Hundreds of Southern Baptist volunteers Paris-bound as Olympic games near

Countdown to the 2024 Summer Olympic Games in Paris is on!  

The city is abuzz with shops and merchants in full prep mode for an influx of 15 million visitors — athletes, spectators, media professionals and volunteers — strolling along the Seine, clamoring for sights of Paris’ legendary art and architecture, and sampling local fare (pain au chocolat, anyone?).  

As the nations descend upon the French capital this July, the International Mission Board’s Paris team anticipates a whirlwind summer of opportunity for sharing Christ. 

Though millions of arrivals will come from other countries, most visitors to Paris this summer will be from other parts of France. Jason Harris, who is leading IMB’s Olympic outreach, expressed his team’s excitement about this unique moment to share Christ with so many French people — who remain one of the largest unreached people groups in the world — in one place at one time.  

“There are pockets in France of 200-300,000 people where there are no evangelical churches at all,” Harris said. “So, to have people from all around France coming to Paris and have this opportunity to share the gospel with them is huge.”  

Over the course of six weeks, their team is hosting more than 300 Southern Baptist volunteers from all over North America — from as far away as Canada to Florida to Nevada. Fourteen summer interns will join Harris’ team for six weeks of intensive evangelism surrounding the Olympic and Paralympic games.  

Volunteers will start and end their days meeting at one of three church buildings in key locations around Paris to worship, pray and debrief. Harris’s team hopes to deepen partnerships with local French and international churches, share the gospel in their neighborhoods, and establish a solid foundation for future work together. 

The oldest Baptist church in Paris, in the heart of the city’s art district, is now home to a bookstore. The IMB’s Paris team will partner with a local French artist to host an immersive art experience based on the five solas of the Reformation at the church during the Olympic games. IMB Photo

“Our desire is to see outreach during the Olympics launch us into a fruitful season of church planting in Paris, alongside the French church,” Harris said.  

One group will be at the oldest Baptist church in Paris.  

“I should say the oldest Baptist church building, because the body has completely died,” Harris said. “It’s a really unique and beautiful church building. That’s one location we’re excited about because there’s potential for church-planting work developing afterwards and it’s a target hub.” 

The church, owned by the Federation of Evangelical Baptist Churches of France and adjacent to the Louvre and Musee D’Orsay in the heart of the Paris art district, is now home to a bookstore and permanent art space that can be rented. Harris said his team is partnering with a local French artist and believer who is passionate for the gospel to host an immersive art experience at the church based on principles of salvation. 

“He’s an artist, so I think he’s used to thinking outside the box,” Harris explained. “He’s ready to try new things and experiment to get to know people and really relationally connect with people.” 

Other planned outreach events are Olympic-themed fun festivals, international mic nights, ultimate frisbee games in local parks, and visitor rest stops. 

“If you’ve been to Paris, it’s practically impossible to find a place to sit where you don’t have to pay 25 or 30 euros for a sip of tea,” Harris said, explaining why the rest stops might be a draw for tourists. 

The IMB’s digital engagement strategy team for Europe designed special Olympic trading pins with a clear connection to both the games and the gospel. There are three designs: a torch — I am the light; a track — I am the way; and a laurel — I am the vine. “The important thing is that we present the gospel,” Harris said. IMB Graphic

Volunteers will also utilize digital engagement strategies, as well as traditional avenues for sharing the gospel, such as distributing water bottles and tracts, conducting spiritual surveys — which they’ve had surprising success with — and the time-honored Olympic pastime of pin trading with specially designed pins. 

“We’re thinking of any way that we can to connect with people,” Harris said. “There’s so much opportunity to interact and share the gospel with people where they are.” 

Harris asked for prayer this summer as the Paris team partners with Southern Baptist volunteers to proclaim Christ to visitors from around the world and other parts of France, to facilitate outreach events, to serve and equip the French church and finally to implement wise and effective follow up after the games.  

“My prayer is that the outreach for the Olympics would be a launching point, a springboard, for church planting in Paris.” 

2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games
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Paris is expensive, and prices will rise during the Olympics. The costs to provide evangelism resources, training materials and locations, strategic online resources, transport and other logistical needs are tremendous. Help the Paris team prepare for this moment in time — for His Name and His glory!

Join with others from all over the world for a 24/7 prayer campaign during the Paris Olympic Games. Sign up to pray during a specific time slot here: https://pray4digital.com/olympics/