An Olympic movement
February 22 2002 by James Dotson , Baptist Press

An Olympic movement | Friday, Feb. 22, 2002

Friday, Feb. 22, 2002

An Olympic movement

By James Dotson Baptist Press

SALT LAKE CITY - It doesn't take much to start a conversation during the Winter Olympics: a funny costume, an offer of a free collector pin, a shared ride on a commuter train, a shared moment around a warm fire.

For about 1,000 volunteers from 21 states, those casual encounters are becoming opportunities to share the one thing in life that means "More Than Gold" - a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. The volunteers are part of Global Outreach 2002, a Southern Baptist outreach ministry that has been gearing up for the Feb. 8-23 events for more than a year.

The ministry is sponsored by the North American Mission Board in partnership with state conventions in Utah-Idaho, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina and Colorado.

Some of the volunteers - housed at local Southern Baptist churches - are involved directly with the games, partnering with the Salvation Army in providing free water for spectators and delivering boxed meals to official Winter Olympics volunteers. Other volunteers are assigned to the streets around major venues, where they are free to get to know people and share Christ as opportunities arise.

Volunteers offer an "Interactive Pocket Guide" to the games that includes Winter Olympics history, maps, a chart for tracking event winners and other useful information. But tucked into the back is a presentation of the gospel geared around the five colors of the snowflake in the "More Than Gold" logo.

The "More Than Gold" pin also is a draw for the ubiquitous pin collectors, who are ever in search of new pins or fodder for trades. The pins are free to anyone willing to listen as a Southern Baptist volunteer explains the significance of the logo.

The brief encounters sometimes result in immediate professions of faith, but more often the effect is more gradual - what organizers call a "positive Christian touch" that plants seeds of the gospel that can later bear fruit in changed lives.

In the nearby ski village of Park City, organizers placed a number of "warming stations" - small propane fireplaces - for people to warm their hands. And stationed at each was at least one Global Outreach volunteer helping maintain the fires and making visitors feel welcome.

"A lot of people just want to hang around here a long time to talk, so it's really great," said Monica Lopez de Victoria, a college student from Miami, who found numerous opportunities to share her faith in Christ causally around the fire.

For many of the volunteers, the involvement in Olympic ministry is an eye-opener of sorts, the exposure to personal evangelism that makes them realize that telling people about Christ is not that difficult at all.

"I was terrified to come and do this," said Nancy Gostic of Lakeside Baptist Church in McMurray, Pa. "It's amazing to me how easy it is to share and how open the people are. It's like the games have just increased their openness. I just feel like God has gone before us."

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2/22/2002 12:00:00 AM by James Dotson , Baptist Press | with 0 comments
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