The light is bright in Whistler
    February 19 2010 by Adam Miller, North American Mission Board

    From yards away Lyndon Rush’s red coat and tall frame are easy to spot shuffling among skis, snowboards and tourists. They’ve come to Whistler to ski, relax, shop and watch elite athletes like Rush, Canada’s number one bobsled driver.

    “Hey! How are you?” he says, stepping off a stair and into the cobbled path where North American Mission Board (NAMB) missionary Derek Spain is taking Southern Baptist volunteers on one of his daily walkabouts.

    They shake hands and shortly the word “revival” emerges.

    “There are lots of Christian athletes here,” Rush says.

    Rush is one of dozens of athletes Derek Spain has connected with over the last few weeks, and Rush sees a mission field among his brothers and sisters in the Olympic world.

    Photo by Adam Miller

    North American missionary and Olympic chaplain Derek Spain, left, meets with Lyndon Rush, Canada's number one bobsled driver and one of dozens of Christ followers among Olympic athletes. See related video.

    “Rush is the real deal,” says Spain.

    The light of Christ is bright among the athletes in Vancouver. Following the death of slider Nodar Kumaritashvili this became apparent as chaplains and fellow athletes in the Olympic Village responded to the grief and uncertainty they experienced.

    “A lot of coaches and athletes tried to stay focused, and this often meant not talking about it. But many of our athletes were facing strong emotions,” says Spain, who is an official chaplain for the Vancouver Olympic Committee (VANOC) at the athletes village in Whistler. “Our job was to listen, but we also offered hope and assurance of something greater than these events.”

    Spain was chosen to be a chaplain by the VANOC because of the relationships he already had with the winter athletes he serves in his hometown of Lake Placid, N.Y.

    “We’re doing the same kind of things we do in Lake Placid — meeting regularly for one-on-one discipleship, praying together and providing spiritual encouragement,” Spain says.

    “Someone told me the other day ‘I think a revival is coming among our athletes,’” says Spain. “I’m praying and hoping that this is true.”

    As the Games continue, Spain and his fellow chaplains are showing that sports aren’t just sports. It is a mission field with an easy connection to the spiritual.

    “The atmosphere at the Olympics is fantastic,” Spain says. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet people and engage people from all over the world. The opportunities for ministry and evangelism are everywhere.”

    Single-mindedness, discipline and endurance — all fruits of a soul sold out to Christ — are the keys to success for the best athletes in the world. And the world is waiting. Winter Olympic athletes represent some 80 nations.

    “These athletes are returning to their countries in a few days,” Spain says. “My hope is to see them return with a seed to plant.”

    2/19/2010 5:06:00 AM by Adam Miller, North American Mission Board | with 0 comments

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