Christian athletes make a difference

By August 11, 2008

Middle East (MNN) — The greatest victories for six
Olympic athletes were not in the pool or on the track. but they were outside the athletic arena.

In a new documentary titled "Struggle and Triumph," six
Olympic athletes, in sports ranging from long distance running to swimming and
badminton, will discuss their greatest challenges and victories. The documentary
will be aired by SAT-7 in Arabic, Farsi, and Turkish, just in time for the 2008
Olympics. The film features athletes whose placing varies from gold medal to
those who didn't receive a medal but overcame insurmountable odds nonetheless.

 "The model of Christianity in this region is
often that Christianity is only for the weak, for those who are simple and have
no other options," says
SAT-7 Acquisitions Manager
George Makeen. He says that these stories are important to tell in the Middle
East and North Africa.

"Athletes
in the Arab world are stars, and people really look up to them," Makeen said. "So
it's important, especially for young people in this area, to see athletes who
are famous and successful and are still followers of Christ." 

One of the most powerful stories in this film is
about a world class distance runner from Rwanda. Dieudonne Disi came in 17th
place in the 10,000 meter run in the 2004 Olympics. But Disi had already run
the race of his life.

"On my last day with my father…[he] said we are all
going to die. He wanted to pray a prayer to prepare to go to heaven," recalls Disi.
"My family started to pray, but I went
outside. I heard the rebels knock on the door. It opened, they said
something to my family…it was ‘Death! Death!' In the end, everyone within
400 meters was killed.

"I used to pray everyday, but when my
family was killed I stopped praying. For many years I did not pray."

Somehow Disi found the strength to keep running the
race set before him.

"I realized that if I was ever going to see my family
again, I needed to start praying again. In the Bible it says there is
only one way to heaven–through Jesus Christ."

This is just one of the emotionally powerful
stories included in the documentary, which will air on SAT-7's three Middle
Eastern channels. The film is produced
by Athletes in Action.

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