Christian Ministries Gear Up for Outreach During 2012 Summer Olympics
- Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Major sporting events like the National Football League’s Super Bowl or the NCAA Basketball Tournament are often targets for ministries who might host a short-term mission trip. Thousands of adoring fans attend these events. The Olympics is another sporting event that attracts ministry teams from all over the world with the hope of sharing the Gospel with total strangers.
After weeks of training, hundreds of teams are expected to engage people with the Gospel through open-air street preaching and one-on-one witnessing on the grounds of the Olympic village and surrounding communities. This method of evangelism, however, comes with its share of risk and controversy.
Miano, who has been doing street preaching for years, says the Gospel is an offense to those that are lost, so he anticipates negative reactions from some. It is for that reason appropriate training has been a priority before his team gets to London.
“Unfortunately, there are characters out there who don’t represent the Gospel well and some of them may be in London,” said Miano. “They inflame or insight fights and that is not what we are about.”
Miano noted a recent incident in Dearborn, Michigan where a group of street preachers led by Ruden Israel did “more damage than good.” Israel used a pig’s head on a pole as a conversation starter and a symbol of protest at Dearborn’s 17th Annual International Arab Festival on June 15.
“We aren’t going to London to simply create a spectacle that might land us a video on YouTube,” said Miano. “We are going to speak the truth in love. We hope we as messengers will not be offensive in the way we deliver that message.”
Olympians Look to Christ
4 Winds Christian Athletics, a global-class track and field ministry, claims the Olympic track and field team is well represented by a good core of Christian athletes who are ready to tell the world about their Christian faith.
4 Winds President Steve McConkey is asking Christians to pray for the USA Olympic track and field team as well as the other Olympians, "Since 1981, we have seen a good core of Christians on the USA teams. We are asking Christians everywhere to pray for the Olympic Athletes. Pray for protection, peace, strength, and boldness."
Olympic ministry Lay Witnesses for Christ has conducted outreach efforts for the past seven summer Olympic Games. Ministry leaders said the organization would host a variety of outreach events at locations all across the city.
Kimberly Parker, director of communication at Lay Witnesses for Christ, said there will be an evening with the Olympians, Stars for Christ events, as well as, alcohol and violence prevention programs.
“Our goal is to use the platform of world class athletes to reach young people with the message of Christ and His salvation. The Olympics is just one of the venues we seek to reach people,” said Parker.
Parker notes about 200 lay volunteers will travel to London to participate in the ministry’s outreach events.
Two-time NCAA Champion from Texas Christian University (TCU), and member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Sarah Scherer says the support of the Christian community is vital to the success of the athletes, both during the Games and upon the completion of the Olympics.
“The whole Christian community coming together is a huge part of the Olympics,” said Scherer. “It is amazing how God can work when we support one another.”
Free Bibles and Other 'Supplies'
The Bible Society announced it would distribute thousands of Bibles among the athletes at the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Olympic Village Religious Services Centre will hand out 3,000 copies of commemorative English-language and non-English Scriptures.
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