By Jeff Finley
A record 200.5 million U.S. adults are expected to tune in Sunday, Feb. 11, to Super Bowl LVIII as the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers take the field in Las Vegas, but football isn’t the only draw. A recent survey found that 76% of likely viewers said they are excited about watching the advertisements, and viewers care more about the ads than the halftime show. It’s no wonder that this year’s ads reportedly sold out ahead of schedule despite CBS seeking $7 million for a 30-second commercial.
Can you think of a better way to spend $7 million? Well, Light + Life talked to several leaders of missions and love-driven justice ministries who say they can.
Gerald Coates, the director of global engagement for Free Methodist World Missions, said $7 million would fully fund all FMWM missionaries, district leaders, country leaders, Extra Mile Projects, and U.S.-based operations for one year. Other options to spend $7 million include:
- Fully funding Free Methodist national leaders and church planters outside the U.S. indefinitely.
- Distributing between $350,000 and $500,000 to the most critical needs each year indefinitely.
- Distributing $1.4 million to each of the five world areas to be deployed by those closest to the need.
- Distributing 1.4 million Bibles around the world.
Helping the World’s Children
Justin Ross, a consulting partner for ICCM, said $7 million would put its child care ministries in a position to:
- Spend $1 million on new and existing staff and infrastructure. The team and structures behind the scenes make it possible to offer care to donors, as well as tens of thousands of children in over 40 countries.
- Equip ICCM teams in Ethiopia with nearly $2 million in social enterprise investments. Starting a coffee farm and expanding a local publishing company would create a financially generative model that supports thousands of children and employs hundreds of adults.
- Use $1 million to hire and supply at least six school nurses in Haiti for at least six years. Ross said Haitian children are missing school due to a lack of access to medical care.
- Leverage $3 million to launch a domestic project in Columbus, Ohio, to help address pervasive infant mortality concerns on the rise in urban centers.
Freedom From Human Trafficking
Kevin Austin, the director of the Set Free Movement, said the Super Bowl and other large sporting events such as the World Cup lead to “an increase in human trafficking through prostitution to serve mostly male tourists.”
Austin said that $7 million would allow Set Free to:
- Keep 160,000 girls in school for up to three years through the Wunders program.
- Help 140,000 missing children in India be returned to their home city and placed in appropriate care.
- Fully fund Set Free’s Fostering Hope program to help foster families, social workers, and vulnerable youth in more than 10 locations for more than 10 years.
- Fully fund Set Free’s current work in more than 11 countries through more than 30 teams for seven years.
“What would happen if we skip one of those 30-second commercials and spend that time in prayer instead?”
Pause to Pray
Of course, money alone won’t fix the world’s problems. While giving is important, these worthy causes also need our prayer support. Perhaps that’s why Free Methodist World Missions puts PRAY first at the top of its website before Give, Go, Commit or Subscribe.
What would happen if we skip one of those 30-second commercials and spend that time in prayer instead? What if we picked one of the worthy causes above and prayed during that time for an increase in people reached, volunteers, and financial resources?
What if we skipped some other ads and prayed for our communities and local churches?
If we’re leading a church Super Bowl party or gathering with Christian friends, what if we muted the TV and spent time together in corporate prayer?
We could pray for wisdom for ourselves and other thoughtful Christ-followers as we navigate our faith in a changing world. Unlike a Super Bowl ad, it’s hard to put a price tag on this wisdom, which “is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her” (Proverbs 13:13–15).
Jeff Finley is this magazine’s executive editor. He joined the Light+Life team in 2011 after a dozen years of reporting and editing for Sun-Times Media. He is a member of John Wesley Free Methodist Church where his wife, Jen, serves as the lead pastor.
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