with the Philadelphia Union in the US Major League Soccer (MLS), who was sponsor of the Gala with Giroud, and also donated one of his jerseys, said: “Religious freedom is a fundamental right. 260 million Christians are persecuted around the world. Enough is enough. This is a situation that needs to be highlighted”.

According to the Giroud, “we who are in a certain comfort must think of those who are suffering enormously, that is why I am supporting the NGO Open Doors and Holistic Sports for their magnificent work on the ground”.

“Thanks to my notoriety, I can be a voice for the voiceless. The persecution of Christians through the actions presented at this gala gave me shivers. I was overwhelmed by the testimonies. 260 million persecuted Christians in the world is unacceptable, we must talk about it”, Giroud pointed out.

He recalled “when I met Mourad, a former Muslim and football coach. He came to Christ and his testimony moved me. I made a commitment to provide him with football boots for his projects. I admire the courage of Christians like Mourad who commit themselves to love their neighbour in hostile contexts. I feel blessed to be safe where I am”.

French-speaking church, French Connect London, organised the event in partnership with Plus Que Sportifs to raise funds for projects in North Cameroon, the Maghreb and Mali supported by Open Doors and Holistic Sports France.

The gala included an auction of several jerseys and shoes of well-known football, handball and basketball players, which was open until December 6 and raised 12,000 pounds (13,300€) All the money collected will be used to support schooling assistance and football school projects in North Cameroon, the Maghreb and Mali, areas severely devastated after the Boko Haram massacres in the Sahel.

According to Open Doors, there are currently 300 million Christians persecuted around the world.

In a tweet, Joel Thibault, one of the organisers of the event said: “Thank you all. The amount of the 2019 gala has been greatly exceeded.”

Clémence Martin, press officer at Open Doors France, said, “Since the beginning of the year, Christians in the far north of Cameroon have suffered up to three attacks per week perpetrated by Boko Haram. We try to encourage Christians there, by maintaining a presence of our team members on site and by giving them essential goods such as rice, corn, cloth, medicines and money so that they can themselves buy medicine, especially when they take refuge in the mosquito-infested mountains.”

Emma Worrall, innovation lead at Open Doors UK and Ireland, said: “Today more than 300 million Christians worldwide are persecuted thanks to their faith. They are victims of violence, rape and murder but also face harassment and abuse in their communities. So, we want to thank Olivier Giroud for his heart for Christians who are persecuted for their faith.”

(Poster Courtesy: French Connect)

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