Paralympics natural ministry for Wyoming Baptists9/24/2012
By Ava Thomas
LONDON — Brian Scott sees every day what it’s like to live with hurdles — he’s had a “hurdler” living in his home for the past few years.
“Our foster daughter Rachel, who’s 24, is paralyzed on one side, and she has difficulties from a brain surgery she had when she was a child,” said Scott, missions pastor of College Heights Baptist Church in Casper, Wyo.
They are difficulties God is redeeming, he said — and using for ministry.
During the recent Paralympic Games in London, Rachel and the rest of the family shared the Gospel with other people working to overcome difficulties.
It’s something Scott said fit hand in glove, just like Rachel becoming part of their family.
“My wife, Hallie, was a provider for kids who were wards of the state until she became pregnant with our daughter, Lainie (now 3). Then she said, ‘If I’m going to be home with Lainie, I’ll only be able to help others with special difficulties if they’re in my home, too.’”
So when Lainie was born, Rachel also moved in — a new baby, a new adult daughter and a new way to live out the Gospel as a family, Scott said.
The Paralympics was just an extension of that, he said. The Scotts passed out water, visited in homes, painted faces, ran a soccer clinic and shared the love and message of Jesus at the Paralympics Aug. 29-Sept. 9.
The Paralympic Games, a major international sporting event, is held immediately after each Olympic Games. Athletes with physical and intellectual disabilities ranging from amputation to cerebral palsy compete in 21 sports.
“It’s very easy to share the Gospel in that arena (the Paralympics),” Scott said. “People are going through trials, and it’s a perfect time to talk about important stuff. They are overcoming obstacles, and it’s so easy to then talk about the One who overcame our greatest obstacle in life for us — our sin.”
The 2012 Paralympics got the best response ever worldwide, with 2.7 million spectators attending, 100 nations airing the broadcasts and unprecedented displays of enthusiasm from the host country, according to Seattle Post Intelligencer.
It turned out to be the perfect scenario for College Heights Baptist to connect with the British people — something Scott has wanted to do for years, he said.
“We’ve been involved in missions in Africa for years and have had layovers in London every time. We were ready to have a church partner in London that we could spend time with when we traveled through,” Scott said. “So when we heard More Than Gold was looking for volunteers to partner with a church for the Paralympics, we jumped on it.”
More Than Gold, a joint effort of Christian churches of many denominations worldwide, helps Christians collaborate for ministry during major international sporting events. The effort saw more than 2,000 teams come for the Olympics a few weeks ago, but ministry efforts were diminished during the Paralympics — Scott’s church was the only Southern Baptist group from the United States to come.
“The Paralympics has been amazing for us in sharing, because it’s such an easy lead in,” said Scott, whose family and others from his church saw dozens of children come to their soccer clinic after they canvassed the neighborhood surrounding Holy Trinity Church in Barkingside.
“The church will continue to work with the kids and families, which is the best part of all,” Scott said. “It’s good for them to know Christians will come and help them, but it’s even more important for them to know that their local church cares.”
• To learn more about More Than Gold, visit morethangold.org.uk. For more information about the Paralympics, visit london2012.com/Paralympics.
Ava Thomas is a writer/editor for the International Mission Board based in Europe.