Evangelism isn’t easy at Olympics in Greece

By August 24, 2004

Greece (MNN/IDEA) — Open evangelism is out of bounds in the Olympic village. Christian counselors have been instructed to refrain from proselytizing. They must not exert religious pressure on athletes. Anyone not abiding by the rules laid down by the Athens Olympic Committee is likely to be expelled from the village.

This was confirmed by Dietmar Ness of the German evangelical ministry SRS. He is an accredited counselor in the Olympic Village. As Ness explained to evangelical news agency Idea, Christians may only hand out Bibles to athletes if they specifically request one. The anonymous distribution of evangelistic literature or videos is not permitted.

Ness is happy to abide by these rules. He is convinced that it is much better to talk personally to individual athletes than to hand out tracts. He is offering worship services in the Religious Center in conjunction with other clergy.

About thirty athletes, coaches and other Olympic staff attended the first Sunday worship service in the Religious Center, August 15. Devotions are held three times a day with ten to twenty participants.

Klaus-Peter Weinhold is one of the clergymen on hand in the Olympic Village. He is a former member of the German national volleyball team and has served as counselor in seven Olympic Games.

On August 22, Weinhold baptized the German Badminton player Bjorn Siegemund. The 30-year-old sportsman had asked to be baptized prior to the Games.

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