Evangelism thrust set for Winter Olympics
1/21/1998By Chris Turner
NAGANO, Japan (BP)--The largest team at the 1998 Winter
Olympics won't be competing for gold medals. It wants trophies
More than 350 Christian volunteers and full-time ministers
are ready for work when the Olympics begins Feb. 7 in Nagano,
Japan. The group includes several Southern Baptist International
Mission Board missionaries and 60 Southern Baptist volunteers.
The teams will work in coffee houses set up for evangelism,
in hotel information booths, as garbage collectors and as chaplains.
Christians are to be the only religious group represented by chaplains
in Nagano, a city with one of the largest Buddhist temples in
"This is a great time for outreach," said Michael Fox,
chaplain with Athletes in Action. "We'll be having chaplains here
from Russia, Switzerland and Sweden, as well as Canada and the
United States since there will be athletes speaking various
IMB missionaries see the Olympics as a perfect opportunity
for the IMB to work with other Great Commission Christians to
bring people worldwide to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Southern Baptist missionaries will cooperate with Campus Crusade
for Christ, Athletes in Action, International Bible Society,
InterVarsity, Youth With a Mission and the American Bible Society.
One approach to reach athletes will be wide distribution of
the "Jesus" film in video form.
"We've shipped 1,500 'Jesus' videos in multiple languages,"
Fox added. "We will give the videos to the athletes and officials
in their language. Pray for openness on the part of the athletes
to hear the gospel."
Southern Baptist volunteers from Georgia will be involved
in the coffee-house ministries, and in singing and drama performances
in the marketplace, said Tony Woods, IMB missionary and head of
the Nagano Olympic Evangelism Committee.
Tracts using a "More than Gold" theme printed in many languages
will be distributed at all locations. Trading pins, always hot
collectors' items, will be affixed to cards detailing the plan of
salvation in multiple languages.
Several evangelical churches in Japan have made their spaces
available for special services throughout the Olympics. A World
Wide Web site (http://members.aol/nagano98/index-e.htm) will provide
Internet users with information about the evangelism effort.
"Mega events like the Winter Olympics bring people together
that would not normally (come together)," said Mark Snowden,
media consultant for the IMB. "The Nagano sports evangelism
outreach will serve as a catalyst for evangelism among many
people groups for many months and possibly years."
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