Christians are preparing for Olympic outreach

By January 23, 2006

Italy (MNN) — The Olympics Games in Torino, Italy are less than three weeks away and Christians around the world are gearing up for the world event. People from many different nations will be there, which makes it a great place for believers.

Operation Mobilization is just one organization planning to be there. Martin Bateman heads up OM’s Sportlink ministry. “We’re linking together with churches and other Christian organizations and the main emphasis of the outreaches are serving the people of sport and reaching out through literature and video materials to the visitors and the athletes that are going to be there at the games.”

Bateman says the athlete chaplaincy program is just one area where OM will be working. “Unfortunately 98-percent of people don’t achieve winning at the Olympics and being able to be a support to those people is one of the areas where OM (is) bringing people in.”

Since the Olympic Charter allows religious services, ministry and Olympics go hand-in-hand. Bateman says OM can be very effective especially since they work in 100 nations. “When we go to an event like this we can bring in volunteer workers coming from all sorts of nations. And, of course if you’ve got different nationalities there then you’ve got a chance to be able to share with the Germans, the Russians or the different nationalities that are going to be there at the Olympics.”

Olympic ministry works, says Bateman. “I know of one lady from Belarus, in the former Soviet republics, who through meeting a pastor in the Nagano Olympics in 1998, came to faith in Jesus and now is working through sports and ministry in her home country.”

Bateman is asking people to pray for unity as evangelical Christians reach out to athletes and spectators. He is also praying for the Italian evangelical church, which is small and largely ineffective in evangelism. “Having something like a big event where the Christians can be motivated and come together, like the Olympics, it can be a springboard for more ministry and more opportunities.”

He’s also asking Christians worldwide to use the Olympics to remind you to pray for the church in Europe more often.

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