Thursday, February 23, 2006

Finding God in the Olympic Games

That was my mission over the past couple days, to find God in the 2006 Winter Olympics.

There has been a lot of negative Olympic feedback from most of the bloggers I know. Everyone is eager to jump out and show the bad parts of the Olympics. Now, I confess the Olympic games are flawed in many ways ( i.e. doping, drugging, and cheating). But these "world games" are not entirely without the Light of God.

First of all there are several Christian athletes participating in these games, such as US Bobsledder, Vonetta Flowers:

Vonetta Flowers made history when she became the first African-American to win a medal at a Winter Olympics game. In the 2002 Salt Lake City games, Flowers stunned the world as she won gold, beating the heavily-favored German team. Vonetta Flowers is married with two children, and is a devout Christian. In her book, Running on Ice, Flowers describes what it is like to be saved: "...the decision meant more to me than going to church or studying the Bible on a regular basis. It meant that day in and day out, I was going to follow the heart of God and the footsteps of Jesus. My Bible became more than a book that I carried to church on Sundays."

Once again, Vonetta Flowers has made the US Olympic team in Torino, Italy. "I just put my faith in God and let him take over. I do my job of training and put the rest in his hands."

Learn more about Vonetta Flowers

(Another Christian Olympic athlete is Rebecca Dussault, US cross-country).

Also, many of the Olympic athletes have Christian coaches and ministers:

The International Sports Coalition – a sports ministry –has sent off several Christian counselors and coaches to aid the athletes. These counselors and ministers will hold devotionals, services, and prayer meetings throughout parts of Italy. "Athletes in Action" and "Campus Crusade for Christ" have also sent out ministers and Christian coaches. These men will be handing out evangelistic material, such as the Jesus film. The counselors are from various nations of the world, bringing the Gospel to their fellow countrymen.

Read more about these projects here.

Hundreds of youth missions and evangelistic outreaches flock to the Olympics:

The "More than Gold" outreach event is headed up mainly by ministers from Italy and the US. Over 50 churches are available to the athletes and the spectators. “We’re linking together with churches and other Christian organizations and the main emphasis of the outreaches are serving the people of sport and reaching out through literature and video materials to the visitors and the athletes that are going to be there at the games,” said Martin Bateman who heads OM’s Sportslink ministry. “Having something like a big event where the Christians can be motivated and come together [like the Olympics] can be a springboard for more ministry and more opportunities...” The "More than Gold" ministries have rented a 4000-seat arena for their mission purposes...

Read more about "More than Gold"

The WMU ( Woman's Missionary Union) will also have a large presence at the games. The WMU pass out Olympic-themed evangelistic materials and Biblical tracts.

Andrea Mullins, publisher for WMU’s New Hope book division and team leader for the trip on the Olympic games: “The incredible thing about the Olympics is that you actually have an opportunity to share the Gospel with people from all over the world, and because they’re at the Olympics they’re more open,” she said. “You can just walk up and talk to anyone in a way that you’re just not normally free to do.... [A]t the Olympics people want to talk, they want to meet other people. They’re there to engage the experience.”

Read more about WMU here.

"Committee 2006" will spend the Olympics passing out tracts on the "Gospel of Mark" to anyone visiting one of their churches. "The Gospel according to Mark is one of the books of the Bible which tells the story of the life, work and teachings of Jesus Christ," said Pastor Luciano Deodato, president of the "Committee 2006", As a concrete sign of warm welcome to our visitors, we've decided to make a gift of that which is precious to us as churches and church people."

Read more about "Committee 2006" here.

So we come to my conclusion. Yes, the Olympics are flawed ( as any sport is), but there are several spots to be found.



1. Christian athletes ( like Vonetta Flowers) show their trust and faith in God. They use their publicity to spread the Gospel and be a witness to others ( through open confessions of faith, authoring books, or speaking out to the media). Since the Olympic are watched worldwide ( in the US the Olympics average 28 million viewers a night), these Christian athletes, though few, are a shining light.

2. The Olympics bring the opportunity for Christian missionaries, counselors, and coaches to witness to foreign athletes. Many of these foreign athletes are highly celebrated and often in their country's spotlight. These athletes, if called by God, could be incredible witnesses to millions of people. But these athletes first must hear the Gospel, and what better place for this to happen then the Olympics?

3. Over 300 separate missions have flood the Torino area bringing the Good News with them. As Andrea Mullins stated: "The incredible thing about the Olympics is that you actually have an opportunity to share the Gospel with people from all over the world, and because they’re at the Olympics they’re more open..." People from across the globe gather to watch their countries' participants. This is a giant mission opportunity. If the seed of God is planted in the heart of one man, that man will return to his home country carrying the Light of God with him.

4. The Olympic games carry the Christian spirit and message in many ways.

A. The athletes hold great courage. "Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed..."- 2 Chronicles 32: 7

B. These athletes find great obstacles and stumblingblocks throughout the games and their lives.

C. The Olympic athletes stand strong, and never give up. "...stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong."- 1 Corinthians 16:13

D. The athletes continually practice over and over again until they achieve their goals (Hebrews 5:14).

E. They refine their skills. "A wise man will hear, and will increase learning..."- Proverbs 1:5

Once more we see God's light shining, even in unexpected places.

Personally, I LOVE the Olympics. I love the competition, and the values held and shown by the participants. I love to watch the athletes overcome great odds and triumph in victory. But even more then that... I love the fact that God uses everything, including the 2006 Winter Olympics, for His own glory.

3 Comments:

  • Whooo Hooo! Great post, MVP, I love the way you found something positive to say about the Olympic games when there has been so much negative press about it. :)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:41 PM  

  • Cool post. The link to the sermon is up on my blog now MVB!

    By Blogger Kaitlin, at 4:01 PM  

  • GREAT POST!!!! :) I love the Olympics also!

    By Blogger Matt A., at 5:56 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home