PHOENIX (Christian Examiner) – By the end of the Super Bowl game on Feb. 1 an estimated one million people will travel through Super Bowl Central, spanning 12 city blocks in Phoenix, to take advantage of family-friendly games and outdoor fan activities.
Importantly, something on the order of a quarter of a million visitors here and at the Phoenix Open golf tournament in nearby Scottsdale will be greeted by one of about 100 volunteers wearing "Trust Jesus" gear and will be handed material telling them how to trust Him.
In fact, Tim Knopps, who is working with AzEndgame, a network of churches and ministry groups, told Christian Examiner, almost 200,000 pieces of material had been shared as of about noon on Saturday, and only about 50,000 units still remained.
"It's been fabulous," Knopps said. He has coordinated evangelism efforts like this for 11 Super Bowls.
"So many people are getting off of the light rail, right next to Super Bowl Central and we give them the magazine," referring to a 16-page, 3 inch by 6.5 inch handout which contains the story of retired Pittsburgh Steeler Anthony Madison, and Ian Davis, a professional golfer who turned 23 last May after graduating from Oklahoma University. Along with Christian testimonies, the piece also shares the plan of salvation.
His teams also have trading cards featuring Madison and fellow NFL colleagues Sam Acho and Kurt Warner of the Arizona Cardinals, and Aaron Baddeley, a PGA Tour golfer. These carry brief testimonies, favorite Bible verses and a phone number to call to find out more about Christ.
Knopps said what has been so extraordinary this year is the fertile ground they have found in Phoenix.
"You hear how hard it is to plant churches in Arizona, especially Phoenix—how hard the soil is to plant in," he said. "But people come up to us to find out what we're about."
"Some just say, 'Love your [Trust Jesus] t-shirt.'"
And no one has turned down the material they have been handing out.
"It really builds hope," he said, "for what might happen next," referring to follow up with those who respond.
That is the one negative he offered about Phoenix.
There are not enough volunteers to do follow up on the street, just enough to hand out the information. The teams are trusting people will phone the prayer call center number listed in the materials to find out more about Christ and to find a church.
As he was on the phone with Christian Examiner, he said someone was sitting on a curb reading intently, and others stirring about in a parking lot looking thoughtful as they examined the pieces. These are people he would like to take aside and counsel, but with a small team and a big task, he has the volunteers working to reach as many as they can with the seeds of the Gospel, leaving it to others to reap the harvest.
One volunteer handed out 1,000 pieces in about an hour and a quarter, Knopps shared.
"There are too many people and not enough time," he said. "The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few."
Interestingly, on Super Bowl Sunday, the big game will not even be the biggest focus of the ministry effort.
"There will be 93,000 people in the stadium, but even if it rains, we're expecting 150,000 to 200,000 people at the golf course," for finals day at the Phoenix Open, he explained. 'We'll have people stationed at three different bottle necks," around TPC Scottsdale's Stadium Course to hand out the magazines and trading cards.
Until then, he and his fellow workers will be downtown on Washington and Third "right in the middle of it."
"We have the tools, we just need laborers," he emphasized again. "If we can actually get somebody to come down here [to volunteer] it changes them," Knopps offered, saying there are crowds everywhere.
"I wish we had people who could go over there and ...," his voice tapered off as he continued broadcasting seeds.